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Sailboat Tow

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On my third time out in my brand new 287 SSX we came across a sailboat that had run aground on the rocks in a narrow passage (Near Stone Bridge on Sakonnet River in RI), in some swift tidal current.  He was calling "pan pan" and talking to the Coast Guard.  We were first "on scene" and were joined shortly after by a couple that had jumped in their dinghy to come help as well.  The first video shows the other couple grabbing the tow line from the sail boat.  Check out that current! The second video shows our new Chap pulling the sailboat off the rocks -- like a boss. 

Their boat was apparently ok -- they said on the radio that there was water in the bilge but that they couldn't see any leak.  After we towed them to calmer and deeper waters they sailed it a short distance to their home dock under supervision of the fireboat that showed up after we had them under tow.  The Coast Guard had dispatched a 45-footer but we had left the scene before it showed up -- they may have turned around anyway since everything seemed under control.

Before this year I had only boated on lakes.  Coastal boating brings a whole new set of challenges and things to think about for sure!

One lesson I learned is that I need to keep a tow-rope on board.  My only lines were dock lines -- not nearly long enough to enable towing.  What do you use for an emergency tow line?

Also, I didn't want to get close enough to the stranded boat to be able to receive the throw of their line due to the current and rocks.  How would you get a line from one boat to another in this situation without a dinghy?  I was thinking of some sort of a small sandbag attached to a thin line that could then be attached to the tow line.  But honestly I had my hands full in keeping the boat in place in the current so I'm not sure I would have been able to manage all of that anyway.  Luckily the guy in the dinghy boarded my boat to handle the lines while his wife stayed in the dinghy.  

A peaceful sunset cruise turned into an adventure and a learning experience!  No one was hurt and no major damage and so all ended just fine -- the definition of a good day on the water.

 

 

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I've towed a couple of boaters, but In much calmer conditions. That current definitely makes it a challenge. 

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Here is were 50' of CHEAP floating line comes in handy.  Use the wind / current to carry the tow line.

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21 hours ago, cyclops2 said:

Here is were 50' of CHEAP floating line comes in handy.  Use the wind / current to carry the tow line.

That's a good idea. I have some left over from waterskiing days I should keep in the boat. 

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If there are no Bull Sharks  ( Found in all fresh water areas. ) around. Put on a life jacket & swim over.  Saw that done 1 time on a LOOONG shoal of rocks.

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I had bought a 30' vehicle tow strap from Harbor Freight for $17.    It is 2" and rated for 6000#.    They also make a 3" and rated for 9000# for $35. 

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I've used my 100 foot anchor line twice to give a tow to stranded boaters in our bay in Lake Huron. First,  I remove the anchor and the short chain of course. The attachment is to my two tie downs in the stern. I use an automotive tow strap that has snap hooks on each end. I also have put an oval - shaped repair link in the center of the 20 foot long tow strap. The anchor line is tied to the link. This equalizes the pull on both tie downs.

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Saving the people first has always guided me how to act at a boat run aground site. .......I actually had a person order me to take a dog before children & a handicapped person.

Had the extreme pleasure of laughing at him & doing the dog & him last.  Never pass up a good opportunity.  Life was good that time.

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On 6/10/2018 at 8:15 AM, bshep said:

On my third time out in my brand new 287 SSX we came across a sailboat that had run aground on the rocks in a narrow passage (Near Stone Bridge on Sakonnet River in RI), in some swift tidal current.  He was calling "pan pan" and talking to the Coast Guard.  We were first "on scene" and were joined shortly after by a couple that had jumped in their dinghy to come help as well.  The first video shows the other couple grabbing the tow line from the sail boat.  Check out that current! The second video shows our new Chap pulling the sailboat off the rocks -- like a boss. 

Their boat was apparently ok -- they said on the radio that there was water in the bilge but that they couldn't see any leak.  After we towed them to calmer and deeper waters they sailed it a short distance to their home dock under supervision of the fireboat that showed up after we had them under tow.  The Coast Guard had dispatched a 45-footer but we had left the scene before it showed up -- they may have turned around anyway since everything seemed under control.

Before this year I had only boated on lakes.  Coastal boating brings a whole new set of challenges and things to think about for sure!

One lesson I learned is that I need to keep a tow-rope on board.  My only lines were dock lines -- not nearly long enough to enable towing.  What do you use for an emergency tow line?

Also, I didn't want to get close enough to the stranded boat to be able to receive the throw of their line due to the current and rocks.  How would you get a line from one boat to another in this situation without a dinghy?  I was thinking of some sort of a small sandbag attached to a thin line that could then be attached to the tow line.  But honestly I had my hands full in keeping the boat in place in the current so I'm not sure I would have been able to manage all of that anyway.  Luckily the guy in the dinghy boarded my boat to handle the lines while his wife stayed in the dinghy.  

A peaceful sunset cruise turned into an adventure and a learning experience!  No one was hurt and no major damage and so all ended just fine -- the definition of a good day on the water.

 

 

Coastal boating brings a whole new set of challenges and things to think about for sure! Yep!!

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3 hours ago, SeanK said:

I had bought a 30' vehicle tow strap from Harbor Freight for $17.    It is 2" and rated for 6000#.    They also make a 3" and rated for 9000# for $35. 

You really want to use a 3 stranded nylon line. It will also absorb some shock when the line takes on the load.  

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On 6/14/2018 at 6:43 PM, SterndriveEd said:

I've used my 100 foot anchor line twice to give a tow to stranded boaters in our bay in Lake Huron. First,  I remove the anchor and the short chain of course. The attachment is to my two tie downs in the stern. I use an automotive tow strap that has snap hooks on each end. I also have put an oval - shaped repair link in the center of the 20 foot long tow strap. The anchor line is tied to the link. This equalizes the pull on both tie downs.

This sounds like a good idea.   I have heard that anchor line is best to use.

Do you have to worry about the tow strap "bridle" getting in your props?  

Or, is there some other such bridle arrangement that floats?

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Good point. To keep the webbed tow strap away from the prop, two fenders come in real handy. Tie the fenders on to the tow strap, in line, one on each side of the center connection. That way if the anchor line connected to the disabled vessel goes limp, nothing gets into the prop.

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287 definitely towed like a boss.  Well done. 

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Towed in a small power boat with the neighbors sail boat one year. The guys just bought it at a yard sale that day and thought they would take it out on Lake Michigan for a little ride. Not wearing life jackets and none of them knew how to swim.

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People think a boat ride is just like a car ride. Just in water.  Oh well.

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