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Old 11-15-2014, 11:32 AM   #1
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Sea Tow Vs. Boat US towing and services...>

I expect to be settling on my Cape Dory 28 in the next two weeks...
Usage area for the first year will be the Pamlico Sound NC, Chesapeake Bay.
and points between.

Curious as to TF members experiences with both these service providers. I'd like it just for piece of mind over the next year as I sort out the boat. Pro's and Con's of each? Coverage area (Provider ports) appear similar though Boat US seems to have more Chesapeake locations. Costs are similar ($170 ish) for both.

Any feedback would be appreciated!
Thanks
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Old 11-15-2014, 12:18 PM   #2
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Am very familiar with both.


My suggestion is if you tend to cruise in one area, go to both, meet the captain and owner that cover your area and look at the equipment, ask around...about both companies. See which one is more likely to satisfy you with response times and a boat that will handle yours.


If you cruise outside of your area a lot...then roll the dice. Except last I checked, Sea Tow has higher coverage (up to $5000) for times where they aren't available where BoatUS I think tops out at $3000 (that may have changed in the last few months so verify.)


Being the 2 giants in the business....they stay pretty close in contract services...so it truly is a question of who responds to you much more than which towing policy you choose.


The one classic response from most people is "I have XXX and they are great...they did this and that...man they were great and really pros!!!"


The other is "those guys are pirates...they charged $XXXX for nothing" or "it took 5 hrs for them to get there and then they told me they couldn't help me".


Typical responses from people who really don't know much about the service...just their one or two experiences.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:08 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:16 PM   #4
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I have always used BoatUS Tow and went with the "unlimited" coverage. It covers everywhere plus up to 25 miles off shore. It also works like AAA. If you are a passenger on a boat, that boat is covered. As long as you are not towing another vessel!

I don't have any experience with Sea Tow. I'm sure they are fine.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:33 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:02 PM   #6
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We have both. The extra $170 a year is peanuts in the big scheme of things. If we stayed in one area, we would probably have just the one.
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:12 PM   #7
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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.
When I have gone on "long" trips (twice) I get both, still dirt cheap as Cpseudonym said above. Never have had to use either in the 10 years I have been a subscriber to one or both of them.
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:48 PM   #8
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I have always used BoatUS Tow and went with the "unlimited" coverage. It covers everywhere plus up to 25 miles off shore. It also works like AAA. If you are a passenger on a boat, that boat is covered. As long as you are not towing another vessel!

I don't have any experience with Sea Tow. I'm sure they are fine.
Careful in using the word "Unlimited" as there are multiple "Unlimited." Do you have Unlimited Salt Water or Unlimited Gold?
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Old 11-15-2014, 04:57 PM   #9
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I have always used BoatUS Tow and went with the "unlimited" coverage. It covers everywhere plus up to 25 miles off shore. It also works like AAA. If you are a passenger on a boat, that boat is covered. As long as you are not towing another vessel!

I don't have any experience with Sea Tow. I'm sure they are fine.
That's not true as I have called the home office several times to verify that.

Maybe the one local franchise honors that and maybe others, but it's not policy.

Here's the quote from the BoatUS manual which is the same from the Sea Tow Manual....

"Paid Services apply to any recreational boat owned, borrowed or chartered by the Member and includes 24 Hour Towing Dispatch Service."

that's very specific to not include being a "passenger"...a misconception by many members of both services.

Towing Services Agreement - BoatUS
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:07 PM   #10
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As a trawler owner operating in shallow waters, having both is not a bad idea.

Many times in my area, the other company is not available for awhile and it is possible to run aground right on the edge of a drop off. It is possible to roll over in such a way to start taking on water through engine room vents and if a tow company doesn't get you off fast...you might sink while aground.

So having both is cheap insurance and call both...the first one wins!
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:28 PM   #11
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"Paid Services apply to any recreational boat owned, borrowed or chartered by the Member and includes 24 Hour Towing Dispatch Service."

that's very specific to not include being a "passenger"...a misconception by many members of both services.
And Seatow says the same, "charters, rents, leases, or borrows."

I've known of one case where a tow captain was blasted and posts made online when he adhered to the policy.

Another avenue people try to take that doesn't work is sign up and then get a tow from dock to shipyard. That service isn't available for 30 days.
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:32 PM   #12
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Slightly OT. We are planning to take a trip next year up the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence R., Chambly Canal etc., Lake Champlain and I don't see on either of these two companies service maps any operators in those areas, either in US or Canada.

Does anyone know of any similar services in those areas?
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:47 PM   #13
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Slightly OT. We are planning to take a trip next year up the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence R., Chambly Canal etc., Lake Champlain and I don't see on either of these two companies service maps any operators in those areas, either in US or Canada.

Does anyone know of any similar services in those areas?
My suggestion is to call both headquarters and see what they suggest.

Give them scenario and your travel plans and see what they can do.
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Old 11-15-2014, 06:33 PM   #14
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Slightly OT. We are planning to take a trip next year up the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence R., Chambly Canal etc., Lake Champlain and I don't see on either of these two companies service maps any operators in those areas, either in US or Canada.

Does anyone know of any similar services in those areas?
Tow Boat US does offer services in some of those areas. They do not offer services in Canada. The have boats in Oneida, Oswego and French Bay.

Now both also offer some limited coverage where they don't have boats up to a certain amount. It's $5000 for SeaTow and $2500 or $3000 for TowBoat US.I know Boat US does provide some service in Canada as well, but don't know the limitations.

Canada does have it's own service, C-Tow. Their policies start at $150 and go up to $225.

Also, Canada Coastal Services but their area is very limited and doesn't include most of the area you're visiting.
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Old 11-15-2014, 06:56 PM   #15
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Tow Boat US does offer services in some of those areas. They do not offer services in Canada. The have boats in Oneida, Oswego and French Bay.

Now both also offer some limited coverage where they don't have boats up to a certain amount. It's $5000 for SeaTow and $2500 or $3000 for TowBoat US.I know Boat US does provide some service in Canada as well, but don't know the limitations.

Canada does have it's own service, C-Tow. Their policies start at $150 and go up to $225.

Also, Canada Coastal Services but their area is very limited and doesn't include most of the area you're visiting.

I was told but have not confirmed that Tow Boat and Sea Tow work together. In other words if you have a problem and call Boat Us and they don't cover the area or cannot reach you they will send sea tow and they work it out. Anybody heard or experienced this scenario?
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:10 PM   #16
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I was told but have not confirmed that Tow Boat and Sea Tow work together. In other words if you have a problem and call Boat Us and they don't cover the area or cannot reach you they will send sea tow and they work it out. Anybody heard or experienced this scenario?
Not true...if you choose the other service, you pay up front and get reimbursed when accepting their service.

Always call you towing provider before dealing with the other company...they will authorize and arrange for the other provider. Make sure you get confirmation or you may have a big credit card bill for a bit.

The two companies are separate and in some areas arch rivals and possibly enemies.

That's what I posted before about how little people understand the service.
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:12 PM   #17
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I was told but have not confirmed that Tow Boat and Sea Tow work together. In other words if you have a problem and call Boat Us and they don't cover the area or cannot reach you they will send sea tow and they work it out. Anybody heard or experienced this scenario?
Yes and no. If one doesn't have coverage for the area they will arrange and reimburse for the other to tow you up to certain limits. However, that doesn't mean you can just interchange them or they'll pay for the other to tow just because they're closer or can get to you faster.
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:17 PM   #18
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The two companies are separate and in some areas arch rivals and possibly enemies.
Fortunately the companies do have a better relationship than some of their agents and captains. In some areas the captains have great relationships but in other areas one has to be very careful. I've known of the one you don't have seeing a boat, pulling up to the boat and then telling them the one they have will reimburse them since they weren't able to make it. In one case the one initially called saw the other towing the boat in and followed and a fight ensued on the dock. So careful as there is poaching in some areas.
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:30 PM   #19
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Fortunately the companies do have a better relationship than some of their agents and captains. In some areas the captains have great relationships but in other areas one has to be very careful. I've known of the one you don't have seeing a boat, pulling up to the boat and then telling them the one they have will reimburse them since they weren't able to make it. In one case the one initially called saw the other towing the boat in and followed and a fight ensued on the dock. So careful as there is poaching in some areas.
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.
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Old 11-15-2014, 07:33 PM   #20
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Not true...if you choose the other service, you pay up front and get reimbursed when accepting their service.

Always call you towing provider before dealing with the other company...they will authorize and arrange for the other provider. Make sure you get confirmation or you may have a big credit card bill for a bit.

The two companies are separate and in some areas arch rivals and possibly enemies.

That's what I posted before about how little people understand the service.
I would always call my provider first.
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