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Old 08-24-2016, 12:47 PM   #61
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Good discussion. Its important to know how to handle these situations, so thank you to the people who have had first hand experience, and sharing their stories with us. I definitely picked up some good pointers.
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Old 08-24-2016, 01:21 PM   #62
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Ski....you are somewhat correct with the peril part and BandB your mention of a "marine contractor hat" is also somewhat correct. Ski, your surf line sailboat was definitely salvage as the owner was not willing to wait and even then had little chance of reloading his boat under normal circumstances. The peril was to a boat or person passing a tow line from offshore to the beach. No matter how simple in real terms, not a normal procedure.

A boat that has water in it from an unknown source, that is not actively taking on water, might still considered to be in peril and thus a salvage. Depends on the arbitration guy or marine court but they will usually acknowledge that it isn't covered by membership, isn't necessarily a job worth XX% of the boat, but is worth so many hours at such and such a cost.

So if clearly not covered by membership agreement, then if not readily in peril, make dang sure you know what the guy with the paperwork in front of you is charging....by "salvage agreement paperwork".

If the boat is on the rocks, in the surf, or rapidly taking on water.....call a salvage company even if BoatUS for SeavTow...you are going to be on the hook for money...so right after making the call....beeter speed dial your insurance company or agent and get approval for the salvage...get a name, time and file number.

In this case, the OP had no damage insurance, so he is on the hook unless he can prove he was misled or refused. Which doesn't sound like it as he has no clue what unlimited towing is or he wouldn't have made a big deal about it.
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Old 08-24-2016, 02:17 PM   #63
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There are two different issues. You're talking about the procedure for making a salvage claim. That differs from salvage towing for an owner.
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In the OP's case, there are three separate actions: Dewatering the boat, towing to the yard, and haul. If the boat was actively flooding, then the pumping is definitely worthy of a salvage claim. If the flooding was stopped, then the tow was just a regular tow. If the flooding was still active and the boat hauled to avoid further flooding, the tow and haul could be claimed as part of the salvage.

My point in entering this conversation is that in my experience, try to negotiate a scope of service and a price before the potential salvor does anything. Might not be appropriate if you are drifting toward rocks in a storm, but it is appropriate if you have some water in your bilge and need a pump out.
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Old 08-24-2016, 02:26 PM   #64
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We've been told by Tow BoatUs even though we have unlimited gold towing that any tow that involves engine trouble, taking on water, grounding or fire will always be considered salvage and will not be paid for at all and will always result in a bill of many thousands of dollars.

I would expect that "engine trouble" part was too much of a broad brush; they tow folks all the time who are having simple engine problems -- like it won't start, won't run, for sometimes an easy reason (out of fuel, sucking air, battery hosed, whatever).

You could ask the TowBoatUS guys to hum a few more bars about what kind of engine problem qualifies for towing and what kinds might be considered salvage.

In the latter case, I could imagine issues with water ingestion through a faulty sea cock or severely failing raw water impeller, dripless shaft seals that have decided to let go, and so forth. Stuff not necessarily "engine" but related to the propulsion system.

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Old 08-24-2016, 02:32 PM   #65
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.

In the OP's case, there are three separate actions: Dewatering the boat, towing to the yard, and haul. If the boat was actively flooding, then the pumping is definitely worthy of a salvage claim. If the flooding was stopped, then the tow was just a regular tow. If the flooding was still active and the boat hauled to avoid further flooding, the tow and haul could be claimed as part of the salvage.

My point in entering this conversation is that in my experience, try to negotiate a scope of service and a price before the potential salvor does anything. Might not be appropriate if you are drifting toward rocks in a storm, but it is appropriate if you have some water in your bilge and need a pump out.
As always, if emergency, you do what must be done. If not, however, you get clear agreement of what is to be done and how it will be charged. I would get them either in writing, or if oral, recorded or with a witness taking notes. The moment you let someone touch things, you've entered into a binding legal contract. Without an agreement for pricing, it would be the vendor's normal pricing for such tasks as long as it's not grossly inconsistent with industry norms.

Per the terms of his membership agreement however if the boat has water in it, then the towing is salvage towing and not covered by TowBoat US towing or by SeaTow towing.

The membership agreement is what it is and has nothing to do with whether one can put in a salvage claim or not. There can be situations that would neither be covered by the tow membership or by the hull insurer. If the boat was in no peril and not taking on water, the insurer might say for you to just pump it out and then get a regular tow.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:10 PM   #66
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For the sake of argument, TowBoat doesn't help the confusion. This is what they just posted on Facebook. It sure makes it sound like you are covered when a hurricane strikes.

Forecast through FRIDAY Sept 2 for our NC Coast. This is a Tropical Storm that may bring up to 7 inches of rain. Make sure your batteries can keep up with your bilge pump! And ALWAYS check on your boat as soon as you can after a bad storm. MY forecast for the rest of the Labor Day weekend is GO BOATING and make sure you have an active TowBoatUS Membership as part of your safety equipment! Isn't peace of mind worth $149.00 a year? Call 252-728-5088 to join OR to check the status of your membership.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:59 PM   #67
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Looks like it should be 2 well separated paragraphs.

Believe me, I worked boat shows and listened to employees of Sea Tow and BOATUS confuse prospective members with info. Maybe not malicious to get a membership.....but certainly not accurate..

So you definitely need to read the membership guide and for whatever isn't perfectly clear to you, get at least a half dozen explanations of that point. Even then, you could be mislead.
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Old 08-31-2016, 04:51 PM   #68
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Insurance sales persons do the same, telling you you're covered for "everything" and then you find out there are a hundred exclusions. If you're entering into a contract, read the contract. What is in it in writing is what's important, not what you thought you heard from a sales person.
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Old 09-03-2016, 04:31 PM   #69
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I have a gold membership and my boat quit pumping water through the engine in a desolate part of the NC intercoastal. I got two tows by different operators and had no issues. Turns out the gear behind the new raw water pump failed. As soon as my engine overheated I shut it down and anchored in the middle of the channel so I guess that situation was a straight tow as the boat was secure.
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Old 09-15-2016, 09:43 AM   #70
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It is my understanding that in the case of a salvage the salvor must perform some 'due diligence' in advising the owner/operator of the vessel that he is engaging in a salvage prior to the salvage, if the boat is occupied.

Operating under the assumption or inference of a 'tow', then billing as salvage after the fact is unscrupulous and unethical. In other words the salvee should be given the opportunity to decline salvage.

This might be the only, albeit very weak leg to stand-on for disputing the charges. At the very least it could be used as a basis to negotiate down the charges. I was able to reduce a salvage by 50% by arguing that the salvor didn't actually salvage my vessel. It dragged on anchor while I was away, but was caught by the boat behind me. The tow company came by and moved me from a position rafted with the boat behind me to a mooring. Technically the boat that caught me had salvor rights and the tow company only performed a relocation tow.
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Old 09-16-2016, 02:37 PM   #71
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It is my understanding that in the case of a salvage the salvor must perform some 'due diligence' in advising the owner/operator of the vessel that he is engaging in a salvage prior to the salvage, if the boat is occupied.

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I think the burden of "diligence" rests upon the salvee and not the salvor. Yes, it could be considered unethical of sticking a salvage claim on an unsuspecting boater. But the law allows for it. There are also cases where time or conditions do not allow for such agreements to take place....like a boat that is about to be on the rocks in bad weather. In the end, it ends up being a lesson to the uneducated boater.

As an aside, I scrolled through the Sea Tow facebook page. They show boats that are VERY hard aground and allude to the fact that if that person was a member, their subsequent ungrounding and tow would be at no additional cost. I would find that hard to agree with especially because their membership only covers "soft ungroundings". Anyway, I thought it was interesting and misleading. Even to the point that if I got stuck with such a bill, I would use their Facebook page against them in court.
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