When member John Fincham left the dock for a day of fishing for walleye on Lake Erie, he thought the engine in his 21-footer sounded a little slow when he started it. But
once underway, everything seemed fine.
Walleye fishing, says Fincham, is better on windy days, and that day was no
exception. After a few successful hours of
fishing, Fincham killed the engine and
drifted while he ate some lunch. When
the motion became too much, he decided
it was time to head home with his catch.
But this time, twisting the key produced
nothing more than some clicks. Fincham
said that his stomach dropped and he
felt momentary panic. Fortunately, he
carries a portable VHF radio. He hailed
This issue: Towing 92 | Top 5 towing reasons 96 | Towing claims analysis
the local TowBoatU.S. port and gave his
position from his handheld GPS.
“I was 7 or 8 miles offshore with a
building sea, and the sun was already
starting to go down. I’m usually pretty
prepared, so I felt pretty stupid having a
dead battery so far from shore.” The tow
back to his marina took a while, which
gave Fincham time to reflect on how to
make sure he didn’t
break down again
on the water.
We can help.
Every year, the
gets over 70,000
calls for assistance.
Almost 90 percent
of those fall into
five categories: mechanical breakdown,
running aground, dead battery, out of
fuel, and engine overheating. On page 96,
we’ll break down some stats on the who,
how, when, and where, but here we’ll tell
you the why – and how to avoid a tow.
1. Mechanical Breakdown: 54%
Boat engines, transmissions, and drives
have a lot of moving parts, which
helps explain why more than half of
TowBoatU.S. towing calls are for
mechanical breakdown. Jeff Dziedzic,
who operates TowBoatU.S. Mystic out
of Mystic, Connecticut, says engine failures are a large percentage of tows, but
other mechanical parts fail, too, leaving
“We received a call from a sailor who
was in the Mystic River when his steer-
Tow to find out
what you need
to know before
Top 5 reasons boats get towed
BoatU.S. claims data can tell us why, but we don’t like to point out problems without solutions.
A towing expert shares what you can do to avoid these situations altogether
BY CHARLES FORT