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Old 09-04-2019, 08:27   #1
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Almost Lost Our Dinghy

The wind had picked up to about 15 knots as we were anchored in Caleta Partida, one of our favorite anchorages in the Sea of Cortez. After a brief outing in our 3.1m RIB, my wife had tied the dinghy’s painter to our boat’s stern cleat, tying it properly but going around the cleat in the wrong direction. Without saying anything, I quickly retied the painter, wrapping the bitter end around the cleat a couple of times, mostly as an effort to neaten up the aft deck.

Several hours later, my wife went into the cockpit from down below and discovered that our dinghy was drifting away. I quickly got on the VHF and alerted some friends who were anchored nearby and they rescued our wayward dink. Once the dinghy was back in our possession, I tied it up the way I had previously (and probably more than a thousand times before that) and watched the line closely. Sure enough, as the dinghy tugged on the line, it gradually slipped on our large stern cleat. I added two more figure-eight wraps and one additional hitch to the cleat and tied a stopper knot in the end of the painter. It still slipped but not as quickly. Granted the painter is old and the double-braid sheath has worn soft but I hadn’t expected slippage like this.

I suppose some who read this post might be tempted to question my marlinspike skills but they are a source of pride for me and I know how to properly hitch a cleat and more.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:14   #2
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Trying to figure out if there is a question here.

I will say I have seen smaller diameter ropes slip on too large of cleats and not hold tight.
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Old 09-04-2019, 14:44   #3
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Mostly, we use 3 strand for dinghy painters. Have never had one come loose that was cleat hitched (one round turn, two half hitches). (Touch wood.) Did have a snap hook on it one time that did come loose, twice that I recall. I'm wondering whether using non-stretchy line has something to do with it? as in more jerky on the cleat? You could go to two round turns, backed by two half hitches.....

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Old 09-04-2019, 14:53   #4
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Having had to chase a dinghy by swimming I now tie two lines and right now one has an eye splice that I pass through the cleat and then pass the eye over the cleat.
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Old 09-04-2019, 14:55   #5
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I installed 316Ss climbing bolt hangers on the sugar scoops and use wire gate carabiners on the painters. We hang all sorts o toys back there, often parked by kids, and they never get it wrong. Simple.


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Old 09-04-2019, 15:20   #6
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I lost my dinghy last season near the end of a 3-day gale. Had three-strand painter to a mid-ship cleat. Cleat was fine. Chafe was the culprit here. Luckily one of the local fishermen saw our dinghy beached nearby and he went over to retrieve it for us.

He initially tried to row it back to us because he couldn’t get the engine started. But the wind was too much, even for this burly Newfoundland fisherman. So he went and got his own dory and eventually got it back to us.

http://helplink.com/CLAFC/wp-content...8/IMGA0592.mp4

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Old 09-04-2019, 15:56   #7
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

After losing a dinghy from a charter boat in the early 80s, (It was returned to us by another cruiser after being found miles away.) we have always kept two lines on the dinghy, its usual dinghy painter and a "safety line". Both of them terminate in metal hardware. The dinghy painter has a stainless steel wire gate carabiner on the mother ship end that clips to the boat, generally to a lifeline or to the backstay. The bight of the painter is then later tied to a stern cleat with the usual cleat hitch, but the carabiner stays clipped in. The "safety line" has a bronze swivel eye snap on its dingy end that is clipped to either the hand line around the dinghy or the dinghy center towing eye. The other end of the "safety line" is tied to a stern cleat with a permanent bowline.

Oh, and more recently, the dinghy motor cover is plastered with retro-reflective tape to make it light up in a searchlight and a white solar LED light ( https://www.amazon.com/S4LN-NON-FLAS...y&sr=8-1-fkmr0 ) is mounted on the top of its cover.

One-to-many-to-drink, sleepy, rushed, pressed for time, not paying attention, neotype crew, or whatever, so far so good after 35 years.

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Old 09-04-2019, 16:02   #8
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Why not just splice an eye on the end of the painter to slip over the cleat as an added precaution?
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Old 09-04-2019, 19:10   #9
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Thanks for the replies to my post with the excellent suggestions. We had bought the line we’re using as a painter when we were in South Africa and it has worn out prematurely (a double-braid sheath with a polypropylene core - can’t be spliced). Besides being more cautious, I suppose I will add a carabiner or snap shackle to the line that replaces what I’m using now.

Thanks again. My best wishes for fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 09-04-2019, 20:09   #10
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

The other nice thing about bolt hangers and carabiners is no chafe, depending on location. Use locking carabiners if towing far. Your old retired Spinlock Race Hooks from tethers would work too.
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Old 09-04-2019, 20:38   #11
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

Our dinghy is always tied twice.

The bitter end of the painter is always tied to a stanchion or other strong point with a bowline, and the position of the tender is then adjusted with a cleat hitch on a stern or midship cleat as appropriate. It is NEVER secured unattended with a single tie. If we need to adjust one tie, we always keep the other in place until things are secured.

It is just one of those many small habits that--taken together--makes good seamanship.
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Old 09-04-2019, 20:56   #12
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I use 3 strand poly line for dingy painter. Poly line floats and is usually not a danger to the boat's prop on the dingy outboard's prop.
Because poly does not splice easily, I use soft metal "rope clamps" at both ends of the painter. At the dingy end, I use a small net float and a brass snap. At the bitter end, I make a large loop. The loop easily attaches to a cleat and will not fail.

The poly line degrades in sunlight so the life of the painter is a max of two years. Likewise, the soft metal "rope clamps" degrade and rust in salt water and their max life is a couple years.
I use the blue poly line that has some nylon and is very strong.

I looked behind our dingy a couple months ago to see the painter in the water. We were at full speed with the dingy outboard and the painter was benignly floating and trailing along behind us. Any other painter would have made a mess of the prop. I always use a floating painter!
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Old 10-04-2019, 07:16   #13
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Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I always lock our dinghy to the boat with a steel cable at night, not so much to prevent theft, but as a secondary means of securing it.
About a month ago I went out to see the dinghy missing and then looked aft and it was secured only by the 30’ steel cable.
My painter had chafed though at the front tow eyelet on the dinghy.

I think at least a few “stolen” dinghy’s just simply untie themselves, and if there is no nearby shore, they may never be seen again, the Ocean is a big place.

I don’t use any metal on our painter, instead tie a loop in it and thread the loop through the cleat and of course wrap around the cleat.
Most dinghy docks have either a cleat that the loop works on, or a pole where you just put the painter through the loop and toss over the pole.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:29   #14
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I have a large stainless spring caribiner type clip on the end of my dinghy painter (which is a cut off from an old main halyard). I don't attach it to a cleat, I just loop it round the pushpit and clip it back onto the painter.

If I'm towing the dinghy on a passage, I'll use the cleat (for length adjustment) and also secure the painter round the pushpit and clipped back to itself for added security.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:49   #15
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Re: Almost Lost Our Dinghy

I tend to use a round turn and two half hitches for safety purposes when tying up our dinghy anywhere - but good knots don't cure stupid!

One time in the Bahamas, I was carrying a length of line that was identical to our painter in the dinghy. I tied up with a beautiful round turn and couple/few half hitches, and hopped aboard. Fortunately, our daughter spotted the dinghy in the distance a couple hours later. (another bit of stupid - I jumped in immediately and swam the dinghy down; two minutes to grab fins would have been very helpful!)

When I tracked down the dinghy to see what had happened, and - you guessed it - I had tied up the spare line to the boat, thinking it was the painter. Note to self - painters work best when both ends are made secure!
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