It’s a scary thought for any boater. Enjoying a day on the water with the shoreline out of sight, and after hours of fun and relaxation, your boat breaks down and you aren’t sure how you’ll get yourself, your guests, and your boat back to land.
It’s important you prepare ahead for these situations and have the equipment and local information you need to get help, but we’ll also provide some basic ground rules for what to do if your boat breaks down on the water.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to ensure everyone is safe and have them all put on their lifejackets, especially if you’re not certain about why the boat broke down. Then, set your anchor. Third, using your GPS or other location app, find your accurate coordinates so you can request a tow.
Also read: How Far Can a Boat Go on a Tank of Gas
The most essential piece of information you’ll want on board is the contact details for the two major national towing networks, Sea Tow and TowBoatUS, which both offer memberships, but also provide assistance for non-members. While towing memberships may not seem worth the price of admission when you’re not facing a crisis, towing services for non-members can run up a large bill, averaging between $125-$250 for a 40-minute tow. Depending on weather and time of day, that bill can be even higher.
Of course, if you’re regularly boating in the same areas, find out if there are local towers who might help with a membership or one-time tow at a better rate.
If your boat’s condition is not concerning, sit back and wait for your tow to arrive, and take your boat to a licensed repair shop to diagnose the problem before getting back out on the water.