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Old 08-03-2015, 06:23 PM   #1
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Towed home

I had to get towed home for the first time in over 11 years of "real" boating.

Went fishing last week after work. Trolled for ~4 hours, and turned off the boat to mooch for another hour. Everything ran very well for the most part.

At dusk went to turn on the motor, and it first turned over and made a horrible sound like a chain was banging around in the engine room. Turned it off, and looked, but everything seemed to be in order. Tried to turn the motor over again, and it now makes a horrible metal scraping sound and won’t turn over!

It was around 9:30pm when the trip home started, called vessel assist, and they showed up an hour or two later… in the meantime we just drifted, fished, drank iced tea, and generally enjoyed the evening. Vessel Assist arrived, and towed us the three miles or so back to our home dock. Gave the “all safe” text to my wife at 11:51pm. Pulled into my driveway at around 2am.

One of the lessons learned is that Vessel Assist is WELL WORTH the $200/year for unlimited towing… the bill would have been over $700, but it just cost me $30 (all the cash I hand on me, an off-the-books payment to the driver for coming out on a weekday evening) and a cold iced-tea.

In the post-event investigation, I believe it’s the starter. Reports of the “chain clanging” have come from the starter pinion not retracting, or even breaking. And I found the exact noise I get when I try to turn it over on Youtube (40 second mark)


I have a mobile mechanic coming out on Monday.

I posted picts and a full write-up here.
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Old 08-03-2015, 07:21 PM   #2
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I'm not sure which is worse, the starter noise, or the music. Glad you got back safely. Also glad I decided to get towing insurance. Good luck with the fix!
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Old 08-03-2015, 07:23 PM   #3
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Not bad for 11 years and glad your safe
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Old 08-03-2015, 08:16 PM   #4
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Consider towing insurance my "second/get-home engine."
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Old 08-03-2015, 08:41 PM   #5
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I had a similar problem a few years ago. The pinion gear on the starter was fine, but it broke several teeth off the ring gear. Due to access issues we had to pull the engine to replace it - $$$$. I was still able to start the engine by manually rotating the engine until the break in the ring gear was just past the starter. That was a real pain to do.

Lets hope your problem is just the starter.
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:00 PM   #6
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Just got our new Boat U S card in the mail. We've been members since 1988, never needed a tow but dare not renew.
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Old 08-03-2015, 10:57 PM   #7
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Although they aren't perfect in all areas, I think the greater benefit of tow coverage may not be the financial aspect but minimizing stress and worry. Once you reached them and they said they were coming, then it was time to just relax and wait.
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:17 PM   #8
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Nice to hear about another happy customer. I drive for Vessel Assist in the SF Bay area, and I love it. 95% of the timee, we can get the boats and folks home happy and safe. The other 5 didn't buy insurance, and they also arrive happy and safe, but a little lighter in the wallet.
We tow everyone from million dollar ocean racing yachts to semi abandoned pieces of motorized flotsam. Everyone should be buying some towing coverage....
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:45 PM   #9
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I know a lot of members have tow insurance, personally I have never needed it ( I probably just put the whammy on myself for that remark).

That is not to say that I have not problems that had to be solved prior to continuing on my way.. fuel filters, wrapped line in the prop, jumped between the house and start banks etc.

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.

I do believe that the East coast does appear to have a higher incidence rate that the West coast so I might feel different out there.

How many "self insure" vs. have tow insurance?

in no way am I chastising anyone for having insurance, we are insured to the hilt for liability... just not this type of coverage.

HOLLYWOOD
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:54 PM   #10
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I got insurance as a trade off for single screw. The Admiral is lots happier knowing we will get home ok.

I also keep a jump battery charged. And have a bucket of filters onboard. Other than that I hope.........
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:06 AM   #11
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No towing companies at all where I live, and some days you never see another boat out on the water. We have a 9.9 HP outboard kicker on a swivelling bracket on the swim grid that will at least get us to a safe spot to figure things out, or wait for help.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:09 AM   #12
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I have tow insurance with Boat U.S. and am happy to have it. I used it a few years ago when I thought I'd run out of fuel. I hadn't, but had misconfigured the old fuel system. But I was happy not being charged for a 1 mile tow into Shilshole.

I also like that this insurance covers all my boats. Right now it's just the trawler and tender, but I've had second boats in Anacortes to get to a cabin (since sold) and covering them was included at no additional charge.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post

How many "self insure" vs. have tow insurance?



HOLLYWOOD
I self-insure, in part because the available coverage is not truly "unlimited". Money ahead.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:25 AM   #14
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Consider towing insurance my "second/get-home engine."

Mark--- Probably depends to a degree on where one boats. Up here where there are strong to very strong currents and a lot of narrow passes and channels and lots of rocks and reefs, an issue boaters in other areas may not have to consider is how far the boat will drift and what it will be carried into by the current between the time one calls for towing assistance and when it arrives.

There have been plenty of incidents/accidents over the years we've been doing this kind of boating where a single engine boat (power or sail) had to shut down its engine, or it quit, and before any kind of assistance could arrive the currents had carried it into or onto the rocks or close enough to where it was touch and go for some pretty anxious moments. This has happened to a few acquaintances of ours.

Something the US and Canadian coast guards always seem to advise when a boat is in danger of being carried up against the shoreline or a reef is to let the anchor all the way out in the hope that it will snag on something before the boat goes aground. Sometimes this apparently works, but we know people who have done this and it didn't work. In many of the places where the currents are the strongest, the bottoms drop off steeply very close to shore so about the time the anchor might catch on something the boat would be up against the rocks.

I don't want to give the impression this sort of thing is happening all the time in this region. But it seems to happen enough to make towing insurance or membership not as useful as it might be in other parts of the cruising world. This becomes more true the farther north along this coast one goes.

While not the main reason my wife and I will only own multi-engine boats, it's a not-insignificant one. Particularly since, with the PNW boat we've owned for 17 years, we've had to come home on one four times. Three due to cooling issues--- nothing wrong with the shut-down engine itself--- and the fourth because I let an engine get a big slug of air during a fuel transfer. In each case it was a simple matter of tying off the shaft of the shut-down engine and finishing the run on one.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:56 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I know a lot of members have tow insurance, personally I have never needed it ( I probably just put the whammy on myself for that remark).

That is not to say that I have not problems that had to be solved prior to continuing on my way.. fuel filters, wrapped line in the prop, jumped between the house and start banks etc.

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.

I do believe that the East coast does appear to have a higher incidence rate that the West coast so I might feel different out there.

How many "self insure" vs. have tow insurance?

in no way am I chastising anyone for having insurance, we are insured to the hilt for liability... just not this type of coverage.

HOLLYWOOD
I am in your camp. I have been towed once. It cost me $250. I have owned larger boats for 20 years. I still do not have tow insurance. I do have two engines but this is the first twin engine boat I have owned. Just does not make financial sense and I am surprised at the OP's(and others) lack of math skills in saying he is ecstatic about having the insurance. Just my opinion.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:11 AM   #16
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I am in your camp. I have been towed once. It cost me $250. I have owned larger boats for 20 years. I still do not have tow insurance. I do have two engines but this is the first twin engine boat I have owned. Just does not make financial sense and I am surprised at the OP's(and others) lack of math skills in saying he is ecstatic about having the insurance. Just my opinion.
Looked at like that, no insurance makes sense. The design is that you'll pay more for premiums than you'll ever collect. Otherwise insurance companies would never make a profit.

Insurance is to meet legal requirements (not relevant in this situation) and for peace of mind. Whether tow insurance buys enough peace of mind to justify it is an individual determination. Can you afford the maximum cost that it might be protecting you against? The cost of tow insurance is so small compared to other boating costs that we do carry it. So far, it's money out and none in. But then I also carry life insurance and I'm very happy no one has yet collected on it.
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Old 08-04-2015, 01:22 AM   #17
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Looked at like that, no insurance makes sense. The design is that you'll pay more for premiums than you'll ever collect. Otherwise insurance companies would never make a profit.

Insurance is to meet legal requirements (not relevant in this situation) and for peace of mind. Whether tow insurance buys enough peace of mind to justify it is an individual determination. Can you afford the maximum cost that it might be protecting you against? The cost of tow insurance is so small compared to other boating costs that we do carry it. So far, it's money out and none in. But then I also carry life insurance and I'm very happy no one has yet collected on it.
One of the differences versus car insurance is that you have significantly more control over the situation. Actual collisions with other boat are not very likely. IOW, most instances where you are needing a tow, you have control over. My one time was an impeller failure and my ignorance at replacing/maintaining it. Had I done the proper maintenance, I'd be batting a thousand. Car insurance makes sense because there are so many variables that are beyond your control.

Life insurance is pretty much completely irrelevant. We are all going to die. The only reason to carry it is to leave money behind to your successors. Not to make any sort of "repair".

And in the end....if we were to rewind our lives....it would be significantly cheaper to self insure in most of our cases. Think of all of the money you have spent. And think of the services you have received in return. Health insurance is probably the one that makes the most sense.....again...because there are so many variables.
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Old 08-04-2015, 02:29 AM   #18
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Well... If you have a decent boat insurance policy, you have some towing coverage already. And, yes, if each of us could know in advance if we would need to use insurance we could save by not having it. There's the rub. We don't know. So we share the risk with others.

Life insurance? It is there to provide for the people we love. Everyone dies. I am amazed how many people "can't afford" life insurance, but they buy $50,000 cars on a 7-year loan. Last week I chatted with a policyholder whose husband died unexpectedly at 62. No life insurance. She's having trouble paying bills. He left her in a bind. He had a few expensive toys but couldn't afford life insurance.

Every week I hear USCG calls for good Samaritans to help out boat owners who need a tow and are "self-insured." I help out when I can but it bugs me how many boaters don't have adequate (if any) insurance coverage.
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Old 08-04-2015, 02:29 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=Baker;354966]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.
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:33 AM   #20
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Insurance is worthwhile imo. You are covering the risk of a rescue. Hard quantifying value,it`s like death insurance, in a way you actually hope you`ll lose your premium, but the day it hits the fan, be glad you had it.
We had Seatow,they closed one year midway through my cover period, I lost out. BoatAssist started on Sydney Harbor, I joined,(some people just never learn). Then we moved north to Broken Bay/Hawkesbury River which no one covers, if they did I`d join,for now we rely on the volunteer organization Marine Rescue (which gets some Govt.backing from our license and registration fees). So far I`ve not needed help from any of them.
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