If you spend any significant time out on the water, chances are that you have found yourself on either end of a towline.

It used to be that the Coast Guard would respond to a stranded boater. But the organization – which does routinely respond to life-threatening crisis calls – was swamped with calls when people had minor mechanical issues or simply ran out of gas, and they no longer respond to these calls. This is a space that Sign and Glide has aptly filled; our services guarantee that you will never be left on the water. Still, you may find yourself helping someone else; or being towed by a fellow skipper. These are the three main components to a safe tow:

  • Towing A Boat On WaterA Strong Towline  – Most boats do not carry a permanent towline, as it takes up space. Most people end up using nylon anchor line in an emergency. This type of line absorbs shock and alleviates loads on the cleats, but it can be dangerous if it snaps. Because this line can snap and cause damage, examine it often for integrity.
  • A Sturdy Attachment Point – Most modern boats are not equipped for towing, with standard cleats often being too small and likely to tear out. It you have questions about the strength of the bow or the size and strength of your cleats, they can be replaced with over-sized cleats which can be bolted into a secure position.
  • Protection from Chafe – The towline should be padded to prevent wear. Traditional towlines came equipped with leather pads; if you are substituting other line, you may need to pad with towels or canvas; nylon lines may melt when they heat up, so lubricate with oil, sunscreen or even butter.

Having strong gloves to protect your fingers and a sharp knife to cut the line are both important proactive measures.

You will either be operating in smooth seas, or rough seas. In smooth conditions, the rescuing boat can alongside the disabled boat and throw the towline across; but in rough seas, the towline can be floated downwind attached to a life cushion or flotation device. If you cannot hear the occupants of the other boat; or if you have no radio, communicate that the towline is secured by clasping your hands over your heat.Towing A Boat On Water

Once connected securely, take up the slack very gradually. Once at towing speed, steer the disabled boat  for the stem of the tow vessel, which will reduce strain on the tow vessel. Ask the tow vessel to slow down if the disabled boat is being jolted, swaying side to side or feels unstable.

If you are in a position to tow another vessel, the law considers you a “Good Samaritan”  and you are protected from liability as long as you “act as any prudent person would”. If you feel uncomfortable or incapable of towing, especially in bad weather, offer to go get help or call for help. If you are being towed, your rescuer is entitled to fair compensation – but in the boating community, a sincere thank you and a cold beverage are often accepted as payment.

Sign and Glide provides expert towing services at highly affordable rates. If you are going to be out on the water, it is easy to obtain membership and guarantee a safe and competent every time. Call us today, and never be stranded again.