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Thread: To help or not to help, that is the question...

  1. #1

    Question To help or not to help, that is the question...

    In a different thread there was a slight mention about helping out a disabled vessel, (NOT life or death disabled) that would amount to taking ones time and effort to get the disabled vessel going again, by tow, fuel delivery, transport, battery jump, whatever. The question for debate is this: How obligated should one feel about helping those who ran out of gas or something equally stupid, if the good samaritan helper has a substantial amount of limit time (once in a life-time trip), money, planning and preperation, etc, invested in their own trip at stake if they devert to help? Or worded another way; at what point do you give them bread and water, anchor em' to a tree somewhere, call the authorities and tell them you'll check back at the end of the weekend? Or do you tow them for two days because of their lack of maintenance, cancelling your only weekend fishing trip with your eighty year old father who lives in Tim-buck-two and has only a year to live?

    Personally, I've towed, jumped batteries, baby-sat until fuel arrived, radio-relayed, gave directions, etc, etc. Most times it hasn't been an inconvience for me or my group I was with. What about those that are going to end up sacrificing their whole trip for someone elses poor planning? Just about everytime I'm on the water and I'm sure everyone else here also, has heard some call on the radio that isn't life or death just basic boat issues that are preventable with common sense. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ON HOW MUCH YOU'LL HELP???

    (Remember: we're not talking IMMEDIATE life or death here, fairweather day type stuff.)

  2. #2

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    That is a difficult question to answer because of all the possibilities that may exist. I guess my answer would depend on the individual situation. I very rarely have a trip that I could not abandon if the situation demanded it. But,... I remember an incident in Resurrection Bay that occurred last summer (2009) where a small seventeen foot open skiff flagged down a passing Bayliner to tell them that they needed assistance. The two men in the skiff had run out of fuel for their one outboard motor due to poor planning just outside Rugged Island. They did not have life jackets or any floation devices, a VHF radio, oars, boat registration, or any backup plan to get back to the harbor. They were not injured or in danger of immediate harm, they just wanted a tow from someone. So, what would that good samaritan charge them for their stupidity and lack of concern for others? I don't have a good answer, but people who demand help because of their lack of preparation and planning somtimes make me hostile.

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    Member tjm's Avatar
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    your answer is simple....treat them how you'd want to be treated....

    I know if I did something where I was in a pickle because I was being a dumb butt, I'd be too embarrassed to ask for help........but if the situation had the possibility to get dire, I'd choke down my pride for sure...
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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjm View Post
    your answer is simple....treat them how you'd want to be treated....
    This thread should be short lived. One sentence fully filled the answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phish Finder View Post
    This thread should be short lived. One sentence fully filled the answer.
    Yup. Got it all in one shot.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I agree, I will help as much as I can. In the late 90's we came across a BURRIED extended cab Z71 complete with leather seats and a dealer window sticker (about 30K) out at jims. The truck had mud and water in the cab and standing next to it was 1 very downtrodden gentleman, 1 nervous looking friend, and one very unhappy woman. We got them out and on their way but the cost was 1 bent bumper on my cousins old dodge and one broken front CV on my buddies own Z71. Ended up using some "spare automotive parts" (plentiful out at jims) and a floor jack to get the rig out. The total cost to us ended up being about 1K in parts and labor and a lost trip to the glacier. OUCH!!

    Interesting the guy didn't even offer to pay for any of the damages. A couple hundred to cover the new CV would have been well received considering we were all just high school kids paying for our rigs with part time jobs. That still would have been cheaper than calling a tow service... Now that I am all growed up I keep some cash on me when I wonder out into the boonies, never know when I may need to buy some gas off a stranger!

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    From what I understand Sea Tow (the company) isnt up here, but there are other on-water boat towing companies available. The Coast Guard isnt in the boat towing biz, neither is the auxiliary, they're a law enforcement and rescue organization. If they dont have anything else going on they'll relay your request via a landline to somebody to come and get you.

    I know I wouldnt ask somebody to spend 10 hours towing my dumb butt back out of kindness, I'd pay to have myself towed by a commercial service - I'd hate to interrupt somebody elses fishing day.
    People are responsible for what happens to them, including breakdowns, and they should have a kicker capable of getting them back to harbor or at least keeping them off the rocks - only having one motor is irresponsible, along the lines of not having life jackets on board.

    If there are boat towing services available, then IMO just pulling somebody to where they're out of harms way and/or out of a radio shadow is fine - in any case 30 mins max, its all I'd ever ask of anybody.
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    The big difference here is that most of the folks that are answering here will be prepared for when the you know what hits the fan, how come its almost always the dumb s*its that go out in tiny boats or the guy that knows it all that are flailing their arms asking for a tow, fuel or help of some sort. Here's what i would(will) do, if its not life & death like say we ran out of gas well then just tow them somewhere safe let them anchor up(if they have one) and pick them up on the way home. I'll help as much as i can but we all have to realize that we are responsible for ourselves and the others on our rigs.

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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Interesting topic, surely when life is involved one must help. On the other hand, if there are commercial services available this is the route that most often fits. Commercial services are equipped to handle simple disabled boats, as well as more complex salvage operations. I would hate to be towing a boat and have something happen to my personal vessel or the one I was towing. Commercial services are equipped to handle these emergencies. In most areas these commercial captains are standing by 24/7 to respond in all types of situations. Why would you want to take a job from them? How many would like to have someone come to their place of employment and offer to do their job for free? Many boaters also have some form of towing coverage that will cover the cost to some degree as well (If they dont they should). Now with that being said I would lend a quick hand or a few gallons of fuel, but if it is not something simple call a dedicated professional. On a side note it is illegal in the US to accept or charge money for assisatnce towing unless you are a USCG Licensed Captain with Assistance Towing Endorsement. The forum police should like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff p View Post
    On a side note it is illegal in the US to accept or charge money for assisatnce towing unless you are a USCG Licensed Captain with Assistance Towing Endorsement.
    jeff p,

    Can you give us a reference about this statement, because I have never seen this in writing. How could the USCG say that a private boat cannot accept money for a tow.

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about it being illegal to charge for a tow. I do know you are opening yourself up to liability towing somebody if you don't have a towing endorsement. Say for instance a boat is drifting on the rocks and you go rescue them, while in tow the vessel you're towing hits a rock and snaps off they're lower unit. The responsible party is the towing vessel. Say the boat already had a broken lower unit and you towed it, you could be blamed for breaking his lower unit in tow, there would be no way to prove otherwise. the towing vessel would also be liable for any injuries.

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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooLoose View Post
    jeff p,

    Can you give us a reference about this statement, because I have never seen this in writing. How could the USCG say that a private boat cannot accept money for a tow.
    Sure it will give you some reading http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_20...6cfr15.410.pdf this contains definitions as well http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_20...6cfr15.301.pdf

    You can tow, you just can not accept compensation

    How can state gov say I cannot accept money for taking someone hunting ...

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    I would think that this would fall under the "Good Samaritan" law where you can not be held liable, if you do not go beyond your ability or knowledge. Also I think it all hinges on how urgent/life threatening it is.
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    Default to each their own

    Quote Originally Posted by Myers View Post
    The question for debate is this: How obligated should one feel about helping those who ran out of gas or something equally stupid, if the good samaritan helper has a substantial amount of limit time (once in a life-time trip), money, planning and preperation, etc, invested in their own trip at stake if they devert to help?
    Everyone answers this question for themselves, and each should be happy with their respective decisions.

    Last month out hunting solo during a very long spat of very bad weather, I came across 3 or 4 separate instances where others needed help; in each case they were more than 10 miles from any publicly available services.

    I chose to help each time. I gave up a large part of 2 days total helping others instead of hunting. None involved serious injury to people, though I did see well into 5 figures worth of other's damaged/lost equipment in total. Very bad weather made for very dangerous conditions for us all there/then.

    I darn near flipped my 700 Grizzly getting one of them out - I learned a few things from that about how to pull an ATV that is heavier than mine when going up a very steep grade; I could have done it more safely had I learned these lessons beforehand. That was the closest call I've ever had on my Grizzly; one I'll never forget.

    Additionally I did call the troopers a couple times to advise them where I believed hunters in trouble were. At the time of my first call I was not positive they were in serious trouble, but when a guy's 5 gallon jerry can comes floating down the river and he's still nowhere to be found 2 days later, I had a pretty good idea they were in a bad way (and they were).

    The troopers were incredibly wonderful. They did a fly-over to look for the one missing group, and told me that if the fly over indicated trouble in their camp they would land a helicopter and get'm the following day. Nice to know.

    One little event I found interesting, about helping others (or NOT, in this case): One of the times I was assisting, the people in trouble had their equipment spread all over creation, their meat trailer upside down (with both of them and I working on it) and lots more indications that these two had experienced considerable trouble in their river crossing. This Rhino is driving by on the "trail" (it ain't much of a trail) and I just about laughed when the old man driving it not only did not stop or even slow down (he drove within 20 feet of us!), did NOT ask if there was anything he could do to help, but actually drove by without even looking at any of us, even once.... Unbelievable....

    To each their own. I have to think that at some time that Rhino is going to break down and that old man might re-think his M.O.

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    Smile then call me a criminal...

    Quote Originally Posted by jeff p View Post
    You can tow, you just can not accept compensation
    I accepted BEER from a guy I towed 10 miles back to his truck.

    Soon we'll see my mug plastered all over the post office, eh???

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjm View Post
    your answer is simple....treat them how you'd want to be treated....
    Exactly.

    Having helped out a few folks over the years I've come to realize that Karma (both Good and Bad) does indeed accumulate.

    Never expected compensation, and have turned down quite a few offers of it with the caveat "Just do the same for the next fella if you come upon 'em".
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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I accepted BEER from a guy I towed 10 miles back to his truck.

    Soon we'll see my mug plastered all over the post office, eh???
    Yea I will look for you on AMW. Look, I have and will help people also, but just do not accept compensation. Federal Law can be tricky (not that state is simpler)

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Thunder View Post
    I would think that this would fall under the "Good Samaritan" law where you can not be held liable, if you do not go beyond your ability or knowledge. Also I think it all hinges on how urgent/life threatening it is.
    Unfortunately the "Good Samaritan" law gets a little grey in the Maritime World......Once you render assistance you are responsible for any and all damages incurred while under tow, you also assume responsibility for all passengers. Now going to court would be something interesting with some good lawyers, especially those that are versed in Maritime Law.

    As far as giving up a once in a lifetime trip, most likely not. I would try to provide as much immediate assistance as possible, fuel, jump start, radio call, etc., but after a couple of hours, I will ensure they are parked somewhere safe, turn it over to someone else, check on the way back to ensure they are picked up especially if many, many miles from port.

    I know that Miller's Landing offers assistance out of Seward, Sea Tow use to be over Homer way(I have not been there in a while), also thought there was a towing assistance company out of Whittier, can't think of anyone over Valdez way.

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    Default ditch diver

    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    Once you render assistance you are responsible for any and all damages incurred while under tow, you also assume responsibility for all passengers.
    I suspect the same is true for pulling out ditch divers in the winter too; like if your tow strap pulled their bumper loose or awry.

    I always have THEM attach the strap to their vehicle and I attach it to mine. Though legally I'm probably still liable, I wouldn't feel or act liable.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    I will always stop and offer help. If I am unable to give the assistance they need then I help them find someone who can help them.
    I do not exept compensation on a regular basis either. I do ask them to help me help them if needed. If I am way down the big sue with half a tank and they need a tow to the landing we are in a bind unless they unload their fuel in my tank. It helps balance the load and it keeps the motor in my boat towing them. I will never ask for more. I have been in a bind before and appreciated the help. I will always treat them the way I would want to be treated...

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