March is one of the busiest months for anglers throughout the Carolinas, and with good reason. While winter can still show signs of lingering, the overall weather is spring-like, putting anglers in the mood to get on the water.

Unfortunately, March is also a month when many fishing trips go bad because all anglers aren’t properly prepared for getting back on the water.

A host of problems can crop up on a boat that hasn’t been properly maintained through the winter, whether it’s because critters built nests inside consoles and chewed some of the wiring or because the gasoline sat too long without being treated. Or maybe you maintain your boat meticulously, but a freak occurrence takes place. Perhaps you tangle your prop in a stray fishing net or anchor line, run out of gas or run aground.

What is your backup plan for any of these possibilities? Most anglers who have run into such problems agree that the best boating accessory they ever had — or didn’t have when they needed it — is a boat towing membership. And while many boaters believe plans are too costly, they are actually surprisingly affordable, offer peace of mind and will prove to be worth every penny if the unthinkable ever occurs.

TowBoat US and Sea Tow are the two most-popular towing services in this region, and they are both priced similarly. And memberships include more than just having your boat towed back to shore. If you incur a dead battery, they will come out to give you a jump start. If you run out of fuel, they will deliver some. If you foul your prop, they will come untangle the mess. If you run aground on a sandbar, they will tow you back to open water. These things can turn into catastrophic breakdowns without a towing membership, but they are mere irritations that won’t ruin your fishing trip if you have one of these plans.

What about once you’re off the water, or just hitting the road to begin your trip? Flat tires on boat trailers are also quite common especially on trailers that have been sitting for the past few months. Is it time to call a tow truck? Not if you have a Sea Tow or TowBoat US membership. Their services aren’t just for on-the-water breakdowns. Your membership will get you out of a highway jam as well.

Daniel Oxnar of Raleigh, N.C., has had a towing membership for years, and though he’s only had to rely on it once, he said it was the best money he’s ever spent.

“I wouldn’t consider boating without a membership. I’ve only had to get towed once, but I was in a 32-foot boat, I had a mechanical failure, and I was about 11 miles offshore. How easy do you think it would have been to find someone who had the time, a proper-size boat, and the willingness to tow me in?” he said.

“I’m glad I never had to find out. As soon as I saw I was dead in the water, I called in and never worried about how I would get home. And the peace of mind I’ve always had in having a membership is as valuable as any other part of the service. It’s like having a spare tire in my truck. I never want to use it, but knowing it’s there gives me peace of mind, and will be worth its weight in gold if I ever have to use it.” 

How expensive is this type of service? Each company has several options to choose from, and the most-expensive for recreational boaters is less than $200 for a yearly membership.

“I spend about $160 a year on mine, and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I would have paid well over that to have someone tow me in on the day I broke down, and that would have only been a one-time thing,” Oxnar said. “That $160 is for an entire year of service, and it covers more than just getting a tow back to shore. Even if I never have to use that service again, I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth, especially for the continued peace of mind in knowing it’s there if I need it.”