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Author Topic:   Would you tow a fellow boater?
Dan posted 05-07-2001 11:15 AM ET (US)   Profile for Dan   Send Email to Dan  
Would you tow a fellow boater? Yesterday, I towed someone (22' or so with a cabin) a mile plus in calm water with my Outrage 17 & 115 Merc. I kept my speed to 2mph, made a bridle, and used a generous amount of the other boater's anchor line to tow with. As a Power Squadron member I know I'm supposed to help fellow boaters, however I wasn't sure what the best way to help this person was. I sort of felt the guy was just trying to avoid joining Sea-Tow or calling a towing service as he had Vhf. Also, I don't want to damage my boat in a non-emergency situation. Any advice/thoughts? P.S. My wife and kids were with me and my wife didn't want me to risk damaging my boat -- especially on her maiden voyage -- lol.
Chris J posted 05-07-2001 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
I will offer help if it looks like something I can handle without serious risk to my boat or passengers. I think I'd be reluctant to tow a boat much bigger than mine (after all, if they have a bigger boat they should be able to afford a commercial tow).
Dick posted 05-07-2001 05:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Same goes for me.

I was on Lake Washington last fall and saw this 12' aluminum boat bobbing around with the owner trying to start the motor. I headed towards him and probably 12 boats passed and ignored him befor I arrived. He and his young son had lifejackets on and it was to rough to try a transfer to my boat. Towed them 3 miles to the launch, scary experience towing a small aluminum with two people in it with the lake as bad as it was. Plus the idiots who could see what was going on and didn't care about their wakes.


sr posted 05-07-2001 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for sr  Send Email to sr     
I had the opportunity once. A guy was out salmon fishing about 7 miles out, wanted a jump, a tow, or get ahold of one of his friends. I opted for the friend, via vhf less than a quarter mile away, I hung close until friend arrived then we resumed fishing.
Thankfully, I have not been in the position since. Is it true that as soon as I agree to tow, I become responsible for the boat and all passengers? I have to say I actually hated being asked, didn't know what to say.
whalernut posted 05-07-2001 08:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
I have Towed and been Towed and would never refuse to tow anyone dead in the water, unless my Currituck couldn`t handle it. Regards-Jack Graner.
Hoop posted 05-07-2001 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
I towed a 24 footer at Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago with my then Dauntless 15 with Honda 50. What an experience!

I was out with my wife and our dog on the Dauntless 15 I had at the time. We were out for "one last cruise" before packing up the picnic lunch to head back to the motel. I was listening to channel 16 and listened to a boater ask, and be denied, help from the Coast Guard. He was not in "danger."

So I headed over to his reported location, which turned out to be twice as far as the boater had said on the VHF. And there he was, in an older 24 foot I/O, dead in the water, tied off to a buoy, in calm water and maybe 100 feet from shore. His family and in-laws were with him on what must have been the maiden voyage for him after buying the obviously-used boat.

I made a bridle, swung close in and grabbed his stern line as the guy released his line from the buoy. (Dumb) His boat started drifting to shore as the line snaked through my hand at increasing speed. There was a sharp burn on my fingers when the pot-metal fitting the boater had on the end of the line went across my hand.

That was just the beginning of what was to be quite a story. The story included a line snaked around my prop, though with no damage, blood gushing from my wounded finger while my wife found a towel to wrap around it. And the story included my connecting that pot-metal fitting to the bridle ... another dumb thing.

While the tow started out in calm water, the wind picked up and the wind waves rose to maybe a foot or so. Not too much, but enough so that, combined with the wake from a too-close speeding boat, that tow line was tensioned then released then tensioned, again and again after stopping to check with him, causing the pot metal fitting to snap. A sharp "thwang" was heard, only later to be identified as damage to the shroud of my outboard from the fitting flying into it.

Good thing that the fitting flew into my outboard, because that was much better than flying into me or my wife!

Unfortunately, I didn't discover the outboard shroud damage until the boater was packed up and gone.

I did get the towed boat to the dock - 3 miles away. A Coast Guardsman who was there at the dock to assist us in coming back (this was at the public launch right at the Lake Tahoe Coast Guard station) gave me a nice and much remembered "well done" comment. The boater gave me $40 and I took my wife to dinner. I paid ??? to have the shroud on my motor repaired. My finger healed. And all became well, in time.

Would I tow again? Probably, but never with my wife on board!

Towing is dangerous, even in "calm water", and should never be undertaken without a careful assessment of those dangers.

San Jose

Clark Roberts posted 05-07-2001 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
I figure that it wraps around and so when I need it maybe someone will help.. have towed lots of people but decide where myself.. sometimes they want you to take them home! Just a tow to safety, communications, and/or supplies is all that's needed! Also I believe (could be mistaken about this one) that it is a maritime law requirement that you render assistance to a disabled vessel!???? Unless of course you endanger your vessel and/or crew in the process
sr posted 05-07-2001 10:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for sr  Send Email to sr     
found this, still does not anwser my question, but sure puts hoop's story into perspective. It does hint about (legal?) responsibility. Does anyone know for sure? As I mentioned, I felt relieved the guy gave me the optionto call the other boat he knew.
Makonut posted 05-07-2001 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Makonut  Send Email to Makonut     
Rendering Assistance
The master or person in charge of a vessel is obligated by law to provide assistance that can be safely provided to any individual in danger at sea. The master or person in charge is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for failure to do so.

Key word(s)..Safely provided and danger at sea. Personally I would never venture on any body of water without a working radio or cell phone. Here in california we have vessel assist..80.00 a year is cheap insurance for towage (been there, done that and saved my behind). Lost my engines 26 miles out. Not only brought me back, but had hot coffee to boot.

NWflyfisher posted 05-07-2001 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for NWflyfisher    
This question regarding towing has got my mental gears in motion. I'm new to both Whalers and boating. Having recently purchased a '78 Montauk, I'm truly appreciative of the sage wisdom offered here on the Classic Whaler Forums so please step up and advise.

Is it SOP (standard operating procedure) to subscribe to a "towing service?"

Is towing something that can/should be covered in my boat insurance policy?

If subscribing to a towing service is a recommendation of the Gurus on the Forum, can anyone suggest one one that services the South/Central Puget Sound area?

What other options exist for a stranded boater besides contacting the USCG and having them tell you its not an emergency?

Should I try to establish a relationship with local marina's and find one that monitors Channel 16?

I'm probably tempting fate with my 1978 Mercury 700 but at least I have a 1988 15hp Mercury "kicker" on a separate 6 gallon fuel tank to back it up...2 paddles after that.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Gig Harbor, WA

Makonut posted 05-07-2001 11:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Makonut  Send Email to Makonut     
Nice to hear someone "new" to boating that has the "what if" foresight. You should have a Boat/US in your area that sells tow insurance. Normally the local Harbor Patrol will be of assistance if your in trouble. Don't know how far out you intend to venture, or what your waters are like..but insurance is very cheap compared to a tow service. Also I might recommend a boating course either Power Squadron or Coast guard Aux. (worth 10% off your boating insurance)

safe boating

lpaton posted 05-08-2001 06:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for lpaton  Send Email to lpaton     
Towed a 50 foot drilling barge for 5 miles with a striper 15 and 40 hp Yamaha. Water was dead calm luckily.
goldstem posted 05-08-2001 08:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for goldstem  Send Email to goldstem     
Have done so many times.
70_Katama posted 05-08-2001 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for 70_Katama  Send Email to 70_Katama     
While were on the subject. Are there any tricks or does anyone have any advice on how to properly tow another boat?
Arch Autenreith posted 05-08-2001 08:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
I can't imagine not helping/towing another boater. Even under extreme conditions.
TRIDENT posted 05-08-2001 09:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for TRIDENT  Send Email to TRIDENT     
I would be very hesitant to tow someone with my Montauk. It is not set up for towing and you are liable for any damages to the other guy's vessel, not to mention any damage to my own vessel. I will always render aid by calling the Coast Guard or a towing service for them on VHF and waiting for the towboat to arrive. I will and have taken passengers to safe harbor on my boat but refused to tow their rig. I hope this doesn't make me an a-hole, but I feel it is too risky.
where2 posted 05-08-2001 09:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Interesting comments: I am fortunate enough to have been on the good side of the coin having not "had" to be towed, Yet. But when I am boating, if I see someone who appears to obviously be in need of assistance, I will render a tow to the ramp, or safe anchorage if requested.
My favorite tow story happened not too long after I got my 15' Sport. My father and I were rounding the island just inside the mouth of the inlet when we noticed a small 12' Aluminum jon boat with two people in it. At first, we thought they were just being friendly waving, except that after 15 seconds you recognize that "that's a really long friendly wave". As we circled back toward them, they held out a rope. They were anchored on the edge of the inlet channel on an outgoing tide, with the gulfstream running 3 miles offshore. When we asked them where they wanted to be towed to, they pointed toward the ramp 3 miles south (apparently, not speaking english, or being deaf/mute). Anyway, we lashed them to the stern lifting/towing eye, and towed them 3 miles down the lake at dusk.
When presented with the question of whether I would tow something larger than my boat. I've seen my father pull a 44' sport fish off a sand bar with a 30 year old, 27' houseboat with a measly 70hp. It's not that that guy could afford Sea-Tow/Boat_US. It's a matter of courtesy, good seamanship, and being friendly. Waiting for the tow boat while the tide ran out from under the sportfish would have caused further damage to his props. I can remember the days before Sea-Tow/Boat_US came along to take $300 out of your pocket for a tow (non-members), or $100/yr for a "membership". Granted, they do a great service for those who can afford them, but I haven't stopped offering a tow to stranded boaters because "they should call a towing service"...
My neighbors know if their stranded and I'm home, I'll give them a tow. I'll take any excuse to go boating. :)
blackdog posted 05-08-2001 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
You are not an A whole, just safety minded. You are not obligated to tow someone but you are obligated to render assistance. That means calling for help or what ever you can do but donít put yourself at risk. I know I wouldnít be comfortable towing some one let alone handle my boat and thereís. I just donít have the boat handling experience.
As to the guy who called the Coast Guard for a tow and they refused help. Thatís not what the Coast Guard is for, they will never tow you. They will most certainly call for commercial assistance so the guy was just being cheap. I know I have the means to pay for a tow if needed plus I have insurance. It is my responsibility if I go out on the boat!


rwest posted 05-08-2001 10:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for rwest  Send Email to rwest     
Having read the towing experiences abouve I wanted to put in my 2 cents. I've been boating for over 40 years (30 as an owner) and have towed to a lot of boats raning from 12 ft up to a 26 ft charter boat which I towed with my 16 ft Whaler Nauset years ago. I would never turn down someone needing help but the help might be to take the people ontom my vessel and anchor the disabled vessel. Townign is not alsways the answer depending on the sea and weather conditions. I have been a member of the US CG Auxiliary for 29 years and as such am aware of the restrictions put on the USCG and Auxiliary via the US Government with reguards to when and under what circumstances to tow a veseel. We are trained and our vessels are setup for towing so that when we do undertake a tow we can feel comfortable about doing so. In additon, as a temp. government vessel we are covered for damages and liability. The idea of taking a USCG Aux or Power Squad. Public Educatin course is a 100% great idea. In additon, a vessel safety check by the one of the groups will point out any weaknesses your boat may have or equipment that it might need onboard.

If a person boats long enough he or she is bound to run into some type of problem either aground or broken down. It's the nature of the activity, but with the correct safety equipment the odds of coming out on the good side are greately improved.


Tom W Clark posted 05-08-2001 11:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
"Do unto others..." Forget the legal obligations, there is a moral obligation to offer assistance. Now having said that I'd like to point out, like someone else did, that assistance doesn't have to mean a tow, it may just be the use of a radio or cell phone. In my contracting business I always make a point of telling my guys that if they don't feel comfortable making a cut with a power tool then don't do it! This applies out on the water as well. Only you can decide what is best for your boat and crew. But if you're in a Whaler, the chances are that your boat is up to the task, even if you're not.

I myself have towed boats many times beginning in 1978 when I was 15 and making a week long trip to the San Juan Islands with my friend in his family's homemade "Nemensha" 16' Whaler (that boat is a whole other story). It was our first long trip alone and we were young and stupid. We had left Bainbridge Is. in rain and wind and had made it to Saratoga Passage on the inside of Whidbey Is. when we came across a 17' Donzi dead in the water with one person on board. No one else was anywhere to be seen. We stopped, he asked for a tow, we were reluctant but what else could we do. Neither boat had a radio. (it was '78 and VHF's were still kind of exotic to us) We towed this guy about four miles to Oak Harbor. He was grateful but had no cash so he offered to fill up our gas tanks with his credit card. Great, we took on about five gallons. Oh well.

At the end of that same trip as we were heading home because the weather was so crappy, and our motor seized. We were just outside of Echo Bay on Sucia Is. and it was blowing hard. A small boat came along side and offered to tow us back into the bay which they did. They put alongside an anchored Cruise-a-home which had a radio. The operaters of the Cruise-a-home were chartering the boat for the week and had no idea how to work the VHF. Neither did we, but we tried. Eventually they towed us to the North end of Orcas island to the nearest marina and dropped us off, but not after tangling the tow line in the prop of the Cruise-a-home and sending my friend, Tony, overboard with his wet suit and snorkel to untangle it. Things kinda' went down hill from there, but eventually we made it home and nobody was hurt. But I have to thank all the people that helped along the way especially the two boats that towed us. It was a learning experience.

Since then I have been flagged down well over a dozen times and have always towed even if I was annoyed. The biggest boat I towed was a 60's era wooden 36' cabin cruiser. I was on my way, with my girlfiend, from Seattle across Puget Sound to Bainbidge Is. where my mother has a beatiful beach place. When we were just off Point Monroe (3/4 of the way there) we were flagged down by this boat which was anchored just off the spit. They had engine troubles. They had no radio and between the six of them no cell phone. It was a beatiful Sunday afternoon and I was annoyed. They wanted to be towed to Shilshole Marina in Seattle, the nearest marina and about four miles away. I offerred to let the skipper use my VHF which he did, but nobody offered any assistance. I should have just called a commercial tow, but after discussing it with my girlfriend we decided to tow them ourselves. Our afternoon was shot and we knew it, but...

As usual, I made up a bridle and away we went. My boat at the time was an Outrage 18 with a 150 Johnson. I only pushed the motor as hard as I felt comfortable and ended up dropping the 9.9 kicker and firing it up as well. By turning the 9.9 up full thottle and applying enough power to the 150 to keep the kicker at its proper WOT RMP I both improved our towing speed and gave the kicker some much needed exercise. (it typically is used for fishing and almost always operated at idle or near idle.) We made it to Shilshole and I towed them to the tip of the guest moorage pier by the central Gas dock and glided them right in. I undid the tow line and bridle and the skiper slipped me some money. I looked at what he gave me and it was $50. That was decent of him I didn't feel quite so pissed after that.

The most recent tow I've given was in Lake Washington off the North end of Mercer island. I was actually out with a friend in his Cobalt. We were just floating around enjoying the sun when John noticed a boat waving at us. (yes, it was a little too friendly and I have come to recognize that wave quite well). It was maybe a 15' outboard runabout (old) with six people on board. No way was that boat rated for more than four. As usual, engine troubles and "could ya' give us a tow?" We did, back to Newport Shores from where they had departed.

It almost always seems the boats needing a tow are occupied by people who are drinking, unskilled in boating, and all too often in a Bayliner. I have never been asked to render asistance to someone in a Whaler.

Chris J posted 05-08-2001 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
The original question was "would you tow" not "would you assist." I think we have a moral obligation to assist but that doesn't necessarily extend to offering a tow. Offer ing to make a VHF or cell phone call, loan tools or supplies, or just standing by while the other operator does repairs all qualify as assisting and any one of the above may be better than providing a tow.
JLL posted 05-08-2001 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for JLL  Send Email to JLL     
I have a great "assist" story. Several years ago, my wife and I were returning from the Lake Erie Islands to Rocky River. (West of Cleveland,OH) I noticed forward and to my starboard side, a small runabout with a huge person leaning over the transom. The fella had on a long sleeve shirt and bib overalls. This was rather unusual as it was about 90 degrees with the humidity at about the same number. We were cruising rather slowly, and as we got closer, I mentioned to my wife that the guy was probably going to swamp the boat. Sure enough the transom started going under, and in a VERY short time, the boat had sunk.
We were pretty close to guy at that point and he was thrashing around in the water. Naturally no life jacket. My wife tossed out a ring buoy and a couple life jackets as we approached him and I got on the radio and called the Rocky River Police boat to give them position and situation. He grabbed the buoy, and I started pulling him in. He got to my swim platform, very much out of breath.(he had to go about 350 lbs.) I told him just to relax, get his breath and I reached down to help pull him up onto the platform. His first words were "you have to pull my boat out". I again told him to relax.
He kept saying over and over again to pull his boat out. He then started getting very loud and started screaming about getting the boat out. Then he says "you don't know who I am, do you?" I said "who are you". He said "I am the DEVIL" Well, with that, I was ready to push him back into the water, and my wife turned white as a ghost. Just then the Rocky River Police boat arrived.....they pulled up and one of the officers says to the guy "Hello Larry". It took about 15 minutes to talk him into getting on board the police boat. As it turned out, apparently they had run into this guy before. I read in the paper the next day that the guy was charged with stealing a boat, and was also under the influence of drugs. He was lucky we were passing by at the time, and I was lucky I called the police as soon as all the excitement started ! Since then, I ALWAYS call the Coast Guard or the Police as soon as I offer ANY assistance.
Cruiser posted 05-08-2001 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cruiser    
Thanks for the good info and stories. What type of rig is recommended for a Montauk to tow? Can I buy a bridle which attaches to my two aft tow eyes?
andygere posted 05-08-2001 02:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have a towing rider included in my comprehensive/liability policy purchased through West Marine. It has a limit of 15 miles offshore, but I never venture that far in the Montauk anyway.

In my earlier days of boating on protected waters around Cape Cod, I would usually give a tow if I could. A few times it was a couple of kids stranded on the outer beach in their Sunfish when the wind died. One time when I was about 16, I towed a Grady White about a half mile to Ryder's Cove with my 40 hp wooden runabout. It paid off a week later, when my friend and I had motored about 45 minutes to our favorite flounder fishing grounds only to discover we had brought the bait and rods, but left all of our other tackle in the car. I noticed the same Grady anchored nearby, and we motored over and asked if we could borrow some hooks and sinkers. The Grady owner just about emptied his entire tackle box into our boat, and as I recall, we returned home with a cooler full of nice flounder that day.

Tom W Clark posted 05-08-2001 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Cruiser, A bridle can be made of almost anything stout you have on board. On my Whalers I always had a 1/2" x 15' braided mooring line at each cleat or towing eye. I loop the eye splice through one towing eye on the stern and tie the other end to the other eye with a bowline. Simply tie a bowline around this "bridle" with the end of the tow line and you are ready.

Any line long enough to span around the motor is fine but longer is better and I would say it should be at least 3/8" diameter. I now use 5/8" lines.

One very important thing to remember is that it is easy to tangle the line in the prop as you are taking the slack out of the tow line when starting out. It is best to have a crew member paying out the line and only throw the bridle over the motor at the last moment. Be sure it does not snag anything like the steering cable sticking out the end of the tilt tube.

You can tow by simply tying off the tow line to one of the stern eyes, but it makes it very difficult to steer.

SWarren posted 05-08-2001 03:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for SWarren  Send Email to SWarren     
My tow story is as follows:
A couple of years ago I was shrimping in my montauk in Bulls Bay. It is about 45 min from the nearest marina going pretty fast. It was on a sunday evening around six and getting dark pretty soon. We were heading back and got waved down by 7 people in an old glassmaster. They had the cane poles in the boat, and had caught a ton of fish. Mostly whiting, spot and a few red fish. I would tow anybody that has a problem and not think twice about it. There problem was they had run out of gas. They did not even bother to check the gas before going out. At this point I was really pissed because it took about two hours to tow them back. Once we got to the dock they offered me 100 dollars. I told them I did not want their money, just all their fish. They reluctantly gave them to me. I know it was bad to do it, but everyone should check their gas before going out. I guess I ruined their Sunday fish fry.
Chap posted 05-08-2001 04:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
I have towed and have been towed. I always help, within reason, as much as I reasonably am able. Most recently my friend and I, high and dry in his fully decked out Scarab Sport with twin 250's, were totally saved from a night on a sandbar by a guy in a Nauset. It took 3 hours of effort in our skivies at 2am. His boat was indestructable.
Very grateful.
kingfish posted 05-08-2001 05:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I have been tow-er a number of times, and I think the last time I remember being tow-ee was in excess of 40 years ago (knock on wood). I think it is the right thing to do (or assist, given circumstamces), with a wary eye towards conditions or circumstances that don't "feel" right. I think the law of averages dictates that more people who need tows or assistance are those who might have been a little better prepared, than those who suffered an unforseeable mechanical failure of some sort, but my pat response to all offers of remuneration so far has been, "Just promise me that you will do the same for someone else if the opportunity presents itself. That's payment enough for me". My thinking, superstitious as it may be, is that I am building up karma for the time when I really need help.


jimh posted 05-08-2001 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is my towing story:

We were coming downstream in the Chanel Ecarte below Wallaceburg, Ontario in a 30-foot sailboat that draws about 5-feet. It was mid-June, and the water level was quite high.

We had just cleared a bascule bridge that opened on the hour, having taken the right side of the two bridge openings, and we were in mid channel on the inside of a gentle right hand turn.

The bow pitches down a bit and Chris, at the helm, says to me, "Hey, the boat's not moving."

I look over the port side and we have ten feet of water; I look over the starboard side and we have 3 feet of water. We have just caught the bank of the river, which because of the high spring water has flooded over about 200 feet of shoreline, fooling us into thinking we were almost in the center when we are really on the bank!

We are stuck pretty good in the mud. I look around, and coming along behind us are two young guys in a 17-foot outboard.

"Hey," I yell, "over here." I motion for them to come over.

"Stuck, are ya?" they ask. I guess we are not the first Americans to find this little shoal.

I explain how we just ran ourselves up here, and I ask them if they can give us a tug. They are game, so they throw us a line and I put it on our bow cleat.

The sailboat weighs 11,000 pounds; the outboard less than a tenth of that. They have a 40 HP motor. The guys give it some gas, and the line comes us into tension...the bow swings toward them...I give the diesel in the sailboat some throttle...and we pop right back in the channel!

I cast the outboard back their line, and motion for them to come over again. I offer them some cash for their efforts, but they refuse. They do, however, accept 4 cold Labatt Blues as payment.

That's boating!

triblet posted 05-09-2001 12:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Towing story: I heard a dive buddy of mine
on the VHF calling the towing service. He
just had a handheld and was a goodly distance
from Monterey, and they were having trouble hearing him, but only a couple of miles
from me, so I told him I'd tow him into Pt.
Lobos where his trailer was (another couple
miles). He'd managed to run out of gas.
His dive buddy that day: his ex. ;-)

They are now back together and spending a
couple of years hitchhiking around the world.


reeltime2 posted 05-09-2001 04:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for reeltime2  Send Email to reeltime2     
My 86 johnson 60 mounted on my 15 s.s. has left me stranded in the intercostal here in Ft. Lauderdale twice & within 5 min I would have sevral people offering a tow. They would want to tow me back to the ramp about 5 miles w/ no problem. I offered to compensate both of the people who towed me but they would not acept my money.

So would I help out someopne else? I WOULD GO OUT OF MY WAY W/ A SMILE TO HELP ANYONE IN NEED!!
What comes around goes around.

Orca posted 05-09-2001 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Orca  Send Email to Orca     
Alot of character here.
jimh posted 05-10-2001 12:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Boating, and other advocations, seems to produce a feeling of fellowship among the participants. People are more willing
to be helpful and friendly when they encounter someone else
in the "fraternity."

Here is another story:

We were anchored up in the North Channel of Lake Huron on a fine summer morning, in the beautiful pink granite rocks of South Benjamin Island south harbour. The anchorage had been full of boats overnight, but by late morning everyone had left, except for us and a 32-foot butt-ugly modern bloat boat.

We had seen this boat come into the harbour late the afternoon before. What made me notice him was the fact that he entered the harbour by taking the wrong courseline, going right over a big rock shoal instead of around it,

And he had a devil of a time finding a spot to anchor. I noted that he made extensive use of an electric windlass to retreive his anchor in the multiple attempts he made to hook up with the bottom.

When he did finally get anchored, we also noticed that there were lights on in the cabin and bridgedeck almost all night, as the gang of teenagers aboard cooked a late dinner and had some fun.

We were really thinking it might be nice if they left, and then we would have the anchorage to ourselves all afternoon, but around noon the captain of the other boat began to row toward us in his dingy. Seems he had a problem...

He explained to me that for some strange reason, all his batteries were dead and he could not get his engines started! He was basically stranded there, about 25 miles from the nearest marina in a string of uninhabited islands and rocks.

He is a pretty new boater, and he has on board with him his teenaged son and 3-4 other boys. They have just cruised up from a port down on Lake Michigan. Of course, they don't have any charts yet, that is why he didn't know about the rock shoal at the harbour entrance, etc.

The bottom line for this guy is he needs to get those engines started, and he wants me to come over and give him a jump start! Oh, and did _I_ have any cables?

Now, if someguy I had never seen before knocked on my door like this at home, I would probably not even answer, but....

Well, I guess I figured he was a "boater" so I told him, no, I wasn't going to come over and give him a jump, but I would loan him a battery. So I went down into the cabin, pulled back the quarter berth mattress, opened the hatch, and disconnected one of the two starting batteries on my boat. I hauled it up on deck and carefully handed it over to him. I told him to row that back to his boat, hook it up to his genset, get the genset started, use that to run the battery charger, and charge his main batteries back up.

Off he rowed with my battery. About an hour later I hear the rumble of one of this engines starting, and he comes up on deck and gives me a big "high" sign, looking about as happy as anyone I have ever seen. About an hour latter he rows back with my battery, very thankful etc.

I mentioned to him that he might want to leave the battery switch on "1" instead of "BOTH" tonight, so that he would be
sure to have some charge in the "2" battery in the morning
to start up again.

I told him which side of the harbour to take when leaving to avoid the shoal, and shortly afterwards he raised anchor and left.

Again, I think all this comes under the general heading of "boating".

Makonut posted 05-10-2001 12:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Makonut  Send Email to Makonut     
Do you write for a magazine or freelance? If not you should..Your stories are always interesting and well done let alone with full detail.


halcarr posted 05-14-2001 11:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for halcarr  Send Email to halcarr     

every year when we took our family vacation at lake tahoe, as we beached our guardian 17/w diving boat w/mast, we seemed to attract relatives who wanted us to go out on the lake and "rescue" their lost windsurfing, small power or sailboating, inexperienced relatives and friends. this often happened when tahoe's weather was in a quick-change mode and it was clear to the on shore relative that their family member would soon be in over their head. we ended up doing this many times over the years... and being "family people", we were pleased to be of help. could coast guard tahoe have done it? sure, but in the days of funding cutbacks they were severely understaffed and didn't have enough resources to cover the lake adequately.

i remember one year hearing about a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) who went out in a tiny sailboat and were lost when the weather suddenly changed and no one was there to help them... it was such a shame.

would we help someone again if called upon? as long as it doesn't present near-death risk for the family, we'll gladly help everytime.

be well, all.

mtbadfish posted 06-26-2003 12:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for mtbadfish  Send Email to mtbadfish     
What a good read! Thought some might find it interesting.
T Party posted 06-26-2003 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for T Party    
Like most of the other folks who have responded here, I will assist anyone, whether that includes a tow or not, within reason. If I'm towing, it's to the nearest safe place where the towee can get assistance on land. For example, I had someone aske me to tow them to a gas dock five miles away, and I pulled them to a dock nearby and let them use my cellphone to call for assistance from there.
Tom2697 posted 06-26-2003 02:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
From my understanding, you must assist a vessel that is in distress. Distress meaning that there is a danger to life, a danger to the environment, or a danger to other vessels. Luckily for us (and I don't abide by it), this constitutes a salvage operation and allows up to 100% of the vessel to be taken as payment for services.

However, being that "some day, I may be in need of assistance", I will usually help out. Towing is usually my last resort. If someone needs a bump off a shoal, I have no problem. Or, I will tow them to the nearest dock, which might not even be a marina. From land they can get help much easier. Usually, the disabled boat needs fuel. I will offer to transfer a little over (assuming I have enough) but it will usually cost them a beer or a fish. I don't take money for it (and not because it is illegal unless you are a licensed captain). Also, I will always lend a radio or even my cell phone so they can get help.

critch22 posted 06-26-2003 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for critch22  Send Email to critch22     
Heres a good towing story. At 14, while a half mile out in my 13' Sport, I came across two schoolmates (two years my senior) in an Avon that had run out of gas. They were girls (needless to say). I hid my spare 6 gal tank as I approached. They boarded my whaler in bikinis - they didnt even have shoes with them. I towed the Avon to a private beach somewhere pretty close and was on my way. Nothing really great happened as a result, although I was put on their map at school, and that didnt hurt; cause they were lookers.

I tow all Whalers and bikinis free of charge. Everyone else, I wait with them for the pros...

prxmid posted 06-26-2003 03:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for prxmid  Send Email to prxmid     
I'm glad most folks here would offer a tow if necessary.

If you haven't been there, put yourself in their boatshoes. It's a pretty helpless feeling. It's not always because of poor maintainance, or Bayliners; sometimes the gods are just lined up against you.

I recetly towed 3 guys back who were in a J22, they had just finished a race and the wind completely died, and they were 3 miles from the marina. I was in a J80 with an engine. The emergency was that one of the guys had to catch a plane.

I just hope that when my time comes I'll run across one of you good Samaritans.

ryanwhaler posted 06-26-2003 04:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Last summer the cable the shifts the motor snaped when I was beached on a sandbar. The tide was on its way in and the sand bar was going away, fast.

There were three people in a 19'cc rent a boat. They were the first one's to offer me a tow. They towed me three miles. They new nothing about boating and I had to tell them two different time to slow down. But hey, they were nice people that spent the better part of there late afternoon towing me.

Then three weeks later I spoted a older man, In a 17' old fiberglass bowrider. His 196? 70hp Jonson quit on it. He was trying to pattle, and not really getting anywere.

I stoped and offered him a tow, we towed him over 5 miles. All the way back to his dock. It felt good and I'd do it again.

Deanster posted 07-02-2003 11:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for Deanster  Send Email to Deanster     
Towing is a tough one... I'm a 100-ton licensed captain with towing endorsement, and spent two summers working for a commercial assistance tower. My 27' Center Console Cuddy is well-equipped, and I'm comfortable with anything up to and including putting a dead 36' cabin cruiser alongside a 22' Outrage and taking the whole thing through the Ballard locks in Seattle.

I believe firmly that what comes around goes around, and I've always been willing to assist anyone who needs it.

All that said, I'm really reluctant to tow on my personal boat. Offering help to a complete stranger in a situation that involves personal stress, potential danger to property and passengers, high-value items, and all the other complexities that go with a stranded boater is just an extraordinarily risky sitiuation.

Even if everything goes well, there's no way to know if the guy will be grateful, or will sue you the next day because of some damage that may or may not have happened on the tow (not terribly likely, but it's not unheard of).

If things go poorly, and either damage is done or someone is hurt, the operator of the towing vessel is responsible for the entire unit - both towed and towing vessels. Good Samaritan laws shield you to some extent, but in most states don't cover negligence, which is a fuzzy enough concept to make any lawyer salivate. It's critical to ask yourself questions like 'do I have enough insurance to cover the value of both vessels if something happens?' and to know if your insurance excludes towing (some do).

If you do tow, be careful! DO NOT USE 3-strand NYLON LINE! It's extremely springy and strong, but since the most likely point of failure is the cleat you've tied it to, if the cleat fails, it becomes a sharp weight on the end of a stressed rubber band. Great way to end up dead or injured.

Use either braided nylon, which isn't so springy, but sinks, and is likely to end up in your props, or preferably one of the purpose-made braided towing lines that's made up of a slightly exotic blend that is both very strong, somewhat stretchy and floats. Polypropylene line floats, but has almost no stretch, so shock loads on the cleats or attachment points are very high - tends to break things.

Attach to the trailer eye, if you can, rather than cleats. This both lowers the force of the pull, which helps keep the bow up, and is nearly always a far stronger point than deck cleats.

Go slow - hull speed is fine, but don't let the tow plane - it loses stability in a huge hurry. 5 knots or so is about all you can plan on. Go faster, things begin to break.

Other than breaking lines or deck fittings, the most damage tends to be done docking. If the water is calm, bring your tow alongside a couple hundred yards off the dock. Use lots of fenders to keep the boats apart, and keep your fingers, etc. out of the way. Try to get alongside the dock and a few feet away, and toss a line to someone on the dock, then pull in gently.

Go slow, and instruct people on your tow to stay put until secure. Amazing how everyone tries to help as you're making your approach to the dock, and they'll untie tow lines, jump off the boat 10 feet away from dock, throw/drop lines in the water near your props, jump on your boat, etc. Each creates a separate dangerous situation, and remember, it's all YOUR responsibility.

I wouldn't mind towing everyone who needed a tow, but the liability alone makes it hard to justify.

tlynch posted 07-02-2003 12:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for tlynch  Send Email to tlynch     
I got one that I think will make some people here grin.

Last weekend I was out fishing with a friend in my Classic Outrage 18 when a brand new Montauk 170 comes cruising along and comes to stop about 50 yards away. I immediately turned to my friend and said, "They ran out of gas." Sure enough, three minutes later they waved me over and I towed them in. There we were, my 1985 tan Outrage 18, towing a brand new gleaming white Montauk 170.

I think that this thread speaks well about who Whaler owners generally are.


Jamie 20 outrage posted 07-02-2003 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jamie 20 outrage  Send Email to Jamie 20 outrage     
I was always taught that if you use their line to perform the tow, leagally you are off the hook. If you use your own line legally you could have a problem. If you have a CG license and do not render some sort of assistance, you can lose your license.
seasicknes posted 07-02-2003 03:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for seasicknes    
I would lend assistence. But, having a kicker motor is extremely handy if the main motor should break down.


acseatsri posted 07-02-2003 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for acseatsri  Send Email to acseatsri     
Anyone ever been badgered by a Seatow driver cuz you took his fare? I had the idiot on the radio trying to scare me by telling me that I was responsible for any damage I did to the other boat.
timbaho posted 07-02-2003 03:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for timbaho  Send Email to timbaho     
It sounds as if that Seatow operator fears and understands that if boaters in general would look out for each other(as they should) his/her business wouldn't be quite so profitable.
rsgwynn1 posted 07-02-2003 04:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for rsgwynn1  Send Email to rsgwynn1     
Two guys towed my stepson and me in once--about five miles from the jetties to the launch site. Ever since, I've tried to return the favor if requested to tow.
Robob2003 posted 07-02-2003 05:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Robob2003  Send Email to Robob2003     
Deanster has good advice.

"Attach to the trailer eye, if you can, rather than cleats."

Cleats on most small boats are only meant for temporary mooring and not heavy stress.

I have towed a couple of unfortunates in the past on 30 and 42 foot boats I then owned. I now have a 16.7 Whaler and would not tow a boat much larger than mine. We should all look out for one another, particularly the Whaler fraternity:-)

Bajachief posted 07-02-2003 05:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bajachief  Send Email to Bajachief     
I towed a boat that had run out of gas, to the fuel dock in San Diego Bay. As we approached the dock in a parallel motion I put the guy exactly where he would have landed if under his own power. At that point he was sliding into and down the dock very slowly and I had disconnected the tow line and he was on his own. The "Rocket Surgeon" then does nothing to stop his boats forward motion (as in tie a line to a cleat) and proceeds to crack into the back of a sail boat the was easily two plus lengths down the dock.
Long story short - Sail boat owner wants to claim damage against me (the tow boat) as guy who caused damage has no insurance. I end up with just a lot of hassle but no cost because damage was far less than imagined. Will I tow again? probably as long as it's a fellow Whaler. If its someone else who is not in immediate danger... Call Vessel Assist, here's the number.
Tight lines
Aldog posted 07-02-2003 06:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Aldog  Send Email to Aldog     
I'm landlocked and boat basically freshwater.

However, I have been towed, only once thankfully, and have towed several times. The most recent was for several miles from the back of a cove on a remote mountain lake (the guys would have been lost for sometime had I not helped) I had my non boating wife and kids on their annual trip with me on a 95 degree day. The tow consumed almost my whole time on the water with my family but I believe you ALWAYS help your fellow man (especially when he's your fellow boater)

simonmeridew posted 07-02-2003 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
April 2 years ago, my wife and I had just put our Montauk into Pamlico Sound in Ocracoke, NC and were getting the winter cobwebs out of our 3 year old OMC 70. Nice fast current heading west. Motor coughs, runs, quits, starts, quits, then nothing. Holy smokes that current is honking right along. Throw out the anchor. Keep cranking, no luck. Half mile or so offshore. Along come a couple of good old boys in a commercial fishing boat. I wave 'em down, they ask if I need a tow. Yes, if you wouldn't mind. About half way in I start thinking: sounds like there's no gas, so I squeezed the bulb: hard as a rock; traced it back to the motor, voila: the little clip that holds the gas line to the connection on the motor came unhooked in the the 900 mile trip on the trailer down from Northern Vermont. I signaled for them to stop towing me, I think I see what's wrong. Hook it up, starts right up, I said to them, follow me back to the dock by our rental house( they were headed that way anyway) and I gave them a quart of Vermont Maple Syrup for their troubles, many thanks all around. Glad they didn't mind helping a couple of yankees.
GeneNJ posted 07-02-2003 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for GeneNJ  Send Email to GeneNJ     
Accepting a tow from a non-professional can also be dangerous. With my son and his two youngsters onboard we needed a tow while coming back to the dock. Made a cell call to friends and they arrived within minutes. Not being experienced at towing a 23' boat, they pulled us into a bridge piling, hit it midship. Luckily, no injuries just $2900 glass and rub rail damage. Now a happy member of SeaTow.
logjamslam posted 07-03-2003 04:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for logjamslam  Send Email to logjamslam     
Deanster gives good advise to bring the tow alongside before taking it to the dock if possible and water is calm.

With fenders between boats , a line to the bow, a line to the stern and several spring lines; the towed vessel should be way forward with your stern well aft of his. This will allow you to bring the towed vessel to the dock under complete control. Before coming to the dock make sure that you know the turning and backing characteristics of your tow as it is set up and plan your arrival taking those into consideration. Read up in "Chapmans" on towing and towing alongside.

If you are forced to accept a tow from someone have your own lines ready and fenders out and ready to fend off especially if he tries to bring you to the dock without putting you alongside first.

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