So you finally paid the $179 and got yourself the gold membership for Sea Tow for your recreational boat. Remember, your membership is activated within 24 hours from receipt of payment. The membership provides towing coverage for your boat (if registered or owned by you), regardless of who is operating the covered vessel when (I would say the word “if” but any boater knows the word “when” is more applicable) it becomes disabled. You, as the member, can use your membership privileges on any vessel you charter, rent, lease, or borrow. However, if you are a guest on a buddies boat that does not have Sea Tow, you can’t use your membership for the pal.
So what exactly do you get? Well…not much in terms of towing for 24 hours or until you become activated as a member. Yup, no free (well besides the yearly payment) towing until membership is activated. Upon activation, then your vessel receives unlimited towing assistance, one vessel tow per incident, for the covered vessel to the dock of your choice within your designated home area.
Now, if your boat becomes disabled outside of your home area, then you can get towed to the nearest dock or facility that will facilitate repair or transportation of the vessel. Note, it will the Sea Tow Captain’s judgment to determine that dock or facility. If Sea Tow does not operate in the area, and you use another towing service, then you can be reimbursed for up to $225 per hour, not to exceed $5000, for an incident, to the nearest dock or facility that can repair or transport the boat. That out of area tower must be USCG licensed and the bill paid by you (the member), and then within 60 days, you must submit a copy of the paid invoice for reimbursement.
As an alternative to a tow, in the Sea Tow Captain’s discretion, the member may receive free jump start service, fuel delivery, disentanglement (unless they have to use a diver), or other services (note there will be a charge for the actual fuel provided, just not the delivery). If the above doesn’t work, then the boat will be towed. Additionally, ungrounding (if you happen to run aground) is provided if the vessel is stable, not in a dangerous surf or surf line, is surrounded by water on all sides, has some movement, and can be refloated upon initial arrival by Sea Tow or at the next high tide in 15 minutes or less. If all of the above are not present, then it’s considered a “salvage service” and you will be charged.
If your vessel becomes disabled at your designated home port, you get an arranged tow per incident within your home area to another dock. This only applies if you boat is stored at a marina, dock, or the like. This does not apply for those who trailer from home to a boat ramp.
Some additional considerations:
No coverage for boats over 65 feet (I’d imagine why).
No jump starts at your home port (if you store at a dock/marina) or in order to embark on your voyage.
Sea Tow can cancel your membership at any time for abuse of privilege, including if you misrepresent your vessel’s condition, excessive towing (I am interested in seeing how that is defined as that is subjective), fraud, intoxicated operation (I am interested in seeing how often this happens), and lack of upkeep and care of the vessel (another subjective one).
Not included tow if the boat is taking on water, beached, sinking , or sunk. That’s then considered a salvage operation.
Vessels can be towed (and reimbursed) from the Bahamas, Mexico, and Canada (some limitations though).
Sea Tow has no specific offshore distance limits, so how far a Sea Tow will go out to get you depends on their fuel capacity, communication, and other sea conditions. If Sea Tow can’t get to you, they will arrange for an alternate provider and reimburse you up to $5,000.