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Old 03-17-2013, 10:08 PM   #1
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Towing a dinghy

I would like to hear from Trawler folks who tow a larger boat for more utility once at destination. Are you towling maybe a 17 foot Boston Whaler or an Alumaweld 16 footer. Would like to hear your experience both good and bad. Thanks, Scott
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:28 PM   #2
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I would like to hear from Trawler folks who tow a larger boat for more utility once at destination. Are you towling maybe a 17 foot Boston Whaler or an Alumaweld 16 footer. Would like to hear your experience both good and bad. Thanks, Scott
I've only done it a couple of times in calm dry weather and never had a problem.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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A couple of summers back I towed a 14' aluminum Duroboat with center console and a huge Merc outboard. We towed it from Anacortes WA and throughout all the Gulf Islands, across Georgia Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait -- never had a problem. Because my boat is a trawler we cruised at 7-8 knots. I still tow a dinghy but now it's an 8' Portland Pudgy. A few helpful tips: only use float line and rig a strong bridle for fastening to the boat being towed. Also, NEVER use a stainless steel shackle -- it will sink when you slow down or have slack in the line -- either tie it off or use a lightweight "plastic" shackle that floats. And ideally, assign the role of
"dinghy wrangler" to someone in your crew, particularly when you're entering a marina or crowded anchorage. Just common sense stuff. Good luck!
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:07 AM   #4
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Really depends on what kind of boating you do.

If you stop at a lot of marinas...it will probably be a PIA and you may or may not really need a bigger dingy because you are tied up (but I like the idea that it is like a rental car in lot's of places)

If you mostly anchor out...then it's a great idea as the bigger the dingy the more you will like it (except thse that primarily use a dingy for recreational sailing/rowing).

If you travel a lot in open water and venture out in rough weather...then it's 50/50 decision on the type of dingy you tow and how much you want to modify your habits to make it tow safely.
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:37 AM   #5
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We tow a 12 ft RIB with 40HP motor - probably weighs in at about 5-600lb - when we are cruising and expecting to use the dinghy repeatedly. It saves raising and lowering with the boom winch. Just use long lines crossed over to the transom. We have not used floating line ( a good idea) but we always make sure the dinghy is on a short line (close up to transom) or alongside when docking/anchoring. Sometimes it is preferable to adjust the tow line length to get dinghy to ride at optimal position relative to following waves.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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We tow a 13' Whaler at 9 knots quite a bit, and have done so in all sorts of sea conditions. Typically try to get it just on the back of the second crest. It tows beautifully, sometimes I have been worried about it and had someone's constant eye on it when things were rough, but it just keeps chooglin' along. A 17 footer ought to be better yet. A lot of the big sportfish around here tow 20+foot center consoles for fishing the shallow spots. And big yachts will tow a 34' Interpid as a tender. Even with floating line, do not reverse the big boat unless all there is no tow line touching the water.

If you plan on doing it a lot, consider springing about 500 bucks and getting a custom bridle with first class components made up by someone like Rope, Inc or Miami Cordage. Or DIY construct one. Look at their sites for what is involved. Me, I have gotten away with just a big hank of 3/4" yellow poly and I tie it to the bow eye with a bowline. The yellow is a good idea too.

The only reason we tow it is because we like to use it where we are docked now, and have a full finger pier on the side it deploys to. Time wise it is as much hassle towing it as it is raising it on the davit.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:15 PM   #7
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We are about to embark on a 5 month trip and will be towing a boat for the first time. It is a 19 foot aluminum runabout type boat with a 150hp outboard and a kicker for fishing. I was rather reluctant to tow a boat but I'm sure the benefits will be worth it.
I have been reading everything I can find on the internet about towing and setting up the boats for towing. It is going to take some practice coming into a marina with it tied along side.
With this new boat we can anchor in a bay, hop in the runabout and explore
everything for 50 miles or more around us. There are many inlets along the inside passage that are worth seeing but when you get to the end, there is no place to safely stay. That could be a 4-5 hour cruise in our trawler. I also scared myself several times trying to pull my shrimp pots in a 12 foot boat when the water is rough.
One of the big advantages of boating after your retired is that you are not on a time schedule. When the wind is blowing, you stay put. So I won't be towing unless the conditions are right.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:26 PM   #8
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I think the challenges you face with towing a large aluminum boat are (1) flotation if it ships much water in rough seas (2) damage to the towing vessel when alongside. Perhaps both can be solved adequately with tied in airbags (fenders) underway, and fenders alongside when docking.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Took these pics of a trawler and her dinghy in Petersburg Alaska. He built the boat himself and towed it from the Seattle area about 1000 miles away. I did talk to him and he reported no problems at all towing the 18' Diablo Grande. He was having a bit of work done on the Yamaha though.

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Russ, A very good idea. I'd put a sounder on the big dink though.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:51 PM   #10
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Big "dink"? I'd describe such a vessel an "auxiliary."
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:58 PM   #11
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HAHA A considerable amount of auxiliary power at that. Providing the dink had a considerable fuel supply. All the more reason for me to tow my 16' aluminum skiff this summer. My E-tech Eninrude has even more thrust than that Yamaha.
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:01 PM   #12
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A couple of summers back I towed a 14' aluminum Duroboat with center console and a huge Merc outboard. We towed it from Anacortes WA and throughout all the Gulf Islands, across Georgia Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait -- never had a problem. Because my boat is a trawler we cruised at 7-8 knots. I still tow a dinghy but now it's an 8' Portland Pudgy. A few helpful tips: only use float line and rig a strong bridle for fastening to the boat being towed. Also, NEVER use a stainless steel shackle -- it will sink when you slow down or have slack in the line -- either tie it off or use a lightweight "plastic" shackle that floats. And ideally, assign the role of
"dinghy wrangler" to someone in your crew, particularly when you're entering a marina or crowded anchorage. Just common sense stuff. Good luck!
good advice. use polypropelene line for towing cause it floats. Nylon sinks and goes right to your prop. I know, I tried it
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:24 PM   #13
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I built a Diablo in 1990 (my first build). I had never been on a Diablo Grande but, the original 15' was a lot of fun.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:15 PM   #14
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good advice. use polypropelene line for towing cause it floats. Nylon sinks and goes right to your prop. I know, I tried it
To repeat, make no assumptions poly can't get sucked into the props as well with the engine in reverse. It can and will.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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Poly does make it a lot harder to get sucked up...that's why assistance towers use at least a short length of it near their boat....some also attach floats to help.

Try and know where your towline is and if you can't try and go easy on the throttle...
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:08 PM   #16
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S of F,
I'll bet it turned and banked very nicely and probably ran quite level too. A nice boat.
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:24 PM   #17
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S of F,
I'll bet it turned and banked very nicely and probably ran quite level too. A nice boat.
Yes it did. Incidentally, Phil Bolger (The designer) and his wife came out on it one afternoon. He had designed Diablo around 1980 and had never seen one built ,except in pictures. We scooted around the Annisquam river for a while. His office was above the Boat building barn at Montgomerys' boat yard. IIRC that was around 1996.
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:06 PM   #18
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To repeat, make no assumptions poly can't get sucked into the props as well with the engine in reverse. It can and will.
..you are absolutely correct..
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Old 03-18-2013, 11:46 PM   #19
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So when you tow a dingy, how do you tie it off? Specifically, on the trawler end, do you secure from each corner so the line forms a "Y" down to a single line to the dingy? I've heard the term "bridle"...is the "Y" the bridle? Hope my question isn't too stupid.
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:15 AM   #20
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Your exactly right.I will come off each corner of the transom with a line that has some stretch to it (nylon) so it will absorb some of the shock. This is called the bridle. These two lines will be attached to a line that goes back to the towed boat. This line is called the hawser. For this I choose a line made by Sampson called Amsteel Rope. It is very light weight, flexible,it floats, and as strong as wire rope.
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