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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's another post in here today with a guy complaining about help during his running aground.

Here's the issue to discuss.....

If you stop and offer assistance to a disable boat and offer to either pull them off a grounding or tow them back to dock - are you assuming the liability for the boat and passengers and any potential damage or injury. Lets say you throw them a rope and try to pull them off a sand bar and the rope snaps; a cleat pulls loose and whips back and hits someone on the other boat. You're responsible? It also probably VOIDS your insurance policy!! Thats why there are licensed and insured tow companies.

A few years ago, we were bare boating in the British Virgin Island and a catamaram broke off its anchor and started drifting towards us. We were at anchor. When the cat got close enough, I was going to jump on board the other unattended boat to help fend it off us and get its anchor rode off ours. My friend on our boat, a master license captain and a lawyer, said never go on or be responsible for the other boat because if you do, you are assuming the responsibility for the boat and subsequently anything that happens to it. All you can do is protect your own interests (our boat).

I can see stopping and helping someone with a motor problem or untangling a rope around a prop but there should be a point where you have to protect yourself also. I'll be the first to stop and help a broken down motorist so don't take me as being slefish - just that especially on the water, you have a greater chance of injury(i think).

So, its my recommendation that the prudent thing to do when someone is broken down or aground is to stand by until the proper agency or tow company can arrive on the scene. Only get involved if its a matter of life and death.
 

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You can always call Allen, Allen and Allen to the resque nowadays.

There used to be a time when law suites for helping people were unheard of.
 

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" I'll be the first to stop and help a broken down motorist so don't take me as being slefish - just that especially on the water, you have a greater chance of injury(i think)."
Whats the difference? if you stop and help some hottie chnge a tire and the jack slips ,the car falls doing damage to the brake rotor, the liability is on you. think about whatever else could happen. I'll stop and help you out my brother and i wont worry about the liability. my .02
 

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If you are out looking to help stranded boaters and charging then you might have insurance issues. If you are just out and offer help that should not be an issue at all because you are not charging or doing so for profit. When you agree to tow another boat you are assuming additional Liab. but I think it would have to be something that you did to cause harm or damage to the other party. If one of their passenger fell over or got hurt they would have to prove you caused this to happen and not that they just fell.
 

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Amen, Rich...help first, worry later. It is a shame where our society is worried about the liability instead of the well being of a fellow boater, motorist, etc. Yes, liability issues are a ***** and we are a sue happy society, no doubt about it, his post is correct. But I have been on a boat aground, two more bodies would have made a huge difference, with 8 boats passing by waving...
 

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I believe there is a good samaritan clause that protects the captain assisting. Besides, if you can't lend a hand to someone in need and are worried about liability, you're part of what has gone wrong in our society. Tow with a manila rope, you won't need to worry about snap back. You never know when something could go wrong on your vessel and you need a little help.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with helping. Still think that having Seatow or Boat US is a better and safer option.
 

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How bout this one. Happened last week boat #1 is towing boat number #2 down the creek good samaratin tow. Boat #1 is going with current at a pretty good clip make his turn to head back up current and boat being towed swings toward boat docked on T-head (brand new $600,00 boat in dealers inventory) towing boat gets nervous and guns it swinging boat #2 around like a tuber and boat #2 spears brand new boat on t-head punching hole through the starboard side. (OUCH)
Cops are saying tow boat #1 is responsible what do you think? it some serious coin cause that new boat is now a used boat and will cost about $100,000 in depreciation. It was a friendly tow back to dock in the creek not far of a tow and no danger at all to disabled boat.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wonder how many people know how to tow safely? I would always use a bridle across 2 cleats and it should be from your midship cleats preferably for maneuverability but how many would tow from one stern cleat?
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, i stand corrected. Just called Boat US and they said that there aren't any exclusions prohibiting you from towing another boat but if you do any damage to that boat, your covered up to limit of your policy.
 

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How bout this one. Happened last week boat #1 is towing boat number #2 down the creek good samaratin tow. Boat #1 is going with current at a pretty good clip make his turn to head back up current and boat being towed swings toward boat docked on T-head (brand new $600,00 boat in dealers inventory) towing boat gets nervous and guns it swinging boat #2 around like a tuber and boat #2 spears brand new boat on t-head punching hole through the starboard side. (OUCH)
Cops are saying tow boat #1 is responsible what do you think? it some serious coin cause that new boat is now a used boat and will cost about $100,000 in depreciation. It was a friendly tow back to dock in the creek not far of a tow and no danger at all to disabled boat.
#1. if you dont know how to tow dont go near any docked boats!!
 

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Last year I towed a sinking boat with twin OB back to Lynnhaven. Two marine police boats with twin Merc 250's escorted me and my little 22' Proline wt 225 hp. A helicopter showed up also. It was weird, they didn't intervene until my tow rope snapped. I think they are worried about liability also. I did my best and what I thought was right.

Good Fishin
 

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Maritime law says if you take on a line from another vessel you are liable for that vessel and all of it's contents. The Va Good Samaritan Law, 8.01-225, only applies if it is a life threatening situation and specifically does not apply to any liability arising from operation of a motor vehicle (which probably encompasses power boats). Va doesn't have any laws on the books in regards to towing, but the Coast Guard has some additional lighting requirements which can be waived for safety.

One other thing and I am done with the legal mumbo jumbo. If that boat was hard aground and commercial tow company, or anyone else for that matter, responded, they could declare it a salvage operation. Is it ethical? Maybe, maybe not, but it is legal as long as they declare it up front. That allows them to claim as remittance the salvage value of the boat they tow in. In plain English that means they can file a claim against you for 50% to 100% of the value of your boat. If you have insurance they will most likely settle the bill, if you don't then the money is coming out of your wallet. I know it sounds far fetched but the commercial tow companies have used it in the past, and have been successful in receiving their claims.

All that being said, if someone needs a hand I am going to help as long as it does not endanger myself, my passengers or vessel. If it is a life or death situation then I am going to do what I can to help period.
 

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I have towed a couple 10-12 year old boys in a paddle boat off the mud shoal in my river. I had my kids on board my boat and didn't think twice about it. The tide was going out and they would have been stuck there for another 11 hours if I didn't help right then and there. The point is every situation will be different.
 
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