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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation > How should I tow a dinghy?
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Thread: How should I tow a dinghy? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-17-2014 01:07 PM
HUGOSALT
Re: How should I tow a dinghy?

Thank you gentlemen, have towed dinghies for only short distances
for number of years and only now making a purpose built bridle
which is looking promising to use for lifting dinghy on deck also
making lifting easy, fast, and therefor will be done more often.
Usually willing to risk the chance of weather coming out of
nowhere and losing 1/2 knot while towing for a few hours along the coast for the convenience. Most of us do it knowing the downside.
Hit home to me years back when towing my wood/canvas Penn Yann dinghy on a 80 ft tow line and it decided to go on its own Nantucket sleigh ride, passing the mothership while we were pushing 6 knots! Hence the inflatable and short distance towing
sometimes with bow lifted up on transom and sometimes
further behind riding down a wave.
Never a problem with pulling out D rings with bridle secured to
transom eye bolts.
02-17-2014 08:24 AM
Group9
Re: How should I tow a dinghy?

When I tow mine (a hard dinghy, not a deflatable) it's usually because I am planning on using it a lot. A good example would be cruising down the Exumas chain, where I am hop scotching 4 or 5 miles a day. It really doesn't bother me if I go a knot slower when doing this.

There are so many different ways to tow a dinghy that really the best thing to do is take some of these ideas, and experiment with what works for you best, based on

1. your type of dinghy
2. your type of sailboat
3. your type of sailing

In some places, and on some passages, you will want it on the deck. (In Nassau, for instance, I leave in on the deck, and chained to the mast, to make sure it will be there, whenever I leave and came back from foot exploring).
02-17-2014 08:17 AM
EJO
Re: How should I tow a dinghy?

I agree with mlibkind to me short is better to reduce drag and you can maneuver better. You will lose more than 1/2 a knot when towing behind a sailboat.
You must use a slip connection especially if you tow on the second boat wake which is often recommended. Make sure you have that second safety line.
I tow a heavy Achilles 410 (13-1/2 ft) with lifted(and secured) 25 hp OB within 10ft of the stern actualy lifting the dinghy bow a little and found that causes the least amount of stress and speed reduction. My safety line is on the 2 inside D-ring tied off to the center tow ring and my bridle is tied off to the outside bow D-rings and my painter (tow line) can move freely from SB to Port on this bridle allowing to reduce stress enacted by the dinghy movement on the waves.
I even used the dingy transom tow hooks to lift the dinghy back out of the water but the engine could hit the tow boats transom so I gave up on that. Now if I had davits that might work, but if I had davits the dinghy would be out of the water all the time.
Happy sailing,
02-16-2014 10:40 PM
mlibkind
Re: How should I tow a dinghy?

If you are going to tow your dink, then a bridle is necessary. Whether you need to use your method to go back to the transom is questionable, but it can't hurt and it sounds like it would work.

If I were tow a dink then I would do it on a very short line. In fact, I've towed one with the bow essentially on the swim step. I think that this decreases the drag but I'm not sure.

But speaking of drag, that's one reason I would not tow a dink. I've never done a test, but I suspect that it can cost you half a knot. But towing is very common.

As I say with most things, it is a personal choice and there is no "right way" though some people might try to tell you otherwise.
02-16-2014 09:08 PM
HUGOSALT
Re: How should I tow a dinghy?

Was researching making combo bridle/lifting harness/sling for
inflatable dinghy when I came by this 2 + year old thread.
Thinking I will secure bridle to 2 lifting eye bolts going thru transom
and then run forward passing thru 2 D rings on way to connecting
bridle to tow line, so that D rings are only guiding position of lines
and not really doing the heavy pulling.
Thinking I will put line thru tubular webbing were potential chafe
exists on tubes.
Will pump up the inflatable tomorrow and measure to see if
I will be able to use bridle for nice 4 point lifting sling/harness
as well. Thinking?? of using my soft shackles to secure at transom,
tow line and at halyard when lifting...instead of metal shackles??
09-27-2011 09:12 AM
Maine Sail
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aasem View Post
Whether sailing or motoring, your displacement hull pushes a lot of water and much of it is piled into a mound behind the boat. That is the wake. That wake follows us whether we tow our dinghy, or stow it on deck. Like all mounds, it's easier to go down them than up them. That's why ski resorts have chairlifts to take us up, and skis to slide down. If you position the dinghy so it skis downhill, it gets a free ride. If you position it so your boat becomes a chairlift and constantly drags it uphill, then you lose boat speed and perhaps the D-Rings pop off. Why people struggle with this obvious concept is beyond me. It works--I do it every week.

Towed dinks can be adjusted to the hull speed and stern wave to reduce drag but ti still does not eliminate it. The stern wave moves a lot depending upon your hull speed so we adjust the painter length many times per day when towing. When it's surfing the stern wave there is a drastically reduced drag & load on the dinghy and your vessel but not eliminated.

This only works well however in calmer seas and in following seas the dink can surf up and bump your stern requiring a longer painter length. In slightly rough weather, when already sailing at hull speed down wind, I will often deploy the dinks beach wheels (Pellican wheels) which creates a sea brake like action and stops it from surfing & yawing. It also keeps it from snatching when it surfs and gets sideways. We regularly tow ours in up to 20-25 knots and have never lost a dinghy (40 years of myself and family towing dinghies). Above that it goes on deck. In real light winds it goes in the davits to make the best speed we can. We tow with a single point attachment to the bow ring of the RIB. If we had just an inflatable we'd two with the two d-rings but our fiberglass hull is far stronger than our hypalon glued on d-rings.
09-27-2011 08:35 AM
EJO
short towing the best

Aasem I agree that you shouldn't loose a dinghy if made fast right and from my experience the best tow-length is riding "off" your own boat wake as close as possible to one or the other side of the transom, but never in the center as explained by 'Aasem'. Longer lines give a chance for 'dirty' water to throw the dinghy of the S/V's wake (I speak from experience, tried it both ways)
I'm always able to direct hand pull my dinghy closer to the aft of the boat without resorting to a winch and that is over 350lbs of dinghy. (finger & thumb is questionable, hand yes)
I disagree that it doesn't really cause any friction riding down the wake, it will still slow me down by more than 1 knt.
We'll find out again this weekend with strong winds (25mph) when pulling her for 20 miles.
09-26-2011 07:34 PM
Aasem Whether sailing or motoring, your displacement hull pushes a lot of water and much of it is piled into a mound behind the boat. That is the wake. That wake follows us whether we tow our dinghy, or stow it on deck. Like all mounds, it's easier to go down them than up them. That's why ski resorts have chairlifts to take us up, and skis to slide down. If you position the dinghy so it skis downhill, it gets a free ride. If you position it so your boat becomes a chairlift and constantly drags it uphill, then you lose boat speed and perhaps the D-Rings pop off. Why people struggle with this obvious concept is beyond me. It works--I do it every week.
09-26-2011 07:18 PM
Aasem
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpawnyWhippet View Post
I respectfully suggest you think about that for a second. How can towing something not slow you down?? And if there was so little stress on the dinghy, how is it that so many are lost or discovered floating at sea minus their D-rings? I personally have lost one and my father alone has found 2 at sea in the last 5 years.
My boat cruises at 7-8 knots; when I have to tow the dinghy it's more like 6-7 knots and there is no way I can pull the dinghy towards the boat by hand at that speed.
I respectfully suggest you read what I wrote and try it. My airfloor inflatable is 10'2" long and it has a 9.8 Hp motor. I tow it at 6.5-7 knots. I can hold the tow line between my forefinger and thumb. If I pay out another 6-10 feet of tow line, I can barely hold on with two hands. Try it, and you'll see what I meant when I suggested there are some dim bulbs losing dinghies for no reason.
08-31-2011 10:13 AM
PCP I only tow the dinghy when I am not travelling but make short jumps on the cruising ground (less than 30nm) and with time and experience I have come to some conclusions:

1-never tow the dinghy with the engine or oars inside. It makes it a lot slower and in the eventual situation of strong winds you can get a capsized dinghy and lost oars or damage the engine (happened several times including this year, I mean capsizing the dinghy).

2- pull it really close to the boat and use some system that can provide a lift of the dinghy bow. That will give significant less drag.

I don't like to use the back-stay for that and use a system that provides an attenuation of efforts (kind of suspension) and the distribution of efforts by several parts of the boat. Main effort (horizontal pull) is on some strong part of the boat, the lifting pull is on the back life lines (not much force).

Regarding the dinghy I distribute efforts by the two lateral D rings and normally pass a security line on the one in the middle, just in case.

Because the bridle (bowline knot) is big most of the force is forward and as the dingy is keep near the boat and pulled up, even with waves, the lateral pulls are very rare and not strong.

With this system you only lose about half a knot speed, about the same you lose with a fixed propeller to a feather one.





Regards

Paulo
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