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Old 01-08-2018, 07:16 AM   #1
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Tender towing set up

Good day all,

I am getting ready to do a trial run of my tender towing setup and wanted to get some feedback of my setup.

The tender in question is a 16' Wahoo (whaler clone) that weighs about 1100lbs. I will be pulling it at approximately 7-8kts. behind a Sea Ray 420AC.

I plan on using two 25ft. 5/8" double braided nylon ropes attached to the rear cleats of the Sea Ray. These ropes will then be attached to a stainless shackle to form a bridle that is attached to a 100' section of 3/8" dyneema rope that will attach to the Wahoo tender.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:28 AM   #2
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My 3 quick observations that may not have any affect for 90 percent of your towing.....

1. Not much stretch in your setup and the thin dynema may not really have the weight for good catenary shock absorption.

2. The system is not adjustable easily while underway.

3. You may want a few floats on the bridle section because if you get that dyneema wound around a shaft, it will be tough to cut free.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:55 AM   #3
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Take a look at the towing bride information at Miami Cordage and Rope Inc. You can DIY one from that or have them make you up a nice one.
Having some stretch and adjustment capabilities are necessary in my experience towing a 13' Whaler. You must be able to let it out and bring it back to the mother ship when departing or arriving moorage and Marinas/docks
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:09 AM   #4
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1. Not much stretch in your setup and the thin dynema may not really have the weight for good catenary shock absorption. -Do you mean the physical weight of the dyneema?

2. The system is not adjustable easily while underway. My plan would be to "recleat" it if needed. Would that work?

3. You may want a few floats on the bridle section because if you get that dyneema wound around a shaft, it will be tough to cut free. Good idea.


caltexflanc - I reached out to Rope Inc. and got a quote as well. Almost $700! They show something similar for my set up but obviously a lot more professional.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
1. Not much stretch in your setup and the thin dynema may not really have the weight for good catenary shock absorption. -Do you mean the physical weight of the dyneema?

2. The system is not adjustable easily while underway. My plan would be to "recleat" it if needed. Would that work?

3. You may want a few floats on the bridle section because if you get that dyneema wound around a shaft, it will be tough to cut free. Good idea.


caltexflanc - I reached out to Rope Inc. and got a quote as well. Almost $700! They show something similar for my set up but obviously a lot more professional.
Your weight under tow is not that high so I think you will be in great shape.
- The "V" formed by the 2- 25' ropes was always a good shock absorber for us. We did have a couple of small floats on each of the 2 -25' ropes where they contacted the water behind the swimstep
- We had a bit of flexibility in use by adding two asymmetric snap shackles where the bridle was directly attached to the towed boat (2 places) that allowed for a very quick detachment when it was preferred.
- I would guess that at higher speeds (than you mention) the length of the tow bridle will be a bit too long.

Have fun with the tow....
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:58 AM   #6
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Weight in tbe towline is good for shock absorption like anchor chain. thin dyneema even wet is not heavy and I dont think it sinks either, so you may get some jerky motion in some conditions.

Being able to adjust the length of the tow can be imprtant, especially when conditions change. Changing them at the towed vessel once choppy and at sea may be dangerous to impossible. Your bridle may not be long enough for major changes.

Again, you could tow 10,000 miles like that and be fine.... or the second time out and run into a situation you dont like and now is hard to change.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:09 AM   #7
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Weight in tbe towline is good for shock absorption like anchor chain. thin dyneema even wet is not heavy and I dont think it sinks either, so you may get some jerky motion in some conditions.

Being able to adjust the length of the tow can be imprtant, especially when conditions change. Changing them at the towed vessel once choppy and at sea may be dangerous to impossible. Your bridle may not be long enough for major changes.

Again, you could tow 10,000 miles like that and be fine.... or the second time out and run into a situation you dont like and now is hard to change.
The Dyneema does float pretty well and is not a good shock absorber at all. With the rope V at the lead we did not get any jerky motions pulling various RIBS (14' - 24") over a dozen years at maybe 800+ miles towing each season.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:22 AM   #8
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:25 AM   #9
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Here is what I learned towing a Whaler to the Bahamas and back twice.

1. Two lines, always.
2. A safety line from your tow line to some other fixed point on the boat, like a cleat, in case the eye pulls out.
3. Make sure your eye can handle towing (our stock Whaler's tow eye did fine).
4. Floats on the line near the stern lessen the chances of prop or rudder entanglement.
5. Have your lines rigged for easy adjustment so that you can let out or pull in line. In close quarter maneuvering, you will want to shorten it. At sea, you will want to be able to move it for the best ride.
6. Rig a line that you can easily grab with a boat hook when passing by, so if, god forbids, it does come loose, you have an easy way to reaquire and reattach it.
7. Wait for a really good weather window. It is enough trouble to do it in good weather.
8. Make sure you have a light on it at night.
9. If you tow with your motor partially down, and that's often a good idea, make sure it is centered.

We just used standard three strand twisted line.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:45 AM   #10
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1. Two lines, always. As in double lines from the boat to the tender?
2. A safety line from your tow line to some other fixed point on the boat, like a cleat, in case the eye pulls out. Good idea
3. Make sure your eye can handle towing (our stock Whaler's tow eye did fine). I even beefed it up
4. Floats on the line near the stern lessen the chances of prop or rudder entanglement.Any float suggestions?
5. Have your lines rigged for easy adjustment so that you can let out or pull in line. In close quarter maneuvering, you will want to shorten it. At sea, you will want to be able to move it for the best ride.
6. Rig a line that you can easily grab with a boat hook when passing by, so if, god forbids, it does come loose, you have an easy way to reaquire and reattach it.
7. Wait for a really good weather window. It is enough trouble to do it in good weather.Always
8. Make sure you have a light on it at night. ZERO plans to move at night
9. If you tow with your motor partially down, and that's often a good idea, make sure it is centered.

We just used standard three strand twisted line.


This initial run is going to be around 120nm round trip. The big run will be about 300nm one way to the Bahamas and we will probably hip tow it through the OWW from the west coast to the east coast of Florida.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
1. Two lines, always. As in double lines from the boat to the tender?
2. A safety line from your tow line to some other fixed point on the boat, like a cleat, in case the eye pulls out. Good idea
3. Make sure your eye can handle towing (our stock Whaler's tow eye did fine). I even beefed it up
4. Floats on the line near the stern lessen the chances of prop or rudder entanglement.Any float suggestions?
5. Have your lines rigged for easy adjustment so that you can let out or pull in line. In close quarter maneuvering, you will want to shorten it. At sea, you will want to be able to move it for the best ride.
6. Rig a line that you can easily grab with a boat hook when passing by, so if, god forbids, it does come loose, you have an easy way to reaquire and reattach it.
7. Wait for a really good weather window. It is enough trouble to do it in good weather.Always
8. Make sure you have a light on it at night. ZERO plans to move at night
9. If you tow with your motor partially down, and that's often a good idea, make sure it is centered.

We just used standard three strand twisted line.


This initial run is going to be around 120nm round trip. The big run will be about 300nm one way to the Bahamas and we will probably hip tow it through the OWW from the west coast to the east coast of Florida.
Yes, we used two independent lines from towboat to tender (in a v) under the theory that one line is none, and two lines are one. More trouble, but with the 100 per cent redundancy benefit.

For floats, use the swimming tubes. They should be out of the water when towing so no wear and tear, and cheap if you do lose or damage them.

I used hip towing when pulling up to fuel docks, the rest of the time, we just pulled it up close in close quarters and protected waters. . Having someone who can get in and drive it when docking is a major plus, but not absolutely necessary.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
Good day all,

I am getting ready to do a trial run of my tender towing setup and wanted to get some feedback of my setup.

The tender in question is a 16' Wahoo (whaler clone) that weighs about 1100lbs. I will be pulling it at approximately 7-8kts. behind a Sea Ray 420AC.

I plan on using two 25ft. 5/8" double braided nylon ropes attached to the read cleats of the Sea Ray. These ropes will then be attached to a stainless shackle to form a bridle that is attached to a 100' section of 3/8" dyneema rope that will attach to the Wahoo tender.
You want floating line close to the tow vessel. You want some stretch in the tow line, however. I'd be thinking 3/8" nylon braid.
Two notable risks I'll toss out there for comments:
First; When the bow eye does let go with nylon stretch, it will want to hurl into the mother ship. I have been known to wrap a towel around forward of the whaler eye, but that's not very elegant.
Second; what's the plan if a vigorous thunderstorm develops with breaking seas?
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:51 PM   #13
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You want floating line close to the tow vessel. You want some stretch in the tow line, however. I'd be thinking 3/8" nylon braid.
Two notable risks I'll toss out there for comments:
First; When the bow eye does let go with nylon stretch, it will want to hurl into the mother ship. I have been known to wrap a towel around forward of the whaler eye, but that's not very elegant.
Second; what's the plan if a vigorous thunderstorm develops with breaking seas?
For us there has been plenty of stretch with the V formed by the 5/8th 3 strand line at the towing boat side.
We do not tow from the bow eye - we install two towing points one on each side of the towed boats bow that are well backed up with a 2 foot square + back up plates.
We have been caught in storms with 5-7" seas that are mixed - not really comfortable but no problems with the tow until we could seek shelter.
We tow at speeds from 7 to 17 knots with the heaviest tow being right about 3,500#'s.
I found the scariest (riskiest) boats to tow were smaller RIBS below about 15' which would not be able to handle the seas, 'wagged' behind the towed boat , and did not have sufficient self bailing hulls - so we stopped towing boats like those.
I will try and attach some pics while towing later on - since photobucket went AWOL I do not have them handy.
If it is well thought out you will do well towing.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:32 PM   #14
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Auto bilge pump
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:38 PM   #15
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Second; what's the plan if a vigorous thunderstorm develops with breaking seas?

This is one thing that does concern me. We pick our days carefully but you never know what the stream will kick up.

We have gotten into some really nasty stuff while 70-100 miles off shore in the past.

The Bahamas plan is Stuart to West End and then West End into the Abacos which will give some shelter but the crossing always has potential.

I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:19 PM   #16
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What time of year are we considering?
In my 200 or so crossings by boat, 95% have been summertime, from Mem day to Labor day. Guessing about 20% of those found me having to avoid or deal with strong rainstorms, etc. But, those were 20kt crossings. You will have 3x that exposure at 7 kts SOG.
But then, the Wahoo is unsinkable, and has great bow floatation (lift), so not so bad. With a breaking wave over the bow, that water will simply fly out the back engine cutout.
Do you have capability to go faster, to 15 kts if you needed to escape a system?
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:27 PM   #17
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Nothing s a sure thing. But, when towing a boat across the Gulf Stream, I look for a better weather window than when I am crossing without one.

And, as for squalls, as Captain Ron says, they come on you fast, and they leave you fast!
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:44 PM   #18
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I'm headed over to the Bahamas July 5th and coming back July 22nd.

Normal cruise speed for my boat is about 17-18kts. so I can run fast if needed. I just wasn't sure about the stress being put on the boat at that speed.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:54 PM   #19
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Actually, if the wahoo is unloaded except for a gas tank, and the towing points are strong and backed....towing a boat like tgst on plane for a couple hours at a whack is easy with little stress if the water is relatively flat, say under 2 feet chop or it isnt launching off swells.

Often the eye is ok for some towing, but after time I would worry about it wiggling and wear.
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:45 PM   #20
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This should help.

TOWING TIP - you might have noticed from my recent video of the Nordhavn 68 cruise to Sydney we towed the owner’s 21 Boston Whaler. Having grown up towing our gamefishing boats behind our mothership (the Norman R Wright built South Pacific II) from Brisbane to Cairns and return annually for some 40+ years, it would be fair to say I’ve had some experience towing, and because of this I was apprehensive about this challenge.........continued

https://www.facebook.com/13408033009...9305097575530/
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