Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Washington State
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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.