Salvage of a vessel can most simply be defined as any situation that causes the vessel and her contents or occupants peril which can not be remedied by time or tide. Hence – if a boat is sitting upon a rock jetty at high tide, the time it would take for a tide cycle would not “cure” the situation. If the boat is soft aground, with time, the tide will allow the boat to free itself. As long as there is no hull damage then the boat can make way without assistance. Similar scenario however, the boat runs hard aground on a falling tide and appears to be structurally sound until the tide begins to rise and leaks are detected. Could be a rutter or shaft problem, or a breach in the hull. Might be that the shaft is caught upon the rocks. Could be a line in wrapped around the prop or any number of situations. The vessel however cannot make way under its own power without further assistance without additional peril. This still MIGHT not be a salvage. Your TowBoatUS Captain will tell you if it is a Salvage situation.
Salvage vs Tow has been an ongoing center of controversy in and around the coastal waters throughout the United States. No one ever wants to think their boat needed to be salvaged from a wreck upon a shoal or saved from the peril of sitting upon a rock jetty; but it does happen. Boats sink and get hit by lightening. They get leaks and hoses that break for no apparent reason. BE PREPARED. It can happen to you.
The biggest controversy on Salvage vs Tow is how is it going to be paid for? TowBoatUS Membership does not cover incidents of salvage but in most instances your hulls insurance coverage will cover the expense. Be sure to understand your boats insurance policy thoroughly.
It is important to know a few things before you are faced with a Salvage situation –
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