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Old 15 August 2009, 07:40   #1
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Towing

We recently got called upon to tow broken down craft...no big problem...nothing big and heavy and only short distances in sheltered Estuaries.

However, we have no tow rope and thus relied upon the mooring lines/binder twine as carried by the other boat.

So, what should we carry and how does it attach to our boat in a safe manner for towing?

I think (?) the normal best practice is to link the transom eyes with a line and then attach a towing rope to that so that the whole forms a Y in plan?

How long does the rope between the transom eyes have to be? Long enough to sweep past the outboard but not long enough to foul the prop if it goes slack?

How long does the tow rope have to be? I'm sure I've read somewhere it should be multiples of wave pitch but as a rule of thumb in calm waters is it 5m, 10m, 20m...?

What diameter does the rope need to be bearing in mind I don't want to really get involved with anything bigger, and heavier, than your average family day boat?

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Old 15 August 2009, 08:03   #2
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You might find it easier to tie the other boat alongside your own, making sure the other boat is further forward than yours. Also make sure you use springs (ropes) to take the towing load.

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Old 15 August 2009, 08:11   #3
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Tying the other boat along side you makes it incredibly difficult to steer.

Also if using a "Y" shaped rope (bridle) it is good to have a float on it to keep it out of the prop.
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Old 15 August 2009, 08:19   #4
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http://www.powerboat-training.co.uk/...20at%20sea.htm
Article by Dave from Wavelength training http://www.wavelengthtraining.co.uk/
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Old 15 August 2009, 08:48   #5
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I keep a ski towing line and bridle on board for just this kind of thing. Can be clipped easily and quickly to towing eyes, and also clipped to other craft boweye easilt. The lines are normally floating line, and the bridle has a float. so less to worry about. towing alongside can be a better option, and one I did loads of in a summer job on the river, but not so easy at sea, with a rib imo, as not so easy to find good tying points, ropes will scuff tubes etc.

Besides, the guys on the last boat I towed were all smoking, not something I wanted close...
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Old 15 August 2009, 08:57   #6
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its not a bad idea to have the Y bridle that can slide about that way you get a bit more steerage ,,if no tow rope use the other boats anchor line they should have one anyhow ,,
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Old 17 August 2009, 10:01   #7
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Yeah, towing bridle is the best bet. have a play with the length and /or use a floating rope. I had one permanently attatched to my SR4 - could tilt the engine with it in place. the Yam 55 on the Humber, I ended up with a snap shackle on one end because it needed to be twice the "sensible using length" to allow the engine to tilt up.

As for tow line, Ive got a 30m floater, but for a small dayboat or another rib 10 would be the absolute minimu, and make sure you have someone on the other boat ready to cast off at milliseconds notice - especially if you are towing a yacht. If you stall, 4 + tons of slippery hull will overtake you & spin you round before you can say "oh sh!t".....

I've cobbled together a prototype emergency quick release bridle for mine which due to the Merc dying isn't tested yet, but if it works I'll post later with the results.


Alongside will work well if you and the other helmsman work in harmony.
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Old 17 August 2009, 11:33   #8
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Thanks for the advice guys

I've gone down the bridle route after discussions with a rope making expert as discussed http://rib.net/forum/showthread.php?t=28003. He recommended against floating line though as it's less strong and less durable. Rather, the recommendation was for 13mm doublebraid nylon 25m long that will attach to one transom eye and an 8 metre rope from the other transom eye that bowlines to its mate.

I'll probably never have to recover another boat as long as I live
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Old 17 August 2009, 12:01   #9
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Be really careful with nylon: the stretch can make it fairly dangerous should something fail. The line will become a large rubber band, and snap back in both directions (depending on where and what breaks.) I doubt the rumored amputation factor holds a lot of credibility, but the possibility of injury is cretainly there, especially if you have a cleat from the towed vessel being thrown at your head.

Better to use a low stretch line (polypropylene is normally suggested) with a high stength rating, if possible. It transfers more shock, but will be safer if it or the cleat/bow eye/whatever fails.

That said, I use one of my spare anchor rodes (nylon, either 7/16" double braid, or 3/8" 3-strand), as that's what I've got.

Towing astern is good for open water, but you can't really maneuver worth a damn.

In tight locations, tie up alongside and as far back on the other craft as possible, and go slooow. You can put a boat onto a pier fairly accurately once you figure out how the whole mess handles.

With an inflatable, you can also do the tugboat thing and nudge the other craft into position (though I wouldn't recommend it except as a last ditch thing, and definitely not in current/wind.)

jky
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Old 17 August 2009, 12:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyasaki View Post
Be really careful with nylon
I'm planning on being careful with whatever I use. There's a balance here between helping those in trouble and putting yourself in trouble and I have no intent on the latter.

The breaking strain of the 13mm nylon doublebraid is 3.3 tons...the boats we recovered last week were probably both less than 0.5 ton and in sheltered water where the tow strain was relatively stable. If they'd been bigger boats and there was a chop/swell I'd maybe have made the decision to support and assist till other help came along rather than tow.

Thanks for your comments. I hadn't considered the flying cleat possibility
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