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Old 11-15-2014, 07:37 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by windmill29130 View Post
I would always call my provider first.
Sorry, I didn't mean to insult your intelligence....but you would be amazed at how many think the 2 companies are the same or just call and assume that is the company they contracted with.
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:49 PM   #22
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Remember I have been working in the assistance towing business for 13 years.

And before that I was the USCG guy the local tow guys ran to and cried like babies when the system wasn't working in their favor.
I know and I'm sure you've seen it all. I think there may be fewer "Cowboys" than there were once or it might be just more sophisticated trouble makers. When the second of the two first showed up on the lake I was on there were fireworks. They failed and the next owner made a point of trying to patch the relationship with his competitor. At first people were confused too, not realizing there were two companies and some got towed and then told what they owed at the dock and only then find out it wasn't the company they had a membership with.

Plus there was that basic package given away by dealers and marinas that misled many.

Oh and on the lake with no USCG, it was the game wardens and marina owners having to deal with them.
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Old 11-15-2014, 08:11 PM   #23
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Question for psneeld-- We don't have any sort of vessel assist membership. However, our yacht policy through our insurance broker (Anchor Marine in Seattle) covers towing as well as environmental cleanup and so forth.

While we have a twin engine boat so are somewhat immune from towing assistance, two engines don't protect against groundings, collisions with debris, and other non-engine related problems.

So if we managed to do something stupid and needed vessel assist, am I correct in thinking that we would call them (or have the US or Canadian coast guard call them) and whoever showed up would give us whatever assistance/towing we needed, and then at the end of it we'd be presented with a bill which our insurance would then cover?

So it really would't matter which assistance service we called if there was more than one in the area?

So far as I know, the only service in this area is Vessel Assist. At least that's what it says on the boats. I don't know if that's the name of the actual company or if they all put "Vessel Assist" on their boats.
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Old 11-15-2014, 08:33 PM   #24
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As long as you are going to use your hull insurance policy, it doesn't matter who you call or the authorities call.

But at the beginning of the call you might be asked for a credit card and it willed be billed at the conclusion of the call. Maybe the towing company will deal with the insurance company, but that I think would be rare.

Remember, tow billing is from the time the tow boat leaves it's dock till it returns, minimum 1 hr in most places. Hourly rates range from 200 to $500/hr. So you can see $1000 does not go too far.

You then use the receipt to get reimbursed.

Just make sure how much your insurance will pay and for what and if it is a "claim" that can affect your insurance status.

If they only cover up to $1000 or so....at least Sea tow covers up to $5000 in some of those cases.
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Old 11-15-2014, 08:45 PM   #25
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It would jinx me if I told you how many times I needed tow service. (Keeping fingers crossed.)

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Old 11-15-2014, 08:45 PM   #26
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Vessel Assist is under the US Boat umbrella with TowBoat US. Company they acquired.

I'd relook though at using your insurance company's clause. First, they only cover certain events. Second, it may well impact your policy and premiums if you use them for something small. The other problem is reaching your insurer and getting a tow when needed. The tow companies are 24/7. You call the insurer though and finding someone authorized to make a decision might take a while. Meanwhile your problem might be increasing. Also, I'm assuming your insurance has a deductible.

Now salvage must be covered by insurance.

While psneeld might be considered biased, I'm not and I think a tow membership is imperative. Like Mark, I haven't used ours. But I don't consider that a waste of money. Haven't used my life insurance either.
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Old 11-15-2014, 10:05 PM   #27
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.... I think a tow membership is imperative. Like Mark, I haven't used ours. But I don't consider that a waste of money. Haven't used my life insurance either.
That's sound reasoning. However in discussions I've had with people here about the advisbility of tow membership, the reason most often given for why they don't have it is the lack of coverage. There are a few operators in Puget Sound and some in lower BC. But farther north you're pretty much on your own.

While I don't remember all the details without the policy in front of me, our yacht policy is pretty generous in terms of tow coverage. As I recall, it's spelled out in miles, not dollars. For some reason, the figure 100 miles of covered towing per incident sticks in my mind, but I could be wrong on that. But I do recall being pretty impressed at the coverage provided in our current policy.
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Old 11-15-2014, 11:09 PM   #28
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That's sound reasoning. However in discussions I've had with people here about the advisbility of tow membership, the reason most often given for why they don't have it is the lack of coverage. There are a few operators in Puget Sound and some in lower BC. But farther north you're pretty much on your own.

While I don't remember all the details without the policy in front of me, our yacht policy is pretty generous in terms of tow coverage. As I recall, it's spelled out in miles, not dollars. For some reason, the figure 100 miles of covered towing per incident sticks in my mind, but I could be wrong on that. But I do recall being pretty impressed at the coverage provided in our current policy.
The question I had wasn't how much the policy would cover but what circumstances it would cover. Also the deductible.

But certainly coverage is an issue in your area. The coverage from Tacoma to Vancouver is good. But there is nothing between Port Townsend and Grays Harbor. C-Tow actually covers up to north of Vancouver Island. But then nothing beyond by anyone to my knowledge. I think beyond that you're dependent on kind souls, mostly commercial fishermen.

Having not crossed an ocean by boat, I felt a bit like I imagine it feels when in Alaska, especially the Gulf and returning to Washington on the outside. While we've had tow coverage where we've done most of our boating, we haven't hesitated to go to those areas where there is none.
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Old 11-16-2014, 04:21 AM   #29
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I have both to me it is cheap never know what area will have coverage as I am cruising
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Old 11-16-2014, 08:13 AM   #30
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FWIW, there are lots of TowBoatUS providers here in our local area. No personal experience, but I see them often and have been able to observe several close-up... and of course we hear radio traffic. They seem to be pretty good, knowledgeable, professional, etc. Friendly guys, at the dock.


I seldom see/hear (or maybe recognize?) SeaTow. They must be around, though, since they provide the local automated radio check -- and that's great. Well, it would be great, if folks would actually use it.


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Old 11-16-2014, 08:23 AM   #31
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The pattern that has developed is there are areas where one or the other established themselves early and saturated the area for memberships. So it is tough for the other to open a franchise unless it is is a huge boating area or expand did g rapidly.

They also operate on 2 different models of business from what I have been told. BoatUS membership money goes to HQ and the local franchise gets reimbursed for every action. Sea Tow local franchises keep most of the membership money and use it to cover expenses borne by servicing members.

How that affects their operations should be transparent to members but may affect the how many and where franchises get opened and stay in business.
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Old 11-16-2014, 08:49 AM   #32
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I think a tow membership is imperative.
Some of us intentionally cruise where the normal vessel assist programs are hard to find at best and generally non existent. Witness the current passage maker thread.

Marin mentioned it and not a new subject, twins and or get home systems are pretty comforting. Add to the spare engine concept, things like good fuel systems, generator, tools, radio and EPIRB!
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:08 PM   #33
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I bought my boat in Sandusky Ohio. Had a BoatUS sticker on the throttle. With a Cleveland Number. I called them up to ask about coverage.

I also called up Seatow. Seatow did not offer coverage in the lakes or canals.

Mind you I only wanted coverage from Sandusky through the Erie Canal (while I was IN the lake and canal), to Massachusetts.

Boatus had coverage, and had affiliates (they said) who covered for them along the way. I did see Boat us stickers on towboats in Cleveland, Fairport, and Buffalo. It was dark every other place I entered so Can't vouch for more boats as we went along. But.... I never saw seatow anywhere on the lake or canal.

Seatow is in the Hudson river though.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:15 PM   #34
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I have Boat US towing simply because they are the 800 pound gorilla in my area. If both companies where equally represented in my area I'd have both. Admit it, they are dirt cheap at twice the price.
One engine, Buy BoatUS it's cheaper than a twin!
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:30 PM   #35
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Both are excellent and a great deal for the money. I would tend to choose based on their coverage in my specific cruising areas. We cruise a lot of areas so have both.

Seatow has the Eastern US blanketed. Somewhat less in the Gulf, west coast only for the San Diego and LA areas and no Great Lake coverage. Seatow does provide some coverage (up to $225 per hour and a total of $5000) when out of your home area.

TowBoat US/Vessel Assist does provide Great Lakes service and west coast service including San Francisco and the PNW.

Note that neither includes any form of salvage as that must be covered by your boat insurance.

Plans:

Seatow's Gold Card is $169 and offers all coverages you would expect. It covers any boat you own or that you charter, lease, rent or borrow. It does include dock to dock tows and the Universal coverage up to $5000. They do offer Corporate (same price) which is required if the boat is in a Corporation or LLC name and only covers that boat. And they offer a service for commercial boats which requires in addition to the $169 per year a fee of $100 per hour. Last they offer for $365 a professional mariner card for those making their living on multiple boats they don't own and it covers any boat they operate. It is primarily used by Captains.

TowBoat US has a gimmick plan you need to be very wary of. Many marinas are including this as a freebie or dealerships give it to you. It is the Basic Plan and costs $24 per year but it only pays the first $50 of any tow charge. I find it pretty bad that they offer it and people are led to believe they have something of value. Obviously it's an attempt to then up sell. They then have an Unlimited Salt Water at $149 and Unlimited Gold at $181. The only difference in those two plans is that the $149 plan pays only 50% of home dock tows and the $181 plan pays 100%. This can be very significant if you use a shipyard not at your home dock. Situation boat won't start or you got towed back to your home dock or limped in. Service facility is 15 miles away. I've known too many people regret not spending that $22 more. In my home area of Fort Lauderdale a very small percentage of people get their boat serviced at their dock location.

As one noted, the quality of providers from port to port may differ significantly. The Captains are businessmen, mostly very good, some few not so good. If you boat largely in your home area, Id definitely talk to the owners/captains for Seatow and TowBoat US in your local area before choosing.

One other service available to anyone, member or not, but makes one want to be a member just as appreciation. That is information. These tow captains are often the best source of information on local conditions. They typically know ever shoal, every changing channel, the current condition of the inlets. They're out there plus they're assisting those with problems who may be the first to discover additional shoaling.
Good info. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:54 PM   #36
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Surprising that there is no Sea-Tow on the Lakes. Erie is where Sea-Tow Started.
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