What has been the forum members experience with TowBoatUS? In particular, I am concerned with salvage vs. assistance. The sales pitch is that if you join, they will provide assistance at no additional charge. If the boat is in peril, it becomes a salvage where a high percentage of boat value can be charged and is not covered by membership. Peril can cover lots of territory. If I'm fishing in open water and engine won't start, am I in peril or just inconvenienced? Who decides? SeaTow says they will cover soft groundings provided 5 things exist, including that you must be able to rock the boat and they must be able to pull you off in 15 minutes. With a large boat, wing keel, and soft mud, there's a good chance you can't rock the boat, but are you really in peril? I have membership with SeaTow because of proximity of one of their facilities. and don't know specifics of TowBoatUS contract...not trying to compare the two. Just want to know whether they really assist, or is membership a sneaky way charge you a big bill for salvage. I will start a similar thread for SeaTow.
I was an unlimited Boats US member, on a friends 25' welcraft open fish. we were anchored to a buoy about 1 mile from the beach, and 2 miles from Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale). the boat sat low in the water, normally, and with a full fuel load its transom was below waterline. (it was taking on water). -My friends boat, and he said that's nomral.... (mmmOK). bilge pumps were running from the time we were tied to the buoy.
after a few hours the pump stopped and were were sitting lower and lower in the water. finally the battery were under water, and the engine would not start.
I got on the radio (ch 16) and called for boats us help. -assistance.
3 Boats us boats surrounded us. one RIB went to the stern on the high side, and wanted the owner to sign a salvage agreement. he didn't sign.
the other boat took the bowline, but didn't begin the tow. -he let the boat that was previously bow into the waves, swing around to transom into the waves. -worsening a bad situation.
a discussion continued for about 10 min, -I'm yelling at the tow boat to pull us in. (he refused).
finally I went back on ch 16 and declared a mayday, and USCG showed up.
since we had not signed anything, they agreed to tow us in. -once on a plane I pulled the inboard transom plug and the boat drained.
then in the turning basin, we secured the plug and were able to refire the engine.
-we let them tow us to the nearest dock, then cast off and continued home at idle (ICW).
I fully believe BOATS US is on a commision, as they were quite happy to see us sink. and would not offer any assistance without a salvage agreement.
I cancelled my membership. If I was in a serious situation, I would NOT call any of them except USCG.
the only use for Boats us or sea tow, is for non emergency. -like running out of gas.
-these guys are pirates! run away! fast