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Old 02-11-2016, 02:46 PM   #41
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I always maintain temporary and portable lights for just such purposes.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:02 PM   #42
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Towing Questions

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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Probably not all the way there...but say a knot under shouldn't be stressful unless the conditions are.

The best answer to towing speed...is whatever you can...yet keep some catenary in the towline. Not a guaranteed way to tell but once you feel it...it will feel right.

Not sure about this slingshotting people to the dock unless it is very calm winds and no current. If you can't maintain control of them to the dock and maintain control of yourself, then a dropoff to a more maneuverable tow boat is recommended. Once released, reconnecting and getting reorganized inside a marina before drifting down on other boats is very difficult.

We only did this once and this is pretty much what we did. The fellow ran out of fuel off the southern tip of Prevost Is. and we ran him into Ganges. He put out a "Panda, Panda, Panda" (LOL! Yes! A Panda). Which we took to understand he was in trouble. Not surprising Coast Guard didn't respond. So we took him into Ganges at about 5 kts, using a bridle between our two hawse holes. I wasn't comfortable going faster than that. I told CG, that I also wasn't comfortable getting him to the dock, so they got Seatow to bring him into the dock once we got within 1/4 nm. All things considered, I thought we handled it ok.

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Old 02-11-2016, 08:13 PM   #43
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Our effort. Conditions were benign. The vessel was about 27'.
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:39 PM   #44
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Our effort. Conditions were benign. The vessel was about 27'.
Prelude:
Me…I don’t recall what I had been up to, that I would be inbound, Vancouver Harbour, mid afternoon on a nice sunny day.

Them…man and a woman, relationship unknown, aboard a +/- 35’ sloop.

Approaching Second Narrows I see a sail boat that appears to be adrift near the shallows just east of Seymour River. By the time I clear the bridge and pass the river mouth, the sloop has completed a clockwise circle into the shallows, out again and is starting another circle. They are waving at me now.

I call them on the radio (I thought I would never forget the name, but I did. It was something very original like Liberty or Serenity, maybe Sweet Freedom or some such novel blow boat name). No response.

As they approach the outer arc of the circle, I get close enough to have quick, very loud, voice communication. Enough to learn they “ran out of gas.” I explain, with animation, it's a sailboat and they should sail out of danger.

“Don’t know how to sail.”

I'm single handed.
Time's a wasting and all of this is unfolding quite quickly.
Hazards abound, starting with stupid people.

I am not about to try going too close, as they head back in to the shallows.
I’ve got a pretty good handle on the ebbing tide and depth. I have visions of them dragging the keel into the mud and heeling over.

Loud hailer; “get your life jackets on NOW!!!” Then “drop the anchor with about 50 feet of line.”

Ok, now here’s where it gets comical.

You know that really tall Hare Krishna dude in a bathrobe, down by Marine Drive and Nelson in Burnaby? The one with his arms in the air? Well everything from this point is an imitation of him…both arms in the air "don't know where the anchor is."

I don’t communicate much but every time I do, there they go, both of them, arms outstretched to the heavens. OH FOR FEK SAKES!!!! They do find and don PFDs though. Small miracles.

Anyway I’m assessing my options and filling in CCG. I can’t get close until they circle back out…if they do.

I scoot out to calmer water (they think I’m abandoning them) hop down to the cockpit, secure a towline and carry about 30 feet of it, coiled, to the bridge.

I head back and believe it or not, they have circled outward again. Talk about luck. There was an eddy, oh, I don’t know, maybe 125-150 feet wide and they were just a carousel pony on the outer edge of it.

Back on the hailer; “ Man on the bow. Lady sit on floor of cockpit. I throw rope. Man tie rope to square post on deck.”

I get close enough to toss the line right across the bow. He grabs it and at least has enough smarts to pull it in so he can work with the end, which he quickly does.

Hailer; “No! No! Put the rope UNDER the railing.”

Marine Drive, bathrobe dude again.

I pump my arm back and forth under my bridge top rail. “Under, Under.”

Ok, line secured, I hope. Man ordered to sit on cockpit floor with lady and stay there. “Don’t move!"

I get both of us out of harm’s way, drop down shorten up the towline, tell him to centre the "steering wheel" and head for Cates Park.

Short story long;
With the help of dock walkers and crabbers, they are secured at Cates (they actually had mooring lines).

I stand off the dock and asked them what the hell happened. Their friend had shown them where the key was, how to start it and told them they could take it out if they wanted. They did and ran out of gas. I have no idea if any of that was true and I didn’t care.

I pulled the towline aboard, got back to the bridge and lectured them briefly (not much point) about their lives and mine at risk and potential taxpayer cost of a CCG rescue. That was for the amusement of a half dozen onlookers.

Then I gave them the good news; that they were now on their own.
They became upset; “you can’t just leave us here??!!”

“Can you?”

“How are we going to get back to Deep Cove.”

“Ok, look, I was obligated to assist if I could. Once under tow, I was obligated to take you to the nearest safe haven. This is it. Deep Cove is in walking distance or there is a phone in the park. Maybe a call to the owner would be a thought.”

“But, you can’t just leave us here.”

“Would you rather I just left you by the bridge?”

I went to WOT and banked steeply to port; I love the sound of synced high speed twins; waaum-waaum-waaum-waaum, drowning out my laughter.

That was the one and only time I actually filed a paper Incident Report with CCG.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:51 PM   #45
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I've towed boats several times because we don't have Sea Tow or Vessel Assist in our area, and the USCG only responds if life is in danger. Over the years I've come up with some things I've picked up on how to tow safely.


Here's my list, feel free to add to it, give me sh!t about it--whatever. If you don't want to tow a boat that needs help, so be it. I would find it hard not to help out another boater if I could safely do it.



-The boat to be towed should transfer all of it’s passengers to the tow boat if it can be safely done except for the skipper of the towed boat. Everyone on both boats should don a PFD.

-The line to the towed boat should be fastened to the bow eye, or as low as possible on the boat to keep the bow high.

-The tow line should be long enough that when the tow boat stops or slows, the towed boat has time to come to a stop so it doesn’t run into the tow boat. My tow line is 100' long and attaches to a bridle that extends about 25' beyond the swim platform.

-It’s best to use a heavy line that has some ability to stretch and absorb any shocks.

-It’s a good idea to tie a towel or PFD about midway down the tow line. This way if the line breaks it won’t be as likely to snap back into the towed boat.

-Hand signals between the tow boat and towed boat should be the same as for water sports, and should be clarified before starting the tow. Good communication is important.

-For better control of the towed boat, before approaching a dock it should be brought alongside the tow boat and fastened to the side as it would be in rafting up.

-Weight distribution in the tow boat is critical. You don’t want everyone seated in the stern unless there’s nowhere else available.

-The tow line should be fastened to the tow boat using a bridle attached to two cleats if possible.

-On an I/O boat that is to be towed the lower units should be raised about half way. You want them in the water enough to still help with steering but high enough to minimize drag.


-Have a plan on what is going to happen when you get to the destination. This needs to be discussed ahead of time so everyone is clear.


Any other thoughts from those of us who do tow disabled boats?
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Old 02-13-2016, 12:16 PM   #46
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A well thought out list! I am in total agreement that nylon is the top choice for the tow line, you need the stretch to dampen the pulse of swells. Use just enough power to keep the tow line "taught" and out of the water, not "tight". If you are towing, you will get there when you get there. More power will make things harder and more dangerous, not faster.

There is a certain distance that will "feel" better at tow, so the ability to shorten or lengthen the tow is good to match conditions.

A sharp knife is a good thing to have :-) Low for tow is good, but the ability to cast off the tow is very important too, from either end.

Hand signals are good, portable VHF radio is better, hollering back and forth is worthless.

I have only 50 HP and use less than 30 of that, so my opinions are predicated to what I have to tow with. My normal 7 knots rpm's setting got 5.5 knots towing the 32' Nordic Tug, his engine (that didn't run) was a 220 HP turbo Cummins. It made him sick to think I was towing him at less GPH than his boat would idle at :-)
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Old 02-13-2016, 02:51 PM   #47
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As part of crew training, the USCG Auxiliary does towing. During training, it's with other member's boats but after training the real thing starts. There is nothing like experience. To keep your qualifications you annually have to prove you still have the knowledge and experience.

After crewing for several years you can advance up to Coxswain and be in command of a boat. By that time you will have enough experience and training to cover the evolution of a normal tow. You will have to justify each tow to the USCG before they allow you to take it on but if they do technically you and your boat/crew are covered by the same policies as a regular USCG boat.

It's a great way to get training and gain experience at minimal risk. You get to be an old guy with a yacht actually helping out.
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Old 02-15-2016, 01:49 PM   #48
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Interesting that there is only one mention of the "waist" or "hip" tow configuration in this discussion. Obviously, not always a practical choice, but worthy of consideration on a case by case basis. My boat is not configured for much in the way of serious towing in the sense discussed here nor do I have significant towing experience. However, I've made several assists using waist tows with success including placing the towed vessel at the dock in some instances.

Advantages: easy to rig using normally available lines/fenders; minimal tow/towed coordination

Caveats: decent wind/sea conditions; towed vessel smaller than tow vessel (largest an approx 35' CC) with my 43; axe at the ready to rapidly release tow if things go south.
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:00 PM   #49
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Seriously?

How many of you guys grew up towing skiers? then towing your dinghy, then using your dinghy to tow your own boat back after some mishap? I am sure that identifies most of you. So what is this cr*p about now being shy?

If someone needs a tow and you are capable and have the gear, what is your problem. We are bound by the universal law of the sea to lend assistance. If that means you should tow, then you should tow, unless you can't.

I have refused many times, because I didn't like the conditions, the guy wanting the tow wasn't in any real distress and help, ie a can of gas, would get him going and was on its way. But where the need was legitimate, I was, and will be again, ready to hook him up and get him to safety.

Get real.
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:07 PM   #50
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I always maintain temporary and portable lights for just such purposes.
I have always liked a 'Belt and Suspender' fellow.
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:15 PM   #51
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My boat is very "round" sided, so I tow astern all the way to the dock, and have the towed vessel cast off the tow as they approach the dock. I slack the line so it can be cast off, and then move away, hauling the tow harness in and then making ready to tie off myself.

The entrances to our harbors here are quite narrow, and tides are quite strong, so we shorten the tow to just a couple of boat lengths just before making entry. Of course we announce entry on both 16 and the harbor frequency prior to making entry.

It's hard to "waist" a vessel if you have round sides, even harder if you both have round sides. I have so far been an excellent judge of how much momentum they need to make the dock, knock wood...
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Old 02-17-2016, 02:56 AM   #52
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Towing Questions

If it is a short distance and calm water the towed boat can be taken on the hip which works even with round boat as the towed boat is approximately one third along the side of the Towing boat.
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Old 02-17-2016, 05:44 AM   #53
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Back in my USCG days, while stationed on an 82" towing was almost a daily occurance. However, unless there was real weather, we usually used the 16' whaler with it's 50hp evinrude to do it. I've towed up to a 40' boat that way. Use a long tow until you get close to the marina/dock area, then take it on the hip. Figure out which side of the towed vessel you're going to dock then tie on the other side. I took it so the engine of the whaler was approx. 3' behind the transom of the towed boat, then just take it in. Biggest problem was that once you're docking, the cox'n of the whaler can't see the dock so good communication is essential. Of course, all of this was waaaay before there was Seatow, etc...so no conflict with profit making agencies. We also used the USCG Auxiliary quite often on weekends in southern Puget Sound.
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:59 AM   #54
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"However, unless there was real weather, we usually used the 16' whaler with it's 50hp evinrude to do it. I've towed up to a 40' boat that way. Use a long tow until you get close to the marina/dock area, then take it on the hip."


Agreed 100% - We always try and leave towing to the professionals but when that is not an alternative we have always had a much easier and safer go of it using a larger inflatable than our boat.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:12 AM   #55
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Every towing situation is a little different....generalizations are only that.

Even the most very green of boaters can tow in some situations using the absolute in minimum of equipment. As the tows become more demanding...the danger quotient goes up dramatically without the experience to go with it.

Suprisingly I am not necessarily talking towing exoerience...just good old seamanship.


My guess is most TFers are at best half way up that scale (based on posts I read every day)...so if you are going to tow, no problem. Just know when to stop and wait for more experience and or better equipment to show up.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:30 AM   #56
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Here Here Mr Sneed! We once towed a 35' sailboat in a near typhoon from 100 miles out of San Fran Bay up to Coos Bay Or.........idle ahead, 1 engine was all the tow would take....that was on a different 82. Took two days and 1 night letting the storm blow us that way. Not really something I want to do again, but in reality, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
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Old 02-17-2016, 06:29 PM   #57
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Hull speed on sailboats can't be more than 6 to 10 kn so you couldn't tow it any faster than that anyway.

so that's one recommendation don't try to get sailboat up on step.
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:15 PM   #58
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Quote:
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Check with your insurance company...I'll have to check my policy but I thought it may now prohibit towing.
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Keep in mind, when you agree to tow a boat, as captain, you are now liable for that boat. Your insurance WILL NOT COVER YOU OR THEM unless you are a USCG certified captain and have the towing endorsements required and your insurer agrees to it as a part of the contract. Iminent peril excluded.
The cautions against towing w/o "proper" insurance endorsements caught my eye and I inquired w/ my insurer (BoatUS). Here is their reply re: coverage...

Dear Mr. K,

As long as you are not getting paid for your services because you have a private pleasure usage only policy with us, we are fine with you assisting other boaters on the water. Any damages to your boat will be covered under Boat and Boating Equipment which is the (agreed value) that you currently have on the policy. Any damages to the other persons boat will be covered under the liability limit ($500,000) that you currently have on the policy.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of further service.


I feel much better and will continue to lend assistance when others are stranded and towing is an appropriate remedy (I have called USCG Aux in non-emergency and they provided fuel to a "stranded" boater out of fuel)
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:38 AM   #59
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Re: # 57 - I've heard and read, but don't know if it's factual, that it's possible to "dive" a sailboat under tow by exceeding its hull speed by some factor. On the occasions (not many) where I've taken another boat under tow (sail or not), it is a slow and deliberate operation, so not a factor in my world.

Anyone know about this or is it another old salt's tale?
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:11 AM   #60
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I have heard it happening to one or two ocean racing sailboats that have "apparently" been sucked down to decks awash...but they slow suddenly and pop back up.

I have never heard of it towing (not from just speed)....or even a warning within the assistance towing community.

I would think most hulls that "might" get sucked under in certain circumstances would require such a pull as they buried themselves, the towing vessel would either be slowed down or it would be obvious as it is not a sudden occurrence from those sailboat examples.

Sure an ocean going tug towing a 30 something sailboat wouldn't notice anything but any of us would.
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