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Old 05-05-2011, 06:19   #16
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Re: Towing Sailboat with a Dinghy

The single leg and bridle or stern tow is used for long distance towing in open waters.
The alongside or hip tow is used where maximum control and maneuverability are required, particularly in congested waters. Towing alongside offers excellent control; but it is not recommended for open waters.

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Old 05-05-2011, 15:04   #17
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Re: Towing Sailboat with a Dinghy

OK, here’s what happened.

The waves were on the port quarter when we got things headed toward the harbor, so I wanted the dinghy on the starboard hip. There was a wind vane on the stern, but it was way too rough to try to push without lines until we got into the harbor. Unfortunately, there was also a sharp exhaust pipe sticking out about where I wanted to put the dinghy.

The first try was putting the dinghy forward of the exhaust, using the dinghy painter as a spring, tied to a stern cleat on the sailboat. That didn’t work for two reasons. First, the midship position put too much turning torque on the sailboat, stalling its rudder. Secondly, the cleat was too high, which pulled up the bow of the dinghy and threatened to flip it when I applied power.

Second try was to rig a bridle from the dinghy lifting sling and tow from forward. That definitely didn’t work, even shortening up the bridle to where the ring was right behind the outboard. The steering response under load was backwards at times, forward at times, and basically uncontrollable. Since I didn’t have the means to rig a towing post forward of the outboard, I went with Plan C.

The successful rig was behind the exhaust pipe, with a line from the inside bow (sling attachment point) of the dinghy, around the sailboat transom and tied to the lower stern ladder attachment. The lower position of the attachment to the sailboat eliminated the tendency to pull the dinghy bow up, and the inside attachment to the dinghy minimized chafe on the tubes. We were able to make about 3 knots (the sailboat bottom was quite fouled), and while the dinghy slid up and down a bit, it worked out pretty well. No bow and stern lines (no place to tie them to the dink, and no need).

We used the same arrangement inside until the sailboat set an anchor, then put the dinghy in reverse to pull the sailboat stern into the quay. I have towed with the dinghy in reverse before, as it gives you good directional control, but it won’t work for open water, as the waves slop over the dinghy transom, and I’m not sure how well the outboard cooling system and prop work in continuous hard reverse.

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Old 07-05-2011, 19:56   #18
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Re: Towing Sailboat with a Dinghy

If it wasn't a sailboat: I would tie off the dinghy with a spring line on the lee side with a line to the kill key and have an anchor ready.

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Old 15-12-2011, 16:08   #19
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Re: Towing Sailboat with a Dinghy

For 50 years or so, I have always towed with my dinghy in reverse. secure a line from the dinghy bow to the bow of the boat under tow. Expect excellent steering control with no weaving about. My favorite dinghies have been trihulls for stability. Iv'e single handed towed my 50' 23 ton "Daedalus" many times in an emergency. I usually make the tow line the same length as the distance from the bows to the side boarding ladder. I can then readily climb aboard and tend to the larger boat.

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