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Old 04-05-2011, 19:43   #1
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Towing Sailboat with a Dinghy

A couple of days ago I had occasion to tow a 41 ft sailboat into Hilo harbor with my dinghy. The tow was about 3 miles, with offshore winds less than 10k, and swells about 6-8 ft. The dinghy is a 10 ft RIB with a 15 hp outboard. The sailboat had a broken propshaft, but working sails.

So what would you do in that situation?? How would you rig for the tow?? Next time I get on the internet I'll tell you what worked for me, and what didn't...
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Old 04-05-2011, 19:54   #2
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

have all ways tied the dingy along side with fore and aft lines and a spring.

trying to pull heavy yacht with a lighter tender,even with a powerful engine they tend to skid around in front and become hard to steer.

much better along side and use the yachts helm to steer.

unless their is enough wind to sail then just stand by in the tender till assistance needed.
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Old 04-05-2011, 19:54   #3
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

I'd have sailed the sailboat. Weren't there any sailors and sails onboard?
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Old 04-05-2011, 19:55   #4
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

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have all ways tied the dingy along side with fore and aft lines and a spring.
I'd think it would have been too rough a sea for that.
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Old 04-05-2011, 19:57   #5
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
A couple of days ago I had occasion to tow a 41 ft sailboat into Hilo harbor with my dinghy. The tow was about 3 miles, with offshore winds less than 10k, and swells about 6-8 ft. The dinghy is a 10 ft RIB with a 15 hp outboard. The sailboat had a broken propshaft, but working sails.

So what would you do in that situation?? How would you rig for the tow?? Next time I get on the internet I'll tell you what worked for me, and what didn't...
I prefer "putting the dinghy on the hip" and letting the sailboat break the seas. Lash the dinghy to stern quarter of sailboat with bow & stern lines plus fore and aft spring lines. The dinghy won't move much and you can use the sailboat's rudder for all the maneuvering.
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:01   #6
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

I have someone at the helm and just push with the dingy at the stern.
Never tie any lines.
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:04   #7
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pirate Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

Stern quarter with springs and lines... light winds so no breaking waves and the swell would likely have been well spaced... should have managed 3 - 4 knots.
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:07   #8
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

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I'd think it would have been too rough a sea for that.
thats the idea with the springs and fore and aft lines ,can be left slack,so you are not actually along side by having a bit angle away on the outboards thrust,and yacht steering as normal
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:10   #9
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pirate Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
I have someone at the helm and just push with the dingy at the stern.
Never tie any lines.
Could that not be problematic with that high a swell... or would you back of as each approached the stern
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:15   #10
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

The dingy is blocked by the swell if pushing from the stern.
Just stay on the throttle.

If you tie to the hip with that kind of swell you will get sopt and the dingy gets full of water
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:21   #11
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

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Originally Posted by svcattales View Post
I prefer "putting the dinghy on the hip" and letting the sailboat break the seas. Lash the dinghy to stern quarter of sailboat with bow & stern lines plus fore and aft spring lines. The dinghy won't move much and you can use the sailboat's rudder for all the maneuvering.
+1 for me. Used this and it works well.
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:26   #12
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
The dingy is blocked by the swell if pushing from the stern.
Just stay on the throttle.

If you tie to the hip with that kind of swell you will get sopt and the dingy gets full of water
can see the advantages but problematic if transome hung rudder or wind vane or sugar scoop
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Old 04-05-2011, 20:42   #13
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
I have someone at the helm and just push with the dingy at the stern.
Never tie any lines.
That could be interesting with a big following sea.
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Old 04-05-2011, 21:22   #14
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

Even with only 8 to 10 ft seas it can be too rough to tie alongside with short lines that could surge and stress uncontrollably when you change course. You are now also harnessed to a dangerous offshore situation if a large container ship’s swell were to hit you broadside.

With that type of tender and for a 3 mile ocean tow I would rig an oar as a tow post rigidly secured and wedged between the forward bench seat and gas tank shelf, (you tie a forestay to the bow…shrouds to forward tube handles).

It is a good idea to have tested this beforehand and carry a small bag of lashings specific for securing a tow post

This gives you a higher pivot point that will clear the operator and being forward of the outboard…. it will also allow the tender to pivot so as to steer properly with minor adjustments.

Use a long (floating) tow line to bow harness on sailboat and VHF com.

Tell sailboat to keep their rudder amidships unless asked otherwise, so as not to create any dangerous opposing sheer.

Slowly apply maximum 50% power and adjust length of tow for most comfortable ride.

Slow down, reduce tow length and turn boat into wind/current to stop momentum and clear towline when practical inside protected waters and depending on sea room and berth destination.

I prefer then to simply secure the tender’s painter on the sailboat’s mid-ship cleat with generous scope and use outboard’s astern propulsion to give the sailboat slow headway.

Steerage is now done with the sailboat’s rudder and if it is a tight maneuver, best to do a practice figure 8 and stop before committing

In close quarters and steerage speed, the sailboat is now in a better position to pilot so they/you take over command on board the sailboat to guide tender assist and plan to stop just off the dock with tender attached mid-ships on off dock side.
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Old 04-05-2011, 22:14   #15
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Re: Towing a sailboat with a dinghy

I've done it lashed to the quarter, as described above, but w/ only about a 2–3-ft. swell, as I recall. Three miles or so open water, straight up the channel, to the anchorage; picked a spot among the anchored boats, crept dead upwind, dropped the hook and fell back on it. Whew!

Worked quite well, esp. as it allowed good communication to the dinghy driver from the helm. The crewman in the inflatable got a little spray, though.
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