Long tow rope, last chance - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 08-15-2006 Thread Starter
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Long tow rope, last chance

Often on longer trips, I find either myself of my brother is up on deck alone with the other taking a nap below decks. I have a harness and whenever the weather is iffy I wear it. But when its nice out, its just a pain. But still I worry about the random happening and falling overboard, autopilot on, brother sleeping away the nice calm afternoon. I could just never take the harness off, but what a pain.

So I thought, what if we trailed a long tow rope off the back? By long I mean a cople hundered yards, so if someone fell off, assuming they werent unconcouse, they could have time to swim behind the boat and grab it. Sort of a last chance safety backup to prevent getting left in the middle of the oceon.

Is this a terrible idea?
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-15-2006
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The line would slow the boat down, due to excessive drag and if coastal sailing, would become a navigational risk with the chance of snagging passing boats, floating flotsam, nav aids and lobster trap buoys. Of course, unless its a poly line, if you needed to start the engine, you must remember to haul in all 200 yds.

I would think that maintaining a 600 ft trailing line off your stern would be a bigger pain than simply staying tethered in.

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post #3 of 6 Old 08-15-2006
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Ladder Surfing?

Have you ever heard of ladder surfing - try it next time your out ( wear a life vest and have multiple people on board and do it in a safe area). With the boat travelling at 4.5 - 5 knots drop the swim ladder and try to hang on - not that easy.......dragging a long line behind the boat sounds great, but you would never be able to pull yourself back toward the boat, eventually, exhausted you will let go. I say you're better off with the harness and the pain....
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-15-2006
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Ever been water skiing? Try holding onto that line with the boat moving 6 knots. Now try pulling yourself closer to the boat.

The tether is the way to go. It does not just keep you attached to the boat, but will keep you from exherting the arm strength to stay attached. I do not know what the statistic is, but there are many, many reports of the people that have fallen off (tethered) have drowned because they did not have enough strength to pull themselves back on the boat... much less up 200 feet of line and back on the boat.

I do understand your concern, very well. May I reccommend spending some money on a couple of items if you do much cruising more than a few miles offshore (yes, a few miles... not the "25-50" or out of the sight of land I often hear people say)?? Buy a personal Epirb. I think they are about 600 bucks. Buy a whistle and a strobe light. They are really cheap. I believe ACR makes a water activated strobe that set off automatically I think it is like 40-60 dollars. Buy a good autoinflate lifejacket with the harness attached. SOSpenders is the brand we use, I think. They are very comfortable and since you have to wear a jacket anyway, you might as well have the harness. They are about 230 dollars, but you can catch them on sale.

I know it sounds like a lot of money. Maybe you do not invest in all of them at once. But, safety is an issue our family does not skimp on. It is like a life raft: one of those things you truly hope you "wasted" your money on because you never used it.

Lastly, tie a string around your brothers toe and hook onto it. If you fall over, he will know it an will turn around the boat to come back and get his toe... and maybe you too if you plead with him!!!!!! Ha Ha!
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-15-2006 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by robfmcc
Have you ever heard of ladder surfing....
Can't say I have. Sounds like an enteraining way to practice man overboard drills. I'll have to give it a try. I'll have to get a ladder......
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-15-2006
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A boat moving over three knots will make it almost impossible for you to hang on to the line, and even if you do hang on, being towed behind the boat could drown you pretty easily.

A long rope trailing behind your boat is a great way to ensure you don't get anywhere anytime soon... if it doesn't get snagged on anything or wrapped up on another boats' prop... then it will act as a dandy drogue device for your boat.


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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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