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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've read a number of reports where TF boaters have rendered towing assistance to disabled boats. What is the proper way to tow another craft? How heavy a tow line is needed, how long, how far back should the towed craft be, and how and where to tie off on your boat? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Seems like once a year I find myself towing someone in. Hope it makes for good karma.

Like to use their tow line so that when I drop them off at their pier, I can just pass them their line and be on my way. Size of the line depends on the size of their boat; for something up to a 26 foot boat, ½ inch line should be enough. For the length of line, just try to put their boat back far enough so that it will not impact your boat or engine. If you want to get fancy, you can try to put their boat on top of a wave while your boat is on top of a wave, that way the line will have a steady strain instead of alternating between strain and slack and increasing the risk of the line parting. With waves less than a foot or so, this isn’t so important.

To my way of thinking, how you tie the line off is very important. I take the line and wrap it around the body of the cleat at least once before I start making the “figure eights” around the horns. If you start off putting the line around the forward horn of the cleat, it is likely to raise that horn and make the whole cleat part from the boat.

Once I get the boat under tow, it is slow and steady. Make sure the other boat has his outboard down and centered. Also, I make sure anyone on my boat is on the side of the pilot house that is opposite the line under strain, that way if it parts they will have some protection.
 

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I have been in both situations, needing a tow and towing another person's boat. I was taught in both cases.....the rope should be at least 25 feet long, hooked into the eyelet of the towed boat, and to the backside of the tow vehicle if not a tow boat by nature.......the people on the boat to be towed should be transferred to the boat under power to release as much weight from the dead in the water boat as possible......never tow at a high rate of speed, usually just slightly above idle......and only have the driver of the boat being under tow in that boat to correct for any steering mishaps should the motor happen to turn while down.....or put the motor up so it is not a problem.....some motor companies suggest to not leave an outboard down while under tow or while one is running in gear and the other is turned off.....something to do with the way the water cools and possibly can get in the cylinders......make sure the towed boat driver is wearing his life preserver and likewise in the tow boat.....and pray nothing goes wrong that they sue...
 

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I agree with all of the above and will suggest that you have a good insurance policy.

Once you attach that rope to the other boat you’re liable for everything that comes with it. There has been more than one lawsuit filed over damages done while a vessel was under tow.

I’m not saying do not help other out but you need to understand the risk you take when doing so.
 

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Being born and rased on the water, I have towed alot of boats in my time. One thing that really helps the TOWER, is to make up a briddle. This is a short length of line to go from one stern cleat to the other with several feet of slack in it. Then take the tow rope with a bowline in it and slip it over the briddle before tying it to one of the cleats. (tow line will now look like a wishbone) After you are under way this will put the load in the center of your boat and make it much easier to steer than having the total wieght of the boat being towed on one cleat. This is extreamely helpful if the boat is larger and you have to go a long distance.

Good Luck,
Butch
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Butcher. Chapman's also says the brindle is the safest way to tow so when I get my boat back there'll be one on board.[wink] I also bought another 200' of 5/8" anchor line with a spliced eye in it in case I ever need a tow. [smile]
 

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Slipsinker !!!
Boy if more people read Chapmans Seamanship Book it would be a much safer world outhere on the water. Mine is at least 30 years old and I still glance through it from time to time. I got it from my father as a gift in the early 70's when I was studying for my captains licence, there is a lot of good info in there.

Thanks,
Butch
 

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Ive had the coast guard tow me in parallel to their boat. Their boat was about 40 foot and mines only 19 foot. If I'm towing someone in I just tie a big bowline and put it around both stern cleats...keeps your boat centered...but you really need to be carefull of line snap back...can be a killer...or a maimer...Ive seen cleats come out of the deck before on other peoples boats...and it happens real fast too...
 

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I know I'm taking a risk.just pulled a boat in last week.The rope they had was old and a little short .
To start with they had it tied to one of their bow cleats which made their boat ride dashing frome side to side . I finally stopped and made them tie it to the eye on the front which made a much better ride.was afrairt their cleat would pop out.
So you are damed if you do and damed if you don't because first it is the Law to pull some one to shore when they are stranded and one should because of possible dangers out there but it seems like there shoud be some kind of good samaritan act in place like it is on land when you help some one on the road.i would hat not pulling any one in. someome mentioned calling Seatow and waiting there with them but what if a storm is on the way ?
Looks like there would be some kinf of written up statment for them to sign r eleasing you from any accidents,proprty damage injuries or death that occured while you had them under tow.
Has anyone on here been sued because of any of this here?
 

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[q]you are damed if you do and damed if you don't because first it is the Law to pull some one to shore when they are stranded [/q]While you may have a moral obligation to do so, I doubt you will find any legal obligations on the law books.
 

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I think you are all getting a little carried away with the legalities. As a fellow boater you are supposed to help others. There are laws on the books that go back years and by rendering assistance you could be a partial owner of that boat you are towing in. More so in a salvage situation where you have prevented a sinking or bad accident. I tow them in and yes the bridle hook up between the 2 cleats is the way to tow.

There are an increasing number of people that will not offer assistance to others. My buddys wife was riding a mid sized motor cycle in a state park, tipped it over on herself, with people nearby that saw the accident. The only thing they did was call the cops, fortunately she was OK. I'm troulbed by this and wonder if parents are teaching this to their children. If so, God help our next generations to come..

Rich
 

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I have to agree with Rick, I have been on or around the water for almost 50 years and between my father and myself we have probobly and honestly towed close to 100 boats over that time, and have never had a problem or accepted a dime. Last summer for the first time in my life, I had to be towed in.

Sometimes you have no choice and I was extreamely greatful for the tow, and the tower would not accept a dime as well, he did accept a cold beer though. I realise people are sue happy in this day and age, but I honestly could not leave someone stranded knowing that I could have helped. Now if I am at the Bay Bridge and they are from Solomons, we will go to the closest marina where they can make other arangements.

Perhaps I will get burned one day, but until then I will continue to help and hopefully the favor would extended to me if I should need it again. I hope there are more out there like me rather than the opposite.

Thanks,
Butch
 

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I don't fault anyone for towing as long as you realize the potential dangers you have placed yourself into. I have insurance to get towed anywhere and I believe, like car insurance, it should be your legal duty to get it. I want to protect my family more than any stranger on the water. I will make sure they are safe, but I will not tow. keyword here is stranger. It is a sorry state of affairs we live in now a days. If I am towing someone and they hit the dock too hard or someone elses boat because of my miscalulations We need more like you and less like them, but unfortunitly we do not know who we are connecting our familes comfort to. Keep up the good work and be safe.
 

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[Q]Joe Bowers originally wrote:
From what I understand the law states that you must make sure the passengers are safe by standing by. If a storm is comming , I would probably make them anchor their boat and take them to shore,.

[/Q]
I believe you are quite correct.

I have seen the USCG on a few occasions refuse to go thru Barngat Inlet to tow a boat to what that boat's captain considered safety. The times they refused they asked the afflicted vessel if they would take a commercial tow.

These times were when Barnegat Inlet had significant seas in it. The USCG refused to negotiate the inlet in hose seas (once as high as 11 feet) and the boat was a 50" Bertram that was outside in 8 - 9 foot seas and lost steerage.

I, however, will attempt to help others when they are in trouble the best I can.
 

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The Coast Guard does a superb job with limited resources but they are not in the towing business. Every call from some fool who runs out of fuel or breaks down because he neglects maintenance takes time away from legitimate distress calls. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and spend the 100 bucks a year for towing insurance.
 
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