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USCG Towing

Old 07-19-2007, 03:14 PM
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I saw a TV news story this morning where my 58 served as a backdrop when the USCG answered a distress call in the Gulf outside Clearwater, FL.

When I heard the story on the TV, I went into where the TV was and saw my boat which is docked across from the fuel dock where the interview took place. A couple of guys left out of Clearwater Marina last night and ended up poking a hole in their boat. They set off an EPIRB and got picked up by the USCG who towed them to shore. Shortly after getting them back to safety, they arrested the Captain on suspicion of BUI. I stayed on the boat last night and noticed a couple of choppers in the area when I left for my brother's house. They were obviously news choppers covering this story.

I thought the USCG had quit towing boats altogether unless they were blocking a channel or something. I have unlimited towing with TowBoat US, but they only go out 75 miles. Anybody know what the deal is on towing with the USCG these days?
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:29 PM
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Default RE: USCG Towing

I have been towed twice by the coast guard however that was many years ago I thought that if you were in danger of sinkink ,etc they would toe to nearest port
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:39 PM
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I was thinking they quit towing altogether for liability reasons and also to keep the SeaTow and TowBoat US guys happy.

Seeing as how I'm planning a Gulf crossing real soon, I have wondered about what would happen if I had problems halfway across and had to be towed. I asked TowBoat US and they said they would cover up to $2,500 in towing expenses if I was outside their coverage area, but God only knows what it would cost to be towed in someplace not to mention what I'd be up against when I got there!

I sure hope I don't have to find out.
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:42 PM
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Bird it seem that your are getting things shaped up for your adventure, man i wish i time to join you please do a forum to let us all know what is happenning daily Good Luck and GOD Speed
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:52 PM
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Default RE: USCG Towing

Thanks for the well wishes. I'll keep you posted but I didn't bring my laptop. Once I leave my brother's for that crossing, I'll be out of touch for a while. I'm sure some of the other misfits will keep you posted on the "other" place as I do have lots of cell numbers.

Once I get to where I'm going, I hope I don't have anything eventful to report. One voyage from hell is enough!
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:53 PM
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TN FREEBIRD - 7/19/2007 3:39 PM

I was thinking they quit towing altogether for liability reasons and also to keep the SeaTow and TowBoat US guys happy.
I was in the USCG when they were quitting. This was 1983. A couple of reasons. First, they were spread very thin anyway. It was a nuisance to go on boat calls where people had run out of gas, etc. There were actually fishermen who would keep fishing, knowing they were going to run out but also knew the USCG would come get them.

There were attempts to try to figure out a way to charge for gass etc. but it really never came to fruition.

The main reason is that the commercial towing guys were really putting the pressure on the Coast Guard for doing free what they were paid to do. There were lawsuits and I remember being told to call commercial towing if there wasn't imminent danger of injury or loss of property. We still did it anyway and got fussed at by 5th District a few times. Since then it has grown into what it is now.
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Old 07-19-2007, 04:17 PM
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Yep, that's what I remembered and that's why I was surprised to see the CG towing that guy in. They actually dispatched a chopper first and then sent a boat. When it came in, the guy's boat was tied alongside the CG boat.

There were two guys on the boat including the Captain, but it wasn't clear if it was a charter situation or not. The arrest didn't come until after the boat was towed, but maybe it was still in danger of sinking. They just made the statement the boat struck something underwater, but who knows? If that's what it takes to get a free tow, maybe I'll just pop off a hose or something once I have them in sight!
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Old 07-19-2007, 04:18 PM
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I believe the coasties will escort and/or tow if they determine the boat is in unstable/unsafe condition (i.e., if there's imminent risk of injury or worse) - the regs have a precise term for this, maybe someone with a license can quote it. Regardless, this wouldn't be the first time I've heard of USCG invoking the "unstable/unsafe vessel" clause because the operator was under the influenece.
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:05 PM
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When friends of mine were rescued 35 miles off West Palm Beach with serious injuries and helo'd to Miami by the CG (late 70's), the CG towed the boat back to the CG station and let it sit there until he got out of the hospital and could jury-rig it for movement to another place. (During the rescue, the GC had to fly in firemen with the jaws of life to extricate him from the engine, and the boat was no longer operable. Yes, it would have been a hazard to navigation if they didn't sink it, and fortunately they didn't) I doubt they would do this today.
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:42 PM
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sr31aj, I think the term you are looking for is "manifestly unsafe voyage"

I briefly considered naming my boat that....
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:55 PM
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If it can be done safely, the CG will tow your boat in, but their mission is to protect life first and they can remove you from the vessel and sink it to prevent it from becoming a hazard. In most cases, they will request that commercial assistance provide service, with you footing the bill, as it should be. If the Coast Guard has to tow you in, prepare for the boarding of your life when you hit the dock.
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: USCG Towing

We broke down in the middle of the night on the bay a few years ago. Radioed the CG and they responded. Their official policy then, as they told us, was that they had to make three calls to a commercial towing outfit and wait 30 minutes for a response. If no response after 30 minutes they can then tow us in. Said it was mainly due to Sea Tow / Tow BoatUS complaining about lost business. Luckily for us both Sea Tow and Tow BoatUS were asleep at the radio that night and we got a free tow from the CG.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:34 PM
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Ive not heard of the CG towing up here recently - Kewaunee/Sturgeon Bay WI area.. They put out request for assistance calls from other boaters and most time someone obliges. we dont have any commercial towing services on Lake Michigan in my neck of the woods so to speak.. 50 miles away I guess. that would be a long run.
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Old 07-26-2007, 10:20 AM
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I had heard that the USCG stopped towing in non life-thretening situations during the 1970s when some upstart towing companies complained that they were cutting into their revenue. Wouldn't surprise me.
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