Towed a broke down ski boat to the Marina in my 17' sailboat this weekend.

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Jetboy, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Location: USA

    Jetboy Senior Member

    My wife and I were out sailing on a local mountain lake this weekend in our Venture 17 sailboat. Had a great day of sailing. Excellent conditions. On the way back to the marina we see a ski boat adrift with the engine cover off. Obviously they were having trouble. I pulled up next to them. Engine was dead.

    I first said that I would head to the marina and find someone to help them out. After thinking about it for a second, it was down wind and I have a little nissan outboard as my backup power, and I figured I could probably tow them back myself. So went back and tied up a rope and as it worked out the little motor did a pretty solid job of towing the heavier ski boat back to the marina. I was pretty uncomfortable with towing a heavy ski boat with now power into a relatively busy marina. I know my little 700lb sailboat doesn't have the mass to make any emergency maneuvers with 4,000?lbs of power boat tied to the back. As it worked out I was able to slow it down coming to the day use dock and pulled up to the end nice and slow. Worked out like I had done it 100 times. It was about as easy as it could have gone. I didn't know at the time but as it turned out the guy in the boat was an amputee (leg) and might have struggled a bit swimming to shore.

    What surprised me most about the situation is that this is a relatively small lake. And there were at least 40-50 boats on the water. At the marina there were that had just come in to take out. At least half of which must have passed by the guy broke down and I was the only one to offer a hand. And unfortunately I probably had the least capable boat for the task.

    What is your protocol for this situation? Would you have given a tow or just offer to contact the marina to get help? Is there some rule that powerboats don't help other power boats?
    2 people like this.
  2. Corley
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Corley epoxy coated

    People should really should offer to help in that situation but it's todays selfish mentality that prevails lets ignore the problem, someone else will help anyway etc. Give yourself a pat on the back for being a decent human we need more of you around.
  3. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Points added for you Jetboy. You've hopefully made a new friend and maybe saved someone.

    Years ago helped a guy out who was in trouble,I was in the car industry and turns out he worked for a dealer group. Sold him 75 cars and though I have been out of cars for years,we are still good friends and meet up a couple weekends a year up the coast.

    What comes around goes around.
  4. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    In all honesty my first instinct was to just go get some help rather than offer a tow. It's a small lake. Worst case scenario is that he'd drift for half an hour or an hour and end up on the shore and have to walk back to the marina. I'm a lawyer (although I do patent work so I don't sue people) by trade and my job is often to tell my clients not to take a risk that might lead to liability. What if you get into the marina and end up crashing the boat into someone else or even happen to get hit by another boat? Possibly our culture of suing is a deterrent to helping out?

    (we actually did watch a lady driving a 35ish foot cabin cruiser ram the dock pretty hard as we came in - this is a resort area where probably 30-50% of the boats are rented... I'll admit I laughed)

    I would be much more confident towing in another sailboat knowing that they are probably a lot more likely to have ability to at least steer the boat and probably a better feel for how their boat will behave.
  5. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    You're responsible to "render and assist" in this situations. There's no two ways about it, as anyone can get stuck on a big hunk of wet, without anyone around. The protocol was precisely what you did, though I would have offered the tow right off, with the option of going to the marina (or radioing) for assistance. Many can't be seen having a sailboat drag their castrated ego back to the dock, so they elect to wait for Sea Tow or a marina service boat. Your karma meter went up a few notches with your actions, you should be proud, though you probably wasted it all, laughing at the lady in the dock bashing cabin cruiser. I would have laughed too . . .
  6. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    It was only a lake, did he not have a phone.

    At least you were polite enough to use the outboard -towing him in with wind would have meant he would have had to sell the boat and be bared from any power boat club in the world.
  7. Herman
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: The Netherlands

    Herman Senior Member

    Over here it is pretty normal to offer a hand (within capabilities). Boats are rugged things, it usually is the crew that is the limiting factor, and reading from your post you were perfectly capable of towing him in. OK, with a small motor it goes slow, but why hurry?

    When going slow the chances for damage are limited, and if damage occurs, it is usually very small. Your culture of sueing everything whenever possible DOES raise some eyebrows on this side of the pond.

    Herman (who notices the cat coming in, wet from the rain. Lets put here in the microwave....)
  8. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    Whats with all the Cats?
  9. philSweet
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Beaufort, SC and H'ville, NC

    philSweet Senior Member

    Unfortunately, we live in a culture where the vast majority of citizens have been terrified into a state of helplessness when it comes to helping out. I've been involved in half a dozen rescues/recoveries in the mountains and on the water, and it is amazing to watch others pretending nothing is going on. I have twice experienced this failure to do the basic minimum to help others.

    I was training on the bike and a wasp flew in my eye and stung my eyeball 19 times before it died. Painful. I was doing 30mph in rush hour traffic at the time. I ended up laying in a front yard with my face spasmed and eyes slammed shut for twenty minutes. I kept hearing this strange noise the whole time. When I was finally able to pry my eyes open I discovered the noise was the home owner in the front yard watering his garden. He'd been ignoring me for twenty minutes. In another twenty minutes I was able to pedal off. He never looked at me or spoke to me.

    On a second occasion, after lifting a motorcycle off a guy who had lowsided on black ice and was getting badly burned by his bike- I walked back counting the cars. I was the 25th car back and the only person to get out and help the poor *******. I was probably three minutes or so behind the accident. Turns out we were both heading to Squadron Officer School in Montgomery and I met him again later on. What ever you do, don't expect others to help you out. You may have to wait for a very long time.

    I recently sprained my ankle on the forth of July in a jam packed campground. I'm still limping. A dozen people walked right past me pretending I didn't exist. I had to hop fifty feet to my golf cart. There were at least thirty people within 100 feet of me, all looking the other way. Bizarre.
  10. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    If your on the floor you must be drunk so not worth bothering with.
  11. latestarter
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    Location: N.W. England

    latestarter Senior Member

    It appears to be human nature.
    There was a TV documentary where they got an actor to lie down on the footpath (sidewalk) on a street in London many walked by before someone checked what was wrong with him.
    The psychologists said it was a reluctance to stand out from the crowd, the more people about the less likely that anyone would help.
    Being a large city people feel anonymous, when the same thing happened in a village it was different the thought of being talked about for not helping overcame the reluctance to get involved.
    Another test was a group of people not known to each other were listening to a lecture when the fire alarm went off, the lecturer carried on normally. The people sat there and did nothing, they were willing to risk injury or death in a burning building rather than be the first to make a move.
  12. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Karma-and the fury of me- is a b"tch.

    Came across a smaller sailboat 20 minutes out of Lund in the Copeland islands, anchored 100' from a nice large boat-sitting on deck having lunch- from "south of the border".

    Sail boat flagged me down with a starter problem,and was asking for a ride back to Lund to the store.
    Fired up the PWC, flew there in no time,waited for 15 minutes,and then flew back.
    Having a beer,he told me that he asked the US boat and they told him in no uncertain terms "not my problem".

    Three days later we pulled into a cove,and guess which motoryacht was anchored nearby.
    Recognized my boat,and guess who rowed over,asking for help.

    Guess what I told them.
  13. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    I usually stop to help stranded cars and others, one problem I noticed, especially in large cities, people are often leery of strangers offering assistance. They call for help on their cell phone and think anyone offering friendly help might do them harm, try to take advantage of them, etc. A typical reaction of city dwellers is to insist they do not need help, too many bad stories from their own neighborhoods.

    Most boaters in the Puget sound area are generally friendly and willing to help, but the more criminals running loose, the less likely people will be willing to help a stranger.
  14. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Females in bikinis get help.

    Perhaps there is some psychological reason for that---I cant imagine what that could be.

  15. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Just as I pulled out of the drive way I saw a small car with the bonnet up and a young girl bending over the engine. I pulled in nearby and got out, she said the engine was not working.

    She wore black high heels and had a fox fur coat, I could see that the coat was un- buttoned and hung loose and was open, it was obvious she was completely naked beneath the coat and I could see her slender waist and stout breast.

    I gasped and struggled for breath as she asked if I could fix it, her earings hung below her short hair as she once more bent over the engine in an inquiring manner.

    I stuttered and said' i'lle get some tools' I returned to find the coat was much further apart I could not keep my eyes on the cars engine, her body was tall and slim and she leaned on the car with one slim fingered hand, her coat fell more open.

    My hands shook and I could not do anything . I invited her to my house that was just 50 yards away so she could warm herself with a cup of tea.

    No not a fantasy, my girl friend Julie would do this regularly.
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