car troubles, boats, and tow trucks

I learned this past weekend that an in town group trip with multiple vehicles is about ideal as it gets in terms of when to have car issues with a large canoe strapped to the top.

The day still proved to be quite a PITA.

The tow truck showed up 4 hours later, refused to load the car onto the flatbed with my canoe on top (no amount of convincing them how secure it was would work … money didn’t work either)

I ended up waving goodbye to the car and hanging out under my canoe for shade while I waited on a friend to drive all the way back out to pick my boat up.

So, my question is, what does everyone do when they are on a single car road trip with their boat and a broken car?

What’s the protocol?

Hide the boat and hope it’s there when you can get back?

It’s kind of difficult to hide an 18.5’ bright yellow canoe. :slight_smile:

I am very diligent with preventive maintenance on my vehicles, but sometimes things happen.

Lock it up
As an experienced solo riverrunner who locks his bike/canoe to a tree during my paddle/shuttle,… I would suggest to always have a cable/lock setup in your vehicle at all times so that if this situation ever happens again,… you could lock your canoe to a guardrail, tree or pole (signpost) temporarily to provide a measure of security.

Curious- was this AAA ?
or was it another tow truck contractor?

We broke down a long ways from home last year at a time when it is difficult to get any road service. We were at a park…near the Pacific Crest/Western States Trail, to give you an idea of how far out. We lucked out that the vehicle chose to do this in a really, really great place to have to wait for a tow truck- a parking lot - if one is going to have to wait for a tow truck for several hours, as the AAA dispatcher was having troubles finding a truck who wanted to go that far round trip. Several calls to them and hours later, by golly, that tow truck DID show up. From out of state!!!

And they let us keep the “toys” on the vehicle’s rack, when they put it on the flatbed. (They were 2x secured with cables and locks to the hitch, besides straps, and were not likely to come off the vehicle without a catastrophic fail.) Then they took us home, because at that hour there is no place to drop off a broken-down auto.

I hope the other people on the freeway during the long drive home got a good laugh out of it, because it did look sort of funny.

While it wasn’t a watercraft, and they may have different rules and interpretations for each situation, at least in this instance, we didn’t have to break the bikes down and try to cram them both disassembled into the vehicle.

piggybacking on that post

– Last Updated: Apr-20-16 3:43 PM EST –

I agree. I've had more than my share of breakdowns. I had two in a row, both with dog in the car, and while the first tow operator had no problem having the dog ride up front OR in the car, the second company insisted "no way". It ended in a loong walk and a loong wait until I could get a ride for me and dog.

I might try to remember to ask the tow truck operator when I'm making the call, what they can take and what they can't.

My boat's hatch always has the lock in it, unless the boat is locked up.

Maybe we got lucky
Our tows have all been AAA, and eventually they have towed us on a flatbed with two to four kayaks on the roof. We were ignored once because of the boats, we called and they sent a flatbed. And another time we had to send the regular truck away because it just was not going to happen without a flatbed.

That second time, it was on the way back from Maine, the bigger issue was the cats. At that point we were traveling them on leashes in the car. While one of them could not safely be gotten out of the car - he spent most of the ride on the flatbed staring thru the windshield at all the lights - the other was going to be best off riding with us in the truck. He was absolutely calm. AAA said we couldn’t, but the kid who was driving was fine with him in the cab.

yes, AAA
It was an independent contracted out by AAA

They wouldn’t budge. He called AAA and put me on the phone with AAA, AAA said “I’m sorry but we can’t do anything about that. If they agree to it, that’s one thing, but we can’t do anything.”

I held a $20 out to the guy and he said “No, no, no, no. I don’t care if you had $300, we still won’t do it.”

I said “is there a waiver or transfer of liability I can sign?” He said “even if there was we still won’t do it”

He called the owner, and the owner asked some questions regarding length (I lied and said 17 feet), then what material — Metal? I said “fiberglass” (actually Kevlar, but I didn’t want to confuse anyone)

They went back and forth, and then came back with “NO”

So after much back and forth and demonstrations to how secure it was, I took the boat off.

Then he came over and started eyeballing my Thule car top carrier that’s been affixed to the vehicle for 6 years now. I said “oh come on!” He said “I have to look at it…” He saw the bolts holding it down and decided to go with it.

I think certainly some of it is the luck of the draw with the tow company and driver you get, but on a road trip I’m thinking it’s safer to assume you’re going to get someone like him — and a spare $100 in the wallet would probably be a wise move, but apparently even that doesn’t work all the time.

My wife followed up by inquiring with AAA, and they said “No car top carriers, and no boats or anything else not part of the car”

I’m on a classic car forum that has a “Traveller’s friends list” that is set up just for this type of scenario — you break down on a road trip in your vintage car, refer to the list and hopefully find out that there is a nearby forum “traveller’s friend” and give them a call for your parts/tools/etc needs.

I’m guessing nothing like that exists here?

Yup, more expensive, but faster, no hassles, no problems. AAA, I have a couple horror stories, like Gomer and Goober catching my old Torino on fire in southern Illinois one time. No more AAA for me.

Onstar vs AAA

– Last Updated: Apr-22-16 8:09 AM EST –

In many cases, if not most, the same independent contractor will service AAA and OnStar. Either way, tow operators have the right to refuse to tow any load they feel unsafe, as well as following standard policy. As for liability worries about items on roof racks, whether or not it is safely secured is not the only concern.
Both my sons take the breakdown calls at AAA^_^

Thanks, suspected that
I guess we have been lucky. But in our most crucial tows, like the one from Maine, we always traveled with double straps at at the regular anchor points plus straps or bungies around the cockpit covers plus bow lines plus lasso type kayak locks… on proper third party racks with towers that got replaced at intervals as they aged.

Our stuff always looked impressively lashed down. (And took a heck of a long time to get off the car at trip’s end.)

sometimes the tow business makes the call.

…he was concerned about the height of the load. A car on a flatbed with a canoe on top might easily be above the legal limit, 13’ 6" I think, required for clearance of bridges and power lines.

Your $20 doesn’t mean much next to that.