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Old 06-05-2013, 08:42   #1
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Dinghy Tow Rope Length

I am about to buy a dinghy tow line.

What is the general rule for dinghy tow rope maximum length - in our case 11'ft rib pulled by a sailing catamaran?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:14   #2
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

No general rule, it all depends on your particular boat(s) and the sea conditions. One thing though, it's easier to shorten up a painter that's too long than it is to lengthen one that's too short.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:52   #3
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

No real solid backup for my idea here but I'd go with 50'.

Maybe use your snubber line? I have 50' of 1/2" three strand. Would make a decent tow line.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:00   #4
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

Yeah , hard to say. I know large powerboats sometimes tow 100 ft back at 20 knots with no issues. If you get in some rough stuff evidently that works alot better than towing right behind your vessel. The dingy tracks better unaffected by the mother ship etc.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:09   #5
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

A good long painter is useful at times when one beaches the dink and the nearest tree is far away. We actually have two painters, one 10 mm floating three strand about 6 metres long and one 8 mm dacron double braid about 15 metres long. We use the shorter one to secure the dink when we are at anchor, both of them when towing (in a vee) and the long one when required ashore.

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Old 06-05-2013, 11:15   #6
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Off topic a little, Lets say I am jumping 40miles in 2 ft seas to another anchorage while towing a dingy with the 50' of tow line. Would you have motor on or off the boat?
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:24   #7
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

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Off topic a little, Lets say I am jumping 40miles in 2 ft seas to another anchorage while towing a dingy with the 50' of tow line. Would you have motor on or off the boat?
Definitely off.... even for 15 miles. Here's an example. In the Sea of Cortez I had a guest aboard. We were working our way back toward La Paz to get him to an airplane out. The previous night the wind had blown hard but were were in a protected anchorage... still we could tell it was blowing. It was calm in the morning and needed to head to the next anchorage, accross the channel between islands... maybe 20 mile trip. We decided to tow my 8 ft Dyer dow dingy. We did remove the motor and put the oars inside the bulwarks aft on the mother ship. Once we got out in the channel, we had some huge steep waves, probably 16 footers curling on the top at times. It was a broad reach and the mother ship was making way well, although loosing the wind in the sails when the boat was in the trough between waves. The dingy was on about a 20-25 foot leash. As the mothership was pulled to the top of each wave it slowed near to a stop, but the dingy was surfing down the wave face trying to pass the mother ship! Either port side, then starboard side, then the dink would ram into the windvane hard and almost stand up on it's bow! This went on for about an hour, once... the dingy filled completely with water, then as the mother ship careened down the wave face, the painter became bar tight and..... wait for it.... the dink was jerked entirely clear of the water, throwing the water inside it out and off we went again... at that point rough water or not we had to stop the mother ship and wrestle the dingy aboard ... in those conditions... not fun. So yeah... you really want your outboard off the dink.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:34   #8
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

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Originally Posted by D2D View Post
I am about to buy a dinghy tow line.

What is the general rule for dinghy tow rope maximum length - in our case 11'ft rib pulled by a sailing catamaran?

Thanks in advance.

Long enough that you don't have to listen to it bouncing in the water anymore.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:36   #9
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Definitely off.... even for 15 miles. Here's an example. In the Sea of Cortez
Thanks, we just ordered our first dingy and assumed you should tow with out the motor. But now thanks to your story, I will stap the dingy to the deck as well. That must have sucked that day... Cheers
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:37   #10
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

I can honestly say that I've never towed our dinghy, not even 20' in the same anchorage. It just seems really dangerous and it's purely a convenience. I've seen the Pardey's do it in some of their videos for short hops, but they also have no engine, and they are 10x the seamen that we are.
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:07   #11
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

without davits, dingy towing becomes the easiest mode for short trips between anchorages. Just be aware of the potential issues. a 15 mile trip on the lee side of Puerto Rico may be a lot different than a 15 mile trip that goes from island to island crossing the wind/wave prone gap between the islands. Based on my eample above, It would be nice to have 50-75 feet of painter.... then I would have had the option of gettting the dingy so it was behind the wave, when the mothership was in front of the wave.....
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:25   #12
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

In calm weather conditions, the dinghy can be towed a short distance from the mother ship. When rough, one would want something like two or so mother-ship lengths between.

Sailing in protected waters:



Headed toward the open sea:



The greater the distance between mother and dinghy, the greater possibility some yahoo will cross the towline.

Anyone out there use chain?

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Old 06-05-2013, 15:42   #13
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

just wondering why you would want to tow a dingy when you are apparently sailing a 47ft cat???
much easier, faster and safer to pull it up on the transom.
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Old 06-05-2013, 15:54   #14
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

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just wondering why you would want to tow a dingy when you are apparently sailing a 47ft cat???
much easier, faster and safer to pull it up on the transom.
And a lot more quiet.
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Old 06-05-2013, 16:34   #15
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Re: Dinghy Tow Rope Length

not to mention--i t will remain on the back of the cat whereas towed dinks can find new owners.....
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