Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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Re: Towing and being towed
Ask any skipper with Sea Tow or Tow Boat US and they can tell you hours of tales of failed cleats, bits, chocks and any other attachment point on modern day plastic sailing boats. Even headstay chain plates can rip off if used as a towing point. There is no similarity between towing and the stresses of sailing, anchoring or being tied to the dock.
Backing plate or not, most of our cleats just were not designed for the stresses of offshore towing, even by professionals, never mind amateurs.
Commercial barge and ship towing is most often done with a gargantuan chain bridle attached to the tow, whether the tow line is rope or cable. The tow boat does not actually 'tow' the towed vessel, but lifts this huge chain and that weight is what moves the tow, much like an anchor's catenary.
My suggestion is to never accept a tow from an amateur. It is just not worth the risk to your boat, or your life. I will rescue folks from their boat whenever possible, even putting my vessel in harm's way if need be, but I would never tow another boat with my sailboat.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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