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Old 08-26-2016, 10:05 AM   #41
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I don't have a dedicated tow rope, but will always assist a fellow boater in need, whether it be towing, dead battery or mechanical problems. There is no towing service in the area, and only a volunteer coast guard/search & rescue so we all just help out one another.
Law suits aren't an issue; local people just don't seem to think that way.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:40 AM   #42
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Just to be clear....the law of the sea does not require towing as a form of assistance.


Its a great thing to do...with it's liabilities...all you can do is make that decision when you need to.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:41 AM   #43
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I carry a designated 150' of 1/2" nylon for a towing bridle and a rescue pulley to make a weight (and angle) equalizing harness. My aft cleats are small, the nylon stretches quite a bit to keep the load light. The rescue knots I use can be untied after the pull by hand. I would not tow in anything but very mild sea conditions, as the load surges might damage something.

I have the person being towed provide their anchor line (or some other line of theirs) to attach to my harness. That way they can adjust the length to minimize the surge loads from swells and adjust the length of the tow to best comfort/least load. Swell interval makes being able to adjust the length of the tow pretty important.

I have never towed anything heavier than my own boat, and having a full displacement vessel with low horsepower keeps the tow gentle...
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Old 08-26-2016, 11:19 AM   #44
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I had a dedicated bridle made up that attaches to the stern cleats and two tow lines (50' and 100') that can be connected together with their stainless clasps. All the lines are 5/8" and are floating lines. I had them made up to tow our dinghy (13' Whaler with 40hp Merc).


We don't have a tow service around here and I usually end up towing once or twice a year. A few months ago I towed a 20' bowrider back to the dock with the Whaler. I used their ski tow rope which was a jumbled mess when he pulled it out of a forward locker. The tow distance was short, only about 1/2 mile to get him back to the dock where he'd launched.
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Old 08-26-2016, 02:35 PM   #45
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Aren't you required to tow someone in who is in distress?..........
Nope, just assist as much as practical.

I don't have a lot of respect for someone who will take a boat out without spending the $150 or so on a towing membership. It's one of the cheapest things you can buy for your boat.

How many people here make it a habit of towing stranded motorists on land?

So I don't carry a tow rope because my boat is not equipped for towing other boats. I don't have the skills and experience to tow other boats safely and I don't want the liability if something bad happens. I'll call for help or do what I can do and I would probably take injured people or wives and children to shore but it's unlikely I would tow a boat more than a couple hundred feet to a dock.
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Old 08-26-2016, 03:00 PM   #46
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Every boat ought to carry poly towline. It is cheap, it doesn't stretch, it floats, it dries quickly, it weighs little. It can save your crewman if he goes over. It is less likely to get caught in the props. If you are the boat broken down, it can get you towed. It can stop your runaway dinghy, or someone else's. And when you find a drifting boat you can tow it. Not nylon, poly, and don't skimp on the length. It's an investment in the future. It's a no brainier. And I own a towing business.
Not sure if you are referring to polypropylene or some other poly, but polypropylene definitely stretches, which is a safety hazard when using it to tow.
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Old 08-26-2016, 03:01 PM   #47
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Wes, your comments surprise me a bit. Not all places have towing services available. In our area, were it not for kind hearted souls who will tow a boat that is disabled, the disabled boat would be left to flounder.


Over the years I've compiled some tips on how to safely tow another boat. Rather than hijack this thread with the list I'm going to start another list under the heading "How to Safely Tow Another Boat". Some of them apply to towing smaller boats than what many of us have, so you must use your discretion.
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Old 08-26-2016, 03:16 PM   #48
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Nope, just assist as much as practical.

I don't have a lot of respect for someone who will take a boat out without spending the $150 or so on a towing membership. It's one of the cheapest things you can buy for your boat.

How many people here make it a habit of towing stranded motorists on land?

So I don't carry a tow rope because my boat is not equipped for towing other boats. I don't have the skills and experience to tow other boats safely and I don't want the liability if something bad happens. I'll call for help or do what I can do and I would probably take injured people or wives and children to shore but it's unlikely I would tow a boat more than a couple hundred feet to a dock.
Last weekend the USCG relayed a request for assistance for a 19' open cockpit boat who was stranded. 1 adult, 2 kids on board, all with PFDs. The boat ran out of gas and they were requesting a tow or gas.

Now, I have very little respect for a guy that would take two kids out on a boat and not even bother to figure out if they had enough gas. OTOH, maybe there was a malfunction of a gauge or a fuel leak? They weren't in any danger where they were located and a 19' open cockpit boat would be fine getting beached where they were at. Plenty of commercial tow services around to bring them gas or give them a tow.

Even so... if I had been at all close to them (I wasn't even close enough to hear their side of the VHF conversation with the USCG) I would likely have helped to make sure they didn't have to beach the boat, and maybe offered them some gas from my dinghy's gas can so they could get to fuel. I wouldn't have towed them to fuel since it would have been a very long tow, but if I didn't have any gas I would have helped ensure they were settled so they could wait for a commercial tow to bring them gas.

I don't mind helping where and when I can and am willing to take the liability risk to do it. Even if the person is a bonehead.
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:36 PM   #49
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Last weekend the USCG relayed a request for assistance for a 19' open cockpit boat who was stranded. 1 adult, 2 kids on board, all with PFDs. The boat ran out of gas and they were requesting a tow or gas.

Now, I have very little respect for a guy that would take two kids out on a boat and not even bother to figure out if they had enough gas. OTOH, maybe there was a malfunction of a gauge or a fuel leak? They weren't in any danger where they were located and a 19' open cockpit boat would be fine getting beached where they were at. Plenty of commercial tow services around to bring them gas or give them a tow.

Even so... if I had been at all close to them (I wasn't even close enough to hear their side of the VHF conversation with the USCG) I would likely have helped to make sure they didn't have to beach the boat, and maybe offered them some gas from my dinghy's gas can so they could get to fuel. I wouldn't have towed them to fuel since it would have been a very long tow, but if I didn't have any gas I would have helped ensure they were settled so they could wait for a commercial tow to bring them gas.

I don't mind helping where and when I can and am willing to take the liability risk to do it. Even if the person is a bonehead.
I agree with you on that. We saw a boat needing a tow on the ICW one day. They had several kids aboard. What brought them to our attention was a man and woman screaming obscenities at each other. They did have tow coverage and we simply asked if they were ok and waited beside them to be sure they got their tow and to be sure no one got hurt. With an audience beside them they calmed down.

If we were in an area with no tow services and saw someone in need we would assist if possible. I grew up doing it on the lake, but once the tow companies moved in, I stopped. If a licensed and insured professional is available, I'm not stepping in instead. If non is available, I will assist. Each situation you face is different and as Psneeld states you make the decision when you need to but it is helpful to have thought about it in advance. We do have tow bridles and ropes.
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:56 PM   #50
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when I would glide up, hook up and have people ungrounded and in tow in literally seconds, I often got the "guess you have done this before" quip...


I at some point during the tow, told them the reality. While all seem similar, and experience can make it look easy...they were all a little different.


Different boats, different needs, different experience of the towees, different environmental conditions, my condition, the towboats condition...etc..etc.


Most of my tows I had the luxury of starting my thinking process from the minute I received the dispatch. I was already calculating winds and currents, size and weight of the boat, how I was going to hook up, and many other things that I could think of.


When you happen along a stranded boater, none of what you are about to do was reviewed clearly before hands on begins. Which in itself is a distractor....thus my comment that the decision to tow for us as just another boater, is usually made on scene and in a relatively short amount of time.


It was no different with flying SAR for the USCG. Everyone wanted to prebrief all kinds of "on scene related" crap from the minute the distress was received till you showed up and often much of it was for naught. In thousands of tows and SAR cases, I learned, just relax and review your risk management tools throughout the tow.


If one little risk just seems to great to control...just make sure the worst that happens is damage and not serious injury. You will never live with knowing something as silly as a tow (even in remote areas) was worth it. Ferry people, wait for the pros even if hours or days...anything...but never let it get that far.
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Old 08-26-2016, 06:18 PM   #51
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If one little risk just seems to great to control...just make sure the worst that happens is damage and not serious injury. You will never live with knowing something as silly as a tow (even in remote areas) was worth it. Ferry people, wait for the pros even if hours or days...anything...but never let it get that far.
So much depends on conditions too. If they're grounded and want help off to avoid paying for a tow, sorry, that's outside my area of expertise. And, while I never faced it, had they been in an area of Alaska without towing and in relatively calm waters, then I would have assisted them to the nearest dock.

I've towed a lot on lakes...make that capital LAKES, not oceans. That doesn't in any way prepare me for towing offshore. If they're in danger, then I won't act on my own, but do what the CG asks me to do. Those situations generally involve just getting the people aboard though, not worrying about their boat. Anchor if possible, put a locator of whatever type they have or you have handy but leave it.
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Old 08-26-2016, 07:14 PM   #52
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there are times though I think I would rather attempt a tow than transfer at sea.


even the USCG would often rather do it with a helo than put 2 ships/boats together once it goes beyond calm.


helo crews usually make it look easy which is interpreted as safe...wrongo...but at sea transfers are that dangerous that almost any alternative is explored.
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Old 08-26-2016, 07:30 PM   #53
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there are times though I think I would rather attempt a tow than transfer at sea.


even the USCG would often rather do it with a helo than put 2 ships/boats together once it goes beyond calm.


helo crews usually make it look easy which is interpreted as safe...wrongo...but at sea transfers are that dangerous that almost any alternative is explored.
Absolutely and why I would do as they directed. They're the pros and I'm under their direction only unless for some reason there isn't time to even get it, then I make the best decision I can in the circumstances. Might be tow, might be boats together, might be sling on the crane. Might be simply to get a lifeboat to them and have them get in it until the CG Helo can arrive.
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Old 08-26-2016, 07:50 PM   #54
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I wouldn't necessarily do what they asked...a lot of them have little or no smaller vessel experience....scary but my experience. make sure YOU are comfy and generally, you are not under their direction as much as assisting and taking their lead.


You can say no pretty much whenever it doesn't feel right for you.
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:17 PM   #55
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I wouldn't necessarily do what they asked...a lot of them have little or no smaller vessel experience....scary but my experience. make sure YOU are comfy and generally, you are not under their direction as much as assisting and taking their lead.


You can say no pretty much whenever it doesn't feel right for you.
Ok, I agree. I wouldn't absolutely do anything they said, I would do what I felt comfortable and safe doing. If I didn't like what they suggested and had another idea, I'd ask them about it.
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:50 AM   #56
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The Way I Play Life's Emergencies!


I will quickly and efficiently as possible assist any person anywhere I feel there may be a "real" immediate danger to life and limb... that includes on or around the water. Potential Law Suits be Damned!


On another note: If there is not danger to life and limb, and there are correct alternatives that could be brought into play... I do not place myself or loved ones or friends in position[s] that might turn out to become a big PIA for one reason or another.


Each emergency condition needs to undergo quick, clear, level headed assessment before any actions are taken. Then - Do As You Feel Best!

Happy Emergency Daze! - Art
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Old 09-13-2016, 07:47 PM   #57
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Several times I have towed a stranded boater in to the nearest dock or marina, and once or twice (cautiously) yanked a sailboat off a bar. Towing isn't my business, and I've never carried any specialty gear. It's not hard to hitch a few dock lines together. In smooth water, and with a couple of robust fenders, towing on the hip can be easier than at the end of a line.
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Old 09-13-2016, 08:23 PM   #58
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hip towing is usually never easier.... if you have a decent tow line, a goof point to tow from/bridle and point on the towed vessel to secure to....a stern tow is easier and safer.


All hip towing does is give better maneuverability in close quarters....MAYBE...depending on vessels and conditions.


Too many things can go wrong with hip towing in open water...just the last few feet does it have any advantage other than oogling the pretty girls aboard instead of them being 100 feet back....
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:11 AM   #59
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Over the years several times I have towed stranded outboard fishing boats in one of my the several outboards I have owned, I have also been towed by them a couple of times.
In my trawler with the Livingston dinghy hanging from Kato davits I really don't have a good spot to secure a tow line. In a real emergency something would be done, hip tow or lower dinghy, Damn the dinghy etc. but it would have to be a real emergency.
Several years ago a large sailboat was cruising slowly down the ICW as I passed him they said their motor was running rough, could I tow them to the marina a few miles away. I told them I wasn't really set up to tow, (that boat had a substantial bowsprit I could see it spearing my dinghy) and told them I would keep an eye out for them as I was stopping there too and if they didn't show up I'd send the marina people out for them. An hour or so later they showed up and anchored nearby. I didn't hear anymore of them so I guess everything went ok.
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:00 AM   #60
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I earned my 500 ton with tow endorsement a long time ago, but don't work commercially anymore, nor would I even wish to carry the insurance for it. The few times that I've towed small boats in I always insisted on using their anchor line and never, ever to the dock. I disconnect outside the marine in clear water and tell them to drop anchor and figure out how to get in on their own. And yes, I've had a couple of bad incidents (litigation-wise) with over-zealous A-holes over the years and do not want to repeat that.
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