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Old 07-11-2013, 16:53   #1
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Constantly Towing Tender

Hi There,

How many people out there constantly tow their tender.

Not interested in people who have davits, deck space, roll up inflatables or whatever.

More interested in hearing simply how many people actually tow their tender on a permanent basis.

I'm thinking of changing my tender to something else hence the question.

What I'm looking at is something lightweight like a walker bay sailing dinghy with the tube round the edge.

I was thinking of putting a cover over the front half and having a large opening in the rear to facilitate water egress.

Anyone doing something similar? and hints or tips.

Thanks in advance,


Do but once what others say you cant, and you will never be judged by their limitations again.
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Old 07-11-2013, 17:41   #2
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

I cannot comment on "constantly towing a tender" as I use a davit.

I will say that my Walker Bay 8 makes an annoying, wave slapping sound when towed in a light chop. No problem when motoring but it is not acceptable during light-air sailing.

If your mother-ship is a power boat, then no problem with the noise.


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Old 07-11-2013, 23:14   #3
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

i tried it once sea got rough and had a hell of a job getting the half sunk pos up on deck would not recommend it.
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Old 07-11-2013, 23:39   #4
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There's no way you can tow a tender , in any sort of seaway , forget it
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Old 08-11-2013, 00:01   #5
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

Beyond simply feeling lazy for very short protected trips in benign conditions towing any tender is a bad idea, even though I see it done far too frequently. Will admit I have luxury of deck space so maybe shouldn't have replied, and I'm willing to keep tender lashed on deck up to anticipated conditions of around 35-40 knots sustained wind speed I always stow below for passage to keep deck space as deck space.. If deck space is limited can go the route of a nesting pram, of which some can be sailed, and an inflatable kayak as in my personal opinion a really ideal combination...
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Old 08-11-2013, 00:24   #6
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

Its fine in calm inshore waters. No blue water cruiser would want to tow it constantly. If it fills with water mid ocean in a storm you will have any or all of the following problems. Broken painter, torn out cleats, sunken tender affecting steerage and so on and so forth
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Old 08-11-2013, 01:41   #7
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

Apart from the higher risk of losing your tender the drag will knock something like 1/2 to 1 knot off your boat speed which in deteriorating weather is not a good idea.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:24   #8
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I was sailing in 25kn and 2 meter swell solo and the dinghy flipped and line snapped. It was a hell of a job to recover.

In another occasion I was approaching the marina with 30-50 kn gusts and a flat sea and my dinghy flipped 4 or 5 times. I aborted any attempt to dock and anchored.

Now I will only tow it in light conditions and short legs otherwise it will be on deck or deflated and down below. I now have an electric pump to take the pain out if inflating.

Never buy a tender you can not carry on board!
S/Y Jessabbé
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:35   #9
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I too was curious we were thinking about towing a 15' whaler dauntless over to the Bahamas to use for a few years, other than the trip over from Fl and crossing the bank we wernt thinking we would tow it more 40-50 miles at any one time and pick weather carefully. I dont think the whaler would flip too easily , has decent scuppers and a large auto bilge pump, and wohld be great over there. Might sell it though and get an 11' ab ul aluminum rib w a 15 hp yammie. At least that could go on deck or davits...
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:13   #10
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

As express above towing a dinghy outside lake or calm bay waters is highly dangerous and will also slow you boat up to a Knot.

When I was coming into Florida last May when got hit with a sudden Squall that wacked us with 63 knot winds. There were two boats entering Charlotte Harbor and we both turn and ran for sea.

The other boat, a Hunter 36, was towing a Walker Dinghy. It flipped several times and then filled with water causing the sailboat to lose maneuverability. There was no way to deal with the dinghy in those winds, so the owner ended up cutting it loose and never saw the dinghy again.

Yes, this was an extreme situation, but stuff happens and I would not tow a dinghy unless it was in calm protected waters and for no more that a couple of miles.
Tom Jeremiason
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:23   #11
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

As stated above:"do not buy a tender that cannot be put on deck ."
The dingy is a critical piece of equipment for any cruiser, and there are too many scenarios to enumerate whereby a towed dingy can (will) be lost in conditions that would not be particularly trying if the tender were not in the water.
However some people learn from others and some just have to pee on the electric fence to find out for themselves. Alas, I have usually been in the later group. you all...............mike............................ .........................
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:23   #12
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

my current dinghy is a watertender 9.4 trihull. weighs about 100 pounds. we only do florida/bahamas. i tow it everywhere except when crossing the gulf stream - then it goes on deck. so far so good.

i often see large motoryachts (50' +) towing center console fishing boats across the gulf stream to/from the bahamas, but it's always been in good weather.

and now for a real towing story. i used to live in south florida and kept a sailboat on the dania cutoff canal. there was a french canadian retired fisherman across from me and we often sailed each others boats.

one day a couple came in with a 1960's era islander 30. they were french speaking so my friend got acquainted with them. he told me they had been captain/mate on a large french yacht that was just sold from under them in fort lauderdale. the owner had given them money so they could fly home but they used the money to buy the islander instead. they also bought a 19 foot center console fisherman. eventually i learned that they intended to sail to martinique - a french island - towing the powerboat behind them, where they could sell it for double what they paid for it in the states. i was pretty skeptical.

but my friend kept in touch and a few months later got a call from them from martinique. they had made it. go figure.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:28   #13
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

I have a heavy tender 500lb and 30hp honda 250 lbs. I also have davits, but no way will it support the tender. I rasied it once but was not safe. If I had know that the tender was this heavy I would not have bought it. That being said, it is a joy to anchor and travel to shore in. I tow it through the Chesapeake bay and I have not found speed to be an issue. It is very comfortable. So towing is my only option. I may tow it to Bahamas, traveling ICW definite yes. It is never going to flip due to wind. I have auto bilge pump so water filling it not an issue. I think I will go piss on an electric fence to see what will happen....
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:52   #14
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Originally Posted by S/V_Surya View Post
I think I will go piss on an electric fence to see what will happen....
I love this forum!

If you tow your dinghy, you are stupid!

We are guilty of this. Our sacred rule, after many mistakes, mostly by my parents in the 80s, is a towed dinghy must be empty - empty of oars, outboard, thongs, stubbie coolers, towels, bottles, bailers, petrol, clothes, tools, snorkelling gear, fishing crap, etc etc. You know, just the normal stuff that accumulates in a cruising dinghy......!

And the interesting thing is that it is easier to haul all that crap up in the davits, even if only for a mile or two, than empty it and tow it.

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Old 08-11-2013, 08:15   #15
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Re: Constantly Towing Tender

Do NOT piss on an electric fence, I was about maybe 4 or 5 when I did, God know why I did, but I can tell you not to from personal experience, you will feel pain in your guts and it will hurt so bad that you will lose vision for a few seconds.
Some things you never forget, I think it's called one trial learning or something like that?

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