Skip to main content


Salvage seems to indicate to people a world of romance and adventure, in fact there is little if any 'romance' and often far too much 'adventure'.

For the recreational boater it can be an absolute disaster with huge costs and the loss of your boat - all too easily. NAUTICAL LOG has suggested before that a membership with professional towing companies is the preferred course. By having a policy with BOAT US/VESSEL ASSIST or SEATOW the situation when one gets into trouble is that of an insurance policy activated when needed with the premiums fully paid up. Pretty much the same concept as your AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION policy for land travels and there are usually no additional charges. This membership pretty much obviates the salvage rights but not entirely so read and understand your 'Red' or 'Yellow' policy and talk with the franchise.

However for the boater dealing with an 'independent' tower things can be quite different because different rules can and indeed do apply. For example the 'independent' tower can come along aside and offer assistance, look at the problem, quickly assess a boater with little or no knowledge and offer a tow to harbour. Maybe all it is something as simple lack of fuel however the 'independent' does not have to tell the boater. Having agreed on a price the 'independent' puts their towline aboard you and with that act they have got a lien on you under maritime law. You are at the mercy of salvage laws and the 'independent' has ownership of your vessel. That ownership remains with the 'independent' until all monies have been fully paid by you under the Salvage Law.

The term 'Salvage' is inclusive of and applies fully too all maritime craft whether it be the act of picking up a dinghy, towing a recreational boat, supertanker or cruise ship. The Salvage Law is set and applied by Lloyds Open Form 95, the International Salvage Convention 1989, The Salvage Association and Principles for Assessing a Salvage Award. For a person to claim 'salvage' the following five points must be fully met:

1. Volunteer act

2. Succesful act

3. Maritime property

4. In real danger

5. At sea

From time immemorial Lloyd's Open Agreement was the accepted protocol. Tower called out to towee "Lloyd's Open" towee replied "Agreed" and the tower passed a towline across, all secured and off they went - yeah right if only it was so easy. The point here is the passing of that towline, if the tower line is used then an implied lien is in place under maritime law, if the towee line is used there is no implied lien under maritime law. So when you call and get assistance you will be using the tower towline. (Looking at the OMG photos in Part 2 one might wonder about that but there it is.)

Now it might just happen that another boater will respond and offer help. If they turn out to be a 'good Samaritan' make sure that you pass them your line, by doing that there will later be no misunderstandings about implied liens under maritime law. Things can happen, people change their minds about helping and demand money particularly if something breaks during the tow.

As always this Post is meant to be informative and is NOT LEGAL ADVISE so talk to the franchise and to your maritime legal counsel. An Officer of the Court has access to legal records, it might be that a particular towing company has a history of lawsuits or even within a firm a particular coxswain seems to have problems. Information is knowledge and knowledge leads to good decisions and safer boating.

Good Watch.


Popular posts from this blog


A popular U.S.-based cruise ship style
A popular European ferry style

Several times during the year NAUTICAL LOG has had visitors searching for lifejacket instructions. With two just over Christmas we decided to publish something for everybody to see and read.
Choose a Coast Guard approved life-jacket and make sure it is undamaged. Make sure life-jackets are readily accessible, never locked away. Check the fit, there are adult, child and infant sizes, the correct one MUST be used. Choose bright colour life-jackets so as to be seen easily by Search and Rescue (SAR).Put your life-jacket ON BEFORE you leave the berth. Make sure you have a light and whistle attached AND they BOTH WORK.
Good Watch


Ships now operate under the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (ISM Code).  Since this is a Post on Auditing NAUTICAL LOG, who is a Trained Auditor, will not go through the requirements as these can be found on the Internet and in your local nautical bookshop - you do have a bookshop hopefully as they are a dying breed.  There are two types of Audit an External Audit and an Internal Audit.

The External Audit consists of the Flag State or an outside Auditing Firm coming into the Company and going through all the Protocols, Procedures and associated Manuals.  They may also hold a drill simulating a situation in one of the Company's vessels and observe the results of the Shore Staff dealing with it.  NAUTICAL LOG has been through this experience with two very different Companies and believe me it is a long, difficult, trying day not made any easier by the subsequent debrief.  The External Auditor then prepares a Report which causes a…


This month saw the commissioning into the Irish Naval Service of a new Class of Irish Naval vessel more of the Frigate size than the previously Corvette size.  However they are all classed as Patrol vessels, the new vessel is LÉ Samuel Beckett P61.NAUTICAL LOG wishes her well and a successful service.

The older vessels saw unbelievable service and value for money the first being commissioned in 1979 and continued through the '80's and 90's into the 21st. Century.  During those years in addition to patrolling the stormy seas around the rugged Irish coast they made passages across the Western Ocean to the United States and Canada, south to South America as far as Argentina, and east to Asia as far as Korea.  Such passages are really remarkable for such small vessels and show the competence of Irish seafarers who as Naval Officers and Merchant Marine Officers train together.

Good Watch.