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Towing or Towed? Sail & Powerboat in ICW/Atlantic?

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Looking at possibilities for retirement, five years or more out,  of having both Lioness and something like an Acadia 25/Parker SC/Ranger Tug as well to host grandkids with. 

(Wife's voting in favor of a pontoon boat, but same basic idea of a moderate power vessel) 

Trying to get a sense of feasibility to move both at the same time, singlehanded i.e. severe weather coming in and time to vacate area, or perhaps seasonal relocation between SC and MD. 

Configurations are either 40' 10 ton ~40 hp sailboat towing ~25' 2 ton 150 hp power boat, or vice versa.

An obvious answer:

is put the power boat on a trailer, and drive it at 60 mph, vs towing at ~6. 

Given two people available, that would be a likely choice, one drives, one makes passage. 

That also assumes a trailer, and places to store it at either end. For a permanent or maybe even a seasonal move that's not out of the question, it allows a rapid over the highway move of a car & boat, and then a slow move (although perhaps faster w/o tow) of the sailboat. 


But hypothetically you want to move both,  on the water at the same time, who leads, who follows? 

All the navigational light/day signal issues are applicable in either case. 

Sailboat is better equipped to be overnight with autopilot, navigation, radar etc and would be my default as it's heavier. I've towed up to ~500lb tender's and had no issues other than chafe on painters. This might be an impetus to install powered Primary winch(es) to manage scope when bringing the tow closer in confined areas

Power boat would be more maneuverable, power, fuel range and feasible to mount some sort of a "windlass"  in the cockpit allowing easier modulation of scope, though the inertia of the sailboat would make handling around docks a good reason to tie alongside and then stream on a line when away from traffic 

The "towboat USA" folks seem to be able to run around hauling medium to large sailboats just fine. 

Anyone done this for more than casual range?

What sort of distance to payout between vessels? 


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Seems complicated.  How comfortable the tow would be depends of if it's windy or rough.  You would need at least one person on each boat who knew what they were doing.  How far to have the 2 boats depends on conditions.  I was towed in a 35 foot sailboat this fall and the tow boat was at max line.  350 feet of tow line.  We weighed more and was jerking hard at times.  And only doing 5 knots at best.  I would say plan ahead so you can move one at a time.  Or be prepared to pay for damages.

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22 minutes ago, ropetrick said:

Consider side towing the powerboat with the sailboat. One person could handle it underway.

Should be fine in protected waters at moderate speed (you are using the sailboat).

Good point. In the ICW,  side towing ("whale boat")  either way works, with signficant fenders. Using powerboat for tow,  especially if it has outdrive/outboard for directed thrust would be easier, just lock sailboat helm at a "trim" position for neutral steering. 

In the few open water sections, where there would be swells, I would see dropping sailboat back on a line to be a least a wave length behind. 


As regards the two trips, see above, question is a hypothetical of how to move both simultaneously with one person. 


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Maybe setting up lines to quickly transition from side tie to towing would be smart:

Big fenders rigged

Run main tow line from bow of tow boat  along rail to stern cleat  When you change to side tie mode you can now bring the bows together

Towed boat should have two stern lines ready, one for a spring. Lead them forward to pulpit so you can grab and pull the boats together    

Add second spring to stop tow 


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20 hours ago, blurocketsmate said:

A trailer for the powerboat and a tow driver from uShip as needed.

This.  You move one (either the power boat on a trailer behind your car, or your sailboat offshore), and hire someone else to deliver the other boat.  Having someone drive your car and boat the 10 hours on I-95 will not be all that expensive - probably less than $700 one way.  And possibly cheaper if you can find some college kid (like $300, plus gas).  You could easily spend that amount - particularly if you are towing the sailboat behind the powerboat - in gas alone taking the offshore route.  And you'd have the trailer available when the powerboat inevitably needs to go to the shop.

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19 minutes ago, PaulinVictoria said:

Why couldn't you host grandkids on a 40' sailboat?

Anyway, powerboat = tug, sailboat = barge.

We will. Generally kids of that age prefer speed and noise, and Grandma  is more comfortable with a serene power boat that she can just drive. 


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To add to the above, after a great experience with uShip I wouldn't consider owning a tow vehicle and towing myself unless I were doing it all the time, like every week.  Even then, uShip would probably be cheaper.

When you post on uShip, the bids start high for getting it done immediately, but gradually get bid down.  Once you're a regular customer, you can wind up with a regular driver. 

The driver who towed my boat here from FL (300mi for $500, 3-ton load) was based in San Antonio, but towed a lot on the east coast, including some of the Viper fleet.  He even replaced my trailer springs before the trip for an extra $150.  I just had the parts shipped to a store along his way.

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I'd be leery of a side tow on the ICW.  You've got issues if a big sport fisherman goes by at speed, no matter how good your fenders.  

I agree with the trailering recommendations.  I have a ten ton trawler and a 3 ton sailboat.  It's easy to side tow the sailboat, but I wouldn't consider doing that for a long trip.  The sailboat has a trailer and I rent a 3/4 ton truck to move it from point to point.  

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