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Old 09-02-2013, 11:07 AM   #1
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Towing a skiff

We have an 18' skiff that we would like to tow behind our 45' Northwest Trawler. Any recommendation for length of tow line and bridal would be appreciated. Our plans are to depart from Jupiter, Fl in 2 weeks cross Okeechobee Waterway then come back around from the Florida Keys at the end if September.
Thanks for your anticipated input.
Capt Mike
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:28 AM   #2
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I like to run two long polypro lines (they float) about 50' each. I clip one to the bow cleat and the other to the bow eye of the skiff (I have an 18' Action Craft Flats boat). I tie the other end to the stern cleats of the big boat, one on the port side one on the stb. I have a spindle spliced into the skiff end of the lines and use a big carabiner. A loop spliced in on the other end. Both lines are the exact same length. Makes it easier.

This way I figure if one line breaks or there is a hardware failure on the skiff or the big boat I don't lose the skiff.

When detaching I slow way down, untie one tow line, bring it over to the other side of the cockpit and pull both lines in as one.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:38 AM   #3
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I suggest using some nylon in there for shock absorption ... especially if your skiff is on the heavy side or when it takes on some water..

As far as length goes..you'll be adjusting it based on conditions such as waves and traffic as well as when in confined quarters...I would be able to put at least 100' out if you get into a situation of following seas and wind...the longer line helps with shock loading and if the first 25 or so feet aren't floating...would make up something that did or add pool floats every couple of feet.

You can tow from the trailer eye so no bridle is necessary...maybe for the mother boat but for the skiff it shouldn't be necessary if it's less than say 20 years onlld and the eye is in good shape.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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PS, speak to towing on the hip, I am wondering about the same thing but 19' Pathfinder and 40 Pilgrim. I have considered towing on the hip well fendered in tight confines (basically most of the AICW) what are your thoughts?
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougcole View Post
I like to run two long polypro lines (they float) about 50' each. I clip one to the bow cleat and the other to the bow eye of the skiff (I have an 18' Action Craft Flats boat). I tie the other end to the stern cleats of the big boat, one on the port side one on the stb. I have a spindle spliced into the skiff end of the lines and use a big carabiner. A loop spliced in on the other end. Both lines are the exact same length. Makes it easier.

This way I figure if one line breaks or there is a hardware failure on the skiff or the big boat I don't lose the skiff.

When detaching I slow way down, untie one tow line, bring it over to the other side of the cockpit and pull both lines in as one.
That sounds like a good plan. I have an 18' Egret that I'll be towing. Can you elaborate on the "I have a spindle spliced into the skiff end of the lines and use a big carabiner. A loop spliced in on the other end." If possible photos would be great. I appreciate your help.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:31 PM   #6
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When hip towing...you want it as far forward as possible to get your rudder/maneuvering control as far aft as possible...with a little tender and big mothership...usually doesn't matter as much.

With hip towing you want good fendering and tight, non stretchy lines (something approximating bow, stern and fwd/aft springs...but you'll see what you really need after rigging a couple of times).

Make up in the middle of no where and practice before doing it for real...you want the lines and fenders correct and seeing how she handles. Sometimes if the boats are equal or the tow bigger...you can't turn away from the tow easily...in that case go in reverse and you will start to pivot in the correct direction around the tow. When just past where you want to head...go into forward and you'll swing back in the correct direction about the time the rudder starts to take effect.

Watch wakes as the fenders may want to pop out and at some speeds, the wakes/waves will funnel between the two boats and splash a LOT of water into the skiff...so if in the ICW and not ready to get right off into a marina/protected water...make sure there's a bilge pump aboard or watch it carefully.

It's a little scary the first time if the tow is big..but for most of our trawlers and under 20 footers...you'll hardly notice the tow.

If you stern tow....the motor can be up when in open water...just be careful..a lot of smaller skiffs with the motor up and a little water in them sloshing around will flip turtle in a heartbeat and you may not be able to flip it back without a lot of assistance. When in close quarters...always try to get the motor down as it helps the tow steer straight and helps it slow quicker so it doesn't catch up to you as fast...or at all.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:37 PM   #7
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Be wary of carabiners as they are often a "weak link" as many are not rated for very heavy duty and they can get twisted and release while towing if slack develops and the carabiner gets twisted and pulled back on itself.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:41 PM   #8
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Thanks PS ... great advice comes from experience.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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I have practiced a bit of towing on the hip out on the open lake. Calm water was very easy. Keeping the boat moving was better than sitting still rafted up. At the right speed I did not notice any counter measures were needed.

My first year with the Pilgrim I was towed by a large boat and the tow line never was tight. I would guess you could use either boat as the tow.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:50 PM   #10
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I have practiced a bit of towing on the hip out on the open lake. Calm water was very easy. Keeping the boat moving was better than sitting still rafted up. At the right speed I did not notice any counter measures were needed.

My first year with the Pilgrim I was towed by a large boat and the tow line never was tight. I would guess you could use either boat as the tow.
When you say tow line never tight...do you mean stern tow?
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:53 PM   #11
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Thanks PS ... great advice comes from experience.
Did 2 yesterday using a 26 foot single screw Shamrock as the towboat...

First was a 33 very heavy Colbalt express cruiser..had to nose her into her lift....

Second was a 23 Grady White that was in a very shallow area that I wanted to get out of quickly so I side towed while refueling her.
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:19 PM   #12
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That sounds like a good plan. I have an 18' Egret that I'll be towing. Can you elaborate on the "I have a spindle spliced into the skiff end of the lines and use a big carabiner. A loop spliced in on the other end." If possible photos would be great. I appreciate your help.
Sorry I don't have a pic, but I will try to elaborate.

I put an eye splice in the end of the line that attaches to the big boat, make sure it is big enough to easily fit over/around your stern cleat as it can be tougher to tie and untie under some tension.

On the other end I spliced in a spindle, which is one of those almost closed "C" shaped metal things like is spliced into the end of an anchor line. It keeps the the 'biner from chafing through the line.

Good avice on being careful with a carabiner. Make sure you get big ones with a high load rating. Mine actually have locking gates.

I haven't had an issue with needing stretch, but I could see how that would help. I learned this system from a buddy who runs a 70' American Yacht Sport fish. He tows a 26' center console and behind that an 18' Egret, same as your skiff. (really nice boat BTW).

I agree the bow eye is probably fine to tow from, but I like the redundancy. Also, you can adjust one line or another if for some reason you wanted the boat to tow a little different. Perhaps in a side sea.

No way in hell will you flip the Egret. You could possibly stick the bow and fill it with water, but it won't flip.

I trim my motor up so the skeg is just a little under the water, then make sure the motor is straight. I can tow fine at up to 15 knots this way, which is as fast as my mainship goes. The American Yacht tows at up to 32 knots like this, but he does have twin tow eyes on the Center console.

Most of the time I tow at hull speed. At 8 knots in up to 4' seas (worst I have towed in) the deck of my action craft stays dry.

Good luck. I may see you in the OWW. We are leaving on 9/22, will be going through on the 22nd and 23rd.
Doug
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:28 PM   #13
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The thing in the end of the anchor line is a "thimble".

I also advise against using an eye in the big boat end of the towline...it's impossible to release under tension..plus t it fixes the length of the towline...and in may cases that may need to be adjusted.

While it may be unlikely to flip just any boat...I would have thought the same about whalers and Carolina skiffs....they do flip under the right conditions.
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:57 PM   #14
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Thimble. That is the word I was looking for, thanks. I knew I was a little off, things don't seem to stick in my brain like they used to.

Big, Big difference between a whaler or a Carolina skiff, which are both (in my opinion) way outdated from a design standpoint, and an 18' Egret. Egret had a vid at a boat show a few years back of one of their boats being towed in open water at 20 plus knots in, I swear, 12 to 15 foot seas. It was astounding to watch it completely disappear behind the waves and pop back up. As it is about a $50,000 boat new, it put my heart in my throat.

Skiff means a different thing in this part of the country than in most other places.

The guys on the American Yacht towed theirs from Islamorada to the Yucatan. I doubt he flips it. They did say to be careful about sticking the bow.

He doesn't have to tie in using the eye. Also, if he needs to add more length to the tow line with a second line an eye to eye loop works great. Knots are tough to tie in polypro as it is so slippery.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:11 PM   #15
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Capt Mike:

if your trawler doesn't do 15 knots, you won't need the long towline. I tow at 8 knots. My towline is long enough to reach from the towing cleat on the transom to just short of the propellor, then up to the bow of the dinghy when close aboard. About 15 ft. The dinghy is very happy towing 15 feet back, under all conditions.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougcole View Post
Sorry I don't have a pic, but I will try to elaborate.

I put an eye splice in the end of the line that attaches to the big boat, make sure it is big enough to easily fit over/around your stern cleat as it can be tougher to tie and untie under some tension.

On the other end I spliced in a spindle, which is one of those almost closed "C" shaped metal things like is spliced into the end of an anchor line. It keeps the the 'biner from chafing through the line.

Good avice on being careful with a carabiner. Make sure you get big ones with a high load rating. Mine actually have locking gates.

I haven't had an issue with needing stretch, but I could see how that would help. I learned this system from a buddy who runs a 70' American Yacht Sport fish. He tows a 26' center console and behind that an 18' Egret, same as your skiff. (really nice boat BTW).

I agree the bow eye is probably fine to tow from, but I like the redundancy. Also, you can adjust one line or another if for some reason you wanted the boat to tow a little different. Perhaps in a side sea.

No way in hell will you flip the Egret. You could possibly stick the bow and fill it with water, but it won't flip.

I trim my motor up so the skeg is just a little under the water, then make sure the motor is straight. I can tow fine at up to 15 knots this way, which is as fast as my mainship goes. The American Yacht tows at up to 32 knots like this, but he does have twin tow eyes on the Center console.

Most of the time I tow at hull speed. At 8 knots in up to 4' seas (worst I have towed in) the deck of my action craft stays dry.

Good luck. I may see you in the OWW. We are leaving on 9/22, will be going through on the 22nd and 23rd.
Doug
Thanks Doug. I'll work on putting that advice into action this week. Our 2 week plan is to fish around Charlotte Harbor, the Everglades and the Keys on the way back. Hope to see you out there.
Tailwinds,
Capt Mike
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #17
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Sorry I don't have a pic, but I will try to elaborate.

I put an eye splice in the end of the line that attaches to the big boat, make sure it is big enough to easily fit over/around your stern cleat as it can be tougher to tie and untie under some tension.

On the other end I spliced in a spindle, which is one of those almost closed "C" shaped metal things like is spliced into the end of an anchor line. It keeps the the 'biner from chafing through the line.

Good avice on being careful with a carabiner. Make sure you get big ones with a high load rating. Mine actually have locking gates.

I haven't had an issue with needing stretch, but I could see how that would help. I learned this system from a buddy who runs a 70' American Yacht Sport fish. He tows a 26' center console and behind that an 18' Egret, same as your skiff. (really nice boat BTW).

I agree the bow eye is probably fine to tow from, but I like the redundancy. Also, you can adjust one line or another if for some reason you wanted the boat to tow a little different. Perhaps in a side sea.

No way in hell will you flip the Egret. You could possibly stick the bow and fill it with water, but it won't flip.

I trim my motor up so the skeg is just a little under the water, then make sure the motor is straight. I can tow fine at up to 15 knots this way, which is as fast as my mainship goes. The American Yacht tows at up to 32 knots like this, but he does have twin tow eyes on the Center console.

Most of the time I tow at hull speed. At 8 knots in up to 4' seas (worst I have towed in) the deck of my action craft stays dry.

Good luck. I may see you in the OWW. We are leaving on 9/22, will be going through on the 22nd and 23rd.
Doug
Quote:
Originally Posted by koliver View Post
Capt Mike:

if your trawler doesn't do 15 knots, you won't need the long towline. I tow at 8 knots. My towline is long enough to reach from the towing cleat on the transom to just short of the propellor, then up to the bow of the dinghy when close aboard. About 15 ft. The dinghy is very happy towing 15 feet back, under all conditions.
Our max speed is 13kts and we usually cruise at 8kts. So that advice should come in handy. Thanks
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:48 PM   #18
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Putting a float on the tow line might be a good idea.

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Old 09-02-2013, 08:16 PM   #19
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again..I strongly advise against using only poly to tow...I strongly advise against using eye's on cleats and thinking looping them together to adjust towing line...I strongly advise to watch free water in ANY boat when the motor is tilted up and towing (these boats aren't supposed to sink either....20 and under according t USCG specs) but they do all the time....only having 15 feet or so of towline on an 18 foot skiff is a mistake based on ALL conditions you might encounter...a dingy MIGHT be a different story depending what it is....

What may work for some may not work for all...I'm passing along not my wisdom..but the collective wisdom of BoatUS/SeaTow/Vessel assist and all other towing companies out there...of course my 11 years at over 200 tows a year might make me emphasize a few things....well lets just say strongly?
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:20 PM   #20
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Mark: "Putting a float on the tow line might be a good idea."

I used to belong to a club that had an annual award for the biggest FUBAR. I recall more than one of those awards going to the guy with the float on his towline. All it did was provide a false sense of safety. It still got sucked into the prop as easily as without the float. Also beware of floating line for the same reason.
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