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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #31  
Old 12-22-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b40Ibis View Post
Chapman's Seamanship and Piloting has a good section on towing. Dicussed there is also alongside towing.
I will check that out, have the book but have not read it in a while. Also found this site which has some good info.
Tow2
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  #32  
Old 01-14-2012
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You can search for the USCG Auxiliary small boat manual on line, a free down load, which has a lot of valuable information. There is a commercially published version, Small Boat Seamanship. I've been towed a few times and towed a few times. Either way, make sure you have good communications and that you can depend on the other Captain. My experience is that Common Sense is misnamed. Lack of common sense can raise the adrenalin factor. As they say, Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

Lou
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  #33  
Old 01-14-2012
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I think the rendering assistance legal duty is being stretched a little too far by some of the posters here:

"Rendering Assistance (46USC 2304)

The master or person in charge of a vessel is obligated by law to provide assistance that can be safely provided to any individual in danger at sea. The master or person in charge (PIC) is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for failure to do so."

In the Paragon and Cha Cha case and in this case, some of you have been suggesting that one has an obligation to tow another boat to shore.

I disagree. Unless the INDIVIDUAL is IN DANGER AT SEA and towing is the only way you can render assistance to that INDIVIDUAL, you do not have to tow. You do not have to tow to save someone else's property. You do not have to tow because it is inconvenient for someone to be offshore instead of onshore. If the individual has adequate food and water, and does not require immediate medical care, it is unlikely that one could say the INDIVIDUAL is IN DANGER AT SEA. You can always offer to allow someone to board your vessel to bring them to shore. You are not responsible merely because someone runs out of gas, rips his or her sails, or has an incapacitated vessel. We are not the Coast Guard or the Marine Police or the free tow boat service.

Sure, it is nice to help everyone you encounter at sea who needs assistance, but you are not legally required unless the INDIVIDUAL is IN DANGER AT SEA. I can think of very few instances where you would be legally required to tow the vessel - perhaps if someone had a broken back and could not be transported off the vessel, you might have a legal obligation to tow the vessel in order to save the INDIVIDUAL.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 01-14-2012 at 01:23 PM.
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  #34  
Old 01-14-2012
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If in shallow water make sure the towed boat has a stern anchor that can be dropped at a moments notice.

If no stern anchor the bow anchor will do in an emergency.

Use lines from the towed boat if possible, if out at sea use a LONG tow, 10 boat lengths or more if possible with a stretchy section. Make sure you can drop the tow somehow. A breadknife works well in the hands of a frightend man.

If in calm waters and the tow is expected to end up alongside somewhere or stern to a wall consider an alongside tow as this gives much more control. Broadcast regular securite messages esp. if on the ICW to get other vessels to slow down in your vicinity.

Of course you are prepared with the appropriate day and night signals ? ? ?

I have towed twice, the hip tow on the ICW was easy and the power boats did slow down, the night tow in offshore waters was not so easy untill I added all the line I had to get sufficient length, even then I found that the towed boat veered to one side and dragged me off course all the time.

OH YES on neither tow did I have the correct signals or lights.
jackdale likes this.

Last edited by TQA; 01-14-2012 at 03:02 PM.
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  #35  
Old 01-14-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
If in shallow water make sure the towed boat has a stern anchor that can be dropped at a moments notice.

If no stern anchor the bow anchor will do in an emergency.

Use lines from the towed boat if possible, if out at sea use a LONG tow, 10 boat lengths or more if possible with a stretchy section. Make sure you can drop the tow somehow. A breadknife works well in the hands of a frightend man.

If in calm waters and the tow is expected to end up alongside somewhere or stern to a wall consider an alongside tow as this gives much more control. Broadcast regular securite messages esp. if on the ICW to get other vessels to slow down in your vicinity.

Of course you are prepared with the appropriate day and night signals ? ? ?

I have towed twice, the hip tow on the ICW was easy and the power boats did slow down, the night tow in offshore waters was not so easy untill I added all the line I had to get sufficient length, even then I found that the towed boat veered to one side and dragged me off course all the time.

OH YES on neither tow did I have the correct signals or lights.
Good posting. I would add that you should use the length of the tow to synchronize the vessels relative to the wave action. This will lessen the jerking of the line.
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  #36  
Old 01-14-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
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.
I don't think we should state this as universal.

a. I have pulled winches out of 2 boats that did not have backing plates. I was just grinding. Both were well-known brands, but the winches were added by POs.

b. Cleats can be very good.

I think you have to inspect the boat. Both should be up to the job, but....
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  #37  
Old 01-14-2012
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Towing

I agree with Jackdale on many points, and would underline the point to first
"agree on the terms of the tow".

If I was the towing boat, I'd make it clear that this is just helping out a fellow sailor and I'm not looking for any salvage rights, but conversely don't accept responsibility for any mishaps. If you're towing the wrong guy, lack of agreement could come back to bite you. eg. The towline snaps and his boat winds up on the rocks.
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  #38  
Old 01-14-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Diamond View Post
The towline snaps and his boat winds up on the rocks.
On that thought; minimize the number of crew on deck. If that tow rope breaks it could be deadly when it snaps back.
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Some years ago, a 45ft heavy ketch with inoperative engine was trying to sail through the channel on our creek in the process of returning to his slip. They couldn't quite make it, went on the wrong side of the channel marker and got stuck in the mud. I was close by on my 28 ft. 7,500 lb. sailboat (12 hp, single cylinder Yanmar) and was hailed to come to their assistance. This was in the days before Sea Tow and the like. It's calm, shallow water with a soft bottom. I didn't see too much at risk in trying. They dropped their sails so we wouldn't have contend with the wind (which could help or hurt at various times in the maneuver). My sails were already down since I was also returning to my slip at another marina. I took over one of their anchor rodes from their stern to my stern (had to manever close enough to pass the line without me getting aground also). I felt my only chance to get them off was to pull them directly astern on the exact recipical of their original course. I really didn't think my boat would get them off, but it did. Once I got them into the channel, I had them move the tow line forward to their bow, with my end still at the stern. I was very careful to make sure that in repositioning lines that I didn't get the line fouled in my prop, keel, or rudder. In all this, I didn't take time to make bridle and just tied the line to one of my stern cleats (I believe on my particular boat that the cleat fastening was probably stronger than the winches). I towed the boat probably less than a quarter mile to their slip (on the end of one of the marina docks). The water in the creek is shallow and before we could get to the pier, they were again hitting the bottom. I could not get them completely to the pier, but did approach it with my own boat close enough to pass the line to people on the pier. The tow line was secured to a piling and the towed boat winched itself in to the pier. I don't think that I put my boat into to much danger or risk. Pulling out the cleat was the most probable failure point, but I was pretty confident that the boat would be stalled before that happened. In retrospect, it would have been better to have taken time to make a bridle, but I didn't do so. In the end, I was glad to help, and would hope that if the situation was reversed, someone would help me.
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Old 01-14-2012
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Several years ago, I towed a 34' sailboat for several miles with my 35' sailboat. We were heading into the seas in winds that had subsided to 25 kts, about 6 miles offshore. My 24 hp Yanmar with a 3-blade MaxProp was able to keep us at 3.5 kts. Our combined displacement was probably on the order of 25,000 lbs.

I rigged a bridle using dock lines attached to my stern cleats and had a loop ready to pick up the other guy's tow line, comprised of about 100 ft of connected dock lines--also rigged to a bridle to his bow cleats. Getting close enough to pick up his towline was a bit dicey, as he was drifting at about 2kts, beam to the seas. I "crossed the Tee", with him throwing the tow line, being rather careful not to have it go in the water and possibly around my prop. Once we got him turned it was fairly straightforward towing him.

Once we headed into the seas, the other skipper was able to work an engine problem. He had been knocked down in gusts in the upper 30 kt range and lost his raw water pump prime. He was unable to work the problem in a beam sea, but went to work as we headed into it and was able to get his motor going, as his wife steered, before we reached the narrow, rock-lined, serpentine inlet to York Harbor, ME. He released the tow line from his end and I reeled it in. With the current associated with the 9-ft tides, I was grateful not to have to tow him all the way in! Our towline arrangement was 3-strand, 5/8" nylon. Neither lines nor deck hardware were the worse for wear.

If you do take someone in tow, they will need to actively steer their boat to track yours. I was on the receiving end of a tow last summer and can vouch for the necessity to mind the steering on the boat being towed.
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