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Old 23-10-2019, 06:32   #1
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Can a ship tow a sail boat?


My friend who left Langkawi for Bali/Indonesia and his boat got into trouble after Batam. He and his best friend had been hand pumping for days and ran out of drinking water. Called for help and was picked up by a container ship.

I felt sorry for his loss. I was on his boat when he install the new solar panels. Boat was found later - obviously stripped clean.

Is there really a way for a ship doing 14kts to tow a sailing yacht ?
What do you think?

Eric
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Old 23-10-2019, 06:37   #2
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

There is not a cleat or point on the sailboat that would be strong enough even if you could find some 1 inch thick amsteel or something that could withstand the many thousands of pounds of force that would be on it.

Essentially the sailboat would need to get up on a plane. Ever seen any do that other than a Macgregor?
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Old 23-10-2019, 06:50   #3
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

Technically a ship could tow a sailboat, but only if they slowed down. Trying to tow most sailboats at 14 kts would be an exercise in destroying the sailboat, most likely.
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Old 23-10-2019, 06:56   #4
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

I’m just going to come out and say no. LOL
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Old 23-10-2019, 07:12   #5
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

As others have said not practicable. Do you believe that there was any obligation or reason to tow the abandoned boat?
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Old 23-10-2019, 07:53   #6
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

Why did they abandon the boat? It apparently wasn’t sinking?
You’ll never plane a displacement hull, but if you pull it fast enough you’ll likely submerge it or pull it in two.
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Old 23-10-2019, 08:12   #7
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

IMHO, no. The stresses would simply be too much.
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Old 23-10-2019, 08:41   #8
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

Very few production boats have a strong enough or large enough towing point. Few unpaid tows would be willing to slow down to a sailboats towing speed.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:10   #9
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

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Why did they abandon the boat? It apparently wasn’t sinking?
You’ll never plane a displacement hull, but if you pull it fast enough you’ll likely submerge it or pull it in two.
I'm not sure it that simple, I've had my 33' 12,500 lb sloop reporting 10-12 knots with a 40 knot tail wind going down the face of a smooth 20' roller.
Not an experience I want to repeat and I won't say my 6' draft fin keeled boat was planing, but it sure felt like she was surfing.

Would I want to try to tow her at 14 knots, no but if the choice was abandoning her I guess i'd try.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:38   #10
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

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I'm not sure it that simple, I've had my 33' 12,500 lb sloop reporting 10-12 knots with a 40 knot tail wind going down the face of a smooth 20' roller.
Not an experience I want to repeat and I won't say my 6' draft fin keeled boat was planing, but it sure felt like she was surfing.

Would I want to try to tow her at 14 knots, no but if the choice was abandoning her I guess i'd try.
Right but that is the water pushing your boat from underneath, over a large surface area.

Imagine tying a 2 inch diameter rope to your car fender and then attaching it to a Boeing 747. What do you think would happen? Would your car go 300mph or would your fender fly off?
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:38   #11
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

It might be possible to tow Scorpius at 14 knots. She's hard chined with a pretty flat bottom - and I've had her surfing peaking at 18 knots on big waves (don't ever want to do that again!). Affixing the tow line would be the challenge. I'd probably want to run a substantial chain (at least 1/2') or steel cable, around the boat and through the propeller aperture. Then use a heavy nylon line with considerable stretch as the actual towing hawser. Even so I doubt it would last very long.

Ships diverting and rescuing people are obligated to do only that. That alone is expensive enough for them. They are under no obligation to save stuff (you'll notice in the video the rescuees brought only what they could carry. No "stuff" was hauled up before or after them). There is similarly no obligation to even try to save the boat.

I'm surprised they abandoned ship. They say she was sinking from water ingress around the shaft - but, especially with the engine off, that should be easily controlled, and she doesn't appear to be down on her lines at all. Also, she has plenty of solar power so one would expect the bilge pumps to be able to keep up without difficulty. At least the main sail looks to be in good shape. I wonder if the real distress was psychological: they felt overwhelmed with problems (after a storm perhaps?) and just didn't feel they could, or wanted to, carry on. Most ships would transfer lots of fresh water if that was the one life-threatening issue.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:54   #12
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

Tow it fast enough and it will just sink, if you go to fast beyond hull speed. That is if the pieces/parts dont start breaking off in the process...
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Old 23-10-2019, 10:00   #13
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

Multihulls.
Mine planes at about 12 knots. Even equipped with lots of cruiser stuff, I've sailed it over 17.
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Old 23-10-2019, 10:03   #14
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

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Multihulls.
Mine planes at about 12 knots. Even equipped with lots of cruiser stuff, I've sailed it over 17.

I may have missed that it was a multi hull boat... My error.. I was thinking a mono...
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Old 23-10-2019, 10:22   #15
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Re: Can a ship tow a sail boat?

It's clearly a monohull in the video.
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