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Old 04-13-2014
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Towing Services

Ok, I am exposing my inner Captain deeply suppressed inadequacies. Reading everything I can on this site, I get a theme from most that sailors are a self sufficient bunch, organized, prepared and capable. I consider myself fairly competent, and a quick learner, but, what if....
Are the towing services available out there, (coastal cruising, Mobile Bay, Perdido Bay, PCola Bay & some outside in the gulf), available to sailboats just in case? Is this a prudent question in terms of being prepared, or an admission of my lack of confidence & capabilities? I have not come across any mention of using a service for sailboats.
If so, please share pros & cons, tips, etc. we spend a great amount of time on the water, either fishing in a 20' CC or soon to be sailing on 36' sailboat.
Thanks and please, go easy!
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

There are two great services that I know of - SeaTow and Tow Boat US.....I would recommend you join whichver has the most active presence in the area where you sail. The cost is nominal - less that $200 / yr for my SeaTow membership - and the peace of mind alone is worth that. Not to mention the potential savings if you did have to be towed or need to call for a fuel drop or jump-start.

These services are like AAA for the water.....
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

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Originally Posted by bigdogandy View Post
There are two great services that I know of - SeaTow and Tow Boat US.....I would recommend you join whichver has the most active presence in the area where you sail. The cost is nominal - less that $200 / yr for my SeaTow membership - and the peace of mind alone is worth that. Not to mention the potential savings if you did have to be towed or need to call for a fuel drop or jump-start.

These services are like AAA for the water.....
Absolutely correct. The BoatUS Gold Plan ("unlimited towing") option is the deal of the century if you ever need help.
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Last edited by svHyLyte; 04-16-2014 at 10:56 AM. Reason: Add addenda
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

I had to use them once, someone's else's boat of course, it was about $350, less then 15 NM round trip for the towboat. That was an 18' Boston Whaler, pre-GPS in the fog so we had to guide him in with RDF. That was long ago, the rates must be even higher now.
I don't usually carry coverage, last time I got the prop tangled in discarded fishing gear I was able to sail into the dock.
However, anytime I'm moving an unfamiliar boat long distances, I sign up for the Gold Plan, cheap peace of mind when needed.
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

"Is this a prudent question in terms of being prepared,"
Yes. And,
" or an admission of my lack of confidence & capabilities? "
I'd say, an honest appraisal of lack of experience--nothing more.

Take a look at the charts for where you are planning to sail. What's the depth? By all means, feel free to cheat. I used to take paper charts and use a red highlighter to "cordon off" areas I didn't want to be, or rocks I didn't want to overlook.

Now you've got a choice. Either you just don't sail where you might get stuck, or you think about towing insurance because you're going to risk it. Marginal depths, mistakes estimating the tide, wandering channels...It is not unreasonable to plan ahead for all these things. In fact the charts all have a marginal note about that, referring to "The prudent mariner..."
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Absolutely correct. The BoatUS Gold Plan ("unlimited towing") option is the deal of the century if you ever need help.
I had to get towed from right in front of my marina. The bill would have been over $800 if I hadn't had the BoatUS towing. Paid for itself for a few years.
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

We have and have used Boat US/Towboat US and it is worth it. And I believe the service is valid for any boat you own or are board ... i.e. if you are on a friends vessel.
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

I've owned sailboats for 2.25 seasons so far. I ran aground the first day of the first full season with our last boat. I didn't really NEED the tow, and it turned out that TowBoatUS couldn't help me (it was a falling tide) but it was still nice to know they were there, and I would have to have paid about $400 for the call, despite them not being able to help.

The second season, with our new boat, the engine died before I even got a chance to sail the boat. We had a delivery captain bringing her north, and a part in the engine exploded, disabling the engine. TowBoatUS towed us to a "nearby" dock (almost 5 miles away) for free (Chuckles's slip, actually) and then across Chesapeake Bay to a repair facility for 50% off. About 3 weeks later we had a jib sheet wrap around the prop shaft, and I couldn't get it free. TowBoatUS took us back to our slip. Except the tow across the bay, I didn't have to pay for any of this (other than my annual fees).

I sail in fairly shallow water, and with inexperienced crew and captain (frequently the same person). I consider the tow insurance a cost of keeping the boat, and wouldn't want to try my luck without it.
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Re: Towing Services

Great stuff, thanks for sharing. I agree and plan to sign on for one of the two. Just haven't heard anyone ever mention having/ using the services. Sounds like both are good, maybe just depends on the local ownership?
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Old 04-13-2014
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Re: Towing Services

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvuyxx View Post
We have and have used Boat US/Towboat US and it is worth it. And I believe the service is valid for any boat you own or are board ... i.e. if you are on a friends vessel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
We had a delivery captain bringing her north ...
Regular Towboat/US insurance does NOT cover a boat with a paid skipper. If you take on a delivery captain check to be sure he has the commercial level of insurance from Towboat/US. I believe SeaTow has similar limitations.
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