Friday, 22 September 2017 12:36

Tips For Towing Boats Safely

Commercial Towing Vessels such as TowBoatU.S. are a good option for getting back to port in breakdown situations. Commercial Towing Vessels such as TowBoatU.S. are a good option for getting back to port in breakdown situations.

The sun is setting and your day on the water is coming to an end. You head back to the launch but on the way you come across a boater who is dead in the water. Soon it will be dark and you aren't just going to leave them there stranded to hopefully contact a friend of tow service. The conditions aren't bad, in fact they are fairly calm so you decide to head over. After assessing the situation you decide that helping the other boater is not going to put you or your crew in any danger. Now that you plan on helping the fellow boater out, here are some things to think about while doing your duty as good samaritan.

The first thing you should do is have the other boat anchor and slowly motor all the way around it to size it up. After doing that you will want to create a plan as to how you are going to go about towing them. Make sure you discuss the plan with the other boat so that everyone is on the same page and ready to do their part. Next have everyone get their life vests on just in case something else were to happen in mid tow.

To tow them, you are going to want to use a line that does not have any stretch to it and floats. In most cases the strongest rope aboard any recreational boat will probably be an anchor line. Use your docking lines to create a bridle and attack the towing line to that. Pass the towing line to the other boat and wait for it to be put through the bow eye on the front and fastened to a cleat. Very slowly tighten the slack by tapping your boat in and out of gear. The recommended distance you should have when towing is 100 to 150 feet, although you may want to shorten it in certain areas. When towing, you will want to keep taking it slow and only change direction 20 degrees at a time. This way you can keep the boat you are towing behind you as much as possible. When you need to slow it down, give your self enough time to do so, never back all the way off. The boat behind you isn't going to stop. Once you make it back to the launch, find a wide open dock. Slowly motor up and tie your boat off leaving the other boat out a ways. After your boat is secure, use the rope to pull the other vessel to the dock.

If you ever come across someone in need of a tow, just think it through for a second. I mean no one wants to leave another boater left stranded, but you also have to be aware of the condition your in, your abilities as a boater, and the limitations of your boat. Just don't turn the breakdown into an emergency. If you have any doubts or concern for the safety of your boat and crew, you may want to help them in another way. Try towing them a short distance to a safer spot, where they can anchor their boat and then load onto yours, if your capacity can handle it that is. If they need something like gas or a new battery, you can head into port and pick those supplies up for them. If they are indeed broke down, the only other thing you can do is call a company that specializes in towing boats or your local law enforcement.

Be safe, be courteous, and have fun.