Gone are the days when the bays and inshore ocean were free and uncrowded and, if you ran into a boat issue, you could hail a passerby for a friendly tow or hail the Coast Guard on your marine radio to pull you off a sandbar or bog. No sir Captain! Those days are gone forever!
It was 1981 when the Coast Guard was ordered to back away from responding to non-life or vessel threatening requests. I won’t say there aren’t times you can catch a break from them on a slow day or when they pass you but it’s just not their policy, especially with so many tasks and fewer assets at their disposal.
Filling the gap came the rise in commercial boat tow services. Sea Tow and Boats USA are the major players. I attest to their professionalism. They are well equipped to handle any sticky situation and are just a marine radio or cell phone call away. Even if you call the Coast Guard, they just forward you to one of these pros. In a half-century of boating, I called my tow service only five times. Once for a partial sinking during Sandy, then a dockside lightning strike through the outriggers which blew the engines, electronics and a hole in the cabin, two breakdowns and one high and dry when I entered the old Amityville east-west channel at the beginning of the season and hit a new sand bar that appeared during the winter. My towing service was always there ASAP plus and always friendly.
In our area, it’s a toss-up between Sea Tow and Boats U.S. They both have way stations all along our coasts. They are both equally professional and I receive no compensation from either, so I am impartial. The one I belong to is the same group I started with many years ago. It comes down to this. I just believe strongly that if you are boating today, you know how valuable your safety and vessel are. If you chose not to cough up a couple of Benjamins for peace of mind, well that’s your privilege, but you’ll be smacking your head over and over with that green fly swatter you keep ready when you are forced to shell out megabucks as you empty your wallet. Believe the old Captain. Joining one of these towing services is a bargain.
Stay safe – don’t forget to tip,