Things can get tricky when the service is more akin to a tow than a salvage operation, especially if the owner does not have a membership with a towing company like Sea Tow or BoatU.S. To begin with, it is important to understand that consent is required before any salvage service can occur. Assuming the situation is not urgent, it is usually best if you agree to the terms of the service before any action is taken. Ideally, the person offering assistance makes it clear he is providing a tow, if that is indeed the only service required. If not, do not accept a line and tie it to your boat before you have agreed to the terms. A court might rule that you consented to salvage at that moment.