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  #21  
Old 03-17-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

I am a new sailor and last year I ran aground twice. I paid the 150 and I think it was money well spent.Boat US did a great job.
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  #22  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

I had the atom bomb blow up 100yds north of a bridge- in the icw north of Sebastian inlet. I had no sail out as I was goin straight into the 25 knots of wind and couldn't keep them from flogging. I threw out the hook and it never set- I pulled it in- along with a huge ball of weeds. I mean huge. I threw all this mess on the deck grabbed the main halyard and got the sail up. With less than a boat length between me and a fisherman's bridge under the causeway that was goin to kill the boat I started short tacking my full keel boat- with about a storm jib worth of Jenny and an unreeled main. Trying to short tack and stay in the channel was the equivalent of being on a treadmill. I couldn't get even 100 yards above the bridge. I didn't have time to get the anchor squared away and drop it. I did however give tboat a call on VHF. They got there quick enough- the skipper was like "what - you tired of sailing?"

Nonmember. Got billed the 250 for an hour- bit not any additional charges for being out in a small craft advisory- and certainly not any salvage fee. The operator also gave me a ride from Melbourne to Orlando for free- and I bought another anchor and chain at a good price- something from the salvage end if the business.

All in all a really good experience- other than the subsequent wrenchathon... Anyway- I'm a member now.
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  #23  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

During sail school, the one thing they beat into my head was "if and when you buy a sailboat, the FIRST thing you do is get BoatUS Unlimited towing policy. You WILL use it and using the policy one time pays for itself twice."

It was some of the best advice I ever got. I did end up using it and the savings of having a policy paid for several years worth of Unlimited Towing policies. The guy who had to come get me earned his money, too. It was just plain nasty out at 5AM when he had to pull me off the beach in the cold rain and surf. I felt really bad for having called anyone out in that to help me. The guy couldn't have been nicer or more helpful.

I can't say enough good things about my experience with BoatUS.
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  #24  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

Had to call them 3 different times in 3 different places during the saga of the exploded V-drive on the ICW in 2010 - Wilmington, NC; Swansboro, NC; and Annapolis, MD - and all three times the guys were super-professional and super-competent. (And any one of the three tows would have paid for our membership at the Gold level for years.) Can't recommend them highly enough.
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

I'm a towing captain for Boat US in So. Cal. and while soft ungroundings are rare, sandy beach means surf otherwise rocks, the rule of thumb is; if I have to patch holes, use a pump to dewater the boat, use special equipment i.e. jacks or ramps to move the boat or need additional personal i.e. divers, than its a salvage. If I can throw you a tow line from my boat and pull you off it's a covered service. There is of course exception, if I think that pulling you off the rocks will cause additional damage, I will strongly recommend that we get the additional equipment and do it right.

I recommend you get at least the "Unlimited" card, it's good for $2500 of towing coverage and only cost $149/year. For non members I charge $235/hr from the time I leave my dock to the time I dock my boat.
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

I'm a firm believer in having the BoatUS Unlimited package, but I'll fight tooth and nail before I call them.
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  #27  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

Quote:
Originally Posted by NCC320 View Post
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
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  #28  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt.Alex View Post
Last year I was fishing on a friends boat offshore. On the way in he ran out of fuel due to a faulty gauge 25 miles offshore (this could be the subject of another thread). He did not have a membership, but I did. We called TBUS and I gave them MY membership number. They sent a boat out loaded with Jerry cans of fuel, no questions asked. We just had to pay for the cost of the delivered gas. That's pretty darn good service!
if they knew the owner was aboard, then he would have had to pay.

the only time you are covered on someone else's boat is if they are not aboard, and you are the master of the boat.


back to other experiences. I've used them several times on my own boat in non emergencies. and they were good. -broken rudder with spare aboard. - towed to shallow water for me to make repairs.

-also had a tow in on my open fish, main engine died, kicker finally spun the hub, and the towed me in the last 1/2 mile... - which was the busiest place (ramp).


My main issue is they will wait until a bad situation is worse enough to be a crisis, and then it will be a salvage.
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  #29  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enhydras View Post
I'm a towing captain for Boat US in So. Cal. and while soft ungroundings are rare, sandy beach means surf otherwise rocks, the rule of thumb is; if I have to patch holes, use a pump to dewater the boat, use special equipment i.e. jacks or ramps to move the boat or need additional personal i.e. divers, than its a salvage. If I can throw you a tow line from my boat and pull you off it's a covered service. There is of course exception, if I think that pulling you off the rocks will cause additional damage, I will strongly recommend that we get the additional equipment and do it right.

I recommend you get at least the "Unlimited" card, it's good for $2500 of towing coverage and only cost $149/year. For non members I charge $235/hr from the time I leave my dock to the time I dock my boat.

what about my situation. taking on water (slowly) tied to a mooring. engine will not start.

salvage or tow?

once towed, the boat de-watered after the plug was pulled.....
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  #30  
Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Experience with TowBoat US

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftldiver View Post
...

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
Shame you had such a bad experience. As you see above, most of us have been very pleased.

The irony in your story is that you had three responders standing by to help. I understand the disagreement over whether it was a salvage or not. However, if you were really at risk of sinking, as you say they would let you do, it was a salvage by definition. Maybe that was hyperbole.

If there is risk of life, the USCG will respond. Otherwise, they will call a commercial towing service for you around here. Soft grounding, engines that won't start, broken rudder, etc and you will pay, they won't come tow you.
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