Boat breaks down at sea or is beached - rules for rescuers?

westernman

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Losing your boat may incur costs so I doubt many people turn down the offer of a tow. I expect that explaining to your insurance company that you turned down the offer of a tow because it cost €800 so instead the boat is a total loss can I have €100k please may be an awkward conversation.
In France, most boat insurance policies cover the cost of a tow by the SNSM.
Probably not true if you use an UK insurance policy in the SOF.
 

Graham376

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France is a signatory of the International Convention of Salvage so the laws will be much the same. The main difference with rescues is that the SNSM will send you a hefty bill. That's far more likely to make your day out unexpectedly expensive than a spurious claim for salvage from Hervé the lobster fisherman.

Same in Portugal. A few years ago it was reported here and in the press, a boat with engine failure called for help somewhere south of Cascais and was towed IIRC about 20 miles, partly after dark. Cost was >€4,000.
 

Graham376

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When looking for my first boat, someone kindly gave me a copy of RYA "The Yachtsman's Lawyer" written by a barrister (ISBN 0-901501-43-3), which covers many aspects of ownership including salvage. A small extract here -

Salvage Services
Small boat owners should realise that it can be salvage to set in motion the steps to bring help to a boat or (just possibly) coming alongside and giving advice or information, which would enable it to avoid a local danger. No doubt, the common advice to yachtsmen to use their own warps when taking a tow is, in part, based on the fact that it has been held a valid salvage service to supply tackle to a vessel in need of it. The salvor need not do anything as dramatic as putting out a fire or manning the pumps. Salvage services include towing, pilotage, navigating, or standing by a boat. Taking off any equipment or taking a passenger ashore could also be salvage.
 

AngusMcDoon

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When looking for my first boat, someone kindly gave me a copy of RYA "The Yachtsman's Lawyer" written by a barrister (ISBN 0-901501-43-3), which covers many aspects of ownership including salvage. A small extract here -

Salvage Services
Small boat owners should realise that it can be salvage to set in motion the steps to bring help to a boat or (just possibly) coming alongside and giving advice or information, which would enable it to avoid a local danger. No doubt, the common advice to yachtsmen to use their own warps when taking a tow is, in part, based on the fact that it has been held a valid salvage service to supply tackle to a vessel in need of it. The salvor need not do anything as dramatic as putting out a fire or manning the pumps. Salvage services include towing, pilotage, navigating, or standing by a boat. Taking off any equipment or taking a passenger ashore could also be salvage.
All theoretically true. In real life if someone made a claim against you for an unreasonable amount for a small craft incident you call your insurance company and let them deal with it. They have the experts and layers to persuade the claimant to accept a small amount or else bog off and sue for it, knowing they won't. We're not going to be involved in an incident like MSC Napoli where tens or hundreds of millions of pounds are at stake and the lawyers argue for years at the Admiralty courts.

Interesting that the barrister says 'it has been held' regarding who supplies the tow rope rather than actually quoting the case, which is what they usually do. I would guess that if a case did end up in court who supplied the tow rope would be one of many things considered when deciding salvage compensation & would not be a single issue that swings the case for the salvage claim to be valid or not.
 
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chriscallender

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Same. I've never had to do it, but I'd just tell the person I'd helped to pay it forward.
I wouldn't ever ask for money either - I've towed people in who haven't offered fuel money and I wouldn't make anything of that either. If they want to give me some chocolates or something then it would be gratefully received but that's about as far as I'd want to go. On the other hand, we have the luxury of doing this as a hobby, if that was what put food on the table it would have to be a different matter. A fishing boat isn't making money catching fish while they are towing a boat.

Once came across someone in a car park with a flat tyre who was in tears because they couldn't get home. I swapped the spare wheel on, and they really wanted to pay me for my time (like all 5-10 minutes of it). But my job isn't car mechanic either, so I didn't/wouldn't take the money, making somone's day a bit better is enough.
 

Bouba

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When looking for my first boat, someone kindly gave me a copy of RYA "The Yachtsman's Lawyer" written by a barrister (ISBN 0-901501-43-3), which covers many aspects of ownership including salvage. A small extract here -

Salvage Services
Small boat owners should realise that it can be salvage to set in motion the steps to bring help to a boat or (just possibly) coming alongside and giving advice or information, which would enable it to avoid a local danger. No doubt, the common advice to yachtsmen to use their own warps when taking a tow is, in part, based on the fact that it has been held a valid salvage service to supply tackle to a vessel in need of it. The salvor need not do anything as dramatic as putting out a fire or manning the pumps. Salvage services include towing, pilotage, navigating, or standing by a boat. Taking off any equipment or taking a passenger ashore could also be salvage.
I love the line ‘giving advice’ can be salvage....on the basis of that I should own a whole fleet of boats by now
 

escapism

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Last weekend I towed a yacht back to it's moorings after it had broken down and the wind pushed it onto a bank. I would never even contemplate claiming salvage. I would expect the same in return.
Some years ago, we did a similar thing and towed a boat back to its mooring off Pin Mill. Was very surprised and gratified to receive a bottle of single malt from the owner. Since then we have always carried an unopened, unsampled bottle of a much better vintage than we usually consume to be offered should we find ourselves similarly indebted. It is now some 20 years older than when we bought it, and in the one instance when it was offered after a bit of trouble mooring at Halfpenny Pier, it was refused - 'nobbut a scuff, don't be silly'. I'm beginning to wonder if this bottle has a sell by date, and its beginning to look a bit manky, perhaps its time to drink it.
 

Juan Twothree

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I was taught to (haven't needed to) in the event offer my line to the salvor rather than accept theirs, the idea being one is taking a tow not being saved. Might be an old wives tale.

The RNLI will always insist on using the lifeboat's lines, as they're carefully looked after and regularly checked, and won't (or at least shouldn't) fail at an inopportune moment.

And whilst we'd never claim salvage or ask for payment, a cup of tea white no sugar will do nicely thanks 😀
 
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