Please select your home edition
Edition
Bavaria R40 728x90

A savvy boater understands 'towing' and 'salvage' differences

by D. Scott Croft on 27 Feb 2013
Is this a towing job or a salvage job? Boats that are hard aground, like this ketch, are most likely to be declared salvage, which is not typically covered by a towing service plan, says BoatUS. BoatUS Press Room
On-the-water breakdowns, running aground or other mishaps can ruin a day of boating or fishing enjoyment. But when the towboat arrives on the scene, do you know if the service is a 'tow' or a 'salvage' job? If you’re ever in doubt, the safest bet is to ask the towboat crew. That’s because there could be a big difference in the cost of each service, and it also determines who pays the bill, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

While there is sometimes a fine line between the towing and salvage, there are a few clear indicators that point to each. 'Salvage requires the existence of ‘peril’ to the distressed vessel or persons aboard, or peril to the rescue boat and its crew, or the marine environment,' said Vice President of BoatUS Towing Services Adam Wheeler.

Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat, its cargo, and/or passengers from peril at sea. Today that definition includes the successful avoidance of damage to a legally protected marine environment.

Vessels hard aground, on rocks, taking on water or sunk are salvage, as are collisions, fires, breakaways or other types of immediate danger. Salvage also comes into play when specialized equipment such as pumps, air bags, or divers are called for - even if the boat is at the dock.

All TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist companies are committed to informing the owner of a boat - before beginning any work - if the procedure will be declared salvage. If the owner is not on board or the conditions are so perilous and the rescue of the boat requires immediate action, they’ll be notified as soon as possible after saving the boat.

'On the other hand, when there is very little or no peril or damage to the vessel - you have a towing situation,' said Wheeler. 'A typical example is when you run out of gas or have a dead battery, and have subsequently dropped anchor to await assistance. Waters are calm, you’re no threat to navigation, your crew and boat are fine and there’s no peril to those on the response boat.' Of the 65,000 requests for assistance made last year by boaters to BoatUS 24-hour Dispatch Centers, 98% were for routine towing services.

When it comes to soft ungroundings, BoatUS members enjoy a special agreement with the TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist on-the-water towing fleets which ensures that if there is little peril and no damage to the BoatUS member’s disabled boat, and only one towboat is needed to remove the softly grounded vessel from a shoal, it’s a simple towing job. Other commercial towing companies may or may not honor this agreement.

Nationwide, towing and soft ungrounding costs average about $600 and $800, respectively. These are either paid by an annual towing service plan or out-of-pocket by the boater.

Salvage cases are usually covered by insurance - or out-of-pocket if self-insured - and are much more expensive than a tow. Salvage continues to be the way to award a rescuer who maintains a 24-hour state of readiness to risk life, limb and vessel for others, and often results in a charge based on the length of the vessel saved or a request for a percentage of the boat's post-casualty value. While it’s a reward for extraordinary service, the dollar amount awarded factors in the degree of peril as well as the risk to the salvor and their crew.

'There are significant expenses in operating and maintaining a professional towing operation,' says Wheeler, 'such as Captain’s and staff salaries, insurance, equipment maintenance and increasing fuel costs, not to mention capital expenses such as towboats and other specialized recovery equipment - and it all has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice,' he added.

Time and circumstances permitting, Wheeler suggests that if it’s a salvage job, boaters should try to call their insurance company so they may attempt to negotiate with the salvor before the operation gets underway. If circumstances don’t allow this, ask the salvor for a fixed price and try to get it in writing.

Wheeler also says that boaters should review their boat’s insurance policy to ensure it fully covers salvage. Some policies have limits, high deductibles, or may not include environmental damage - all of which would have to be paid out of pocket.

BoatUS also suggests having a copy of the BoatUS Open Form Yacht Salvage Contract aboard at all times, which assures that any salvage claim will go to local binding arbitration if negotiations between your insurance company and salvor fails. Designed to be more understandable, relevant to US laws and potentially money saving for all parties, the Open Form Contract is available free of charge at BoatUS.com/salvage or by calling 800-937-1937.

For more information on BoatUS towing plans, go to BoatUS.com/towing or call 1-800-888-4869.

Four Salvage Tips:

• Protect yourself by having both a towing service plan for basic towing assistance needs and an insurance policy that fully covers the costs of salvage.
• If you do have an incident, ask questions first, not later, to confirm whether the job is towing or salvage.
• Have your insurance claims department phone number aboard. If it’s salvage, you’ll want to try to contact them to help negotiate a fixed price.
• When all else fails, have a copy of BoatUS Open Form Yacht Salvage Contract aboard. You can get one for free at BoatUS.com/salvage.
Abell Point Marina 660x82 MoorHarken and FostersSydney Harbour Boat Storage 660x82

Related Articles

Lowrance® announces new widescreen Elite-TI Displays
Lowrance® announced addition of a pair of widescreen displays to Elite Ti standalone series of fishfinder/chartplotters. Lowrance®, a world-leading brand in fishing electronics since 1957, announced today the addition of a pair of widescreen displays to the Elite Ti standalone series of fishfinder/chartplotters.
Posted today at 5:00 am
Great Barrier Reef managers and industry prepare for summer
Marine park managers, scientists and experts recently met for the annual pre-summer workshop Marine park managers, scientists and experts recently met for the annual pre-summer workshop to assess climate-related risks to the Great Barrier Reef over the coming months. Current predictions by the Bureau of Meteorology and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are for a summer of average sea temperatures across the Great Barrier Reef.
Posted on 7 Dec
Introducing the Airbnb of the mooring and marina world
Have you ever struggled to find an available mooring, or do you have a mooring that is sitting vacant? Have you ever struggled to find an available mooring, or do you have a mooring that is sitting vacant? makefastmooring.com is aiming to solve this problem by connecting boat owners with those with vacant moorings or berths. With a growing number of moorings and marinas in New Zealand, Australia and around the world, makefastmooring.com allows people to find, rent and share moorings and berths.
Posted on 7 Dec
Yamaha announce Summer Outboard Cash Back offer
Yamaha is excited to announce the launch of a new summer retail promotion, offering customers a cash back redemption Yamaha is excited to announce the launch of a new summer retail promotion, offering customers a cash back redemption on portable and mid-power four stroke models in the range from 2.5 to 80 horsepower. This new promotion comes at a great time for customers who are looking to get on the water for the upcoming holiday season.
Posted on 7 Dec
Yamaha announce the F25 - with a 25% weight reduction
Yamaha's innovative new F25 is around 25% lighter, giving it a unique and unrivalled power-to-weight performance Yamaha's innovative new F25 is around 25% lighter, giving it a unique and unrivalled power-to-weight performance. It's not often an outboard is launched which truly leads its class by such a significant margin, but the new Yamaha F25 is just such an engine.
Posted on 7 Dec
Twin Disc redefines Marine Power Steering
Redefining power steering, Twin Disc offers its next-generation E-STEER™. Redefining power steering, Twin Disc offers its next-generation E-STEER™. This state-of-the-art control solution connects the helm to hydraulic-powered rudder(s) electronically and delivers a whole new driving experience.
Posted on 3 Dec
New VicEmergency app launched
The new VicEmergency app provides Victorians with access to warnings and incidents for fires, floods and water safety. The new VicEmergency app provides Victorians with access to warnings and incidents for fires, floods, storms, earthquake, tsunamis and water safety.
Posted on 2 Dec
Princess to pay largest ever criminal penalty for vessel pollution
Princess Cruise Lines has agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from deliberate pollution of the seas Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. (Princess) has agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from its deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up. Princess will pay a $40 million penalty– the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution – and plead guilty to charges related to illegal dumping of oil contaminated waste from the cruise ship.
Posted on 2 Dec
Kiwi technicians top Yamaha Oceania Technician Grand Prix 2016
Kiwi technicians took out the top two spots at the recent Yamaha Oceania Technician Grand Prix 2016 The Yamaha Marine Technician Grand Prix, which took place on the 16th of November 2016, is a technical knowledge and skills based contest, held at Yamaha’s National Marine Training facility in Brisbane. The event brings together the very best Yamaha Marine Technicians from Yamaha dealerships all over Australia and New Zealand.
Posted on 30 Nov
Boat owners - a good insurance policy and broker can be your savior
Neil Bailey gives some sound advice from both a broker's and boatie's perspective. Too frequently boat-owners only find out how good their insurance policy is, and their insurer, after they make a claim. Neil Bailey is the principal of an Insurance Brokerage that bears his name. He is also a boat owner and life-long sailor and boat-owner. Here he gives some sound advice from both a broker's and boatie's perspective.
Posted on 30 Nov