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  #1  
Old 11-09-2006
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Towing a dinghy

I have a 8' Walker Bay rigid dinghy that I plan to tow unless offshore. Question is.....how far back do you let it ride? Secondary question is, how wise is it to leave the outboard on the dinghy while towing? I've seen them towed with and without the motor, but have no first hand experience for either question.

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Old 11-09-2006
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We always tow our dinghies fairly close in, trying to set it onto a stern or quarter wave to minimize the load on the painter (and its attachments). We have never towed it with the motor attached, though have seen many do so. This really causes the dinghy to plow, raises the center of gravity and increases the towing loads.

Does the Walker Bay have a drain plug at the transom? If so, leaving the plug out while towing makes sure that any spray that lands in the dinghy runs out, prevent eventual swamping (at worst) or resulting in an increasing heavy tow as the dinghy fills up. Most dinghies will float high enough when empty to not ship water from the open drain. Just don't forget to put the plug back in when you next use it!

When beating in moderate seas, we have found that towing the dinghy close in off the leeward corner of the transom leads to best behavior and least spraycatching.

Towing close in, however, is more difficult with a hard dinghy - especially in following seas where the dinghy can occasionally catch up to you.

Since we have recently gone to a roll-up zodiac, we have taken to stowing the dinghy below for anticipated rough crossings.
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Old 11-09-2006
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We usually give the dinghy enough line to keep it on the back of the crest of the second wave behind the mother ship. That puts it far enough back so that it doesn't surf into our transom, but keeps it close enough that it stays under control. It depends a bit on the size of the waves and their speed and direction in relation to your course as well. Leaving the motor on the dinghy while you tow it is fine if you enjoy going slower because of the increased drag and buying new outboards and/or dinghies.

Faster is right to suggest leaving drain plugs open, and NOT weighing the transom down with a motor. Imagine a wave coming up to the dinghy's transom with the motor there. Maybe the wave splashes a gallon or so into the dinghy. Then another one. And a couple more. The water sloshes from side to side in the bilge, the dinghy slews around broadside to the next wave, and it flips while you're trying to hear the weather report. You then get to shop for a new motor. That's not all, though. How much water does an 8' Walker Bay dinghy hold? 150 gallons? If a pint's a pound, that makes about 1200 pounds -more than half a ton- of load on the line. Will the bow ring on the dinghy take that much abuse, especially coming from a screwy angle? If the painter or ring doesn't break, the fitting will pull out, leaving a hole in the dinghy for you to fix. Either way you have to go back to retrieve it, if at some point you actually notice it's no longer following along behind and assuming it can't sink (Walker Bay- unsinkable- right?) The safest (and possibly cheapest) solution might be to rig a bridle so you can hoist it aboard and tie it upside-down on the foredeck.
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Old 11-09-2006
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This really doesn't apply to the original question asked, but I thought I would mention...

I just purchased a dingy davit from Garhauer for $600. By far one of the least expensive I've found and the construction look as good or better than others for much more. Not to mention they were a pleasure to deal with, family owned business.
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Old 11-10-2006
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I disagree with the advice to keep the drainplug open.
I tow my RIB with the engine on in settled conditions all the time with it in the "tilt" position but would not advise this with a walker bay.
They are so light that I would only tow it in very settled conditions and follow the advice about waves back. They won't sink...but they will sure slow you down when full!
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Old 11-10-2006
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I'd say that the tow line should be long enough that the dinghy is one wavelength behind the main boat. This will prevent it from causing more drag than other positions will, and will keep the tension on the towing line fairly constant.

Leaving the outboard on the dink is a good way to kill an outboard. If the dink flips, your outboard is pretty much toast.
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Old 11-10-2006
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PB,

I am sure Rousmenaire or Colgate have probably written a book on this, but I will tell you what I do and my experiences.

1) If you are going to make a long run, see if you can lash the dink on the deck (upside down of course). I reccomend this because you will lose speed towing it, and if you are making a long punch, 1 knot really adds up.

2) Tie a loop (permanent) in the painter. This should be about where the tender is a few feet from the stern when hooked on to the cleat. I use this at several times: If you are going down the ICW and it is very busy, at night when anchored, and when backing up (to keep the painter out of the prop). With a permanent loop, it is easy to do yourself and quick.

3) Put a snubber on the painter. One of the best little tricks I know. Especially in a storm or rough water, the dink jabs the painter and "smacks around" - which is bad on the painter, the cleat, and the dink... not to mention annoying. The snubber will take most of that "jamming" out and makes it ride seas a lot better.

4) As far as a distance the dink travels behind you, my experience is a bit different. I have not found a sweet spot because the dink surfs, runs sideways, etc. in comparrison to the main boat. In other words, don't worry about it. Just have a set length on the painter becuase it really wont make any differnce in a sea. I have not measured it, but i estimate my painter is probably about 15-20 feet behind my boat. When I am towing, I have found that it runs best as far out as we can leave it (versus up close). In a bad sea, we will pull the dink up close (again, maybe different that what was mentioned before) becuase it is surfing all over the place behind us and really filling up with water. Thus, in normal conditions, far back. In a storm, you will likely prefer it up close. I will also second what was said before too, we have had our dink run into our boat many times in a following sea... so some protective measures should be thought out.

5) We pull the motor off when making a passage, but that is it. For the typical running down the ICW, etc, we leave it on. It is no big deal. I dont think I would take it offshore with the motor on for the reasons mentioned above... but even more so because it is going so slow you down and really make the dink want to run sideways and squirrely.

6) THe plug. We take it out when pulling it behind us on a long PASSAGE, but not in protected waters or short runs. We use to not take it out until we got caught in a bad storm at sea one time and the damned thing filled up with water so much I had to pull it in and pull the plug at sea in a storm! Not fun, let me tell you. And, with sea spray, it will fill up with water. It is a bit of a catch-22 becuase it will also fill up with water some when you do pull the plug. Still, like Cam, I do not use a hard dink but rather a inflateable... so my tender will not fill up more than about an inch or so, max. Taking the motor off helps.

I think this answered your questions. Let me know if you have any others.

Fair winds.

- CD
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Old 11-10-2006
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I'm only planning on towing when on the ICW or other inshore waters. Otherwise, it goes up on the deck. (I wish I'd known about those Garhauer davits a month ago!) My main concern on the ICW is wakes. I had also thought about fabricating a solid towbar from leftover parts. Swivel at dink end and attached to the boat so it will rise and fall.

Think for now, I'll just leave the motor on the rail and use the oars, for no more than I anticipate using the dink until I get to Florida. Perhaps by then, I'll figure out something better.

Thanks all for the input.
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  #9  
Old 11-17-2006
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If you need a solid "towbar" try running the painter thru a peice of small pvc pipe. It works well as a stand-off for the dink.
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Old 11-18-2006
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The load on the line between the dinghy and sailboat would not be 1200 lbs if the dinghy weighed 1200 lbs when full with water. The displacement of the dinghy supports its weight. The load line overcomes forces that tend to slow it (friction, etc . . )

That said, I agree: Water in the dinghy = not a good thing.
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