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Old 07-09-2016, 01:10 PM   #1
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Towing a 22' center console?

We have leased our house and are headed to the USVI for a minimum of three months (not including travel time) after hurricane season. One of the many questions we are facing is what to do with out 22' center console bay boat. A 2012 with a Yamaha F150, it's been our do anything go anywhere boat for the Florida panhandle and my wife and I both love it. About once a week one of us will mention selling it and the other asks "could we just tow it down with us?"

Part of me believes it's a bad idea to even think of towing the bay boat down. It would be a pain if we stay at marinas, it can't handle bad weather as easily as our 52' trawler, the bay boat would probably be easy to steal, and I'm just not crazy about the idea of towing such a large boat such a distance. However, it would be a lot of fun to explore in, fish out of, and it would be nice to have something more substantial than our 13' inflatable. We plan on taking our time getting to and coming back from the USVI and the bay boat would be great to explore with. And, with just a single engine trawler, I like the idea of having the bay boat as an extra safety measure. While not ideal, I'm sure it would move the trawler better than the 15hp on the inflatable in a worst case scenario.

What are your thoughts? What about the difficulty of towing something so large, relatively speaking? Theft? Would you sell the bay boat and look for a 14' Boston Whaler or something similar to tow? What am I not considering? Thanks!
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:42 PM   #2
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Here in South Florida we see boats that sized and even larger being towed all the time. There's even a small industry in the manufacture of reinforced towing eyes and specialized tow bridles for boats that do it all the time.
Granted most of these are just going to the Bahamas, and there's a lot of water between So Florida and USVI, so that's a big difference.

I would throw the question to crew size. For a couple a tow like that could be a handful, with two + extra capable crew along I would do it if I was making the trip. Having a 22ft CC would really be an asset for a trip like that and worth the hassle, especially if you could afford the time to pick your windows for the longer passages.

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Old 07-09-2016, 01:49 PM   #3
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The biggest need is for the tow to be self bailing.

After that, eliminate or reduce tow line chafe to a minimum and have fun.

The next biggest threat beyond losing the dink is fouling the tow line in the trawlers prop(s)....and that barring so emergencies is just basic seamanship.

But definitely, a tow that far should be able to shed water well.
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:56 PM   #4
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Having chartered 4 times in the BVIs I really don't see a need to haul a 22ft bayboat through the sea conditions in the several passages you gonna take...even in slightly calm conditions. We found a well equipped dinghy does the job very well in the islands. If you want a run about boat rent one out of Tortola then tow it around where you want.
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Old 07-09-2016, 02:04 PM   #5
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We towed an 18' Key West w/ a 115 HP Yamaha behind our 40 foot Mainship from Florida to the Bahamas. I think its doable with a bigger boat (and the right weather windows) but you will have some hassles at marinas. (also check your insurance, they may have an issue with towing something that size). The 18 footer could be tied behind our stern and work in most slips at marinas, but it was a stretch! I think the ideal size is about 16'. My wife would bring it in and take it out when leaving and we would connect a towing rig bought from TopKnot outside the marina. We got good at it after a while, but that meant I single handed the Mainship in to marinas. But when we got to the Bahamas, man was that a fun toy to have! Really changed the cruising experience
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:02 PM   #6
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There are several things to think about.

Towing it is quite doable. Rig or buy a proper tow line and bridle.
https://www.ropeinc.com/cat-mighty-tow.html

After that consider how you really will be using the boat. You may find buying a smaller boat to tow is the way to go.

Then there is security. Yamahas are probably the most popular outboards to steal. So consider adding an alarm of some kind. As well as perhaps AIS to track it if you loose it while towing on even if someone steals it. I also put a light on my toes that automatically comes on when it gets dark to help keep track of it at night as I tow. And help find it if it breaks loose. The light can be as simple as a solar powered walk way light. Or something fancier like a true marine solar maker light.

Something else to consider is what you do if it's to rough to put someone in it when you arrive some where.

Two ways I use to solve that dilemma are, #1 to have a tube aboard the tow boat like you would use to tow a person/kid around on behind the boat you tow. You can inflate it, put someone in it wearing a PFD and drop them back to the tow in the tube from a line attached to the tow boat. That makes it easier and safer for them to get in the tow and then break it loose from the mothership. It also is fun to have to tow people around on from the towed boat later on.

#2 is to have an anchor ready that you can attach to the tow line bridle on the mothership. That way when you can get close to where you are going and you are hopefully in shallower water you can let the tow go and the tow will self anchor once you drop the bridle with the anchor attached overboard. Since your tow set up will be at least 100' to 150' long you can drop it in fairly deep water and it should hook up to the bottom sooner or later if not right away. Then after docking you can arrange to go back out and get the tow one way or another.

I've towed boats from 10' to 40' to places such as the Bahamas, down to the Caribbean and back as well as over to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica via the Panama Canal and back. With the right equipment and planning it can be done safely.

That said trying to save a tow is not worth getting someone hurt or killed for. So know your limits. And check your insurance policy for towing limitations or restrictions.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:14 PM   #7
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We almost always tow a 18 to 20 ft boat.... That said we tend to anchor out 4 out of 5 nights... When we do go into a marina I just tie the boat to side of the big boat so the sterns align and side tie to dock on the opposite side. The advantages of having a boat we can fish, prawn and crab out of far out weighs the hassles of towing at least to us...
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Old 07-09-2016, 09:40 PM   #8
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If you end up looking for a great company to buy lines from, this one...
~ TOP KNOT ~ Custom Mooring Lines


can't' be beat. They will custom make any size/configuration tow line or bridle you want and at a relatively inexpensive price.


I have gotten several lines from them and found them to be top quality. And they all float.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:31 AM   #9
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Sounds like a great idea but not one without concern. I think the up outweighs the down. We recently bought a 17ft Whaler with a 90HP merc. and towed it behind my truck 2200 miles up to Maine. The plan is to tow it behind the boat at some point but the ability to also explore from the dock is just to dang nice, we love it. Its the best thing I've done since buying the trawler.
Having lived in the USVI for 3 years and gone back and chartered numerous times I'd love to have a runabout at my disposal down there. Depending on where you stay theft may be more of an an issue than you care to deal with. Stay away from St. Croix.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:46 AM   #10
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Not sure if I'd trust this one in open water but it's a neat concept:
BoatHitch Video For Houseboat Towing of Wakeboard, Ski & Fishing Boats
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Old 07-10-2016, 10:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folivier View Post
Not sure if I'd trust this one in open water but it's a neat concept:
BoatHitch Video For Houseboat Towing of Wakeboard, Ski & Fishing Boats
Might have s bit of an issue once the seas get over a couple of feet.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:34 AM   #12
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how do you stop it from flipping over in beam seas?
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folivier View Post
Not sure if I'd trust this one in open water but it's a neat concept:
BoatHitch Video For Houseboat Towing of Wakeboard, Ski & Fishing Boats
Having pushed many a barge, some boats and a few weird objects, I would have to say that is one of the worst ideas I would come up with.

Awhile back, someone posted to a blog of a looper that had a much better rig, may have been a Manatee owner, can't remember.

But this has none of the good points of a hard tow that I can think of....in a quick review.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:19 PM   #14
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All, awesome advice and tips. Thank you! Capt. Bill, great insight.

It seems like the question will be whether to tow the bay boat or buy a 16' whaler. I love the bay boat with side scan sonar, iPilot trolling motor, 5 batteries, chargers, and we already own it...

Sounds like the next step is to check with the insurance company to see if either policy has towing restrictions.

Thanks! I'm always amazed with the wealth of knowledge and willingness to share.
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