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Old 08-28-2012, 02:24 PM   #1
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Question Sea Tow

Interesting situation. While running our ship around Sunday/ Sunday night we had already entered the Rigolets (passage into Ponchatrain) and it was well after dark when Patricia saw what appeared to be a sail boat mast in the passage. We finally were able to tell that it was indeed a sailboat, sails up, aft facing us. No mast light, no steaming light (not sure if this is applicable) and no answer on 16. As I passed I saw he did have running lights. Two guys aboard began to wave a flashlight. I circled wide to Stbd and came around again, this time slowing down. Did you hear us?" on says. What do you need, I asked. "We need a tow to the Twin Spans" says he. (about 6 miles, 37-42' nice boat)
My guess is he was forced to evacuate a marina and due to poor planning clogged a fuel filter possibly. Also due to poor planning his lighting situation was endangering him and others that might pass by. I said- "You need to get a mast light and a steaming light on! I tried to hail you on 16, are you monitoring your radio?? Do you want me to contact Sea Tow?" He responds- "All I need us a tow on the other side of the Twin Spans. I called Sea Tow. They won't come out!"
BS I'm thinking. They won't come out because you are not a member and you told them they must have lost their mind when they wanted your credit card number to bill you $175 an hour or whatever it is. It was dark, we were tired and we were already towing a dink. I told him again that I would contact Sea Tow for him, but that trying to tow him would endanger us. No thanks he said, and away we went. Does anyone feel I was right??
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:50 PM   #2
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Your safety is #1. It has to be that way.

I don't know where Sea Tow would run out of, or how long it'd take them, but a grand to possibly safe a couple of hundred thousand in boat. Yes, it's a deal.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:53 PM   #3
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Does anyone feel I was right??
I don't think you were under any obligation to provide a tow or other assistance even if you were able since they did not appear to be in distress and did not declare an emergency or even suggest one existed.

However, if I were in your position, I would have notified the CG that a vessel in such and such a location had requested a tow but refused commercial towing assistance and in my opinion, was not lighted adequately and possibly created a naviational hazard. Let them decide if those guys needed more than a free ride. That way I wouldn't go on my way and wonder later on if I did the right thing or left some fools to create a greater risk to themselves or others.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:58 PM   #4
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Tough call...I have worked as an assistance tower for he last 10 years.

For the previous 35 years of boating I neither had an assistance towing plan nor did I really want one.

When I was in the USCG, I had to babysit the two fledgling towing companies in my area because they were well less than professional.

Times have changed. Boating has changed and what it really boils down to society and getting you butt sued by some numbskull has definitely changed how many boat.

In a true emergency...I say help...but then again so will any law Enforcement or Emergency agency.

When it's NON-emergency and the govt guys have to let the assistance towers do it...then I say the same in most cases for us other boaters letting the pro handle it too.

For less than $170 bucks a year, it's pretty selfish for any boater in areas where the assistance towers operate to expect other boaters to come to their aid. That said...I would probably help a lot of boaters out of situations if they were easy and I felt the guy on the other boat wasn't gonna goober it up so bad that something bad would happpen and put me in the crosshairs.

So in your case...if it was clearly a matter of the guy being too cheap to use Sea Tow or Boat US...then he deserves what he gets...I would have gladly stood by long enough to see he wasn't in any danger...but if urgency dictated...I may have tried to help in some way...but I'll be the first to admit...once you start helping, like CPR....better not screw it up and see it all the way through to success.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:59 PM   #5
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I don't think you were under any obligation to provide a tow or other assistance even if you were able since they did not appear to be in distress and did not declare an emergency or even suggest one existed.

However, if I were in your position, I would have notified the CG that a vessel in such and such a location had requested a tow but refused commercial towing assistance and in my opinion, was not lighted adequately and possibly created a naviational hazard. Let them decide if those guys needed more than a free ride. That way I wouldn't go on my way and wonder later on if I did the right thing or left some fools to create a greater risk to themselves or others.
Great post...
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:05 PM   #6
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I believe Rick's suggestion is the best way to go under these circumstances. We won't tow another boat because we are not set up to do it, but we will relay or provide radio and/or phone communication if a boat is unable to make contact on their own.

In this situation the sailboat's need for a tow was one issue, but so was the fact they were presenting a hazard to navigation. Whether or not they were willing to pay a commercial tow service was their problem, but being an unlighted, drifting obstacle for other vessels to run into was everyone's problem. A call to the USCG or, if for some reason they were unreachable, the local police or fire department, who in marine areas often have a water patrol contingent, would have been a good thing to do I think.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:10 PM   #7
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You probably did the right thing. I've towed a number of vessels that were almost always out of fuel. No more. I have been informed that if ANYTHING bad happens my insurance isn't going to cover it because I'm not a tow boat.

So, I'd call for help, maybe even stand by to lend assistance if necessary. And I'd take people onboard if there was a life threatening situation. But that's it.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:46 PM   #8
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I don't think you were under any obligation to provide a tow or other assistance even if you were able since they did not appear to be in distress and did not declare an emergency or even suggest one existed.

However, if I were in your position, I would have notified the CG that a vessel in such and such a location had requested a tow but refused commercial towing assistance and in my opinion, was not lighted adequately and possibly created a naviational hazard. Let them decide if those guys needed more than a free ride. That way I wouldn't go on my way and wonder later on if I did the right thing or left some fools to create a greater risk to themselves or others.
I strongly considered issuing a Pon Pon, but hate to admit i was note sure of the rules that govern that type of situation. I need to be better prepared in the future just in case.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:50 PM   #9
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A Pan Pan or a Securite broadcast on 16 probably would have been a good idea, too, as other vessels in the area would have heard it and been forewarned of the situation.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:30 PM   #10
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#1 Call the USCG someone may not have a good eye for things and run him over hurting or killing someone and then it would be the blame game. If they were unable to power on i am sure the CG would have requested a tow for them even if the guy didnt want to pay for it. #2 pulling someones boat you are opening up for a very sticky legal mess if something goes wrong.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:33 PM   #11
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I strongly considered issuing a Pon Pon, but hate to admit i was note sure of the rules that govern that type of situation. I need to be better prepared in the future just in case.
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When I was commercial fishing we towed each other all the time. But that is a little different.

As a recreational boater I think what you did was more than reasonable. I have towed people since, but only to the closest dock or safe anchoring point. Washington State has a "Good Sam Law" which offers you some level of protection.

What's reasonable all depends on the circumstances, location, health and safety. A call to the local Coast Guard would have been appropriate.

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Old 08-28-2012, 04:47 PM   #12
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I would have to say you were right. You offered to help them get assistance, you advised them of the need for lights. They declined your offer. As master of your vessel, it is your judgment as to what may endanger you, your vessel and your crew. You are under no obligation to actually tow them just because they requested it. The only additiional action that you may have taken would have been to report the vessel as an obstruction in the waterway.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:41 PM   #13
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This is a good thread, I have towed and been towed while out fishing in outboard boats. One comic time when some kids were in a small skiff, their outboard was stuck in reverse so they were travelling down the bayou backwards at about 4 mph.
I have never been in a situation where the possibility of having to do it in the trawler came up. I have wondered what to do if someone asked, now I have a better idea of what to do.
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:28 PM   #14
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In my humble opinion you got it right.
A question to ask is "Am I protected by what I`m doing? The answer is most likely," I am if I`ve done what I can to protect the vessel seeking help".I think you would satisfy that by telling CG, as others suggested.
I previously looked at carrying a bridle type towline. I`d have to attach it to the stern mooring cleats,and don`t expect they are designed for towing loads, so I don`t carry one. Obviously,provided we don`t put ourselves in danger and risk becoming a second emergency instead of a helper,any of us would do what we could, including towing, and accepting some risk, in the face of real emergency.
I keep my Seatow dues paid. BruceK
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:53 PM   #15
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Ditto on the Sea Tow dues. I learned that lesson myself several years ago.
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:58 PM   #16
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In my humble opinion you got it right.
A question to ask is "Am I protected by what I`m doing? The answer is most likely," I am if I`ve done what I can to protect the vessel seeking help".I think you would satisfy that by telling CG, as others suggested.
I previously looked at carrying a bridle type towline. I`d have to attach it to the stern mooring cleats,and don`t expect they are designed for towing loads, so I don`t carry one. Obviously,provided we don`t put ourselves in danger and risk becoming a second emergency instead of a helper,any of us would do what we could, including towing, and accepting some risk, in the face of real emergency.
I keep my Seatow dues paid. BruceK
Unless your deck is rotten...your stern cleats could tow very easily up to another vessel your size or larger if you had the right towing setup...meaning 3/4 or better towline at least several hundred feet long..that would serve in up to moderate conditions.

Where most people underestimate loading is ungrounding....the forces there are much larger than in just towing.

Usually the best towline available for many boats is the disabled vessels anchor line unless it's inadequate as an anchor line to begin with.

But as I said...most boaters should carry towing insurance if in an area where it is reasonably expected...anything else is selfish and potentially dangerous. Many cruisers I know carry both assistance towing companies and their hull insurance covers enough for a short tow or ungrounding....cheap compared to the stress of not having them...

I will also say that NOT needing the assistance towers because you are resourceful and prepared is the real goal......but they are nice to have in the pocket too...
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:37 AM   #17
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"You need to get a mast light and a steaming light on! I tried to hail you on 16, are you monitoring your radio??

Probably a white 360 anchor light is the best they could display.

Steaming light would indicate they were underway.

Most sail boats don't have red over red mounted to display.

I would take them in tow IF I were going where they want.

If not,,I would just move them out of a channel, and let them anchor.

It IS an intact sailboat , so will be powered eventually.

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Old 08-29-2012, 10:10 AM   #18
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Where I live and boat there is no Sea tow, Boat U.S. or any other kind of tow service.

There are a few charter company's that will do salvage. Thats about it.

If you are broke down you can only call the USGS or another boater.

when you are out in the woods you gotta help each other.

That being said . Were I in Mr Forklifts situation where there are other options. I would have done exactly as he did.

There are cruisers out there in parts of the world where like me there is no other option than to ask for help from another human being.
A break down on a trawler is an issue that can turn into a May-Day.

Sail boaters call the engine the auxiliary. Sail being the primary form of propulsion. Like F.F. said an intact sailboat has propulsion eventually.


May Day is one thing.

I will help.

All others get out the card.

So if you have to tow what is the best way?
On the hip or a tow behind?

SD
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:25 PM   #19
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Where I live and boat there is no Sea tow, Boat U.S. or any other kind of tow service.

There are a few charter company's that will do salvage. Thats about it.

If you are broke down you can only call the USGS or another boater.

when you are out in the woods you gotta help each other.

That being said . Were I in Mr Forklifts situation where there are other options. I would have done exactly as he did.

There are cruisers out there in parts of the world where like me there is no other option than to ask for help from another human being.
A break down on a trawler is an issue that can turn into a May-Day.

Sail boaters call the engine the auxiliary. Sail being the primary form of propulsion. Like F.F. said an intact sailboat has propulsion eventually.


May Day is one thing.

I will help.

All others get out the card.

So if you have to tow what is the best way?
On the hip or a tow behind?

SD
Good question. In our case if we tried to tow them I guess I would have probably put the RIB on our hip, and then use his anchor line to attach to a stern cleat? Have him drop the sails. Not sure how long of a tow line??
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:28 PM   #20
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After thinking about it would probably be best to tow behind if at sea and on the hip in sheltered waters or going into a marina.

I would use a water bowline off the boat being towed and a bridal off the two stern cleats on my boat.

SD
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