Those anecdotal accounts about a spike in boat purchases over the past two years, coinciding with the onset of the continuing pandemic, are true! According to C-Tow Marine Assistance, which provides on-call help to boaters on the water, there are a lot of new – and also inexperienced – recreational boaters who have taken to the waters in-and-around B.C. since COVID-19 arrived.
When boating, there are a myriad of things that could potentially go wrong with your vessel, but perhaps the biggest mistake that people make is assuming that boats are like cars. Unlike cars, sailboats and motorboats use much more fuel. Also boat engines require fuel filters that need to be maintained and changed or they get plugged and your engine will unexpectedly stop and won’t restart.
Who benefits from accessing on-the-water towing and assistance?
Any boater who experiences the unexpected while on the water can benefit from C-tow membership. The highest number of calls for marine assistance are from boaters with fuel-related issues, but drained batteries are another culprit. These emergencies result in many service calls to C-Tow – particularly by newer and less experienced boaters who might not realize that leaving appliances turned on while anchoring overnight means you’ll be waking up to a depleted battery and an engine that won’t start in the morning.
In B.C., most C-Tow members are recreational boaters, with approximately 60 percent owning sailboats. The reason is that sailing is more complex with more things that can go wrong. C-Tow has noticed that sailors tend to service their engines infrequently and think they can simply sail in if the motor goes, which often doesn’t work.
Regardless of the issue encountered, C-Tow’s team of captains are ready to provide fuel drops and tows 24 hours a day, seven days a week. C-Tow is always nearby to help out recreational boaters – as well as fishing and prawn fleets and crabbers – for anything that breaks down on the water. It’s the on-water equivalent to roadside assistance for cars.
How to hitch a tow
Membership is payable as a $160 yearly flat rate (or $200 if you want coverage into Washington state). It offers peace of mind to any recreational boater, particularly when considering the hourly rate for marine towing is $250, and that finding help on the water can be a lot more challenging than on the roadside!
As of the end of this month, members have access to an enhanced mobile app for iOS and Android. The functionality remains the same: you simply touch one button on the app and your phone will send your coordinates (latitude and longitude) to C-Tow dispatch, and your phone will simultaneously and automatically call into the dispatch. If you have no cellular service, the best option is to use VHF on channel 83a to the Canadian Coast Guard and request C-Tow.
Captains typically reach your location within about thirty minutes.
Headquartered on the Sunshine Coast, C-Tow has been operating since 1984. Today, it operates in B.C., Ontario and the Maritimes. In B.C., it has over 30 marine assistance boats and two membership packages, with coverage extending to northern Vancouver Island and throughout Washington State. C-Tow is a sponsor of our Clean Marine BC green boating and marina eco-certification program.