The rational of a Pan Pan call is to notify all stations that you require advice or assistance in a situation that has the potential to become an emergency
. The chief differences between a call to the coast guard and a Pan Pan call is that it is a request to all stations and it calls for radio
silence. I would normally expect a towing/salvage company to route
through the coast guard. If there is no coast guard response or other co-coordinating station involved it would seem quite reasonable for a towing company to contact you directly to offer services. A big difference between Pan Pan and Mayday is that a Pan Pan does not create an obligation for other vessels to assist. In a Mayday a tow service
would be obliged to respond and pick up the crew (but not rescue
the boat) and would not expect a fee for that but would be entitled to a salvage fee if the also towed the boat because you are considered to have abandoned ship. In a Pan Pan you are not requesting to be taken off and have not abandoned ship so they should simply be offering assistance as a commercial
tow and it is up to you to accept or not.
If another vessel offers assistance and then demands money
once you are in dock
I think that is totally unacceptable. There is however a but,
in the salvage rules it is quite clear that if you accept a tow line from a salvage vessel a contract
for salvage is deemed to exist. If you provide the tow line to the other vessel there is no contract
. So if you allow the crew from the other vessel to board and set up there tow line you have been salvaged. if you trow them your own tow line you have not been salvaged. Any salvage fee also takes into account the danger
to the vessel salvage. So if you are in a situation where the boat can reasonably be expected to be a total loss but for the salvage teams assistance a full fee can be due and then pro-rota depending on the degree of danger
. It gets quite complicated so if someone is claiming salvage on your boat it should go through the receiver of wreck (UK) or similar in other countries.
From your post however I think this sounds like you called a Pan Pan, another private vessel came to you assistance and towed you in but where not a commercial towing company and have not claimed salvage. I think it is reasonable for you to offer to pay costs too them for fuel
used and any other expenses. It may be that that is what they are actually asking for but put it very badly!