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Old 25-02-2021, 09:12   #1
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Towing your dinghy.

My boat has limited deck space for a dinghy, so I find the need to deflate my dinghy when making long passages. I am curious what others practice when towing the dinghy. Is there a rule of thumb on how far one cruises while towing a dinghy?
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Old 25-02-2021, 09:20   #2
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

We rollup our dinghy (air floor) and tie down on deck when doing overnight passage, or on open ocean (in BC, places like west coast of Vancouver Island) or if weather particularly bad (winds 25+ kn).

Otherwise, we often tow our dinghy: (i) always with 2 lines (one slack, in case #1 breaks), (ii) without oars and (iii) never with outboard. I don't consider distance (unless darkness will intercede).
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Old 25-02-2021, 10:01   #3
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

I dislike towing a dinghy for anything more than a short hop in secure waters. This is why I opted for a Portabote. It stores on deck folded, out of the way.

I used to tow more often, but got caught one too many times when an unexpected squall turned an easy sail into mayhem. This was on the Great Lakes, where weather changes faster than on the coasts, but I still prefer to have the dinghy on deck for anything other than short hops.
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Old 25-02-2021, 15:41   #4
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

It's not a question of distance, it's a question of sea conditions and expected weather.
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Old 25-02-2021, 16:05   #5
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

The 10m yacht is too small to carry the dinghy inflated on deck. I only tow our 2.6m inflatable with alloy floor boards in calm settled conditions. Sometimes with the 3hp 2 stroke OB on it. Only for <15km short hops. Otherwise it is taken apart, rolled up strapped down on deck. Would NEVER tow it, or carry it inflated on deck (even if I could) on an ocean passage.
I met a single hander guy who towed an Avon across the Atlantic, down the “milkrun” to Fiji, and lost it on the way to NZ.
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Old 25-02-2021, 16:15   #6
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

I always cruise to the Bahamas from S Florida with the zodiac inflated, upside down on deck. Never try to tow when running offshore, just another Murphys Law trap. Once I clear Customs, and get on the bank, we start towing unless the weather calls for highs winds and seas, then it goes back on deck.
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Old 25-02-2021, 16:43   #7
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

We tow our dinghy: never.

It's too valuable a tool to risk to the whims of the sea.
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Old 25-02-2021, 16:48   #8
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KHHanse341 View Post
My boat has limited deck space for a dinghy, so I find the need to deflate my dinghy when making long passages. I am curious what others practice when towing the dinghy. Is there a rule of thumb on how far one cruises while towing a dinghy?

Welcome to the CF community


Practices vary depending on the type of dinghy and the location. Many east-coast USA sailors with hard (wood, fiberglass, or plastic) dinghies that are designed with towing in mind tow routinely. Less so with inflatables, though I frequently see inflatable dinghies with outboards being towed on the Mississippi and Lake Pepin.
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Old 25-02-2021, 17:04   #9
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

We have a hard dinghy (a Walker Bay 8) and tow it for anything under 24 hours - our cruising grounds are up and down the East Coast and the Bahamas. Outboard and oars are off, and we are prepared to cut it loose if we need to.
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Old 25-02-2021, 18:05   #10
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

we have a 3m RIB w/- outboard and never ever tow it anywhere

too risky to swamp etc on long passages and too risky to tangle tow line on short passage

can you fit davits to the stern ? seeing such more and more on monos - even quite small ones.

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Old 25-02-2021, 18:05   #11
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

Yeah I never do either. It only takes one time when you have to wrestle it into the boat if sea conditions worsen, and putting yourself in danger, to convince you to get the boat on deck before there is any chance for any unsettled conditions. Also it'll slow you down.
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Old 25-02-2021, 18:26   #12
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

We never tow our dingy. (Well, we have, but very rarely, and then only for the shortest of distances, under power, in sheltered waters. Like 1/2mile!)

We can yank the dingy up onto the foredeck with motor and gear, in about 1.5 minutes, with a spin halyard. The bridle is easy to grab with the boat hook. Even if we are having to bug out of a harbor due to wind and waves, we can yank up the dingy.

But we don't like to travel with the dingy on deck. Normally we'll deflate the dingy and store it below deck, motor too goes down below.

And while at anchor it is usually hoisted out of the water hanging from a halyrd amidships, so towing it is not usually even something we'd consider.

We have a 12' dingy with an inflatable floor. It is big, fast and seaworthy, but we can deflate it and roll it up quickly and stow it. Re-inflating it takes longer, about 20 minutes, by foot pump.
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Old 25-02-2021, 18:47   #13
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

I tow the dinghy in SHELTERED waters only, and even then regret it from time to time. I'll tow in the ICW, but never if I'm hopping out an inlet.
Pretty much if there's open sea in any direction without a reef or barrier I won't tow.
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Old 25-02-2021, 18:59   #14
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

I tow my dinghy but the boy enclosed waters and even then it makes me nervous. Doesn’t matter where I position it but occasionally it looks like it is trying dive. Hasn’t yet but it is disconcerting. This is an air deck inflatable.
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Old 25-02-2021, 20:36   #15
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Re: Towing your dinghy.

I have a Jeanneau 41ds and a 10ft RIB with 9.9hp outboard. I tow the dinghy with a single line with the motor on it to the Channel Islands, SoCal which is 13 to 24 miles of the coast in fair weather. It was very difficult to get the dinghy on and off deck as well as getting the outboard on and we really needed it to get offshore for hikes.
I caved, and installed davits which made life much easier. I keep the motor on and secure the dinghy so that there is absolutely no movement. I guess if I was really going off shore (which I do not) and weather was more unpredictable then I would follow sv pelagia advice and take the motor off and store on deck. I still drag the dinghy behind if I am moving from short distance anchorage to anchorage.

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