Boat Towing

Towing a boat on the water: Dos and Don'ts

A flock of birds is like a flock of birds. Another boater will gladly assist a boater in need. It's the same with rendering aid and towing a fellow boater in need, isn't it? Here are some reasons why it is not necessarily the case.

It is important to temper your immediate reaction to help with a good dose of common sense when towing another boat. There are reasons to say no, and there are things to keep in mind if you say yes. Our suggestions for how to safely and effectively toss a ski tow line to a boat adrift can help you make the right decision. As a leading emergency boat towing Austin company, we provide numerous on-water and marine assistance services.

Towlines

Don’t: Tow ropes should be made of nylon three-strands. Under extreme pressure, it can stretch and break, putting passengers in both boats at risk. Dock lines should also be avoided. Over time, they weaken and lose their exact breaking strength.

Do: Make sure the towline is at least eight to ten boat lengths long. Due to its length and strength, the anchor line is sufficient.

Pulling points

Don’t: A single deck cleat should be attached to the tow line. The setup reduces steering ability and puts a lot of strain on the cleat, which could break off and become an airborne projectile.

Do: Attach an anchor line bridle between your boat's two stern cleats to make a towing bridle. In general, the length should be twice as long as the beam, and it should be positioned low to the water.

Not that knot

Don’t: Knots should be so tight that you cannot untie them. Be careful around taut tow lines, just in case they break and go airborne.

Do: If you need to untie cleat hitches or bowlines quickly, use untying devices that are easily untied.

It is essential to communicate

Don’t: The boats should be towed without communication between them.

Do: If both boats are equipped with VHF radios, use your mobile phone. Should something go wrong, or if the plans need to be changed, you need basic communication.

Watch out, take it slow

Don’t: Make a beeline for the finish line.

Do: Once the slack in the tow line has been removed, throttle up to reach the desired towing speed. Communicating is important, but so is observing. Throughout the tow, keep an eye out. It is possible to catch any issues before they become larger problems.

Towline lengthening or shortening

Don’t: Tie the towline and leave it as it is during towing.

Do: You may need to adjust the length of the towline. It is best to use a long towline in open water, as it acts as a shock absorber and keeps a safe distance between the boats. In calm waters or in a harbor, you can shorten the towline for more precise maneuvering. The length of your boat and the tow should be adjusted so that both vessels are simultaneously on the crest or in the trough of the wave. Additionally, this setup allows the towed boat to glide smoothly on the bridle.

Keep an eye on the weather

Don’t: When encountering questionable weather, be a seafaring Samaritan. The first instinct might be to pitch a line and rescue the stranded boat, but there may be a safer and more effective way.

Do:In choppy water, or if the boat is larger than your vessel, it is wiser to summon the law enforcement agency that patrols the waterway. Towing services, like those offered through BoatUS membership, have experts who can handle such situations. There are also state marine police, municipal police, and county sheriff departments to consider. When dealing with large bodies of water, contact the U.S. Navy.

Don’t feel guilty

Even though boats float effortlessly across the water, they are still very heavy. Waves and wind can exert a lot of force on dock lines and deck cleats. Damaged hardware and snapped lines are one thing. The towing forces put a lot of strain on the engine and prop as well. The low-speed torque needed to tow a boat will not be handled by a prop designed for planning speeds. The same thing may work for a smaller boat in calm water, but not for a boat of the same size or larger. High waves, strong currents, and inclement weather can make towing dangerous for you and the other boater.

When to say no

You shouldn't tow if you aren't 100 percent comfortable. Let the professionals handle the big jobs with the proper equipment, insurance, and knowledge while you wait for additional assistance.