Boat Rat: Dinghy Towing Made Safe and Easy

A dinghy with an outboard motor is an essential piece of cruising gear since it allows independence when you to anchor out or pick up a mooring and it is the best way to carry out and set a second anchor. And, when you are moored somewhere it is your car for getting around. But what to do with it when making coastal runs between ports? If you have davits on your stern, you simply hoist the dinghy and go. Or, you can lift the dinghy onto the foredeck, where it can be lashed down upside down.

But, most of us prefer to tow our dinghies on short coastal runs of 20 miles or less unless the weather is predicted to turn bad. Smaller, lighter dinghies have a bad habit of flipping over in rough conditions, which can ruin an otherwise pleasant day of sailing. Here are a few tips to make towing a dinghy easier and safer.

1. If the dinghy is a smaller inflatable, remove and stow the engine, fuel tanks, oars and other gear. In pleasant weather you can tow the dinghy with two long lines attached to the boat’s bow rings. But if the weather is rough, haul the dinghy right up the your boat’s stern and make it fast right against the stern so the bow is out of the water and the stern tubes are trailing in the water.

2. For fiberglass dinghies, larger inflatables and RIBs, remove the engine and fuel tank. Use two painters on the dingy that are long enough to let the dinghy ride well behind your boat. Secure the painters on either side of the boat’s stern to the stern cleats so the lines make a V. This will help prevent the dinghy from skating from side to side. Polypropylene line floats, so it makes a good painter for your dinghy. In rough weather, let the painters out until the dinghy rides one full wave behind your boat so it is not prone to surfing down the wave right behind you.

3.  Getting a dinghy painter wrapped in your main propeller is all too common and a big problem. So, it is vital to pull in the dinghy painters to put the dinghy close to the your boat’s stern when mooring, anchoring or docking so there is no slack line in the water that can be sucked into the prop.

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