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Old 08-04-2015, 07:00 AM   #21
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1. Have towed or been on standby for a couple dozen twin engine boats this year. Have pulled several dozen more off sandbars.

2. Assistance towing on many areas now is over $ 300 per hour, one hour minimum, from the time the towboat leaves the dock til, it returns. Ungroundingis an additional $10 to $20 per foot on top of the hourly charge.

3. My average non member tow within 7 miles of my home base is around $600 these days. Pricing by assistance towers is trying to outpace what insurance companies pay out to entice customer to join.... and that also helps keep membership fees low.

4. Many customers have coverage as they don't want the hassle of dealing with their insurance company and at worst...may get dropped after several claims.

5. One advantage is instead of HAVING to do on the water repairs, or dive in open water or wait for the tide and then have to find a marina or anchorage after dark...a towing company can get you someplace relatively quickly and safely without stress. For many, they cite that alone as being worth the annual price.

I didn't have tow insurance on my last boat..but as long as I spend many weeks of cruising in areas that are well covered by assistance towing, from now on I will carry it.

Funny how many other topics are discussed and the "costs of boating" are somewhat laughed as insignificant....yet all cost more than tow insurance.

Like all insurance...it's rolling the dice...how lucky are you?
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Old 08-04-2015, 08:31 AM   #22
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I'm surprised that the number of boats that get towed. As a percentage of overall boating it's probably pretty small, but still, more than I would have anticipated. It makes me keep my insurance in place.

From my deck I see at least 1 boat being towed back up the creek to home every weekend. Almost always by another private boat. The best ever was a Towboat being towed by a Towboat!
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:12 AM   #23
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I've called for a tow twice in 22 years. Once the USCGAUX towed me the few miles back to my dock when my prop got fouled by a tarp. The other I played my BoatUS card when I lost one of my injector lines off the coast of New Jersey. Both times turned ugly situations into non-events. Well worth it.
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:55 AM   #24
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At my peak, I had about 250 tows per year for a tow boat that covers about 15 miles of NJ shore and back bay.


Last year it was down to around 175 I believe.


So if the competitor company did the same number, add the emergency tows by government agencies, and the good Samaritan tows...I wouldn't be surprised if there were 500 responses in that 15 miles. other years it could have been way higher.


The responses would be tows, ungroundings, gas drops, battery jumps and a few other kinds....
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:37 AM   #25
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At my peak, I had about 250 tows per year for a tow boat that covers about 15 miles of NJ shore and back bay.


Last year it was down to around 175 I believe.


So if the competitor company did the same number, add the emergency tows by government agencies, and the good Samaritan tows...I wouldn't be surprised if there were 500 responses in that 15 miles. other years it could have been way higher.


The responses would be tows, ungroundings, gas drops, battery jumps and a few other kinds....

Some of my attitude is probably stems from the type of boating I have done/do, cruising in areas where you are the only source of rescue. It is a different mentality than the " weekend boater" who is out for a few hours with the wife and the kids and pushed to show everybody a good time.

I also understand that many do not have the ability to mix most all issues mechanical that arise.. of go overboard at night with a mark to clear a fouled prop ( not that I enjoyed it by any stretch of the imagination).

Many mechanical issues are lessened by great maintenance, and knowing your boat. And sometimes one just has to drop the hook, wait for the tide, sort things out, and take a little time to remedy the situation.

My wife has called a couple fixes my McGuiver solutions.

I would also suspect that a larger percentage of the boats that need to be towed/assisted are the faster cruiser types vs. our trawler types ( I use trawler intentionally as that is the word I do use for the type of most boats on this forum.. and will continue to till I die ) There is just a different .. somewhat self sustainable attitude in MOST trawler types I have run across over the years.

PSneed, don't take this personally.. but I would consider myself a failure if under all but extreme circumstances ( the only exception I can think of is fire.. then I hope the damn thing burns to the waterline and sinks) that I would need a tow to get home.

When we did our Pacific cruise I had no hope of outside assistance in the event of mechanical issues.. that mentality still is instilled in me/us today.

All that being said, I do understand that there are folks that don't know a screwdriver from a socket and the only tool they know how to use is a cell phone.. for them towing insurance works ( thank god.. because then I don't have to tow them in).

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Old 08-04-2015, 12:22 PM   #26
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Other than what is included in my basic boat insurance policy I have no towing insurance. That said, there are no tow boats operating around here. The closest is 50+ miles away through two island chains. 90% of the boats that get towed in here are towed by lobster fishers. The Coast Guard does the other 10%. As far as good samaritan towing is concerned, it is specifically excluded in my insurance policy, so I don't do it.

As far as getting home goes, I can always hip tow the mothership with the dinghy. I have had to do it twice. It was slow, but I got home.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:25 PM   #27
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At my peak, I had about 250 tows per year for a tow boat that covers about 15 miles of NJ shore and back bay.


Last year it was down to around 175 I believe.


So if the competitor company did the same number, add the emergency tows by government agencies, and the good Samaritan tows...I wouldn't be surprised if there were 500 responses in that 15 miles. other years it could have been way higher.


The responses would be tows, ungroundings, gas drops, battery jumps and a few other kinds....
It can add up on the east coast with the ICW and with all the inlets and bays and rivers. I know one area we went in for the night in Georgia and the marina warned us fortunately, but a new shoal had led to 10 assist calls in the previous three days. Most were just helped off the bar, but a couple that had tried to extricate themselves had incurred damage and had to be towed.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:27 PM   #28
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I just spent $940 for an 8 mile tow in Louisiana. It wasn't an actual tow boat but a diver boat I hired to come clear the prop (that wasn't the problem).

In hindsight, instead of relying on the TowBoatUS tow that never materialized and wasting two hours waiting, I think (with help from the wisdom here on the forum) I could have fiddled with the transmission and limped into the dock.

So I'm leaning towards the self insure camp now.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:41 PM   #29
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Frankly, we use tow captains enough for information (local knowledge) that we'd feel guilty if we didn't have their insurance. If not for the tow plans, they wouldn't be as readily available.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:54 PM   #30
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hey I am all for self help as that is my style too....


it is just piece of mind with a single screw and well worth about the price of a dinner out for 4.


plus I have been getting it at a really discounted rate for the last 13 years...

many long distance cruisers I have helped (usually aground but a few other issues too)...have both Boat US and Sea tow because they don't want to wait. It's not a bad idea as I have seen a few trawler type boats sink because they went aground. They hit a sandbar and when the tide dropped, they rolled on a slope toward deep water...as the tide came in it floode3d them through the engine room vents and any other below the bulwarks openings.

confident and able cruisers can probably do without....and many travel in areas where the towing isn't available...but they still cover up to $5000 if Joe Bob has to come out with his shrimper to get you.

roll the dice....me I have lousy luck at gambling and taking chances...I think I used up all my luck on my health and whacky helo missions.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:56 PM   #31
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But what the O.P. did was get $700 worth of tow for his 11 years at $200 a year coverage. It is one of those times when the insurance was not worth the cost... I would rather pay the $ 700 bucks vs. having paid the $ 2200.
Very true in this case. But I was only 3nm from my home port and they charge by the hour ($275/hr it looked like on the form, but that may have been a membership rate too?). If I was fishing at the other "local" spot, it's a 10nm run, and a bigger bill.

It's all risk analysis, and depending on where and how you boat, you may or may not find towing insurance worthwhile. I'd never used it before, but after this event I think I'll keep it. YMMV and reasonable minds may disagree.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:03 PM   #32
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I think we are mistaking something here. No amount of tow insurance is going to magically make a tow boat show up when a towboat is not available. You are just as likely to receive a tow with or without tow insurance. So the "peace of mind" deal is a financial peace of mind. Just because you have tow insurance does not guarantees you a tow. The only way a member is going to trump a non member is if they are both stranded at the same time...then the tow company is likely to tow the member first.

My point: Just because you do not have tow insurance does not leave you stranded in the case that you need a tow. You just have to pay for it out of pocket. That is the only difference(except my above example if two people are vying for the same tow boat). SO enjoy your boating. And if you need a tow, call one. If you are a member, then good for you. If not, you will still get towed but have to pay.

NOW you could argue "peace of mind" if tow membership was the ONLY way to get towed...then I would wholeheartedly agree. But the only "peace of mind" you are getting is financial peace of mind. And in most cases, as most have stated here, there services rendered have not exceeded their expense. And in my particular case, I am way ahead of the curve.

So to summarize my view...I will operate my boat responsibly and maintain it to the best of my ability. If I have troubles on the water that prevent me from continuing underway, I will do my best to fix the situation. If I am unable, I will call a tow. It is as simple as that.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:07 PM   #33
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I think Mattkab's mistake perhaps in his post was posting the financial information as if it "paid for itself." Had he simply stated, "I was glad I had it and just patiently waited for my tow" then we would be looking at it differently. And, if it made him happy and comfortable, then I'd say it was worth it. Intangibles have value just as tangibles do.
Yes, from a pure account ledger balance, I did not come out on top.

On the other hand, once the call was made and we knew the tow boat was on the way, the stress of the situation was gone, to the point that my buddy started fishing again.

I immediately knew I was going to be safe, my crew was going to be safe, and the boat was going to be safe.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:07 PM   #34
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If not for the tow plans, they wouldn't be as readily available.
That is a good point that I had not considered.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:12 PM   #35
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that may be not as common in the future...there is a move in the assistance towing business to only tow members. if not a member...a membership fee will be included in the first hour...I am not sure of the details as we don't do that yet...but some franchises have already started.


either way you are mostly correct and when I think people use the phrase "peace of mind"...they mean just pick up the phone...no muss no fuss....


If not a member the bill may be sticker shock....even though less than 20 years of paying non-used insurance...as has been said...its just a frame of mind that mimics all parts of life that people buy insurance for...dang near everything.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:14 PM   #36
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That is a good point that I had not considered.
plus the USCG would have to go back to towing and while a benefit in one respect...a disaster in others.

sure, you could just rely on a salvage based system to provide tows...but then you would wait forever, maybe never...and if they came...without competition...the 4170 or so a year would start to look REAL cheap.....
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:19 PM   #37
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that may be not as common in the future...there is a move in the assistance towing business to only tow members. if not a member...a membership fee will be included in the first hour...I am not sure of the details as we don't do that yet...but some franchises have already started.


either way you are mostly correct and when I think people use the phrase "peace of mind"...they mean just pick up the phone...no muss no fuss....


If not a member the bill may be sticker shock....even though less than 20 years of paying non-used insurance...as has been said...its just a frame of mind that mimics all parts of life that people buy insurance for...dang near everything.
I did go back and edit to include that argument(ie members only).

All others, good points and excellent discussion!!!
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:21 PM   #38
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My point: Just because you do not have tow insurance does not leave you stranded in the case that you need a tow. You just have to pay for it out of pocket.
...
And in most cases, as most have stated here, there services rendered have not exceeded their expense.
This is a good point.

But I have also heard on the VHF many disabled boats that are waiting for a fellow boater to come rescue them so they don't have to pay for the tow. To me, part of being self-sufficient is not requesting (requiring?) other boaters to come to your assistance, unless that is a service they provide.

I pay $200/yr for the ability to call a trained professional with the proper equipment to assist... I happen to boat in an area where there are a fleet of 5 full-time vessel assist boats within 50nm, and don't need to impose on other boaters in the case of a mechanical breakdown.

I'm also going to get my 9.9hp kicker motor out of storage and get her back up and running as well.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:33 PM   #39
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The only way a member is going to trump a non member is if they are both stranded at the same time...then the tow company is likely to tow the member first.
The cynic in me wonders.

One guy's going to pay you $1000, the other guy you're going to tow for free. Hmmm...
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:37 PM   #40
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you need to understand how the towing franchises make their money....and just how important good customer service is to their business health.


it might appear as you say...but it is not that simple.
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