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Old 15-09-2015, 09:21   #16
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

I have towed several times with my sailing yacht a 44 ft Southerly other sailing yachts, 52 ft. 48 ft 42 ft and a 30 ft over a distance of 600 NM . But at least the skipper have to be on the towing yacht. This have be happened in the Med, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean The line I use is 1 inch and 300 ft long.
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Old 15-09-2015, 09:47   #17
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

You ever towed anything with a motorcycle?
I bet it a lot like that, as long as the vessel under tow is directly behind you , all is good, but let the thing get off to one side and it starts steering you and pulling you sideways, it might get ugly.
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Old 15-09-2015, 09:49   #18
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

It can and had been done for centuries. But not by amatures. If the boat to be towed is manned, it's much easier to make up the tow by using heaving lines and making fast to the base of the mast. Towing vessel stands to windward, making a lee, and throws a messenger line with a weighted monkey fist over the deck of the vessel in distress, then sends the towing hawser over. This is best attempted with lots of sea room. Pay out enough line so that the tow is riding on the catenary , which acts as a spring. Slow and easy. When sheltered water is gained, shorten tow or shift tow to the hip. GREAT care should be taken to keep as much separation as possible between hulls. Won't go into all the legal issues involved . Never accept a tow by USCG unless you are under arrest. If Coast Guard does take you in tow, get the hell off the boat. Let them put some poor coastie aboard who will arrive in port half-dead.
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Old 15-09-2015, 10:40   #19
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
On the Chesapeake, it was a law that oysters had to be dredged under sail on some days of the week (to protect the stock after overfishing). These sailboats (called skipjacks) were purpose-built to pull the high friction dredges - they had short masts to reduce heeling moment, but huge booms to pack on sail area and push the boat and the dredge.
If towing a boat under sail is anything like pulling a dredge, you may want to hope for winds from astern so you can fly your downwind rig. Trying to get force enough upwind may mean carrying too much canvas for conditions in order to make speed.
But I am definitely an armchair sail tower, so I'm just theorizing!


Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum
I believe the Skipjacks beat the system by using "yawl boats" for power or maybe only on power days.
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Old 15-09-2015, 10:44   #20
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

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I believe the Skipjacks beat the system by using "yawl boats" for power or maybe only on power days.
Yup-basically floating diesel engines. The ones at the St Michael's maritime museum were about eight feet long and the engine took up half the boat!
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Old 15-09-2015, 10:58   #21
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Matt raises an interesting question. As I read through the posts I recalled watching a video of a single hander on a passage from New Your City to Bermuda. He hears a pan pan of another sail boat, close by, having problems. So he stands off in case their situation worsens. Eventually, and reluctantly he takes her in tow for 150 miles.

His entire experience was recorded in video and there are 6 x 15 minute episodes. The pan pan is received 11 minutes into episode 3.
.

The tow created all sorts of problems. Eventually, and after several near misses, the towed boat crashed into the towing vessel with considerable damage resulting.

Iím sure youíll draw a number of lessons from watching and be better informed should you face the same dilemma.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:03   #22
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

For a short distance, in calm waters, it could be done if the towed vessel were steered.

Speed will be greatly reduced. The OP said similar sized vessels, so basic math would say half your original speed, tops.

As others have said above, towing can be dangerous. Towing should be saved for getting into a harbour when your engine quits and there is no wind. Really, the cause of needing a tow is what should be addressed. If its engine failure...sail. Demasted, try a jury rig. Loss of steering...rig up a stern oar.

Sailboats aren't cars...you can't just call a tow truck. Thats why we carry spares, make repairs, and prepare ourselves in every way possible.

I've read it here many times...keep the mast up and the water out. If you've got that, you're half way home.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:06   #23
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

We were meeting two other boats in the San Juans, going from Anacortes to Friday Harbor one weekend. They had gone on ahead of us and one of them sputtered out of fuel about half way there. It was a Passport 40. They anchored at a spit and our other friends came along and got them under tow with their much smaller 30' sailboat. It was calm and the waters protected between islands but currents are always an issue there (and numerous ferries, other boats, etc.)

We had a Whitby 42 with a Ford Lehman 80hp motor and it was agreed that we would pick up the tow and take them in to Friday Harbor to join up with the yacht club group meeting there. We were all double-handing so we had to do it right or screw up bad. First (as I remember from some years ago), the smaller boat dropped their tow line (an extra halyard line) and the Passport pulled it in. We came up close on the side of the Passport and they threw the line to us. The Admiral took it to a stern cleat and wrapped it but did not secure it as you would at a dock. The idea was to be able to release it quickly if needed. Likewise on the Passport where they secured it to a forward bow cleat.

The towed boat kept a neutral helm and stayed at the wheel. We had two channels to go through and a few turns. We maintained about 4kts in center channel. We did not have any flags to indicate what we were doing so it was probably not too kosher as far as that goes. It was about 10 miles and getting late. As we made the last turn to starboard to make Friday Harbor to port a mile ahead, an incredibly dense fog came in all of a sudden. I mean as in "can't see the bow" thick. And then the sun set and it was dark and foggy. And ferries were coming in and out of the harbor. Pretty tense I can tell you. We used radar and blew our horn constantly and contacted the harbormaster with our intention to tie up to the outer dock, normally reserved for Customs check-in.

For some reason, as we came in we decided to try and get the boat on the inside of the harbor which involved going through a very tight entrance of about 100' and then an almost 180 degree turn to port and then an immediate turn to starboard to the dock, but actually 180 degrees to get out friends' boat to a slip bow in. As you can imagine, your actual turning radius is magnified by the length of two boats plus the line with significant momentum to be taken in to account.

We shortened the tow line and slowed to a crawl. We made the first turn to port and got straightened out, and then did a u-turn to starboard in a tight radius and built up some weigh to give some steerage to our tow. We then headed for the next to the end open slip where numerous club members were waiting. At the last possible moment we slipped our tow line and made a hard turn up the alley-way and our tow continued in to the slip. They came in at low speed and were stopped by a spring to the dock.

It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time. We should not have even tried it but in this case it worked out. We kept in close communication via VHF and planned each move before we did it. We also were familiar with the harbor and the docks. And we all had lots of fenders out. The hardest part was actually getting in our own slip as we had to overshoot everything and back up, which our Whitby did not like at all.

So I guess, in the right circumstances, you can tow another sailboat.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:17   #24
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Hate to correct anyone here, but I feel I must. The Coast Guard still tows when necessary to protect vessels and passengers on them, BUT ONLY TO THE NEAREST PLACE OF SAFETY. whether it be an anchorage, marina or boatyard. Beyond that it is up to a commercial operation. The primary job of the CG is to keep the boat and persons onboard safe, until a proper tow company can take over.


As for towing a sailboat with another sailboat, under sail or power, I have done both. A lot depends on the size of the boat to be towed, and for how far and the sea state and wind. If the seas are calm and the wind is down, and you have a lot of fenders, you might want a side tow. But if there is a sea running and a lot of wind you would want to go with a stern tow. With a stern tow you need to have enough line (of sufficient strength) to set up a proper cantry. Will grant you towing under sail it will be a lot more difficult than when you are under power. So be careful.


Good luck.
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Old 15-09-2015, 12:31   #25
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Of course it can be done. After the battle of Trafalgar the Royal Navy ships took a number of captured French and Spanish ships under tow.
In the ensuing storm many but not all were lost.
Towing was common in the age of sail.
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Old 15-09-2015, 12:52   #26
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Actually I've done it several times. I wouldn't do it in a rough conditions, where the towing vessel isn't substantially larger than the towed vessel, or where the towing vessel didn't have enough sail or engine power to keep a reasonable speed. Someone does have to steer. Chafe at the towed boat's chock has to be watched. At least 150ft of tow line with a bridle to both aft cleats on the towing boat.

Or call a guy who's really good with a heaving line
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Old 15-09-2015, 13:04   #27
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

Procedures for towing a sailboat with a sailboat under sail
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Old 15-09-2015, 13:05   #28
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

It's almost impossible to tow someone under sail unless the boat being towed has someone at the helm. It needn't be anyone experienced; you just tell them to keep their bow pointed at your stern the entire time and it all works out fine.

I have fond memories of a lovely sail a couple of years ago where a friend of mine had an open-50 that was disabled. I didn't fancy motoring and we had all day so i towed him under sail. It took us about 7 hours to go about 15 miles but it worked fine. Short-tacking up the channel was a challenge but doable. The real problem came when we discovered that the cooler with the beer in it had been left on the open 50, so someone from the towboat had to shimmy along the tow line to bring some back. That was a day to remember.......
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Old 15-09-2015, 13:12   #29
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
We were meeting two other boats in the San Juans, going from Anacortes to Friday Harbor one weekend. They had gone on ahead of us and one of them sputtered out of fuel about half way there. It was a Passport 40. They anchored at a spit and our other friends came along and got them under tow
I really enjoyed the story above. But I can't help but wonder why you didn't simply give him a few gallons of diesel in a fuel (or other) container?
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Old 15-09-2015, 13:14   #30
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Re: Towing a sailing boat with a sailing boat.

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I really enjoyed the story above. But I can't help but wonder why you didn't simply give him a few gallons of diesel in a fuel (or other) container?
Maybe they didn't fancy bleeding the whole fuel system, or didn't have the tools to do so? Or maybe they didn't have a way to get any diesel out of their own tank and didn't have any lying around?
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