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Proper way to tow the sailboat?

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Oct 17, 2011
Catalina 310 Chesapeake (Middle River, MD)
Last weekend the engine died and had to sail back towards the dock and ended up anchoring under sail (which I have never done before but worked out well). I eventually got the engine going and limped back to the dock (fuel pump or filter issue).

This got me thinking that if need a tow, how should I hook up a tow line ( I have a roller fuller)?

And recommendations?

Sep 25, 2008
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Its common to use the same point(s) used to tie off your anchor bridle. I'm unfamiliar with Catalina 3series boats but there should be nothing unique.
Jan 1, 2006
Marblehead Skiff 14' Greenport, NY
Sailing to anchor is a great skill and should be practiced by all sailors. So kudos on that.
Towing services know their businesses. But, a single cleat on the bow is probably risky. They should use a line to wrap around the strongest attachment points on a sailboat. That would be the shrouds/chainplates, winches, and mast. When a friend of mine was towed, he was towed at speeds over his hull speed. I would hate to think what could happen if that single cleat ripped out.
So, I think at least it's prudent to spread the load along several load bearing parts of the boat/rig.
Jun 9, 2008
- -- -Bayfield
One way to tow a boat is to tie a line around the mast base and run it forward through a chock, if you have one. I tow one of my boats all the way this way. Also your tow boat can hip tow you by putting fenders between the two hulls and tie dock lines tight from bow to bow and stern to stern. It helps to leave someone behind the wheel or on the till to help steer in tight situations.
Jan 8, 2009
Catalina 22 mkII trailor
My opinion for towing a cat22 is to use both forward anchor cleats and for $10 you can get 2 rubber shock cords. I use them for anchoring, their about a foot long and you thread the tow line or anchor line in the one end and then take several wraps around it and thread the other end through the other end of the rubber shock cord. When anchoring in windy or rough waters it take the snap out of the waves. They sell them for larger boats in a marine stores too.
May 1, 2011
Pearson 37 Lusby MD
The last time I needed a tow, the tow boat operator put a line through my bow chock to the forward cleat and another line to the aftmost cleat (both on my starboard side) - basically like a tug towing along side. We had fenders between the two hulls. Once we were underway, I maintained slight right rudder.
Jun 8, 2004
CS 27 - Nova Scotia (Pugwash)
Just make sure you do not let the tow boat exceed your Hull Speed.. The pressure on the sailboat could do hull damage... This is something a power boat would not appreciate as power boats plane on the surface... Not keel boats..
Aug 28, 2012
Wavelength 24 Columbia, SC
Take responsibility

Don't let the tow operator take over from you. Pass him/her a light nylon line attached the way you want it. A line that will break if he tows with too much gusto can save your boat from damage.
Oct 28, 2008
Catalina 320 Lake Texoma
I would not tow a sailboat by the mast! Especially a deck stepped mast, as it was designed for compression loads, not shear. I have towed, but not been towed, and rigged a bridle off the bow cleats, which are designed for shear loads.
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