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Old 10-23-2015, 01:16 PM   #1
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Towing a hard Skiff

Curious if there are other trawlers out there that tow a skiff all the time while cruising the Great Loop or long distances like the ICW? I need to replace the PVC dinghy which came with the boat and deteriorated. I would prefer a hard 15'-17" CC like a Key West, but concerned about the hassles of maneuvering into new marinas, going through locks, etc. What have been your experiences? Would you stick with the tow behind or go back to a smaller hypalon RIB that can be hung off a davit on the transom?
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Old 10-23-2015, 01:21 PM   #2
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For close in maneuvering, just tie alongside or athwartships across the stern.


You may be penalized when pricing dock space..but I am thinking along the same lines in a year or so.


I would only hard dingy that size if I planned on anchoring 75-95 percent of my trip.
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Old 10-23-2015, 02:33 PM   #3
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Lots of "hassles" towing dinghys.
The biggest downside to towing is loosing the thing in the rough stuff. And there's lots of opinions about length of painter ect.
Many transient moorages have space to side tie a dinghy and perhaps one could move the dinghy after tying up the mothership. Or before .. then you've got a crew member on the dock when you land the mothership. And at some towns and marinas there is good anchoring in front, a dinghy dock or small slip to rent at much less $ than the mothership.

Having a big dinghy along is a big pluss and quite a bit of "hassle" can be tolerated to have a real dinghy over a rubber duckie.
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Old 10-23-2015, 03:16 PM   #4
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You can tow a dinghy as long as you stay in the ICW and never go outside. For the Loop there are a couple of places where it would get dicey in a blow, so plan accordingly. If your dinghy flips over in open water, you have a sea anchor tied to you until you can get into protected water and right it.

17' sounds a bit long. A 14' Boston Whaler would do fine for 2-3 people and groceries and can get up on plane with 40 hp or even 25.

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Old 10-23-2015, 03:17 PM   #5
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We towed our 15' aluminum fishing boat over 800 miles this summer in British Columbia. The roughest water we encountered was 5-7' seas and 25-35kt winds. Our boat was not an issue with its raised now design, a Klamath Westcoaster 15. We side tied to enter marinas and side tied when dock space allowed or docked separately only once. Our tow line was 75' braided poly connected through our Hawes pipe on the Starboard side and a separate piece of nylon three braid connected to the port side was looped around the poly and adjusted to center the dingy as we towed then tied off the cleat on the port side. Very easy, safe, inexpensive and adjustable.
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Old 10-23-2015, 03:30 PM   #6
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If you are marina oriented, it is a big hassle, especially with two or less people on board. I say two or less because the best plan by far is to have someone get in it and dock it. We towed our 13' Whaler a lot when we stopped cruising full time and became based in a marina. The slip we liked had a full length finger pier, but it was on the side of the boat the davit lowered the dinghy to. Turning the big boat around, and other variations, (I tried them all) not a good option. We used the Whaler a lot from the marina. The Whaler tows beautifully, out on the second "wave" of the wake, even in pretty bad conditions out on the briney blue. In fact we prefer towing it in open water rather than narrower waterways.

But hauling the thing in up tight to the platform for close quarters maneuvering, then letting it back out are a hassle. You've added whatever length the dinghy is to your length, so now I was maneuvering a 74' LOA boat, not a 60 something.

Previous posts notwithstanding, putting it on the hip is seldom an option due to slip widths and still a hassle, IMO even on an end tie. And never maneuver the big boat with the dinghy tied athwartships! They are not designed to go sideways. I have scientifically demonstrated this and witnessed other demonstrations of same.
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Old 10-23-2015, 03:40 PM   #7
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Davits across the transom.

Maybe a hypalon inflatable dinghy instead of pvc? Hypalon lasts longer. And a electric pump.

Two of the most amusing tows I had to do when I was SeaTow was to come upon two separate jobs. Each was stuck. Couldn't get engine to stay running. Kept stalling. I asked 'How long has your dinghy been missing?' The painter was tight as a bowstring down the transom, and there under the stern was their dinghy. Neatly snugged right up to the prop.

One we wrenched the shaft backwards and the dinghy unwound enough to get the line cut and off the shaft. The other one I had to tow in. Bent shaft.
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Old 10-23-2015, 04:49 PM   #8
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We have had no real issues towing larger inflatables in various weather conditions over the past 10 years or so - maybe 400-500 miles with the dinghy in tow each year.
The inflatables are easy to pull up and tie to the hip with their built in fender and the lager ones with self bailing hulls do well in heavier seas and heavier rains. We found that the dividing line is at about 18' which give you enough dinghy size to handle rougher seas and winds without looking like they might roll or flip. Often we towed at 16+ knots in seas that were 4-5' but were also in much larger stuff just a few times. As mentioned earlier we had the advantage of a 3rd person most all of the time so when we were scheduled to be in a slip had a member on board take the dinghy in separate. The dinghies allowed us to explore many areas we never would have seen at most every location we went.
YMMV
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Old 10-23-2015, 07:42 PM   #9
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Thanks to all of you! I have a lot to think about...
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Old 10-23-2015, 09:26 PM   #10
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You can tow a dinghy as long as you stay in the ICW and never go outside.

David
I'd say it's almost the exact opposite. I've towed tenders to and from the Bahamas, down to the Caribbean and from Ft. Lauderdale to the west coast of Costa Rica and back. And others are and have been doing the same thing day in and day out.

It's easier to tow in open water. It can be much more complicated to tow in the ICW for all the reasons others have mentioned.
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Old 10-24-2015, 01:25 AM   #11
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There are people who love to tow and do it all the time and then those of us who don't want what we consider the hassle. Now, I see a lot of posts of towing 500-600 miles. I can imagine a tow for that distance. What I have a hard time imagining is 6000 miles, dealing with all the different conditions and areas you face. I've yet to hear or read of anyone who has towed the Loop.
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Old 10-24-2015, 02:18 PM   #12
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I towed an 18' Privateer center console skiff with a 70hp two stroke Johnson on it. Towed at 8kts and at that speed it was half planed out and the tow line was incredibly tight. Skiff also left a nasty wake. Burned at least an extra gph on the diesel to do it. Skiff weighed about 1400? lbs. And it was a pita maneuvering around waiting on bridges, stopping for any reason, etc.

Inflatables are much easier to deal with and to tow. No need to fender off, heck they ARE a fender!!

No way would I want to go any distance towing a big hard shell skiff.
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Old 10-24-2015, 10:18 PM   #13
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I towed our 10' hard floor inflatable from Fort Myers to Key West. It got rough and it was a PITA trying to keep it going straight. I worried about it constantly.

Do y'all to with the engine tilted up or with it down?
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:39 PM   #14
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Dude, I haven't towed with an engine on a dink but wondered about installing a remote OB tilt control .. from the mothership of course. On benign waters run w the lower unit up and when the dink started to get unstable lower the leg down. Anyone ever heard of such a thing? Think it would help?
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:57 PM   #15
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In smoother waters, keeping the towed dinghy close looks like a good idea.





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Old 10-25-2015, 08:59 AM   #16
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We seemed to have veered off topic discussing large hard skiff into small inflatables and RIBs.

I always have the outboard trimmed down a little skeg just covered with water, helps greatly with tracking and no need for adjustment. Does the Whaler still horse around a bit? Yes, when in a beam sea for instance.

One big reason you want some some length in the tow line is to have a good amount of stretch to take pressure off the attachment point on the skiff. The towed boat will bounce around a bit in a seaway of any kind or wakes from other boats for that matter.
That's also why it is nice to have it on the back of the second or third "wave" from the big boat's wake. Another reason you want some length is to lower the angle of the tow line a bit so the skiff isn't overly bow up and wallowing.
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Old 10-25-2015, 09:15 AM   #17
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Dude, I haven't towed with an engine on a dink but wondered about installing a remote OB tilt control .. from the mothership of course. On benign waters run w the lower unit up and when the dink started to get unstable lower the leg down. Anyone ever heard of such a thing? Think it would help?
In the vast majority of cases I've found its best to tow with the engine/s up in all conditions.

If I towed boat needs the engine down a bit to track better it pretty much needs it down I all conditions.
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Old 10-25-2015, 09:22 AM   #18
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In smoother waters, keeping the towed dinghy close looks like a good idea.





The OP is talking about towing a 15-17' foot hard tender. That is a whole different animal than an inflatable to tow close in.
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:13 AM   #19
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In the vast majority of cases I've found its best to tow with the engine/s up in all conditions.

If I towed boat needs the engine down a bit to track better it pretty much needs it down I all conditions.
I have heard some people remove the prop, if towing down. Is that necessary?
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:49 AM   #20
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We tow our 2500lb 17' Dusky and have no problems. When getting into a marina it goes on the hip, if it can't be docked with the boat on the hip then my dad takes it in first and I dock the boat.
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