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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am in Nevis/St. Kitts in the Carib. I just watched a mega yacht pick up anchor and tow a support boat behind them. It sure seemed too long to me as it would be easy for someone not to realize there was a tow rope between the two boats.

What's the law?
pic.twitter.com/L5TZgYHl6T
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I don't think there is a law per se. There are lights you should show for short and long tows. For support boats (including dinghies) people don't generally show them. You pretty much want the towed boat to be out of the immediate wake of the forward boat and far enough back to not run into the back of the towing boat.
 

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TROUBLE
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I am in Nevis/St. Kitts in the Carib. I just watched a mega yacht pick up anchor and tow a support boat behind them. It sure seemed too long to me as it would be easy for someone not to realize there was a tow rope between the two boats.

What's the law?
pic.twitter.com/L5TZgYHl6T
I'd be curious too. I've seen the same thing in the Bahamas.

Ralph
 

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as per the answer on Twitter, it is the lites and shapes needed on said tow that make it legal, so a lack of then it is illegal
 

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Colregs:
Rule 24 - Towing and Pushing

(a) A power-driven vessel when towing astern shall exhibit:

(i) Instead of the light prescribed in Rule 23(a)(i) or 23(a)(ii), two masthead lights in a vertical line. When the length of the tow, measuring from the stern of the towing vessel to the after end of the tow, exceeds 200 meters, three such lights in a vertical line;
(ii) sidelights;
(iii) a sternlight;
(iv) a towing light in a vertical line above the sternlight; and
(v) when the length of the tow exceeds 200 meters, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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500M TO 1KM Tows are common.

It can be really hard to make out the lights shown as the tug and towed item can have a multitude of additional work lights.

Mind you in the Eastern Carib tugs towing unlit barges on long tows at night are also commonplace.
 

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Law??? In the CARIBBEAN?????

They tow them up and down the whole chain. Some tenders can't fit on the superyachts so have to be towed, or driven. Many can be lifted but it takes so long and they want the guests off without delay so they tow.
Some get shipped back to Lauderdale or accross the atlantic. The big boats go by their own steam.
 

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9500 meters?! That's like six miles. Wow. Why would someone use a tow that long?
We were told by the tug that they were dragging a sonar boom searching the bottom for oil and gass. Aparently these ultra long sonars are much more acurate than shorter ones. Luckily enough they allowed us to cross over the tow. It was being drug about 20' down, so our keel actually passed over it.

It was pretty neat actually, they had stand off vessels circling the tow as they went, to wave off vessels too deep to cross over safely. They did ask us to turn off any generators or engines as we transited since the point of dragging it so far behind is to minimize ambient noise pollution.
 

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Although shorter than described by Stumble, many tows on the coast can be pretty impressive. A tug towing three chip barges with emergency rescue ropes behind each at 9 knots and setting sidways at 3 knots in the dark with possible lights on shore to confuse the issue can clean up the gene pool pretty quick. Trying to save the gill net added another factor.
 

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Colregs:
Rule 24 - Towing and Pushing

(a) A power-driven vessel when towing astern shall exhibit:

(i) Instead of the light prescribed in Rule 23(a)(i) or 23(a)(ii), two masthead lights in a vertical line. When the length of the tow, measuring from the stern of the towing vessel to the after end of the tow, exceeds 200 meters, three such lights in a vertical line;
(ii) sidelights;
(iii) a sternlight;
(iv) a towing light in a vertical line above the sternlight; and
(v) when the length of the tow exceeds 200 meters, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
Keep reading...

Rule 24 (h) (International)

"Where from any sufficient cause it is impracticable for a vessel or object being towed to exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in paragraph (e) or (g) of this Rule, all possible measures shall be taken to light the vessel or object being towed or at least to indicate the presence of such vessel or object."

Basically, if your boat is not built to be a tug, you don't need to show the additional lights or shapes. Without this paragraph, we would have to mount a towing light and second masthead light to tow an eight foot dinghy.
 

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Are we talking about how many miles someone can tow something? (Unlimited) Or are we talking about how long the tow rope can be??

When we were sailing in Indonesia at night my GF woke me up and said she saw something weird.

I got up and chastised her about how obvious the vessel was showing bright lights - quite unusal for Indonesia - Red over white over red, white, green, blue, white etc all quite bright. And she quietly said "Yes but what about that purple haze miles astern of the bright lights?"

Transfixed by the purple haze untill I screamed "PORT! STARBORD!! Turn the F'ing Boat AROUND!"

The purple haze was from a barge being towed, not navigation lights but the glow of the Television the watchman was watching.

We nearly passed between the tug and the barge!

We went so close I could recognise the porno film.


Mark
 

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I understand counties having rules to obey while a boat is in their territorial waters but in the open ocean who has the authority to regulate anything? I can understand having a common set of rules in order to not have anarchy on the high seas but wouldn't that really fall under the heading of common courtesy rather than law? I am new to this so the idea of an international tribunal for ocean going traffic strikes me about the same as having an international tribunal for regulating individual countries. I don't think that has worked out so good.....
 

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I understand counties having rules to obey while a boat is in their territorial waters but in the open ocean who has the authority to regulate anything? I can understand having a common set of rules in order to not have anarchy on the high seas but wouldn't that really fall under the heading of common courtesy rather than law? I am new to this so the idea of an international tribunal for ocean going traffic strikes me about the same as having an international tribunal for regulating individual countries. I don't think that has worked out so good.....
Well, you are wrong. Just shy of 99% of world wide shipping is regulated by a treat called COLREG and the thin portion that isn't directly regulated is by default since when the non-regulated ships make port in a compliant country they have to follow the rules as well. The world wide instatution of a single set of rules has made shipping incredibly safe, and reduced accidents from anything but gear and crew failures to almost nothing.

The international tribunal here has worked incredibly well.
 

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Do you have a reference to the countries that make up COLREG? Is it mostly those who have some measure of citizen rights or are countries like China, Russia, and the third world banana republics a party to COLREG as well? I assume that there is no enforcement in the open water, just when a ship hits port in a participating country? I would imagine that the large insurance companies have had a hand in the formulation and enforcement of regulations as well just for their own well being.
 
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