What To Know If You Think It's Just A Tow:

The Difference Between Towing and Salvage

"As long as the situation is not dangerous and not deteriorating, boaters should feel free to look for another company by radio or by calling the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch service for help at 1-800-391-4869," Cardarelli said.

To further protect the interests of the boating public, BoatUS requires, when contracting for towing services on behalf of its over half a million members, that marine assistance companies distinguish between simple towing/soft groundings and the much more serious and expensive salvage efforts where distress or danger exist.

To be an approved BoatUS Towing operator, marine assistance companies must agree that Towing/Ungrounding is any operation not involving immediate danger to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment. It requires just one towing vessel with lines attached to a grounded boat to refloat it or to the disabled boat to tow it. If a grounded boat can rest without peril until the tide returns to float her free, or a boat is drifting in calm conditions after losing power, it almost always calls for towing, not salvage.

Salvage, on the other hand, involves imminent peril to a grounded, sinking or stranded boat or to a protected marine environment, or the use of more than one towing vessel and/or special salvage equipment such as air bags or high capacity pumps.

Cardarelli reminds boaters to review their boat insurance coverage. "The best protection against a salvage bill is adequate insurance," he said, noting that boaters should make sure their policy provides for salvage up to the full value of the boat, not a percentage of its value, and that there is no deductible for salvage costs. "The BoatUS marine insurance program offers this level of service," he adds.

Finally, even though the U.S. Coast Guard no longer tows recreational boats unless it's a life-threatening situation, they will help boaters contact commercial assistance and stand by on the radio to make sure they get that help. "You can ask the Coast Guard to call the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch service for you," Cardarelli said. Click Here to go to TowBoatUS Home Page.


Salvage: Hard Aground
Salvage: Hard Aground
Salvage: sinking at the dock is not uncommon
Salvage: sinking at the dock is not uncommon