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Marine Salvage Laws

Old 09-24-2011, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by gsxr1216 View Post
Heck i have a spare one in my cuddy with alligator clips on it to hook it to a battery and 6' of hose clamped to it should i ever need it in a emergency. i also use the pumps that turn on every 3 minutes to check for water so i can hear them come on whenever i'm near my boat, i have 2 of them in the bilge.

That being said, i thought places like towboat US were on the up and up?? I'm here in Rochester NY and i was thinking about getting a membership since they are cheap and should i be a few miles out in the lake with no one around and my boat wont start or a drive breaks or something electrical component takes a dump that i can get a tow in without paying stupid money.

Can these places can try to claim salvage for simply towing in a boat with a mechanical or electrical failure???
If you have an engine or electrical failure that is not causing fire or sinking etc then it would just be a tow in service covered by your membership.

Be careful NOT to misunderstand the info or perhaps take it out of context.

From my perspective, it has nothing to do with whether or not any given service provider is on the "up &up" regarding reputation and ethics.

Maritime law is what they go by and in some cases "must" go by.

Further, I'm not suggesting that Sea Tow, Vessel Assist or Tow Boat US is better than the "other two". It comes down to what the situation is with your boat, yourself and the service provider. No two situations are ever the same for the most part.

I've NEVER had Sea Tow try to salvage my boat. But after a buddy started schooling me a little, I began reading about maritime law whenever I get the chance.

I'm sure Tow Boat US is as good or better or even the same as all the other guys. If you go back and read my recent posts on this you should come to the conclusion that a common denominator is typically the boat owner/operator.

One example -

If it's obvious from a distance that an owner is "in over his head" regarding a sinking, nav hazard etc, they can step in and claim salvage on any boat they want to. If you insist on fighting with them at the beginning, they can call the water patrol or harbor patrol, report the incident as they see it AND get support from the authorities right on the spot.

The authorities do not want a chemical spill of any kind ever... They do not want a navigational hazard in a commercial channel ever. They do not want you to leave your boat after running aground even with the intention of coming back tomorrow to deal with it.

Many things can cause grounds for salvage rights. And many of those things can be prevented by a responsible owner who knows how to communicate.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:20 PM
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It would also make sense to assume that if you have a service membership with someone, they usually will cut you a break.

I have overseen situations before where the operator did not have a membership or policy but tried to get one after the incident already became a concern.

This is certainly a less favorable scenario where the owner/operator will be seen as "negligent" and could possibly be UNofficially judged by the provider and authorities.

A NON-covered boater is worse off than one who paid his dues and now needs the help.

And of course, there are always stories of guys who DID pay their dues and still were not satisfied.

It's a great thing if you need gas though - I can say that.

Best thing to do is always have a membership when your boat is in use and always be nice.

Go boating and don't worry about it too much.

Last edited by SDFever; 09-24-2011 at 10:24 PM. Reason: more
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Old 09-25-2011, 06:42 AM
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A very interesting book on this subject is IN PERIL. which revolves around the salvage of a barge off Fla with the shuttle fuel tank on it. Being in the tug and barge business this was one of my favorites.
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