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Author Topic:   Towing At Planning Speeds
luife posted 04-20-2004 08:47 PM ET (US)   Profile for luife   Send Email to luife  
I'm considering buying a sport 110, 130 or 150 to use it as a tender for a larger boat and wanted to know if someone has any experience with these boats when towing them at planning speed with a larger boat. For example, I have some doubts about like, does the bow eye can withstand the pull? Does sea towing the boat voids the factory warranty? Does the boat has a tendency to flip over at planning speed? Should I tow it with the motor down or up? Can I tow the boat in choppy conditions? Any input will be highly appreciated. Thanks.
ryanwhaler posted 04-20-2004 10:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
I can't answer all your questions, but I can answer some.

Yes, the bow eye will withstand a lifetime of towing.
No, sea towing won't void your warranty.

You should tow with the motor down, in the striaght position. It will act as a tiller and prevent the boat from wagging side to side, this is important.

In most consitions, I don't think you'd have to worry about the boat fliping over. My 1975 Sport- 11 (different hull then the 110) was pulled a few miles in rather choppy water at planing speeds of about 30mph and she tracked behind the larger boat pretty good.

I think the 150 would be a little big to be practical to tow around.

luife posted 04-21-2004 11:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for luife  Send Email to luife     
Thank you very much ryanwhaler for your input. It is very helpful.
2manyboats posted 04-22-2004 02:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
I have towed our 13 , 17 , and 19 at planning speeds. towed the 22 some but never owned a boat big enough to plane it. I NEVER tow with the engine DOWN if the towed boat was no one onboard. without hydralic steering there is no way to be sure the motor will not turn unless you tie off the wheel or tiller. even tied off there is no way to be sure you are straight til you are going . tow line length is very important for proper tracking and if the boat still doesn't track a short length of chain behind the towed boat does the trick. towing any boat at planning speed is dangerous , so be careful.
Buckda posted 04-22-2004 06:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Motor should be UP.

Be careful and carefully inspect your towing line. At planing speed, a broken line can "Snap back" and seriously hurt someone aboard the towing boat - especially kids who like to hang around the stern watching the wake, or watching the towed boat.

Honestly, why would you need to tow the boat at planing speed?

The 110 is small enough that you could remove a small motor, stow it aboard the 'mothership' and secure the 110 directly to the stern on its side when underway. This would eliminate the risks associated with towing altogether.


jimh posted 04-23-2004 12:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Regarding what conditions (such as being towed at high speeds on the water) void your warranty, I recommend you carefully read the warranty and contact your dealer. I would not expect that towing the boat in a prudent manner would affect the status of the warranty, but no one can really say for sure other than the Boston Whaler factory.

Regarding the position of the outboard motor on the boat being towed: If the boat being towed has its outboard motor in the water, the load on the tow line with be increased by a very significant amount, probably double or triple the load that would otherwise be created from just towing the boat.

My recommendation would be to begin towing with the outboard motor raised on the boat being towed, and experiment with weight distribution on the boat. As long as the boat being towed is trimmed down by the stern, it should behave rather kindly when towed.

Trailing a warp from the towed boat would also help to control any tendency for fish tailing that might arise. This would be a much lower drag than trying to pull the lower unit of an outboard motor through the water.

It might also be possible to provide some drag at the stern by just having a very small portion of the lower unit on the towed boat's motor lowered into the water. Just the tip of the skeg might be all that is needed, if at all.

My feeling is that having the towed boat's motor lowered into the normal operating position would be very unlikely to be necessary and would create a very high drag. This would result in very high loads on the tow line and on the bow eye of the towed boat.

luife posted 04-23-2004 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for luife  Send Email to luife     
I think there is some difference in opinion about the motor down or up. One of my concerns is, as jimh points out, the drag created by the lower unit at planning speed. Also, the drag could keep the boat straight, but as mentioned above also, if the engine steers to one side the boat could go to that side and be caught in the wake of the mothership and probably flip. So, based on the discussion here probably it is better to have the engine up, or slightly touching the water at planning speed and have some weight in the stern of the towed boat to keep it straight. Also, probably it is important to use a thick line; maybe one inch, and have it double.

Some other questions come to mind; how long should you keep the line when towing? Is a 35 foot boat big enough to tow a 150?

BMR posted 04-23-2004 03:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for BMR    
Speaking of towing boats, Boston Whaler has a tow eye option for the 320 Outrage, It is popular with large yacht owner's to tow a smaller boat for use at their desination.

Joe Kriz posted 04-23-2004 06:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     

Here is a quote from your last statement:
"I think there is some difference in opinion about the motor down or up."

My answer to your statement:
You just have to figure out who the experts are. Sometimes it isn't easy without knowing the poster first hand. After you have been here awhile, you will see who's post are from experience, and who's aren't..

I haven't towed a boat more then a few miles a couple of times so I have no experience in this area.


2manyboats posted 04-23-2004 07:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
while I don't claim to be an expert anything except maybe " smar tas " I have towed a 17 montauk about 50 times on fishing trips between 25 and 100 miles, at speeds of about 18 kts behind our old 32ft sportfisher. We also towed the 17 behind a 25 ft. wellcraft and it worked but not very good. the 19 outrage also towed ok but it cost less to run it to where we where going. To tow fast motor always tilted up all the way, about 150ft. 3/4 inch tied to the bow eye with a bowline. I would cleat tow line to what I hoped would be the leeward stern and used a snatch block on a short line to the other stern cleat to make our bridle. Once on plane tow line lenght is used to adj. the towed boat in the swells in the center of the tow boats wake. To far back the towed boat surfs and goes out of control ( i have done that in the dark ) to far foward tow line loads up . So just go in and out till its right.
we now tow the 13 most every time out , but its behind the trawler at 8 kts. hope this helps
luife posted 04-23-2004 07:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for luife  Send Email to luife     

Thanks for sharing your experiences. In your experience, has any of the towed boats fliped over? Also, a Montauk 17 seemed to me pretty heavy to tow at planning speed with a 32 footer. Based on what you're saying then, to tow a 150 with a 35 footer should not be that bad.

When you mentioned about the towed boat been too far back, you said that it start to surf and goes out of control; could you elaborate on that if possible. It sounds to me that to be safe its better to have the line short than long.

Thanks again for everybody's input.

2manyboats posted 04-23-2004 08:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for 2manyboats  Send Email to 2manyboats     
never flipped but the 17 was close. The distance behind the boat is not as important as position in the wake. there will be more more than one to chose from. for our boat the third was our best but size of boat and speed could make a differance . If by short you mean backside of wave and long the face of the wave you are right. Once you get the boat position right I would think a 35ftboat would tow the 15 with out a problem. Just have someone keep on eye on the tow. I have known people have to back backtrack to find their boat.
ocuyler posted 04-23-2004 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for ocuyler  Send Email to ocuyler     

We spent the summer of 2000 towing a Dell Quay 11 Sport back and forth to various ports on Lake Ontario. Typical crossings were 50 to 90 miles. Conditions varied from flat to 3 to 4's. Our tow vessel was a Carver 32 Aft Cabin. Cruising speed was 15 to 23 MPH.

We tried the motor up and down. It was one or the other. With the motor down, we couldn't keep it strait. Then had to stop the boat and screw around with 150' or so of line in an open sea. At night it's scarry, cause you can't see back that far.

It was cool doing it but was very stressful on us and the other boats in our group. We lost interest in the hastle factor. We now have a new 16 Dauntless. I'll probably try that this season...

RJM posted 04-25-2004 12:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for RJM  Send Email to RJM     
I towed a 16'7" center console whaler back and forth between the Channel Islands and Ventura California for many years. The tow vessel was a 44' twin diesel doing about 16 knots when towing in small swells. We always towed with the engine of the whaler in the up position (I don't even remember trying it with the engine down). When the seas would get big, we would slow the speed of the tow vessel so that the speed of the whaler was always in the trough climbing up the back of its wave. This sometimes made for a interesting ride for the towing vessel, but the whaler seemed to ride nicely back there at about 75'to 100'. We used a towing bridle on the tow vessel and lengthen or shorten the tow line so that both vessels rode as nicely as possible. (The towing bridle seemed to let the two vessels work independantly from each other as much as possible). We once broke the bow eye off a 19 foot Revenge in 8 foot seas and had to put someone aboard to run it back to port(which was pretty scarey and the guy still talks about it to this day!). The bottom line is that if you tow at a speed that keeps the whaler in the perfect attitude and let the towing vessel do all the surfing you will have very few problems....(It says here in small print :>)
jimh posted 04-25-2004 08:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am not familiar with the cockpit drains on the new SPORT models, but it may be appropriate to leave the cockpit drains open when towing. If wave action puts any water aboard the boat being towed, the additional weight of the water will increase the tow line load. Also, if the water is not drained, the boat will tend to sit lower. This will tend to make it easier for water to come aboard. It may not take long before the boat is swamped. Because of this, I would recommend leaving the drains open while towing so that any water coming aboard can drain immediately.

I have some experience in towing, but at much lower speeds behind a sailboat. See my article on this topic:

Towing an Inflatable Dingy

jimh posted 04-25-2004 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To understand how much weight even a comparatively small amount of water adds, read this portion of an old cruising narrative I wrote:

ocuyler posted 04-25-2004 08:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for ocuyler  Send Email to ocuyler     
I neglected to say that we choose to leave the mooring cover on while in a seaway specifically to prevent water from coming onboard.


bsmotril posted 04-27-2004 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I would be afraid of water getting into the cylinders via the exhaust if towing with the engine down. With the motor not running, there is no exhaust back pressure to keep the water out of the exhaust housing when the boat slows suddenly. If you want to keep the towed boat stable, tie off a 10-15 foot piece of line from each stern eye and let that drag in the water behind the rig. The drag from the line will keep the towed rig pointing straight ahead.

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