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Old 08-08-2010, 12:20   #1
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Towing a Rigid Dinghy

I currently have a 10 ft Archilles inflatable that is normally towed behind my 37 foot sailboat here on the Cheaspeake. I don't like towing it in rough weather, but there has been occasions where storm conditions have occurred and it has always have come through it just fine. I never tow it with an outboard and if I get a bigger dinghy then that too would be towed empty. Has anyone had experience towing a large aluminum fishing boat (semi V bottom maybe 16 feet in length weight around 300 lbs) behind their sailboat in various sea conditions? If so, I would like to hear some comments about that experience.
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Old 08-08-2010, 13:06   #2
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I personally would not want to tow a wooden or metal dink in any kind of rough weather. While an inflatable might come through ok, a rigid rowing or sailing kink will probably not. You would be better off with davits and/or a place to lash it down athwartships stop the main cabin.
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Old 08-08-2010, 13:35   #3
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I agree with Astrid.
I lost a friends dinghy once when we were towing and 35 knot winds came up for an extended period. It was fiberglass and it overturned in the middle of a very dark night. Our boat speed dropped to nearly nothing and until daylight could not see what was happening. Since the suction on the dinghy hull was super strong, three grown men hauling on the painter could not break the suction. Had I been thinking I would have shot some holes in the bottom to release the suction but, of course, I didn't want to shoot his dinghy and I truly didn't think of it. The painter finally broke. It was 5/16" braided nylon. It was truly a great little dinghy and although he said he forgave me I'm not certain he ever did. I offered to pay for it but he declined.
I'll bet that dinghy washed up on shore somewher in the Philippines if it didn't hit the island of Kauai. We lost it just a little northwest of Kauai in 1984. Anyone seen an 8' lapstrake yellow dinghy?

kind regards,
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Old 08-08-2010, 15:07   #4
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I lost a15 footer that way. Instantly curtailed the practice after spending the best part of the afternoon retrieving it in crummy weather single handed.
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Old 08-08-2010, 15:45   #5
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I lost my 11' aluminum dinghy 20 miles south of Destin after the wind picked up to about 20kn and the seas 6'. It was about midnight, so no chance of recovery. It would surf down the waves and jerked back in line. I had also towed it for years without a problem until this night when the painter pulled the bow cap right off. Even if I would have had a ubolt, the painter was chaffing so bad that it wouldn't have been much longer before it snapped. I didn't expect the winds to pick up and before I knew it, it was too late to attempt to pull it aboard and lash it to the foredeck. Expensive lesson leaned. I was emotionaly attached to that little dink. We had been though a lot together . . .
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:48   #6
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I lost my 11' dinghy last week towing it in rough conditions. I was unable to recover it at sea but it has since been found and I'll luckily get it back. It was plywood/epoxy and had always towed well. I'll never tow a dinghy again.
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:10   #7
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Thanks for all the input. It seems like a rigid dinghy might be a little more difficult to tow vs an inflatable. Although I'm also considering a 16 foot rigid vs a 10 ft. inflatable so maybe that might be another factor pro or con. I've never had the inflatable get swaped when towing and I wonder if the 16 ft. aluminum row boat would be as effective in that regard? The loads on the cleats must be pretty high if swamped and might just rival the jordan series drogue.
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:33   #8
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I've towed an 11' Whaler in a LOT of crap weather behind bigger boats as well as some powerboats I've owned. I simply remove the plug. I always left the outboard rigged (and securely bolted). The Whaler probably has a cumulative 50K miles behind several boats.

I recently downsized to a Cal 28 and have found the venerable Whaler too large and heavy; it costs me at least 2 knots off hull speed and once out of step on the waves loads the deck hardware beyond acceptable limits.

So in my rambling discourse way of saying things, a rigid dingy is fine as long as the boat towing it is large enough, and the dingy is able to float and self bail if swamped.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:12   #9
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We have a 10' Caribe rigid bottom.I never ever tow it,when anchored for the night I always put it back on the davits just in case we have to move in the middle of the night in a hurry ,I don't want to have to worry about where my dinghy is. Plus less chances of having the dinghy stolen....
JC.
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Old 26-06-2011, 08:45   #10
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

I tow an 8ft grp dink with a 27ft boat ... I could, at a pinch, wrangle it onto the foredeck but then I would not have forward access to tend to my hank-on headsail or deploy my anchor in a hurry .... so I pretty much have to tow it & have learned several lessons the hard way ...

Here they are FWIW ...

1. Use floating line ... I prefer polyprop coz it's cheap & rugged ... inspect frequently for chafe & signs of UV effects ...
2. Tow with 2 lines ... when (not if) one breaks you still have one on the dink ...
3. When sailing to windward or on a reach the dink can be hauled in reasonably close but when sailing or motoring downwind with a following sea then let out lots of line putting the dink way back in the next or next-but-one trough .... that way it doesn't surf down behind you & ram your transom ...
4. Whilst underway check FREQUENTLY for any signs of chafe regardless of whatever anti-chafe measures you have in place ...
5. Before motoring in reverse ... even with floating line ... pull the dink up real close ...
6. Be aware that the dink will fill with water when it rains ... in such conditions I bring the dink alongside & tow it "on the hip" ... that way I can easily reach over & pump the rainwater out whenever required ...
7. Leave NOTHING, not even oarlocks, in the dink whilst towing ...
8. Even scrappy little grp dinks get swiped ... at anchor or on a mooring my dink is usually secured alongside with chain & padlock ... same chain & padlock at the dinghy dock ...

As I said .... I learned these lessons the hard way .... good luck .
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Old 26-06-2011, 10:34   #11
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

I tow mine 10' only when day sailing. Have been late getting into the anchorage, then I'll pull it up close and turn the nav. lights on to make it easier to see and just in case it does get loose.

As I tow it on the front edge of the second back wave it sits a little ways back. And as noted before, nothing in the dinghy, only thing in mine is a small secured sealed motor cycle battery for the nav. lights...
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Old 26-06-2011, 11:15   #12
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

Quote:
Originally Posted by lancelot9898 View Post
Thanks for all the input. It seems like a rigid dinghy might be a little more difficult to tow vs an inflatable. Although I'm also considering a 16 foot rigid vs a 10 ft. inflatable so maybe that might be another factor pro or con. I've never had the inflatable get swaped when towing and I wonder if the 16 ft. aluminum row boat would be as effective in that regard? The loads on the cleats must be pretty high if swamped and might just rival the jordan series drogue.
Towing inflatables can be just as big a problem. I lost a new Avon years ago when a wave filled it. All the extra weight and drag instantly snapped the tow line.
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Old 26-06-2011, 11:31   #13
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

For what it's worth: I often towed an 8 ft. El Toro as a dink behind an Ericson 29 on SF Bay. Used polyprop (because it floats--although once on current boat polyprop line did get sucked in by prop in reverse), and also placed a milk crate tied behind the dink seat with about 25 lbs of chain for weight to balance the dink out. Rode well a couple of wave sets back, even on a downwind run. In Bay, winds can hit 25 to 30 in summer, with wind waves to 3 feet or more. Dink still did ok; perhaps it was the pram bow?? Anyway, would not do this outside the Gate, but otherwise worked ok.

Also, to load my hard dink onto foredeck of current boat, I use a halyard off the main. Slightly awkward, but weight is not a problem.

Good luck!
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Old 26-06-2011, 11:37   #14
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

My friends with a 51 foot power boat tow about an 18 foot fishing boat all the time. They use a real long warp (100 ft?) and it tracks very well in their wake, even at speed. However , take heed of all the lost boats above...towing seems fine until that one bad day..... I know the Chesapeake gets pretty snotty with short steep waves, but do the wind waves get over 6-8 feet or so?
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Old 28-06-2011, 10:40   #15
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Re: Towing a Rigid Dinghy

I lost a 9ft inflatable towing Dam it was new, conditions were such that it was unsafe to try and recover Glad I had ins
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