Going on the water for a nice day of boating can be great, but you never know when you might find someone in need of help. In such instances, you should know a few best practices for getting their boat to safety.
Here are 10 tips for towing a boat safely in water that you should keep in mind in case of emergencies.
Make Sure Your Boat Can Handle the Load
Before you even think of offering a tow, you should consider whether your boat is big enough to handle the load. Determine if you have the right equipment and enough fuel for the trip.
It’s also important to consider your battery before a tow. You don’t want your boat’s battery dying while towing another boat. Then, you’ll have two boats on the water that need help. A reliable marine battery manufacturer will ensure you have as much charge and amperage as possible to get everyone to safety.
Use the Correct Tow Line Setup
If you offer another boat a tow, you’ll need to ensure you’re using the proper technique for setting up your tow line. This is important since doing it wrong could damage one or both vessels.
Be sure the rope is thick enough to accommodate the craft’s size without breaking. Connect it to the bow of the boat being towed and the stern of the tower. Consider the weight distribution of both boats so you don’t lose control while towing.
Secure the Line
There are a few things to keep in mind when tying the line to ensure it’s secure. Make sure you use a fixture on your boat or find a spot capable of handling the load. The d-rings and other anchor points are your best bet to ensure the load doesn’t cause any strain.
Use a secure knot so the line doesn’t come loose or undone. A bowline knot is one of the most reliable loops for boaters since it doesn’t slip and is easy to undo. Taking the time to learn how to tie one properly can save you a lot of trouble.
Adjust the Length
The length of your tow line is important to consider. A general rule of thumb is to put around 10 boats worth of line between your boat and the boat you’re towing. You’ll need a line that’s at least 200-300 feet long for a 20-30-foot craft.
For maximum safety, most crafts require a minimum of 50 feet for their tow lines. Remember to bring plenty of extra lines with you when boating so you can adjust it as needed if you need to give someone else a tow.
Set Your Destination Beforehand
Limiting the amount of tow time as much as possible is essential. There are many potential hazards on the water, and getting to your destination quickly will prevent accidents and keep everyone safe.
Locate a nearby dock or harbor before towing and take the shortest route possible. If you’re far offshore, you might want to use a GPS or other tracking device that allows you to manage your coordinates and ensure you don’t get off track.
Communicate Between Vessels
Take some time before setting out to discuss how you’ll communicate between the two vessels while towing. A change in plans, problems with the tow line, or some other issue could come up, making it essential to signal you need to change speed, direction, or stop altogether.
A radio, cell phone, or some other communication device is great to have onboard. However, you might want to agree on some basic hand signals in case you don’t have those options or something goes wrong during the tow.
Watch Your Surroundings
Being aware of your surroundings at all times will allow you to take the necessary precautions to avoid hazards. You never know what you might encounter on the water, and things can get complicated when navigating with two crafts tethered together.
Ensure you have a clear line of site between the two boats, the tow line, and the operators so you don’t cause unnecessary accidents. Stay out of the way of other vessels, keep an eye out for sandbars, and limit the amount of wake you must move through.
Awareness is only helpful if you can promptly respond to situations. A tow line can swing back and forth if the towing craft moves too quickly.
Limit your speed, especially in busy areas. Taking it slow and steady will make it easier to control both boats without either getting out of control. Moving at a slow speed can also give you more power out of your motor without too much wear.
Pay Attention to the Weather
If you notice a vessel has broken down, you first want to ensure you have enough time to help them get to shore. Weather can be dangerous on the water, and you don’t want to get stuck in a towing situation with a storm coming in.
Being on the open water during a storm can endanger your life and others. If bad weather is coming in, consider giving the stranded boaters a ride to shore. Even the most expensive boat isn’t worth putting your safety at risk. A professional towing service can offer guidance in such a situation.
Consider Costs in Advance
Another thing to remember when dealing with a broken-down boat is the potential cost to you. Towing others can become expensive, especially if they’re in a hard-to-reach location or you have trouble getting to shore.
If you’re a professional tower, communicate how much you charge upfront so there are no surprises once you’re at the site. Be sure to calculate everything you’ll need to keep yourself and your clients safe at all times.
Educate Yourself and Be Prepared for Anything
There’s no telling what kinds of hazards you could encounter while boating. Helping others is great, but you could put yourself and other boaters in danger if done incorrectly.
Following best practices for towing a boat safely in water will prevent harm to you, your boat, and other people.