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Old 21-06-2011, 15:21   #1
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Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

I have researched this on the forum and cannot find a good answer. Is owning a sea tow or working for such an outfit a good job? If so what is good and bad about it? I have pulled enough people off the water that I might want to do it fulltime...
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Old 21-06-2011, 15:41   #2
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pirate Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Its great fun.... if you like going out in all weathers and times.. nice powerful RIB + OB.... Adrenalin rushes interspersed with boredom...
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Old 22-06-2011, 06:45   #3
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

I worked for a company in California that eventually became a Sea Tow franchise. Pay for captain is not great but company owner makes OK money.
It was a fun job when people had the "insurance" and the tow was free; got cussed at a lot when people didn't have the insurance and found out how much it cost to get pulled off a shoal.
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Old 22-06-2011, 07:18   #4
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

I have a good friend who is a retired Wa State ferry captain who spent some time towing. He is a fearless man who says that the towing business is dangerous. I would guess owning the company would be better than working on the water in that role.

How about water ambulance? Leverage your MD.

Todd
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Old 22-06-2011, 07:42   #5
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

I was chatting with a guy who worked for one of the franchises. He told me it was fun but not great money. His boss said that the business paid the bills with the towing insurance money and made its profit on the occasional salvage job. As you probably know, even if you have the tow insurance, on anything more than a "soft grounding" the tow company will try to treat it as salvage (under Admiralty Court standards) since that can fetch the salvor 1/3 or more of the boat's value. Even an unattended boat dragging anchor can sometimes be considered salvage.

I find the careful phrasing in this TowBoatUS page amusing. They clearly want to say that they "warned you" about salvage without quite admitting that that they are in the salvage business.

BoatUS: Towing Services

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Old 22-06-2011, 08:15   #6
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Apparently it's such an easy job that you can do it while drunk and on drugs.

Officials: Drunken tow boat captain drives men in circles - US news - Weird news - msnbc.com

A South Florida tow boat captain was drunk when he towed two people whose boat had broken down and drove them around in circles for hours, authorities said.
Timothy Pooler, 63, of Boynton Beach, faces a charge of boating under the influence.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said Pooler was called to help two men whose boat had broken down about 25 miles off Delray Beach on Thursday evening.
The men said Pooler arrived about four hours later, hooked up the boats and then drove them around in circles for hours throughout the night.
By daybreak, Pooler asked one of the men to drive his tow boat, officers said. The tow boat eventually ran out of fuel, and the men provided fuel from their own boat.
The men were able to get the engine working again on the disabled boat, and they towed Pooler's boat until they decided to cut it loose, officers said.
Another tow boat came to take the men to shore, and FWC officers picked up Pooler.
Officers said Pooler admitted to drinking alcohol the day before, saying he shouldn't have reported for duty. Officers said Pooler also admitted to being on several prescription medications.
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Old 24-06-2011, 09:54   #7
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Well since I do not drink and know how to tow in a straight line I may be OK. I have looked into marine ambulances, but most fly nowdays. Thanks for the advice guys.
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Old 24-06-2011, 11:09   #8
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

My experience in this field is towing log booms, barges and float camps up and down the BC coast 12 months of the year in all weather conditions with a bit of beachcombing thrown in from time to time. The only job on the water I had that was more dangerous was commercial fishing. In both lines of work, I've lost good friends and have others lose body parts.
The commercial salvage jobs I've had involved crappy weather and working in shoal waters many times. Trying to secure lines in these conditions can be problematic and life threatening.
A lot depends on where you are working... if it's Florida, hooking up drunks who have ran out of fuel, probably not too difficult. In other areas where weather and sea conditions are less than ideal, you might want to reconsider.
Things can go to sh*t very quickly particularly when you are dealing with inexperienced boaters. Capt Phil
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Old 24-06-2011, 11:44   #9
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Newt,

I looked into the costs of owning a business. Here's Sea Tow's requirements

Franchise Opportunities: The Investment
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Old 24-06-2011, 12:55   #10
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

As far as owning a business, those numbers seem to be decent. Buying some franchises can be a multi-million dollar purchase. The nice thing is, most franchises have proven to be successfull. You know that the business has worked in hundreds of other areas, why wouldn't it work in yours?
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Old 24-06-2011, 15:22   #11
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Yeah, I have seen the numbers. I can purchase a franchise. US boat does it a bit differently, but the money for boats, facilities etc are probably going to be the same. Phil- I am not going to run a tug-boat, but rather a tow boat for private parties. Professional sea service, just like ranching (which I have done) is really a dangerous job. I will leave that to younger people. But it seems like I am always getting someone out of a jam, usually bad engines, bad anchors or bad judgement. One time I brought in 6 people that were treading water in the middle of a lake during a storm with a rowboat. (their motorboat had swamped and sunk). It just seems to me like a need, and one that I would find rewarding, no matter how bad the weather.
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Old 24-06-2011, 15:51   #12
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
. . . Phil- I am not going to run a tug-boat, but rather a tow boat for private parties. . . .
Just curious - what is that and how is it different from the normal TowBoatUS or SeaTow operations?
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Old 24-06-2011, 16:25   #13
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

My apologies, newt... it appears I lost something in the translation from canadian to american. Having worked on the water commercially on both sides of the border for over 50 years, I had alway heard the term 'tow boats' refer to smaller boats that towed other vessels, log booms and barges in the ocean. Tug boats I have assumed were used to tow other craft on rivers and to help with the docking of large freighters and military vessels in to dockside in harbors. Perhaps someone else can enlighten this old sailor... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 25-06-2011, 12:05   #14
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Maybe I am the one mixed up, after all you guys are the ones that have been there, done that. But I thought log booms and barges were handled by tug boats, while I am thinking about a US boat towing or Seatow type operation. Basicly handling the situations like I talked about earilier, were people ran out of gas or had a mechanical breakdown. Or have to transport their boat, and the durn thing won't run. I would be willing to handle small salvage- but nothing on the Columbia banks during a storm...
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Old 25-06-2011, 12:55   #15
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

99% of everything you see on the water is a tugboat, even though the licensing is for "tow" operations. They both work as towing vessels and for maneuvering assistance.

A towboat is specifically a blunt nose vessel designed to push barges.
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