Towing Sailboats in Canada?

Question I have, is why are tug operators such a-holes. I had a guy move my boat from a government wharf, 3 F-ING times, during the slow season, likely just to get a fare. Getting sick of this after spending some time in a seasonal berth (wait lists here are insane) for security purposes, I wanted to drop a barrel and create a buoy. A completely different tug operator suggested I moor to an abandoned mooring less than 90 yards from the government harbour of dubious quality. Jerk called me 3 days later not realizing I wasn’t even on his suggested mooring ball, looking for a tow. I even offered to pay him to drop the barrel, it wasn’t a money thing, he just wanted the emergency tow.

I have a 26’ sailboat with a 6’ drought, beaching it would be a nightmare. Guess he thought the harbour authority would pay the bill and he could hold my boat in hawk until I paid him emergency tow rates, sad, considering I was willing to pay him for a legit trip with the barrel, chain, and buoy for the drop, and would sail my boat over there and tie up.

Obviously, the problem in my area is lack of moorage, but the tow operators here are bandits. Like, just leave my boat alone. It was secured with 9 lines, one chain (locked to the dock). The bugger cut all my lines and tried to pry open the lock just to get an emergency tow. I now keep a gun on board the vessel.

I’m all for a tug operator running an honest business trying to make money; boats cost money to maintain and gas costs money and time is money. But cutting lines, pulling anchors, towing boats to places where you wouldn’t have access unless you swim 300m in the cold water just to create business is just dirty business. Maybe I need a deck cannon, sink the bastards ships.

I’m sure there are honest tug operators but I have yet to meet one.

Oh my effin’ word.


The ultimate tell.

I approached one of these crooks at a government wharf, on a hunch that he was the one who did it.

First words out of his mouth: “I didn’t move your boat man”. He was terrified as he saw me approaching the dock with a pistol on a holster. I’m not a nut job, I took it off before leaving the vessel. As I was walking away, he started shouting profanities at me.

If that’s not a sign of guilt, I don’t know what is. I didn’t even say a word to the bugger before those words came out of his mouth.

I know right? Why just last month Muffy and I were dropping a barrel off Larchmont expecting our guest Thatcher Hatcher Baxter III to arrive from Greenwich any minute when one of those huge tugboats appeared out of no where. I mean it had two of those outboard engines in back, biggest tug I ever saw. The uncouth chap didn’t even doff his cap as he went by.


I don’t know the customs on the water in the UK, here in Canada a simple wave usually suffices. However the difference between waving/doffing a cap and cutting someone’s lines and moving their boat a full nautical mile without permission are miles apart in their transgressions. The former is just poor etiquette, the latter is borderline (if not fully) criminal.

What kind of tug uses outboards? I can’t beleive the “biggest tug you ever saw” was running twin outboards, maybe you haven’t seen proper tugs. Most tugs are twin screw inboards with amazing torque and horsepower.

The sarcasm runs deep as the marianas trench in Canada eh?


I read an article that there are plans to start building them with azimuth drives and cycloidal propellars.

When this happens and these machines are running around, no flemished dock line or dinghy will be safe from their wakes. Having this kind of maneuverability and power in one’s hands will be god- like. Get ready for a degree of arrogance that has never been seen before in your harbours.


In Canada?

Yes, I can verify this. In U.S. pistols are kept “in” the holster but in Canada they are kept “on” the holster. I know it sounds weird but it’s how it is. Has to do with Canada’s history as a Commonwealth country.


The object of my comment was related to an “editor” open carrying a pistol in Canada, or even carrying one at all unless he is a police officer or some other member of the “state security” fraternity.

Good catch. guns (especially handguns) are not really allowed north of the line…as in Maryland and north (PA, and some others excluded). Something about disdain for freedom and the government will always protect one from bad actors.

What a strange divergence from the topic of my post. US calls it a center we call it a centre.

Canada has three types of firearms licenses.

Longguns are basically firearms, provided they are semi-automatic. You could buy an M4 semi and it would be treated like an unrestricted firearm, provided it is incapable of going to fully automatic.

Pistols are restricted, which is a different license, but anyone can take the course and get the ability to own one.

Carry permits are usually job related for any class, otherwise it must be in a locked box in the trunk with the ammunition in a seperate locked box with a different lock. Job related carry permits (armoured car, police, military, etc. are permitted based on the job duty)

Prohibited is automatic and assault weapons capable of firing full automatic. These are restricted to police and military, carry permit is the same as above.

Hope this clears that up. Maritime law is different than on land. At sea, you are basically piloting your own small country on your vessel, and what happens on your vessel save for a crime like murder, torture, or rape, the laws are no longer enforceable. Carrying a pistol on your vessel is not a crime, even without an open carry permit (concealed is usually prohibited).

So if you have a prohibited assault rifle on your vessel in Canada but do not take it onto land, you are in the clear. The moment it is on the dock, provincial and Canadian criminal code applies to it’s transport. Common sense would dictate that if you do not have the necessary permits, you couldn’t have transported it to the boat in the first place, so this sort of thing is exceedingly rare.

Canada actually has more guns per capita than the United States (albeit with a much smaller population).

Hope this clears up the gun thing.

I made this post because I have been encountering bandit A-hole tug operators (not hauling logs, but boats) for a few years now who are doing their best to create make work projects for themselves in the off season, which includes stealing boats - most importantly to me, my boat.

Oh my effin’ word.

DSD and the woman with the battery fetish both have a cousin in Canada.


I didn’t come on here to debate gun laws.

Most of the people here wouldn’t consider the local marina work boats to be “tug boats”. That’s why your receiving such flack. Also why don’t you take the boat out of the water until you have an agreement with some marina or yacht club to moor or store your boat? Ask around with the other boat owners in your area about where to keep your boat. But calling Tugboat captains A-holes on this forum, when you clearly have a very different definition isn’t gonna win you any points.

I have friends who are tug operators, they haul barges and logs. I’m talking about (whatever your official term for them is) seasonal small tug operators that move boats. Yarding a 7 ton sailboat out of the water and putting it in the hard is not a small operation. Can’t trailer it and just drive it, have to hire a boat mover. Then there’s where on earth to put it, which is $40 / day at the local haulout marina. Can’t exactly store the thing at my house; plus the return to the water with a boat mover.

Ideally, I’d be in a professional marina, I enjoy the fresh water, facilities and shore power, but the wait lists here are like 10+ years. Tragically, people are buying boats just to get a slip and then letting it run adrift until it’s beached, leaving derelict hazards to navigation the moorage problem is so bad.

In a “smart” world, the government would be granting more water leases so more marinas could be built, but NIMBYism has people with million dollar plus vacation homes they use a few weeks in a year protesting any offshore development. Sadly, most of the vacation homes in the sound have docks, and getting ahold of any of them to even pay them for moorage has proven nearly impossible. Can’t knock on their door because they are never there, and there are no websites or facebook groups to poll and see if anyone is willing, even with pay and doing basic property management for free on top. If I had the money and a water lease to build a marina, it would be filled in seconds, not minutes, even if I built a 200 slip facility without shore power.

I know that not all tug operators are A-holes, but when someone nabs a 7 ton sailboat and moves it a nautical mile from an unattended government dock to a private dock, cuts your lines and tries to pry your lock open in the off season, it’s kind of obvious there’s some crookery going on looking for money they should have saved in the “on” season (summer) moving vehicles from island to island and towing boats.

Quite the shafty way to drum up business. Why they dont just do beachcombing for logs, I don’t know, logs are everywhere; they come free from booms, trees fall in storms, and there’s reasonable money in that racket as there are several sawmills right around here. Why try to steal my 40 year old boat to make a couple grand selling it for pennies on the dollar? I maintain my boat, check on it, sail it, clean it, it’s no derelict vessel.

I grew up on the SC. It’s sad that I have to even consider locking the boat up and chaining it to the dock. Man, how this area has changed.

Where is this hellhole?

This whole thread was actually much funnier when it was still part of the “Real Tug Captains” thread. A lot of the context behind Kris_Taylor’s miss-post was lost when Kennebec Capt moved and re-titled the thread. Why’d you do that? I was enjoying my popcorn.


My guess would be that he’s from Vancouver.

I expect there are lots of places to keep a small sailboat on a mooring or on the hard for a reasonable fee once you get away from the city.

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