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Marty Levenson 07-17-2005 10:38 PM

tow dingy with outboard?
I''ve always removed our outboard before towing our inflatable dingy. Recently I''ve seen folks towing with the outboard in place, and wondered if thats really ok.

We have a 10 foot dingy and a 5 HP motor....towed behind a 27 foot sailboat (Tartan).

Thanks for any experienced replies!

-Marty (Vancouver)

TrueBlue 07-18-2005 03:48 AM

tow dingy with outboard?
A decision to tow the inflatable with engine mounted or not, depends upon sea conditions & length of passage. Our engine is always removed while at the marina and stays off until we reach our destination. If we are living aboard for an extended weekend in Narragansett Bay, taking short hops from our marina to an overnight mooring, anchorage or daytime gunkhole, once mounted, the outboard stays on the inflatable.

We have noticed however, that the outboard creates added weight resistance & drag when sailing. If the hassle of removing and remounting the engine is considered worthwhile, remove the engine to gain the extra half knot or so.

When making extended cruises offshore, we always remove & secure the engine. If seas become very rough, the inflatable is lifted & secured onboard as well.


paulk 07-18-2005 04:14 AM

tow dingy with outboard?
In stories I''ve read, when the going starts to get excitting, the dinghy always catches a wave and flips. Sounds like having the motor in it will help this occur sooner, rather than later, with either a hard or soft dinghy. Since the dinghy with engine slows you down more than the dinghy alone, you''re sailing for a longer time, which increases the number of waves hitting the dinghy and the chances of one of them making it flip. If, as suggested above, leaving the engine in costs a half knot of speed and slows you to 4.5 knots, that''s a 20% increase in the chances of a funky wave costing you a few hundred dollars to have the engine fixed, if the filled dinghy doesn''t break the painter or rip out a cleat as well. (Though inflatables may be less likely to fill, they''ll still be likely to flip if enough water gets into them. ) Getting away with leaving the engine on the dinghy because the weather permits it does not make it a good idea every time.

Sasha_V 07-18-2005 05:54 AM

tow dingy with outboard?
We have a traditional shaped zodiac type inflatable dinghy.

For shortish hops we hoist the front of the dinghy out of the water and secure it to the bottom rail of the pushpit, so that it is up and nudging the top of the transom. This leaves only the tips of the pontoons/bladders floating in the water. Almost no drag, safe with the small motor we have in there, and no chance of flipping over.

Having a reversed transom (though only a bit), just hauling the dinghy up the transom is very little effort (it is not like you are trying to lift it and wrestler it up onto the foredeck).

One of the main problems we used to have with towing our dinghy was that it tried diving, the nose would attempt to plow into the water and sink, if we motored along above a certain speed, this was obviously less then ideal. I spent a while "solving the problem" by finding alternate attachment points and a bridle that actually lifted the nose slightly when towing (just going to a higher towing point made no difference. I proved that by trying to tow from the back of the boom, for goodness sakes!)....After a lot of effort and fiddling about, I realised that the simplest solution would actually also be the best one. So far (about two years) the system has been pretty faultless (unless you want to back up to a pier)


jjj0923 01-21-2006 05:03 PM

tow dingy with outboard?
We have a 10'' inflatable towed behind a O''Day 28. My engine was a 5 HP Mercury, long shaft. The drag was unacceptable when sailing (.5knot+). We are Maine coast cruisers but the weight of the engine (abt 50 lbs) was unsafe to muscle to/from the stern rail engine mount every time we stopped. Two of us with the same issue simply swapped out our heavy outboards for the 2 HP air-cooled Honda (22 lbs as I remember). It still propels two couples easily and is much easier and safer to transfer back and forth. -Ron
s/v Wild Flower
Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Irwin32 01-22-2006 10:24 AM

tow dingy with outboard?
I never leave the motor on if towing as I have flipped the dinghy. All it would take is a big wake on a calm day and you are out a motor.

admin 01-27-2006 12:46 AM

tow dingy with outboard?

I have towed both inflatables and hard dinghys. I have a 32 foot ketch so removing a 15HP engine was never a problem .. the mizzen boom was used to transfer the engine.

I had an inflatable flip over between Oahu and Maui, Hawaii. After bringing it alongside it was VERY difficult to lift it up since a vacuum had been created inside while towing it upside down. I pushed the drain plug in and it popped up out of the water! I then learned to tow it very close to the transom on the lee side when going upwind (where it never flipped) and to let it out to the first major wave behind when off the wind. It sometimes tried to outrun me going down wave and wind but that could be correctecd by adjusting the length of the towing line. I found the reduction of boat speed as others have said .. up to 1/2 knot.

I now have a hard dinghy which I tow and have had it in 25 kt wind/12 ft seas on a beam reach and it rode nicely back there. I have also gone to a smaller engine (3HP Yamaha) which is easy to transfer without the boom. My boat speed is reduced less than 1/2 knot which is acceptable for short passages.

For extended passages I bring the dink aboard (it''s a nesting one) then it doesn''t interfere with the towing generator, I gain the extra speed and lose concern of what''s happening to it, especially at night.

Irwin32 02-08-2006 01:18 PM

tow dingy with outboard?
I just got around to reading my Sept issue of Sail. A story in that issue demonstrates why the dinghy should never be towed with motor attached. The unexpected is always upon us and it happens fast.

sailnaway 03-13-2006 08:17 PM

We towed our dink bow down and the stern pulled against a fender it rode fine, motor off. Kind of a hinge like affair worked even offshore.Then we were in the Mississippi sound and a summer squall caught us at dark. The dink was slammed up and down by waves that reached ten feet in five minutes. The dink slammed the boat a dozen times before we could cut it free and get it away from us while the lightning danced on the water around us. Damaged the dink and tore the hell out of the transom.A friend towed his inflatable with a tow bridle for two hundred miles and it cost him about two hundred dollars so at a hundred dollars every hundred miles, I want mine on deck if I can it up their. It is a drag they take up space you need to sun yourself work the deck and hold a dance but they are not cheep. Another time we arrived three days after making a crossing and when we got ready to board the dink it stunk like death. The boat was full of flying fish dead stinking rotting in the sun Flying Fish. So I have gotten away with it a few times and then I have lost a few times I guess it depends on what your willing to take a chance on. The motor on is just asking for Neptune to snatch that critter as a trinket.

chrondi 04-17-2006 01:12 PM

Tow a dinghy with OB motor on
I'm just wondering whether somebody will finally present an impossible argument for having the dinghy WITH the OB motor trailing behind the cruising boat (as if towing the dinghy itself does not pose enough problems)! I, for myself, do not know anybody that has not at least once in his sailing life regretted having the dinghy at tow because of the short passage involved and the calm waters he was sailing in. The problem with the water is that you learn your lessons always the hard way.

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