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Author Topic:   Towing line.
WT posted 05-19-2008 02:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for WT   Send Email to WT  
I'd like a recommendation for a tow rope setup for my 170 Montauk.

I'd like it strong enough for ocean use.


contender posted 05-19-2008 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Are you looking to tow or be towed? If you are towing I heard never use your line, thanks to dowecheatthemandhow you could be held libbel for any damage that may happen, If you want to tow your boat I would set up two equal lines to the eyehook and depending on what or how the tow would determine the length of the lines...good luck
WT posted 05-19-2008 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
How about something like this...

A 20 foot stern towing bridle with a 35 foot towing rope?

I can carry it to use if I need a tow or I can use it to tow a stranded boater.


RichL posted 05-19-2008 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for RichL  Send Email to RichL     
What you actually want is TWO bridles, one for the towing vessel and one for the towed vessel.

In addition, you want to have a tow line that is long enough to span two or three wave crests between the two vessels. Figure 70'-100', plus the bridles.

You really DON'T want to tow too closely because stopping one vessel won't stop the other, until a resounding "whump" is heard.

Two recommendations on line: Most common is twisted nylon, but better still is a blended nylon/poly so that you get the stretch of nylon and the floatation of poly.

In flat, calm water, you'll want to bring the boat in side tow for better control, and there are tricks to that too.

And definitely consider the liability concerns mentioned above before taking another vessel in tow. Particularly if inebriates are involved.

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-19-2008 08:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Just jury rig something from the towed vessel's anchor line.

One of my near term todo's is to rig my dock lines so the two
stern lines are the same length and can become a bridle.

Clip a fender where the bridle comes together with the tow
line. It will help keep the bridle out of your prop.

If you have one engine, and don't have a bride, tow from the
starboard lifting eye. The prop rotation will want to push
the boat to port, and this will counteract it. For the same
reason, side tow on the starboard side.

Go slow.


towboater posted 05-20-2008 02:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
Yo Warren.
Nice job last weekend. Thx for the pics.

A "sport" towline is not all about strength...I doubt if your Montauk could break 3/8 poly on a dead pull.
7/16? ahh, might break but I bet you would need to take a run at it and end up on the other side of your console trying.
1/2" could pull the cleats out of the deck.

I think the most important factor for a rope targeted as a towline at any level is the ropes bouyancy.
Nylon and Dacron blend ropes stretch, they are strong, nice on the hands and great anchor ropes BUT, they absorb water and sink like a rock compared to POLY-PRO. You dont want to catch your towline in the wheel and end up with two boats that need a tow.
Great stuff.


towboater posted 05-20-2008 04:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
Warren, now responding to your second post.

"A 20 foot stern towing bridle with a 35 foot towing rope?"

Man, with all due respect for your skills, your fine Montauk and your enthusiasum, your Montauk has limitations.
I fear, asking these questions reveals your lack of experiance to realize these limitations. Warren, dont be offended, I turn down jobs all the time because my Tug does not have enough pony's or rudder power. Many times I do not attempt a routine task because of weather issues.

Im offering this advice considering the weather you are dealing with is no worse than average and the vessel you are going to tow is small enough to put on a trailer.

Under these conditions, your target is to
1. Hook your towline into the bow eye IF the other crew is able to lay down on deck, lean over and simply snap a hook into it.
2. If the bow eye is not accessable, use the anchor bit.
3. If the anchor pulpit will chaff the towline, ok, sigh, use a bridle.

In average weather, you should expect there is a little chop, enough that you need good fenders to prevent nicks or bruising the hulls. Instead, using the following methods, you will only need to get as close as needed to toss a HEAVING LINE.

Make a heaving line out of 30 ft of 3/8 braided rope. Buy a soft rubber Youth League baseball, drill a 3/8 hole thru it, run the rope thru the ball, tie a overhand knot on both sides of the ball.

I recommend buying 150 ft of 1/2" blue steel. It will last a long long time if you keep it out of the sun.
Cut 2 25 ft lengths of rope out of the 150 ft coil.
Use cheap black vinyl electricians tape to wrap around the bight of this rope several times, covering 6". Cut the middle of the tape wrap to prevent the ends from unwinding.
This mousing will also last a long time.

Splice 12" eyes in the ends of both 25 ft ropes.
Buy one heavy duty SS snap hook.

Do not splice a eye in the 100 ft towline. Learn how to tie a bolan knot quickly...but, any knot will do.

OK, a 20 ft boat is dead in the water, needs a tow. There is enough chop/wind that coming alongside risks damage...but, you are able to maneauver within 15-20 ft easily.

#1. You ask the Skipper if he is able to reach his bow eye. He can. You gently toss the heaving line over and tie one strap coiled up with hook into the end of the heaving line. They pull it abourd, snap the hook into the bow eye. They toss the heaving line back, now you send the end of the towline over to them. Tell them to tie a bolan or any frigging knot into the eye of the strap that wont untie itself.
#2. Same as 1 except remove the snap hook, drop the eye over the anchor bit.
#3. I dont trust towing off of bow cleats. Look em over. Lets say they dont look very strong. Almost all boats that have a anchor pulpit, have a anchor bit near the middle of the bow, but, you arent able to tow off the anchor bit because the pulpit would chaff the towline. Use the heaving line to pass them both straps (together they become a bridle).
Have them place both eyes over the anchor bit, then run the bight back around the quarter cleats and back up onto the bow outside of the railings. Toss them the towline, tell them to run the towline thru both eyes, tie the towline back into itself and away you go. Notice there is no rigging that will sink the towline, no floats to get fouled up.

For me, this poly towline is a consumable item/tool. I always have a sharp serated blade near. If there is a knot I cant untie, I just cut it as close to the end as I can, bring it in and cut the knot away from the straps without ruining them, then tidy up the frayed end of the towline later...ready to go again, minus a couple feet...big deal.

As for your boats tow rigging, take a look at the fixed loop spring line on the site.
How strong are your stern cleats, I know the ones on my 18 are plenty strong to tow off of.

OK, you have 100 ft remaining, approx 20 ft strap.
I need at least 40 ft towline to be able to maneauver a single engine boat around without going into may need less.
40 + 20 = 60.
Pretty smart huhh.

OK, you have 40 ft towline with no eyes on either end and a granny knot connected into 20 ft strap(s). This sounds complicated, it isnt, things are happening fast and safely.
Now you need to fasten your towline to the boat.

Lets build a tow bridle for the boat.
You have 60 ft left over. Cut in half, Splice a 12" eye in one end of 2 30 ft straps.
The first thing you do after you decide to tow, you take out these two 30 ft tow straps and tie each one (figure 8) to the stern quarters with enough slack you can hold both eyes in one hand standing anywhere on the aft deck. They should be fairly close to equal length. Your boat is 7 ft wide, each tow bridle should be tied to the stern cleat with 7-8 ft of slack...this is also plenty to clear the motor. Now you grab the end of the towline, run it thru both eyes of the tow bridles, tie a bolan, throw it over the back of the engine, put in gear, idle ahead til tight.

You should have another 20 ft of slack in each bridle leg laying on deck. If the dead boat is wallowing in front of your stern swell, now you can lay out equal lengths of your bridle legs to drop the towed boat back til it settles down. You probably let the engine idle in gear as you lay line. OR, you can shorten up your towline by untieing your bolan shorten and retie. The rigging in the site is fine but not adjustable and looks to me like a high probability of sinking. Black ropes suck.

Either way you debate this, the weather and size/weight of the dead boat are bigger factors. Take care.


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