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Old 07-30-2018, 02:56 PM   #1
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Thoughts on towing a fishing boat behind

We are buying a 46-56' trawler in the near future. Probably a single engine Grand Banks style boat. Not a lot of speed or maneuverability for fishing with the Grand Banks so I am considering towing a 19' boat for quick runabouts and fishing.

We will be cruising primarily between Seattle, Washington and Alaska.

Does anyone have information on towing a smaller boat? Impact on the main boats engines? Fuel efficiency? Other challenges?

Thank you,

steve
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:17 PM   #2
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With a mother ship of that size, I'd be trying to figure a way to carry rather than tow. Just spent some time cruising while towing my 13' center console. The challenge is setting anchor or docking. Usually I send my kid out in it until we're settled, but was solo this time. This requires stopping outside of the marina, snubbing the skiff up to the side where it's out of the way and you won't wrap a towline around the shafts and being aware of it while tight maneuvering. Not impossible, but certainly one more thing to think about when mooring.
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:30 PM   #3
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Max, thank you for your repy and experience. We recently moved a small boat to an Everett storage/dock. That has been working very well.

Towing the 13' boat did you notice any issues with your main engine? Performance? Other?

Would love to carry a quicker boat 14-19' but have never seen any 50' boats carrying something with this size. Have even looked at semi-rigid boats that could be carried deflated/smaller on the main boat and then lengthen when launched but I haven't seen anyone else do this either. Getting around quickly and safely to fish and/or explore is a big priority.

Thank you,

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Old 07-30-2018, 03:32 PM   #4
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Towing wouldn't be a problem as long as you setup decent towing gear. The issues, as Max indicated, will be docking. It can be very difficult to find transient marina dock space that would allow you to hip-tie another boat. I don't think docking would be an issue as long as you take precautions ahead of time to ensure that you don't back over a tow line.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:06 PM   #5
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Towing the 13' boat did you notice any issues with your main engine? Performance? Other?

Boat handles the same. We may lose 1/4 knot of speed on average.
We do this for the same reason you mention, only on a smaller scale. We like to explore/fish/crab, etc. once moored. Our 38' boat has limits on what size tender you can carry. It's a compromise, but isn't most everything on a boat?
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:14 PM   #6
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What about crossing a bar or negotiating a sketchy inlet towing a bigger boat like that? Don’t y’all have nasty bars and sketchy inlets out there on the west coast?

I towed my 11’ rib from Ft Myers to Key West and it got rough and the dink was all over the place, so be prepared for that. Maybe a heavier 19’ boat would behave better in rough seas. Dunno.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:54 PM   #7
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Steve2018, spend some time searching and scrolling this forum and you will find a wealth of threads on this subject.
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:10 PM   #8
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I towed a buddy's 21 ft. center console several times for overnighters where my boat was the mothership. We towed up the ICW and into the Neuse River for a total of 25 miles or so.

It went well the first couple of times. No noticeable affect on the performance of the big boat.

The third time, I got careless and wrapped the tow line in the prop. That sort of soured me on towing unless absolutely necessary. Seeing his boat surfing towards the transom of my boat at about 10 knots is not a sight I'll soon forget....
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:46 PM   #9
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What about crossing a bar or negotiating a sketchy inlet towing a bigger boat like that? Don’t y’all have nasty bars and sketchy inlets out there on the west coast?

I towed my 11’ rib from Ft Myers to Key West and it got rough and the dink was all over the place, so be prepared for that. Maybe a heavier 19’ boat would behave better in rough seas. Dunno.

Good points, but where he is talking about cruising river bars aren't so much of an issue as tidal rapids. Those are dealt with by just timing the slack currents. We do have some rough weather however with very steep and short chop. That could be an issue but again, it is all about timing. The tight inlets aren't really an issue as well as you just shorten up on the tow line in those situations.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:06 PM   #10
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Towing

I tow a 19 footbGrady behind my Mainship 390 with no noticeable difference than our 11 food Zodiac. I had Weaver davits for a while but found towing was equally effective in my case. Ymmv.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:50 PM   #11
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I've towed boats in the 18-20' range. Problem I found was they start trying to plane at like six kts and the force needed to pull was really high. Main boat slowed way down and burn went up. A 20' has a much lower hull speed than something twice it's WL length.

Light inflatables tow easy. At 7.5kts, my dink tow line can be pulled in by hand.
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:03 PM   #12
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Light inflatables tow easy. At 7.5kts, my dink tow line can be pulled in by hand.

I'm not terribly experienced at towing, but I will usually let the tow-line out by hand until I find the length that provides the least amount of pull at our cruise speed. I notice a big difference depending on where the dink sits relative to the stern wave.
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:14 PM   #13
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If you get caught in rough weather, it puts quite a strain on the attachment points. I prefer to carry mine. Only takes a few minutes to launch or recover. The rare times I tow, it doesn't seem to make more than 1/10 knot difference. But I have Detroit twins.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:08 PM   #14
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I towed our 20 ft Hewes behind our 42 OA for years... When we went to dock we simply side tied the Hewes with no issues. We crossed the straits of Georgia several times. Johnstone and the Queen Charlotte straits several times. Get a good towing bridle and a floating tow line. Towing reduced our normal cruise speed by about 10% and had a marginal affect on our fuel consumption... It was worth any issues towing because the Hewes let us fish,crab and Prawn and even run in to Port McNeil from the Broughtons.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Steve2018 View Post
We are buying a 46-56' trawler in the near future. Probably a single engine Grand Banks style boat. Not a lot of speed or maneuverability for fishing with the Grand Banks so I am considering towing a 19' boat for quick runabouts and fishing.

We will be cruising primarily between Seattle, Washington and Alaska.

Does anyone have information on towing a smaller boat? Impact on the main boats engines? Fuel efficiency? Other challenges?

===


The large motor yacht and sportfish crowd does this all the time with center console boats ranging from 25 to 40 feet. Of course they have the advantage of having lots of crew to put aboard the small boat when entering harbors, docking, etc. There are some things that can be learned from them however. They usually tow several hundred feet back using a high tech floating line like Amsteel Blue, Dyneema, etc. According to one captain that I talked with, they replace the line every couple of years and it is a significant expense. Another thing that I've noticed is that they all have a heavy duty towing strap on the bow near the waterline. I've never seen anything like that for sale so I assume they are custom made somewhere in mega yacht world, probably Ft Lauderdale. These center consoles typically have one or two large outboards and self bailing cockpits. I'd consider something like that with our 49 footer if I had the extra crew that I could put aboard the small boat when needed.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:29 PM   #16
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We have towed various support boats over about 15 years totaling maybe 800 or so miles each season. With a well planned two bridle and the towed boat on the back of the 2nd wave (about 85') we never had any problems. Here are a few things that we learned...
- boats below about 15' are a larger problem to tow
- boats without self bailing hulls can be a problem
- we always used two tow point on each of the boats (tow and towed boat)
- towing points need to be strong and low enough on the towed boat
- most all of our towed boats were inflatables allowing for quick side ties
- we towed between 6 and 17 knots over the years
- Shortest boat we felt towed very well was 19'

Planning and a good bridle will allow you to bring your support boat along which made our boating much more enjoyable.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:41 PM   #17
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From observation, it is common for good-sized trawlers during calm weather to tow fair-sized, hard-hull boats when leaving Victoria, Vancouver Island.
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ka_sea_ta View Post
I towed our 20 ft Hewes behind our 42 OA for years... When we went to dock we simply side tied the Hewes with no issues. We crossed the straits of Georgia several times. Johnstone and the Queen Charlotte straits several times. Get a good towing bridle and a floating tow line. Towing reduced our normal cruise speed by about 10% and had a marginal affect on our fuel consumption... It was worth any issues towing because the Hewes let us fish,crab and Prawn and even run in to Port McNeil from the Broughtons.


I have stayed at a lot of marina’s guest moorage in Puget Sound and a fair number in BC. Most of the time the available guest moorage wouldn’t have had room for a side tied tender. My experience isn’t as extensive as many however.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:56 AM   #19
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I have stayed at a lot of marina’s guest moorage in Puget Sound and a fair number in BC. Most of the time the available guest moorage wouldn’t have had room for a side tied tender. My experience isn’t as extensive as many however.

When we are up there we prefer to anchor out. the last trip we made with the Hewes We did spend a night or two at Campbell river, Blind Channel, Port McNeil, Sullivan Bay and Echo Bay without any issues...We did get quizzed once when we were tied to a mooring buoy that had a one boat limit, the guy collecting the fees didn't believe it was my tender...
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:12 AM   #20
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We are considering towing something like a 17’ tool-around boat too. This thread has been very helpful. THANKS YALL!
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