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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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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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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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"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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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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.
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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Back loop,

I have SeaTow and would recommend them for the gulf coast. They have on call boats from New Orleans past Pensacola, and are very helpful. The couple of times I have needed them they have always been quick to respond, and very knowlagable about their territories. If I remember correctly the east and west side of Mobil bay are divided into two different areas by two different operators, but I have had both of them on the phone at the same time figuring out where to put boats in the past.
 

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Timely thread. I signed on for Sea Tow 2 weekends ago at the boat show. Mulled it over, thinking I was pretty self sufficient, been sailing 6yrs. and no outside help needed yet.

Then I remembered the 3 times I had motor issues and sailed into slip (once upwind with 7 tacks). Sailed in once because the waves were simply to steep to motor. Spent extra nights twice waiting on tide to rise also (back when I thought I should get that swing keel as close to the beach as possible.)

Might not call them, but that is some cheap insurance. Even with my original mindset, I did buy a little peace of mind. Shirt happens.
 

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I had a four day cruise to bring my sailboat to a new home port in Tampa Bay. Shortly after we set out, my oil pressure alarm went off. No worries, it's a sailboat I'll just sail her down to the Bay and get towed into the marina (I purchased the TowBoat US unlimited package)

Half way there the wind died off and 2 kts wasn't going to get us home in time (Nasty job to go to Monday morning) Motoring was out because of a problem I couldn't fix(turned out to be a bad sensor) so I called for a tow the rest of the way.

That tow would have cost me $2700... So if I keep the service for another 14 years and never use it, I'll be breaking even.
 

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If you join Boat US you get TowBoat US and Vessel Assist towing. I suggest using the Boat US website to see where towboats are based in your area, and if any are convenient to your cruising area.

NB, by joining Boat US you are also supporting their pro-boater lobbying efforts, which I think are vital.

They have a level at $150, or for $180 they'll even tow you from your slip to a repair facility.
 

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Yes, make sure to check to see where the boats are located. Last time I checked on the Hudson River there are three or four ports that have Sea Tow, but Boat US is all the way down in the harbor. From one guys experience if they are not busy it is at least a 4 hour wait to the Mid Hudson, now if it is busy it could be a very long time! Other areas it the the other way around.
 

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Thankfully only had to use them once. The TowBoatUS captain was competent, friendly and took great care of our boat.

That one tow probably paid for four years of the insurance.

Definitely money well spent.
 

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This is a great thread, Having spent time "working" for Sea Tow (I was a minor and worked with my Dad) I recommend towing insurance to everyone who does not feel comfortable sailing into their slip in a wide variety of conditions. Both Sea Tow and Tow Boat US are good options. However assuming service in your area is relatively robust Sea Tow is a better value. They will tow you home even if it is through multiple territories, and they will do dock to dock towing without charging you. Try to find other boaters in your area that have experience with your local franchise as that is the most important differentiator.
 
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