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Old 08-10-2016, 12:03 PM   #1
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Towing a 19' fishing boat/dinghy?

My 36' Willard Aft-pilothouse is currently docked in Demopolis, AL on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. I am planning two trips in the near future that will cover 2-3 months each, one to East Tennessee and one to the Gulf Shores, AL area. The only open water I'll be traveling on will be across Mobile Bay, and I can arrange my schedule to make that crossing on a calm day.

Would I be crazy to consider towing my 19' Center Console fishing boat on these trips?

I know that it might be be a little trouble maneuvering through locks and such, but it would be great to have the CC with us, and it would be much more useful than a small dinghy with oars.

As a note, the previous owner of the Willard routinely towed a 13' Boston Whaler from S. Florida to the Bahamas and back. Of course the Whaler was probably about 1/2 the weight of my CC.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has towed a larger boat on the inland river system.

Tom
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Old 08-10-2016, 02:08 PM   #2
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While I understand why you'd want to tow it, I don't think the juice would be worth the squeeze.

Towing in a river system with locks is very, very different from towing in open water like between FL and the Bahamas.
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Old 08-10-2016, 04:17 PM   #3
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Towing

I rregularly tow a 19 Grady behind my Mainship. I would suggest be prepared to snugly side tie the CC. Locks are not an issue if you are prepared. Having the CC also can be a safety feature in the case of a power loss.
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:18 PM   #4
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You will do just fine.
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Old 08-10-2016, 07:00 PM   #5
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If the 19' "CC" is wide and heavy it will be a lot of drag.

A really light 15-18' Lund type w an 8 to 25hp would probably be much better than your "CC". But you already have the CC so take it for a tow and see how much it slows down the big Willard. Most W36's have enough power but noise and perhaps vibration may develop that you do'nt like.

I towed a 10' 100lb SD dinghy behind my W30 and all went well. I attached the painter to a side cleat that allowed the tow boat to go straighter.

I worried mostly about the dink filling w water from spray over time but we did'nt get into any nasty weather. If the boat is light enough pulling the plug and draining while towing and filling when stopping could be dealt with is several ways. Self bailing boats are user friendly but the extra weight may be worse than the bailing.

I rambled on because I'm thinking of towing too.
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Old 08-10-2016, 08:30 PM   #6
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Go for it, do a test run first. Practice bringing the CC port and starboard with a painter, find some current to have read world challenges. I think you will be OK.





Quote:
Originally Posted by tsmitherman View Post
My 36' Willard Aft-pilothouse is currently docked in Demopolis, AL on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. I am planning two trips in the near future that will cover 2-3 months each, one to East Tennessee and one to the Gulf Shores, AL area. The only open water I'll be traveling on will be across Mobile Bay, and I can arrange my schedule to make that crossing on a calm day.

Would I be crazy to consider towing my 19' Center Console fishing boat on these trips?

I know that it might be be a little trouble maneuvering through locks and such, but it would be great to have the CC with us, and it would be much more useful than a small dinghy with oars.

As a note, the previous owner of the Willard routinely towed a 13' Boston Whaler from S. Florida to the Bahamas and back. Of course the Whaler was probably about 1/2 the weight of my CC.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has towed a larger boat on the inland river system.

Tom
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:03 PM   #7
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I drag a 17 Boston Whaler by a 38 foot 28,000 lb trawler powered by a single 135hp ford leaman No worries.
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:57 PM   #8
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Go for it, do a test run first. Practice bringing the CC port and starboard with a painter, find some current to have read world challenges. I think you will be OK.
Yeah, it's that simple.

And while you're practicing, try and find some barge traffic to play in.
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Old 08-10-2016, 10:13 PM   #9
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Yeah, it's that simple.

And while you're practicing, try and find some barge traffic to play in.
Yep, you are right Bill. He should just give up. Not even try. Admit defeat. Just cannot be done. He and his partner not able. You are right, not possible, no matter how much training.
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Old 08-10-2016, 10:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt.Bill11 View Post
While I understand why you'd want to tow it, I don't think the juice would be worth the squeeze.

Towing in a river system with locks is very, very different from towing in open water like between FL and the Bahamas.
Tow a 15ft whaler behind our 42ft trawler accross Okeechobee waterway from ft Myers to Bahamas.
I admit it was a little scary at first but figured the benefit of having it there was worth the hassle. I was right!
Locks not a problem
Bridges not a problem
Docking not a problem.
At slow speeds 60-75 ft tow long works well just find the right position in your wake hump.
When approaching locks, docks etc just plan ahead.
Put in on the hip and tie tightly with fenders.
No sweat the admiral and have it down to a science.
Once your in the anchorage you will be glad you did.
Expands your horizons immensely
I put in a custom seat with 24 gal gas so no fuel worries @80+ nm range
I tow with motor up (wheel tied to center) plug out so self bailing.
All good!
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Old 08-10-2016, 11:37 PM   #11
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Learn to close-tow to rear at slow speeds. Have good fenders in position. Make sure towed boat has pliable, fairly soft gunnel rail strip. Side tie when necessary.

Explore and enjoy!
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Old 08-11-2016, 09:21 AM   #12
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Yep, you are right Bill. He should just give up. Not even try. Admit defeat. Just cannot be done. He and his partner not able. You are right, not possible, no matter how much training.
Didn't say it can't be done. Only that the risks may not be worth the rewards. And as others have pointed out, perhaps a smaller lighter boat might work better.

As I said before, towing in a river system is not like towing in open water and many of the situations you'll encounter you can't really practice for.

You can have very limited manuvering room, lots of commercial traffic, strong currents, locks, bridges, etc., etc.

To just tell someone with no or limited tow experience to just go practice a couple of times and then go for it without making the potential dangers very clear is a bit irresponsible in my view.

But then since I tow a 34' boat on almost every trip we take and I'm personslly and professionaly responsible for the safety of my crew perhaps I take it more seriously then some.
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:39 AM   #13
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I have enjoyed towing various inflatables between 13' and 24 feet over the past 15+ years at both hull speeds and often at 16-17 knots. I cannot say it will be worth it for you but it was certainly worth it for us and we towed between 500-700 miles per season. About half of those miles were in Long Island sound and half in the Ct and Hudson Rivers up about 100 miles through various bridges and the like. As others have said a self bailing cockpit on the tow, a good bridle and a plan make it much easier.
Good luck and have fun no matter what you decide.
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:57 AM   #14
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Not sure where in East Tennessee your going but if you go all the way to Tellico you will be going through 17 locks. If you bring it all the way back to gulf shores then it's 19 more for a total of 36 locks. Why not wait and just bring it south and then have only 2 locks from Demopolis? Not sure what type of fishing there is north in the winter. Then again I know nothing about fresh water fishing.

Point is make it easy on yourself and just bring it south. Of course going south you will get practiced up quick for locking as you don't go far for the first one.

Good luck.
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Old 08-11-2016, 11:14 AM   #15
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Used to tow a 16 footer behind my old 36' Trojan all over the sound. Like anything else, get's easier with experience. side tie with fenders makes docking a breeze. I now tow my 13' inflatable CC all the time. A slight PIA, but sure worth it when we want to explore after dropping the hook.
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Old 08-12-2016, 08:44 PM   #16
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Thanks guys for all the great input. Lots of good advice and tips.

Capt. Bill, I am the cautious type too, and appreciate your concerns.

The idea of a " practice run" seems like a good plan. I will definitely do an overnight (or 2) trip that includes a locking, and see what issues arise.

The advice about taking the CC south from Demopolis (2 locks) first, before committing to the many locks between here and Chattanooga is also appreciated. That makes a lot of sense.

Thanks to everyone who says they've done similar towing with good results. You've convinced me that I'm not (completely) crazy for wanting to try it.

Two things I didn't mention in the original post, are 1) Our typical top speed on the Willard is around 7.5 mph, and 2) The admiral is quite experienced in handling the smaller boat single-handed, if our situation ever called for separating the tow from the Willard.

Thanks again for letting me benefit from your experience and wisdom!
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:50 PM   #17
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I suggest you practice getting your wife into the tow while you are away from the dock so you can get a feel for how well you can communicate with each other. You may find the need for headsets of some kind.

Since you will be doing this short handed I also suggest you get floating line for your main tow line. And perhaps add a float at the junction of your bridle lines and main tow line to keep the bridle lines from sinking at the junction point if the three lines.

I also suggest you get an automatic/manual inflatable PFD for her to wear during the transfer.

Another trick you might consider is having an anchor with a short length of chain on it at the ready so that you can easily clip it to the end of your tow line or one bridle leg. That way if the need should arise you can clip the anchor on and let the tow loose to self anchor and come back and get it later. This of course assumes you will have a reasonably long tow line that can act as an anchor line in a pinch if need be.

It's one thing to tow an inflatable, which is just a big fender. It's quite another to tow and bring two heavy, hard bodied boats together safely and keep everybodies body parts intact.

A mere two foot sea can make the act of bringing the boats together tricky. And a transfer dangerous.

Especially if it's just the two of you.
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Old 08-13-2016, 04:36 PM   #18
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Has it been mentioned to consider using floating line in order to reduce the chance of line in the rudder or prop? I have towed a 16 foot Lund with 25 hp ob with no problems.
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Old 08-13-2016, 04:57 PM   #19
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IMO, transiting the big locks is the main issue here. Next, the very large barge tows in narrow spaces that affect a small boat more than a big one, and take a much different path through a turn than a small rec boat. Open water towing isn't very relevant.

Floating line is good, but it will not be immune to getting sucked into the running gear if the boat is put hard in reverse for any amount of time. As the saying goes, don't ask me how I know this...
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Old 08-13-2016, 05:59 PM   #20
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I have used foam pipe insulators with towing line threaded through. Worked good.
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