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Old 21-07-2016, 15:23   #1
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Towing a boat/tender

I have a 53 foot Hatteras cruising yacht. Dual caterpillar diesels

I am considering buying an 18 to 22 foot center console and tow it instead of using a Zodiac type tender.

Any information would be welcome. stories, warnings etc....

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Old 21-07-2016, 16:00   #2
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Every one I've seen was on a really long tow. Even fishing boats that tow a half dozen small boats have them on a long line. There must be something to it.

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Old 21-07-2016, 16:17   #3
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Tow them on the "downhill" face of the wave behind you.
Almost everyone I've seen towing to Catalina does it that way.
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Old 21-07-2016, 16:34   #4
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

See it all the time, once saw a large MY running I think about 30 kts towing a mid thirties foot CC with triple Yamaha's on plane.
I thought at first the CC was being smart and running in his wake until they got closer and I could see nobody was in the CC and the motors were trimmed up, it was about a 100 yard line.

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Old 21-07-2016, 17:19   #5
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Most of the big motor yachts that charter in the Bahamas now tow center console boats for sport fishing. Usually about 30 feet with about 900 hp in outboards. Just keep the tow very long and have a good attachment point on the "tender".
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Old 22-07-2016, 01:01   #6
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Might want to check to see if your insurance will cover a loss when towing in th ocean. There are a lot of failure modes in your plan... but sometimes ya just get away with it!

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Aquatic Paradise Qld for a while.
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Old 22-07-2016, 02:40   #7
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

In another discussion discussing what type line to use for towing... I noted the length of towline is related to distance between wave peaks.

Essentially you want both the towed and towing boats to be cresting the waves at the same time to reduce the tendency of the line to cycle tight-slack-tight-slack....

The towline should have some indicator as to when you are in danger of snapping it. The forces on the line can be huge.

If the towed boat is surfing down the wave as the towing vessel is climbing a wave then the line slackens then as the towed starts climbing the towing will be surfing down the face and you'll suddenly have many times the tension on the line.
Good formula to snap a towline.

Then there's how you hook the lines to the towed and towing vessels and putting a weight (can be a length of chain) in the middle of the towline to moderate the tension cycles (which will happen somewhat, no matter how well you space the vessels)

And then there's the speed of the tow. Things get more unstable and more dangerous as you go faster.

That's just basic outline of SOME issues for towing...

If you plan on towing at speed at sea, you'll want to do a lot of research on how to do it safely.
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Old 22-07-2016, 04:13   #8
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Go talk to a couple of your assistance towing guys in your area.

They will give some good tips.

Understand that generally they don't tow long distances, but the basics are the same, just understand the difference between fair weather and all weather towing.
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Old 22-07-2016, 05:59   #9
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Would never tow in a seaway except in dead calm weather... but that's just me.

Another consideration is that at 18'-22' you are fast leaving the realm of "dinghy dockage" and may finding yourself paying full slip rate to go ashore. For example, here in Boot Key, City Marina included dinghy dockage stops at 14' loa. Just a consideration

If you do tow, a slack line backup painter is good insurance. Belt and suspenders as it were
"It seemed like a good idea at the time"
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Old 22-07-2016, 23:12   #10
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

If you're gonna run dual towlines.. may as well have them both under load.

If you have one slack, then EACH needs to be rated for the full tow load and you might even want to have the slack one higher rated because the other breaking = you overloaded it. then the towed boat slows and JERK LOADS the line which used to be slack.
Thus it makes no sense at all to have a second, slack "backup" line.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:14   #11
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

We are towing a17' center console now behind our 38'. We've towed it from the UMR mm 283 to Hammond Marina on Lake Michigan and are now back on the Illinois River near Ottawa, Illinois. We tow about 100' /125' behind or pulled up close when locking.Click image for larger version

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Old 09-08-2016, 19:00   #12
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

We tow my 19ft Pioneer to the Bahamas every year. Tow it with a 43 Cabo and if seas are good will run 24 knts. Purchased a towline that I can adjust from 100ft to 170ft. Expensive but worth it. Have found it handles best at approximately 120ft.
Most of the time its just myself and the wife so it can definitely be stressful. Be sure to tie off steering or use tiebar spacers so the motor stays straight otherwise it will surf up on the boat wave.
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:18   #13
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

We tow a 15ft whaler behind out 42ft trawler
About 75ft behind boat riding down side of wave, never any problems in 1300nm,
But then we are running 8kts.
If your going with an 18+ft and at faster speeds there will definitely be a lot of stress of the rig but properly done people do it all the time
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:30   #14
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

Powerboats tow all the time. Usually a long distance behind the boat ~ 100 ft would be my guess. Time the wave cycle if there are any.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 10-08-2016, 11:35   #15
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Re: Towing a boat/tender

We just got back from the Bahamas and saw almost every boat over 45 feet towing a center console. Most of them had fairly long tow lines and I saw a lot of them pulling the center consoles on plane.

Cruising again!
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