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post #21 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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Have been the towing vessel several times ranging from a Catalina 22 towing about a 30' powerboat (talk about embarrassing) to a 45' sailboat towing a similar size sailboat for a couple days offshore (no wind, no engine).

Echo the advice given above. If you're not comfortable, don't do it. If you choose to, be very, very careful. Some of the things we did that worked:

- use an anchor rode as a tow line. Nice and long and stretchy so will absorb a lot of shock without overloading attachment points.
- use a towing bridle on both ends. a bridle is much safer to release than trying to untension the line to get it free. That way either vessel can abort the tow if something goes awry. Mooring lines with chafing gear make fine bridles.
- if steerage is a problem (busted rudder), consider a small sea anchor off the stern of the towed vessel to keep them inline
- use the towed vessels line
- agree on hand signals, and establish/maintain vhf contact
- allow no one anywhere near the bridle! If something gives way, let it go. Line is cheap, an arm or leg is not
- slow and steady. No reason to hurry. Otherwise you end up with 2 boats needing rescue!
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post #22 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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John Rousmaniere recommends that the strain on towing lines be taken up by winches rather than cleats. I would suggest that winches have larger backing plates that cleats.

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post #23 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
How does a power boat with an outdrive steer with no engine?
It won't, unless it has a very large paddle. And the approach to the dock will require extra care.

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post #24 of 44 Old 12-19-2011 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paperbird View Post
Have been the towing vessel several times ranging from a Catalina 22 towing about a 30' powerboat (talk about embarrassing) to a 45' sailboat towing a similar size sailboat for a couple days offshore (no wind, no engine).

Echo the advice given above. If you're not comfortable, don't do it. If you choose to, be very, very careful. Some of the things we did that worked:

- use an anchor rode as a tow line. Nice and long and stretchy so will absorb a lot of shock without overloading attachment points.
- use a towing bridle on both ends. a bridle is much safer to release than trying to untension the line to get it free. That way either vessel can abort the tow if something goes awry. Mooring lines with chafing gear make fine bridles.
- if steerage is a problem (busted rudder), consider a small sea anchor off the stern of the towed vessel to keep them inline
- use the towed vessels line
- agree on hand signals, and establish/maintain vhf contact
- allow no one anywhere near the bridle! If something gives way, let it go. Line is cheap, an arm or leg is not
- slow and steady. No reason to hurry. Otherwise you end up with 2 boats needing rescue!
For the bridle, is the towing line fixed in the middle of the bridle or can it move along the bridles length? Why would a bridle be easier to untension (I can see why if the tow line is allowed to move along its length but if the tow line is fixed in the middle of the bridle seems the tension would be the same)?
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post #25 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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re the bridle,

we typically used a dock line w/ chafing gear attached. Then one end of the dockline/bridle was fixed to a cleat, a winch/cleat combo, or to the mast. Tie a bowline in the towline and pass the free end of the bridle through the bowline and attach it to another cleat or winch/cleat combo. The towline moves freely (to some extent) along the bridle. To drop the tow, throttle back to untension everything, then uncleat one end of the bridle and let it go. But in an emergency, the tow can still be dropped safely at either end.

As a side note, part of our pre-tow discussion was which way each vessel would turn when the tow was dropped. (e.g.- tower to stbd, towed to port) Just an extra measure of keeping clear.
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post #26 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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You do not want to connect the tow line to the mast of the towing vessel, please. The tow line is under stress and subject to breaking (say you were towing a 35 foot offshore fishing boat in seas with a 3 foot wind swell and an 8 foot ground swell...maybe enough shock load to break 1" nylon?). If the tow rope breaks it would be likely to come back through the cockpit, perhaps removing a head or something else still unpleasant.

Connecting the towline to the mast of the towed vessel is a choice, but I've only done so when the towed vessel lacked suitable bow cleats.

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post #27 of 44 Old 12-19-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingfool View Post

Connecting the towline to the mast of the towed vessel is a choice, but I've only done so when the towed vessel lacked suitable bow cleats.
I would not attach a bridle to a deck stepped mast.

The bridle would use the primary winches and a keel stepped mast. All of the lines would come together as far forward on the foredeck as feasible and be joined by bowlines. Lots of antichafe as well.

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post #28 of 44 Old 12-21-2011
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It's all about strength of wind and sea direction.

My 35 hp Volvo, operating at about 1700 rpm, easily towed a 35 ton fishing boat in the canal here. It's a while back, but we towed him quite a distance, perhaps 10 miles.

I would never have risked it on Loch Ness though, in anything other than flat calm.

If you yourself are being towed and there is a swell running, remember to buoy the two line. If the tow gets out of synch', it tends to wrap around rudders and tear them off, or bend them flat, and things like that.

And do not tie the tow line to the mast foot. Please don't. If the tow gets out of synch', and the tow line goes tight suddenly, and your rig is not that tight, you are going to risk pulling the mast down.
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Last edited by Rockter; 12-21-2011 at 04:51 PM.
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post #29 of 44 Old 12-21-2011
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Chapman's Seamanship and Piloting has a good section on towing. Dicussed there is also alongside towing.
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post #30 of 44 Old 12-22-2011 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockter View Post
It's all about strength of wind and sea direction.

My 35 hp Volvo, operating at about 1700 rpm, easily towed a 35 ton fishing boat in the canal here. It's a while back, but we towed him quite a distance, perhaps 10 miles.

I would never have risked it on Loch Ness though, in anything other than flat calm.

If you yourself are being towed and there is a swell running, remember to buoy the two line. If the tow gets out of synch', it tends to wrap around rudders and tear them off, or bend them flat, and things like that.

And do not tie the tow line to the mast foot. Please don't. If the tow gets out of synch', and the tow line goes tight suddenly, and your rig is not that tight, you are going to risk pulling the mast down.
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Line around the rudder is somthing I have not considered, good point.
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