Boat In Distress Call

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Bill Sampson

Escalante-Class Member
I was at Lake Mead last weekend, and we had the electric fuel pump in the ski boat go out. We managed to get the boat back to the marina 15 miles away, but my question here is: Is my first call on channel 16 to the National Park Service, or if my radio is not strong enough (5 watts) do I call them on my cell phone, or do I dial 911?
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Thanks,
 

Ryan

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
I am not sure about this, but my feeling is that the NPS isn't going to respond to that call (unless you are in danger). I think your 1st call would be to the marina concessionaire, to have them bring out a tow.

Or, before that, wave down a passing boat and enlist their help.
 

birdsnest

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
Just my opinion but I also think the first call should be to a private tow service unless you are in imminent danger. Try to wave down any boater for assistance.
 

Ringer

Active Member
We blew the lower unit on Powell at 14 miles and called the Park Service. They told us to call Aramark and we did. $250 an hour before 4 pm and $500 an hour after 4. Cost us $500 for the tow. One boater stopped but he refused to tow us and we offered him $500 cash. Can't really blame him. Other boats just shot past us and we were on the TM in the middle of the channel.
 

Powelldreamer

Well-Known Member
Wow! I always stop for boaters that are in distress. I have towed people further than 15 miles as well. I guess I just don't understand why people have issues helping others out on the water. Sorry you had that experience Ringer. I agree with the others flag someone down first. Call Marina second. Call NPS if you are in imminent danger only.
 

birdsnest

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
I think you have a lot better chance of getting help when you need it if you help others when they need it. Just something I learned from dear old mom. Can't prove it but I'm sticking with it.
 

Indecision

New Member
If you are a Boat US member and have a towing option you can save some money when trouble strikes, ONLY if you call them first and then they dispatch a tow service on Powell. It will probably be Antelope. It is my understanding that Boat US will not reimburse a tow unless you contact them first. They now have a towing app for your phone. Luckily I have never had to see this if process works.
 

Ryan

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
If you are a Boat US member and have a towing option you can save some money when trouble strikes, ONLY if you call them first and then they dispatch a tow service on Powell. It will probably be Antelope. It is my understanding that Boat US will not reimburse a tow unless you contact them first. They now have a towing app for your phone. Luckily I have never had to see this if process works.
Two years ago when our houseboat was down an outdrive, I bought a Boat US policy. When I told them I was at Powell, they said that I could contact Executive Services directly, and they would reimburse. Maybe that has changed. If it is now the way you suggest, the policy is mostly useless due to lack of phone coverage.

If I remember correctly, the policy was less than $100 and covered something like $2500 worth of towing.
 

GregC

Well-Known Member
After reading some horror stories about the cost of towing at Lake Powell, towing insurance has always been part of our BoatUS policy.
The second trip we made to the lake after buying our 25' cruiser we "discovered" how much water and gunk had accumulated in the bottom of its 100 gal fuel tank. We were just above the Escalante out of Bullfrog, headed for the San Juan and pulled ashore in a small cove for lunch. Wouldn't start and after an hour or so of dinking around, I connected the kicker tank to the main engine and thought we would putt along 'till we could get cell service (Would have used the kicker to go, but wanted to know for sure where the problem was, and was too lazy and late in the day to change everything back).
We made the corner toward the Rincon and managed enough cell strength to make a call to BoatUS who told us to hire a local "Captain" thru Bullfrog Exec services and they would re-imburse. Called Exec. Svcs and described the boat, and said I'd be on Channel 16 when they got close.
Turns out the "Captain" only monitored Channel 14 (in spite of the Federal regulation requiring boat owners with radios to monitor 16 while under way). She drove right past us twice, even with much arm waving and repeated radio calls, until she finally saw us and came alongside. By this time we were above Iceberg and, running at idle, had more than half of the kicker tank left to go. I told her how disapointed I was that she didn't monitor 16, and that, thanks, but I think I can make it to Hall's on my own. She gave me that "I just missed $250 (the minimum at the time) and another hour of hanging out with the store staff because of another tourist who doesn't know his a***ole from his elbow" kind of look.
We ended up pulling into a small cove just around the ferry boat landing and I used the bulb from the kicker tank plumbing, connected to the main fuel line to pump out about a gallon and a half of bad fuel into a five gallon fuel can that I emptied into the kicker tank and started and ran just fine and has ever since!

Moral of the story: a.) Always having a few tools is good. b.) Having a "Captain's" license doesn't mean you give a crap. c.) Always have time to stop and think. Most problems have solutions if you don't get your brain in a wad!

GregC
 

birdsnest

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
My tow story. While working for the houseboat fleet at stateline, I was returning from a day of lake runs to various houseboats that had problems that needed fixing. I was at mm 23 by Camel rock and it was getting late when I saw some folks waving. I went to their boat and it was a family who's boat had broken down. Although I wasn't supposed to tow private boats I hooked them up. My boat was set up for towing and pulling stuck houseboats off the beach. Couldn't leave them there in the main channel with night coming on. Pulled them all the way to Wahweap dock and as I was untying them the man said to me "Thanks alot and if you ever are in Dallas come to my restaurant and I'll buy you dinner". That is when I learned that the T in Texas does not stand for tip. That was 12 years ago and it is still stuck in my craw.
 

birdsnest

Keeper of San Juan Secrets
I've towed folks who have offered money. I always turn it down and ask them to return the favor to someone else. The kindness was returned to me a few weeks back by some folks from Aspen. What goes around comes around.
Good point!
 
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