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Old 21-08-2006, 20:59   #1
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How Do You Tow Your Inflatable?

I just thought I'd put this out here to get some ideas of how different folks tow their inflatables.

I am interested in what line you use and how you have it attached, both at the dink and on the boat. Also how far do you pay it out?

I have an 11 foot Zodiac that I tow with 1/2" polypropylene line and am looking for ideas or better ways than I have been doing it. I am happy with the polypro but am open to new stuff too. And what kinds of knots/attachments are you using?

To make things simpler, Yes, I don't tow it offshore nor with the engine attached etc. etc. etc.


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Old 21-08-2006, 21:45   #2
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We have a 10' Boston Whaler inflatable with 9 hp OB

I'm sure everyone has their own way and how their boat is set up. But what we do is tow it fairly on center, motor attached, and the line is wrapped around a flag insert and then to a cleat. Which makes it EZ to pay out or bring in.

Our dinghy has two side rings forward and a single ring under the bow, so the line is attached to the side rings and runs loose the the bow ring. I gave the line one wrap around the bow ring so the stress is fairly equal on all three.

At different speeds we tow it at differant distances. At 5-7 knots our boat leaves a bit of a wave behind us so we pay out the line so it is slightly surfing on the wave. This takes most of the stress of the line and gives us max speed.

In rough water we pay out about 15' and allow the dink do it's own thing. In certain conditions the thing tries to pass us up.

That's it........................................._/)

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Old 22-08-2006, 05:17   #3

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Wow... nice tender, Del. I'd sure love to have that!

For our 10' Achilles, we don't tow it - ever. We either have it up in the davits or put it on deck if there is any chance at all it could touch the water while in the davits.

While anchored, I use a 1/2" poly line I found floating one day. It was a nice 30' water ski line. I cut it in half and use one 15' section right now, and have the other as a spare once this section starts to look too worn.

I don't need a long line at all, since I don't ever tow it.
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Old 22-08-2006, 08:19   #4
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We don't tow.

We have met many cruisers who have lost thier dinghies while towing. One friend lost his when a squall blew up and his tow lines parted (3). He then came into Bonaire and had to order a very expensive replacment. Luckily he removed his engine.
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Old 22-08-2006, 10:38   #5
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Just did this last Friday. I left the anchorage with the rubber ducky in tow and headed home about 15 miles away. I use a heavy polyester line that ties to each foward side of the RD and through the single ring at the front. The other end is attached to a stern cleat. If it is rough I may pull the RD close to the mother ship, other wise I let it ride at a distance that produces the least drag, that is usually when it is comming down the stern wave. If it gets too rough or I am going a long way I pull the RD alongside and attach the painter to the chock at the pointy end of the mother ship. I then grab a halyard and lift the RD out of the water and land it on deck. It can remain inflated or I can let the air out and roll it up for stowage at the base of the mast or down below. It only takes a few minutes to pump up so unless it will be used fairly soon ( in which case I would tow it ) I think it is best to let the air out. My RD has the slatted floor which makes for easy assembly but it will not perform under power as well as the more rigid floors. The guys in a hurry with the big bucks can have those units and the extra work involved. I want a 2hp OBM for christmas so I can fish.
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Old 22-08-2006, 10:59   #6
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10' Zodiac towed with a commercially available bridle attached to the two towing rings (one each side). The bridle has a float to keep it clear of the props.

While poly line floats and might help keep it clear of props when maneuvering, I use nylon for strength, stretchiness and UV tolerance.

We tie it up close when in close quarters or if we plan to reverse. Motoring in calm water it rides OK right there. As conditions change we let out line to allow the dinghy to ride the back side of the second wave behind the boat. As speed increases, that wave is further back. If it gets on the front side of the wave, it surfs forward, skews, stalls, hits the line with a twang, and other unsavory stuff.

We have a roller for deploying a stern anchor. The line is passed around the roller a couple of times, then secured to the boat. This keeps the line closer to the center line of our catamaran and still makes it possible to increase or decrease the length fairly easily.

We tow with the motor on quite a bit because we have no davits and it is a ½ hour job for two of us to stow motor and dinghy, and another ½ hour to deploy. For rough or long passages, it is worth it, but island hopping the Bahamas in good conditions, it is not.

We wish for davits, and hope next winter to have something to raise her, motor and all, for those easy passages.

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Old 22-08-2006, 11:50   #7
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We tow our Achilles using a nylon line run from padeyes on the transom forward through the bow rings to form a bridal. This applies towing forces to the transom rather than the bow rings. The thought is that the dink was designed to be moved by forces applied to the transom and is best able to withstand strong forces there. I worry (perhaps without need) that the bow rings might tear out in heavy seas or if the dink took on a sudden load of water if they were the anchor point for our tow lines rather than just guide points.
This is as the manufacturer recdomended when we bought the dink. Of course I have never seen another dink rigged the same way. Perhaps this is overkill?
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Old 22-08-2006, 22:16   #8
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I don't tow my inflatable - The one Kai gave me resides (and will continue to do so) in the box she came in. I'm not even sure what color her hair is.
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Old 23-08-2006, 01:07   #9
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I don't. There is too much speed lost. I carry the dinghy on the radar arch.

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Old 23-08-2006, 04:13   #10
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We've fitted removable davits this year and they work well for our 3.4M HP floor Zodiac plus 8hp Yamaha. 5 minute job to hoist or launch and no worries about loosing it.

Even so, for really short passages on flat water we often still tow and find we loose approx 1 knot boatspeed doing so.

We use 3 strand nylon spliced to two D's on undertube sides, those lines spliced together and led through the Zodiacs bow pad fitting with a wrap to take some strain also there.

In the pre-davit days when towing in bigger seas, we also inserted a small funnel onto the towing line - the pointy end facing forward. No drag when the dinghy kept its distance, but if it ever surfed and the line went slack, the funnel would invert and act as a break to stop the dinghy ramming us.

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Old 23-08-2006, 17:54   #11

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Clever idea with the funnel, John!
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Old 24-08-2006, 06:09   #12
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Does that mean you never anchor out? Always at a dock? Or, do you swim ashore?

She took my address and my name
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Old 24-08-2006, 10:12   #13
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why I don't see?

The few times that I've towed a dingy it's been apparently obvious that trailing back to the next wave wasn't too good. I've found a much better approach is to pull it up close till I actually had the bow directly under the towline and lifted out of the water a tad. It worked so well I tried it with my FOLDABOAT and it worked. It never touched the hull just sat there about a foot astern. I see nobody else doing this. Why? Is it the same reason that nobody anchors by the stern, even thought it works much better, less sailing on anchor, less strain on ground tackle? IE, old habits die hard?


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Old 24-08-2006, 16:50   #14

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Randy... I just saw a boat doing the very same thing you describe yesterday! It seems that with one of the typical inflatable shapes, you would easily gain more speed in that setup. I mean two little tips of pontoons are far less wetted surface (read drag) than the entire bottom of a dinghy. Great idea.
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Old 24-08-2006, 18:31   #15
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We used to tow our roll-up behind the old boat all the time on the Chesapeake. Used a conventional bridle to the rings on either side. Left the gas tank in, took the motor off [every time]. In this configuration it would tow fine just about planning on the quarter wave with minimal impact on speed.

When we got the 47 and a RIB to go with it, discovered towing had an impact on boat speed even with the engine removed [ much more than the roll-up]. Towing on the Chesapeake was minor risk as it is a very light air area.

Now with davits installed we raise the boat for every passage. If the passage is overnight, the engine is off at a minimum, if off-shore and anything more than moderate conditions or longer than 48 hours or so [near coastal] the boat is on the foredeck.

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