How much does it cost to get a boat towed?

What should you do if you get stranded on the water?

Dead batteries, soft grounding, empty fuel tank… Whatever the reason, your boat is dead in the water, or unable to attain a good speed and you need to get back to a safe harbour or mooring for repairs. A breakdown on water is stressful wherever it occurs, and it will certainly be expensive. But insurance coverage can help reduce the impact.

Do I have to pay to get my boat towed?

The cost of getting your boat towed to safety will vary by the distance you need to go and the conditions. You may be lucky and find someone to help you for free – but you may have to pay, and it is decent to give a donation if a voluntary organisation comes to your aid. The price will depend on the time of day (according to the marine breakdown service SeaStart, 80% of pleasure craft breakdowns occur at the weekend or in the evening when recovery may be more expensive).

Many boat owners opt to pay for an annual breakdown and recovery service. That way they can be sure of priority attention and a predictable bill.

How do I call for assistance when my boat is broken down in the water?

In the UK, at sea, if you don’t have a breakdown policy, and you can’t fix your craft, you can put out a pan-pan call on your radio, or contact the coastguard on channel 16. The coastguard will ask another boat in the area to help you. If there is an immediate risk, make a mayday call.

On an inland waterway, in an emergency when lives or property are at risk, call 999. The Canal and River Trust has boat service listings to help you find a nearby boatyard that can help with a tow.

What information should I give the coastguard during a breakdown?

Ideally, you should be able to give an accurate position. This shouldn’t be much of a problem on inland waterways. But at sea it is very difficult to judge distance by eye, and interpretations of ‘just off’ or ‘not far from’ can vary. Make sure your radio is GPS-enabled so you can get your position quickly and easily.

As well as your location, you should also tell them what type of craft you are in, and briefly explain your problem.

Do I have to accept the tow company’s fee?

If you want to get back to a safe harbour from a breakdown at sea, it’s as well to check where whoever comes to your aid is towing you to, and what compensation they want. In some cases it may be enough to agree to buy them a beer, or pay for fuel, but a professional boat breakdown service will send you a bill.

On an inland waterway, it may be possible to shop around, but if you do not take action to move your boat you risk the waterway authority acting on your behalf.

How do I get ready to have my boat towed?

While you wait for your rendezvous with the rescue boat, set up lines and fenders. The skipper may have their own lines and fenders, so don’t deploy yours until you are asked to. Yachts should lower their sails, unless they think they might need to manoeuvre before the tow-boat arrives. The skipper may try to call your phone, or contact you by radio to let you know help is coming. So keep an eye on your communications devices.

How much does it cost to get my boat towed to my home mooring?

Many watercraft breakdown policies will include recovery to the nearest safe mooring or haven. This might not be your home mooring. You will have to pay extra if you want your boat taken to your home mooring, and you may not be able to arrange this immediately.

What should I do once my watercraft has been towed to safety?

Once you are in a safe haven and your craft is protected from further damage, contact your insurance company and find out what the next steps are.

Will my boat insurance cover me if I need towing?

At Velos we tailor our policies to our customer’s specific needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with pleasure craft insurance.

Contact Us

Tel: +44 (0)20 7929 4058
Fax: +44 (0)20 7933 9350
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Velos Insurance Services Limited
5th Floor, 81 Southwark St,
London SE1 0HX
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