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Old 08-07-2014, 19:31   #1
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Towing a Dinghy

I won't have my davits installed, and we're itching to get underway to the north channel.

I plan on towing the dink.....should I have the motor up in it's raised position, or leave the motor in the water?

I've seen some sailboats with the dink right at the stern, others with a long lead......what's the preferred method?



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Old 08-07-2014, 19:41   #2
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Re: Towing a dinghy

If I were you I'd remove the motor and store it on a stern mount. If you should flip the dinghy, the motor will be toast if you don't lose it altogether. I tow my inflatable dinghy just off the first wave behind the boat with it slightly held up by the wave. It can be brought in closer if waves are steep. Just be prepared to cut it loose if you get in some really terrible weather.

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Old 08-07-2014, 19:56   #3
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Re: Towing a dinghy

A bad day towing the dinghy
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Old 08-07-2014, 20:10   #4
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Re: Towing a dinghy

In spite of the fact that it's really best to stow it safely on deck, sometimes it seems flat out too blankety-blank inconvenient to do so. That is the face of temptation.

If you're determined to tow it, first empty it. It is less of a PITA to stow the motor than to have to field strip it and get it running again if the dinghy turns turtle. Also, if you empty it you don't lose seat, oars, anchor, chain. and line, etc., that you usually have in it. If you're going to tow downwind, make a little drogue for it that will hold it off your stern. Finally, use a strong line for the painter. If you suddenly find yourself trying to tow to weather in 20+, the loads on the painter are considerable.

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Old 08-07-2014, 20:39   #5
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Re: Towing a dinghy

Go slow. Last weekend saw a cruiser pulling an eight-foot dinghy while going 12 to 15 knots. It looked like dinghy abuse.

Something like this is how it should be done:

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Old 09-07-2014, 21:51   #6
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Re: Towing a dinghy

Towed a 12 foot inflatable tinker for many years behind my old folkboat, when I decided it was safe enough, it being a real problem to deflate and stow on such a small boat. These are the steps I took if it looked less than perfect.
  • I generally took off the outboard unless it was a short trip in good conditions
  • Lashed the spare fuel container into the stern to keep some weight aft and help it track straight.
  • I always lashed in the oars so it became a useful asset in a abandon ship or MOB scenario.
  • I stowed (and lashed) a few spare fenders in under the bow cover and under the seat. To give more floatation forward.
  • Set up an extra painter to backup the first and use as a bridle to help it tow straight
  • Set up a third line from the stern to hang a drogue off if the dingy started to surf or blow ahead and cause problems

I capsized it once, when manoeuvring in a big sloppy sea with very gusty conditions, I think a wave lifted it and a gust caught it at just the wrong moment. I think it wouldn't have happened if I had been sailing faster. I wasn't to far from sheltered water so I headed back and bailed it out when it was safe. Very big loads on the painter, and the dinghy pulled down completely underwater as I sailed for the flat water. Tinkers have a low volume bow, so maybe that wouldn't happen on a more normal inflatable?

Also had it blow over at anchor, as well as having had a few hard dinks do the same, so it's worth taking some precautions if a blow is forecast, even when in a sheltered bay, at least remove the outboard and lash in the oars.
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Old 09-07-2014, 23:52   #7
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

Having had dinghy cartwheel and land in the cockpit I never consider towing the thing in open water, or over any distance. If you can't stow it on board get a smaller dink.
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Old 10-07-2014, 03:05   #8
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

If your dead set on towing it, the up position makes it bounce around a lot putting lots of stress on the transom. A friend just lost a nice motor in the up position as it weakened then broke the lip off the top of the transom ,(the little motor pad) resulting in the engine falling off. Down in neutral will keep the dinghy behaving better. I like a shorter 10-20' lead in nice conditions but havi,g the ability to lengthen if weather decline. Either way we lose almost a knot of speed towing ours.

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Old 10-07-2014, 05:09   #9
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

The only way to tow a dink is without the motor or anything else you don't want to lose in the dink. Last dink I towed should now be in Greenland. Still got the motor tho.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:14   #10
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

Does anybody have any opinions good or bad about lashing an inflatable to the swim platform?

If giving a good opinion, what is your preferred method?

(my apologies if anyone considers this a thread drift)
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Old 10-07-2014, 14:10   #11
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

Here are some pics of what I used, until I built the new Bimini which incorporated a dinghy lift.
I used to tow the dink stern up bow down when traveling. The pics are in the stowed position at the dock.
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I never had any issues with but I was always leary of it offshore. There was a gentleman in Canada that was selling something similar to what I made. Davron Marine Products (Dinghy-Tow)
As I sit, a swirling sea of passion gives it's poems in waves underneath me.
The whispers of the sun in my eyes, a silence within.
Rhythm of the surf, drums of the sea. Thoughts tumble and toss about the deep blue abyss inside me, where the love of you dwells.
I'm fighting currents to get back to you, listening to the flow of your liquid language as you beckon me, "Come Play"
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Old 10-07-2014, 20:25   #12
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Re: Towing a Dinghy

Never tow a dinghy you aren't willing to lose.

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