Marine Assistance FAQ

Find answers to common questions about C-TOW Marine Assistance and on-water coverage for members.

Most insurance policies have a deductible and limit for claims. C-Tow has no deductable or limit per call-out. We will get you to the nearest port of repair, no exceptions. Having boat insurance is very important as C-Tow does not cover loss, damage, or salvage-related costs. C-Tow will only cover items outlined as per your C-Tow membership package.

C-Tow endeavours to be on-scene within 30 minutes of receiving a call. Response time is dependent upon weather, location, and the order of the calls received.

C-Tow is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On rare occasions, C-Tow receives multiple calls at the same time, which may limit our response time. With the approval of C-Tow, alternative assistance may be used. C-Tow will cover all cost at a rate of $175 per hour.

C-Tow offers packages that cover all of Canada, US and the Caribbean waters. Please select the package for your area. Contact C-Tow at 1-888-354-5554 if further clarification is required.

C-Tow monitors the hotline 1-888-419-CTOW (2869) 24 hours a day. C-Tow also monitors VHF 16. Phone is the preferred method as VHF has limited strength, and broadcast areas and can be very busy during summer months. Canadian Coast Guard will contact C-Tow on your behalf if you are out of cellular range.

C-Tow memberships become active at 9am the day following purchase. C-Tow does not provide membership coverage for incidents or anything related to incidents prior to obtaining a C-Tow membership.

Yes. C-Tow responds to all calls. Non-members will be charged an hourly rate for towing and general assistance. Salvage rates vary.

C-Tow is designed to provide coverage for towing, soft un-groundings, fuel delivery, jump starts and things of that nature. Our services are meant to get you back up and on your way. Your vessel insurance policy should cover your vessel for all loss or damages. C-Tow does not cover loss or damages.

Groundings requiring less than 30 minutes of on-scene service are billed as towing. Call-outs requiring an excess of 30 minutes of on-scene service are billed as salvage.

C-Tow contractors use Transport Canada inspected and approved vessels. C-Tow operators are all Transport Canada licensed, trained and insured.

The first step is to contact C-Tow at 1-888-419-CTOW(2869) or The basic requirements are: Transport Canada Approvals for vessel and operators, insurance, availability, and a positive friendly, outgoing attitude. Please contact C-Tow for a complete list of requirements. We will work with the right candidates to help them obtain necessary requirements.

C-Tow Boater Resources

Find answers to common questions about C-TOW Marine Assistance and on-water coverage for members.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected - Check This List Before Every Trip:

  • Lifejackets - Wear Them!
  • Carry a Canadian-approved lifejacket for everyone on board.
  • Make sure they are in good condition (check the zippers, buckles, fabric, seams, etc.).
  • Check that they are properly sized to fit each person on board.
  • Operator Competency - Are You Ready to Head Out on the Water?
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Keep your Pleasure Craft Operator Card or other proof of competency on board.
  • Weather - Check and Monitor the Marine Weather Forecast
  • Sail Plan - File Your Plan Before Heading Out
  • Tell a person you trust where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Safety Equipment - Required by Law and Essential for Safety
  • Make sure all equipment is on board, in good working order and easy to reach.
  • Carry a first aid kit, basic tools and spare parts.
  • Charts, Compass and Local Hazards - Know Where You Are at All Times
  • Make sure you are aware of all local hazards, water levels and tides.
  • Fuel - Check Your Tank and Remember: 1/3 to go, 1/3 to return, 1/3 reserve
  • Boat Condition - Should Your Boat Leave the Dock?
  • Check the hull for cracks or other damage.
  • Check the electrical, fuel, propulsion and cooling systems.
  • Make sure the throttle and steering work well.
  • Check the oil. Check all hoses and lines for leaks or cracks and replace if necessary.
  • Make sure all clamps and belts are secure and in good shape.
  • Inspect, clean and replace spark plugs if necessary.
  • Check and change oil and water filters if needed.
  • Check the battery´s charge.
  • Make sure the drainage plug is in place.
  • Carry spare plugs for all through hull fittings.
  • Make sure the load on your boat (gear and occupants) is well distributed.
  • Run the blowers for four minutes before starting the engine(s) - check for airflow.
  • Carry extra Fuel filters, Engine belts, Oil, Coolent ** Fuel Filters are the number one cause of boat engine failure
  • Safety Briefing - You Are Legally Responsible for Your Guests
  • Show everyone where the safety equipment is located and how to use it.
  • Make sure the communication equipment works and everyone can use it.

Pleasure Craft License

The pleasure craft license is not the same as the Pleasure Craft Operator Card commonly known as the boating license, which is required in order to drive a power driven boat. For more information about the the Canadian Boating License.

A pleasure craft licence is a document with a unique licence number for a pleasure craft. The law requires all pleasure craft powered by 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) or more engine, to have a pleasure craft licence. The pleasure craft licensing system allows Search and Rescue personnel to access information 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the event of an emergency. You must display your pleasure craft license number above the waterline on both sides of the bow, as far forward as practical, and where it is easy to see. The numbers must be in block letters, at least 7.5 cm (3”) high, and must contrast with the colour of the background. You do not need a pleasure craft licence if a boat is registered

Pleasure craft licences are free

Pleasure craft licences in Canada are free and valid for ten (10) years. They can be obtained by applying to the Pleasure Craft Licensing Centre in Fredericton and can be transferred to successive owners of the pleasure craft. It must be kept on board at all times. instead of licensing their vessel, pleasure craft operators could register it with Transport Canada. However, a pleasure craft license does not prove ownership. When entering another country, be sure to have proof of ownership for your boat along with its pleasure craft licence. Not having the proper documents on board can result in delays or trouble clearing customs, or even a fine. The information on the licence must be kept up to date. A pleasure craft may be operated without an accurate name or address on the licence until the day on which the owner of the pleasure craft receives an updated licence, up to a maximum of 90 days from the day of the change of name or address, if, in addition to the licence, documents are carried on board confirming the new name or address and the date of the change.

To obtain a licence for a pleasure craft online, you can refer to the website of Transport Canada and complete the application from.

So do not confuse pleasure craft license with the pleasure craft operator card which is actually the card that operators of power boats must have on board their vessel at all times.

You must carry a copy of your Pleasure Craft Licence on board at all times and display the pleasure craft licence number on the bow of your boat above the waterline on both sides in block characters

Do you own a small vessel used for non-pleasure activities?

If your answer is yes, here are two things you should know:

1. Before you enrol in the SVCP, you will need to check if you are required to register your vessel with Transport Canada. Why? Under Section 46 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001), all non-pleasure vessels must be registered. However, there are some exceptions. To find out if registration is required for your vessel, please call 1-866-995-9737 or

2. Your vessel must meet the regulations under the CSA 2001 that apply to your vessel and activity, including the new Small Vessel Regulations. Transport Canada´s Small Vessel Compliance Program (Non-Pleasure Craft) (SVCP) provides the guidance and easy-to-use tools to help you meet your regulatory requirements under the CSA 2001 regulations.

You can join the SVCP if your vessel:
Measures 0 to 15 gross tons, carries 0-12 passengers, and is not a pleasure craft used solely for recreational purposes.

The SVCP does not currently enroll:
Fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing activities human-powered vessels.

Here´s how to join:

1. Download a Small Vessel Compliance Report Package at or request a print copy from your local Transport Canada Centre (Marine).

2. Follow the instructions in the Package, and verify that your vessel meets the applicable CSA 2001 regulations.

3. Complete your report and submit it to Transport Canada.

4. Once Transport Canada has reviewed and accepted your report, you will be issued a Blue Decal to display on your vessel in a highly visible location.

Show your commitment to safety by displaying the Blue Decal in a highly visible area on your vessel.

To get more information or request an SVCP Enrolment Package, contact your local Transport Canada Centre (Marine), or

** Copied from Transport Canada website.

Register Your New Radio Now and help the Canadian Coast Guard help you!

If you´ve recently purchased a new VHF radio for your boat, it is probably equipped with a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) feature that allows selective calling on VHF Ch 70. To make a digital call each radio must have an identity, a 9-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. Your owner´s manual will tell you more about this feature and how to make a DSC call to another boat or to a shore station that has DSC capability. MMSI numbers are assigned, free of charge, by Industry Canada.

One important feature of a VHF DSC radio is that it can also send a Distress Alert which will tell the Canadian Coast Guard and other boaters in your area that you require immediate assistance*.

*Where VHF/DSC services are available. For more information, please contact your local Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre.

As well, if your boat is equipped with a GPS receiver, it is highly recommended that it be connected to your DSC radio. This will ensure that your position is automatically sent when a Distress Alert is transmitted. Rescuers will then immediately know your exact location and assistance will arrive sooner.

Warning: DO NOT TEST this Distress Alerting feature, there is no test feature, and in fact it is an offence under both the Canada Shipping Act and the Radiocommunication Act to send a false distress message.

Just imagine the scene: you´re out cruising with your family in your boat, when you suddenly smell smoke. You immediately stop the engine, and grab a fire extinguisher and check it out. You discover that the whole engine compartment is on fire!

The cabin is filling with deadly smoke, and you don´t have enough time to get a mayday call out, but you do have time enough to hold the Distress Key on your radio down for 5 seconds, before you and your family abandon ship. A Distress Alert has been automatically transmitted on Ch 70, clearly identifying you by the MMSI number, and your location, thanks to the GPS.

The call is received by the Canadian Coast Guard, who immediately send out the appropriate rescue resources*.

*Where VHF/DSC services are available. For more information, please contact your local Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre.

All you had to do is hold the Distress Button in for 5 seconds and help was on the way! This feature is only enabled on those radios that have been assigned an MMSI number.

Industry Canada | Industrie Canada
13401 108th Avenue, Surrey BC V3T 5V6 | 13401-108e avenue, Surrey BC V3T 5V6

Telephone | Téléphone 604-930-8691 x144 Facsimile | Télécopieur 604-586-2528 Teletypewriter | Téléimprimeur 1-866-694-8389 Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada

A properly installed and registered DSC radio could help save your life. The Canadian Coast Guard urges you to complete the application form for recreational boaters or call your local Industry Canada office for more information. Your completed application form can be either faxed or emailed to your local Industry Canada office.

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (Colregs) are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and set out, among other things, the "rules of the road" or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea to prevent collisions between two or more vessels.