This article is an excerpt from NauticEd’s online Skipper Course, a comprehensive online sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors to learn how to sail large sailboats 26 ft (8m) and above. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!
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The following diagram shows how you can tow another vessel. Form a “bridle” from the rear cleats on the rescue boat. On the boat being towed you need to make sure that the towline is attached to a place that is very strong. One suggestion is to wrap the towline around the windlass and then aft in a bridle to the headsail winches. This acts to spread the load. In heavy seas, ensure that there is plenty of distance between the boats so the rear boat does not slide down a wave and hit the front boat. Try to match the length of the towline to the wave pitch (distance between the waves).
We once stopped in the middle of the lake to help a stranded powerboat that needed a tow. We ran a towline from his bow cleat to a bridle we made up to each aft winch on our boat. Then we raised the sails and towed the powerboat back in under sail. We could have motored but nah, I wanted the story to tell here. Hee hee, that must have been pretty embarrassing for the powerboater.
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Knowledge and theory for longer distances and overnight sailing in diverse conditions. The Skipper Course is a comprehensive sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors wanting to learn how to sail larger sailboats 26ft to 56ft. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!