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Old 12-14-2008, 06:51 PM   #1
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Hi folks!

I admit to not being a regular contributer to CruiserLog but, for the most part, I hover in the background soaking up much valuable information posted on these boards. I also admit to checking out other boards too in an effort to increase my cruising knowldege. On one of the boards I frequently visit there was recently a question concerning towage which, in my opinion, did not get a full and comprehensive answer. will reproduce the essentials of the question here as I expect, from past experience, the knowledge base of CruiserLog to be very comprehensive and that one or more CL contributor can give a full answr to the question.

The original post questioned whether or not it would be advisable to have aboard a towing contract and a summary of international maritime law. The queestion was asked as a result of an annecdotal cse where a becalmed cruiser lost her engine about 20NM from land (air in the fuel system), and attracted the attention of a passing fishermen. The fisherman towed the cruiser to the nearest harbour but put in a salvage claim for several thousand euros ... as if the boat had been abandoned and they could claim a percentage of the total boat value i.e. like in a wreckage case !

The young skipper may have been a bit naive, but would it be helpful to have on board:
  • a summary of international maritime law in english and in this case
  • a simple (say one page max) contract / towing agreement where for instance the service charge could be mentioned.
These are interesting questions and the other forum came up with a few answers but these were not, in my opinion. good enough to clearly explain the legal situation. Does anyone here have a full, comprehensive and, hopefully, clear answer to these simple but important questions?

Many thanks

James Collingwood

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Old 12-14-2008, 07:03 PM   #2
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Very interesting question indeed. It is important to know what to expect in these circumstances.

"Nausikaa", I'm sure, will be logged in shortly and I know that he will be able to assist with an answer.


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Old 12-14-2008, 07:17 PM   #3
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Here is a towing / salvage contract in PDF format compliments of Boat Owners Association of The United States

Gavin & Lesley



"Dwell on the could haves, we must not. Focus on the solution, we must...." -- Yoda --
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Old 12-14-2008, 07:39 PM   #4
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Indeed, this is an interesting question and one with a host of legal implications.

In fact, it is so complex that I will refrain from giving a quick, and possibly insufficient, answer now but will return to he question tomorrow when I have had time to give it due consideration.

Before going further though I will say that the USBoating contract (link above) is a good one for those in the US but even there you might like to consider the implications prior to signing.

More tomorrow - in the hope that no one needs this knowledge before that.

Aye // Stephen
Yacht NAUSIKAA | Call Sign: 2AJH2



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Old 12-14-2008, 08:14 PM   #5
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Yep, lots of legal "implications" for sure.

We are BoatUS members and kept their guidance on the matter on board our other boat. Now, we're in the yard with this boat, so...haven't a contract a board

However, I've heard from many, many sources that one must be very direct and very upfront about compensation before "allowing" someone to help you. Literally, state your price, what you're willing to pay for their assist and get them to agree to that sum, hourly rate, time&materials, whatever. Especially if you're uninsured, whether its a beer in the bar or cash compensation, don't leave it to chance and goodwill.
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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Old 12-15-2008, 12:54 AM   #6
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I;m cerainly no expert, but...

It is much better for you to hand the tow boat YOUR line rather than accepting a line from the tow boat.

To Life!

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Old 12-15-2008, 05:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gallivanters View Post
It is much better for you to hand the tow boat YOUR line rather than accepting a line from the tow boat.


Spot on !!! Taking their tow rope is like accepting salvage - learn how to make a monkey's fist and learn how to throw it, with your line attached.


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