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Thread: Dead Boats in PWS

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    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    Default Dead Boats in PWS

    The sound was great yesterday, lots of boats out. Maybe due to the start of the year, there were a lot of requests for attention. I could have come back with three boats in tow Saturday afternoon. One boat flagged me down in Colross Passage passage requesting a tow back to Whittier. I would tow him into an anchorage, assist with tools or give a ride back to Whittier, but I was not willing to tow back to Whittier. He ended up getting a hold of a friend, so he did not need assistance from me. My wife thought I should tow him back, but I did not feel comfortable with that for several reasons:

    1. Load on my motor - This is something that they told me that I had to watch, and that if I 'overprop' this would cause damage to my motor. I assume that if I tried to pull someone on step, that this would be what I would be doing.

    2. Fuel Burn - I assume that I would go through a lot of fuel doing this, even if at a slow speed. I am not sure about this but assume this is the case.

    3. Time - I assume it would be an all day event to get back with a boat in tow. I have young children that were already getting ready to get off the boat, and I don't want to make it where they don't want to go out.


    I took the coast guard class some years ago, and I know the rules regarding priorities of lending assistance - if someone has these, it would be good to repost them on this thread.

    So the point of this post (which may get lost) is that I am looking for input on towing. I think there are several 'for hire' towing services out of Whittier, is that correct? At what speed would it be possible to tow a boat back without excessive fuel burn or risk of damage to my motor? Have others here offered tows back, and what was your experience as far as time, fuel, etc. in this process?
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    Member AkBillyBow's Avatar
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    All good questions jrogers. I am eagerly awaiting the replies. I can see what you are saying. You don't want to leave them in danger, yet have your own concerns to consider.

    This should be a good thread. I have never been there myself, so cannot comment. But, I am sure it will happen to me one day....being on either end of the stick!!

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    The sound was great yesterday, lots of boats out. Maybe due to the start of the year, there were a lot of requests for attention. I could have come back with three boats in tow Saturday afternoon. One boat flagged me down in Colross Passage passage requesting a tow back to Whittier. I would tow him into an anchorage, assist with tools or give a ride back to Whittier, but I was not willing to tow back to Whittier. He ended up getting a hold of a friend, so he did not need assistance from me. My wife thought I should tow him back, but I did not feel comfortable with that for several reasons:

    1. Load on my motor - This is something that they told me that I had to watch, and that if I 'overprop' this would cause damage to my motor. I assume that if I tried to pull someone on step, that this would be what I would be doing.

    2. Fuel Burn - I assume that I would go through a lot of fuel doing this, even if at a slow speed. I am not sure about this but assume this is the case.

    3. Time - I assume it would be an all day event to get back with a boat in tow. I have young children that were already getting ready to get off the boat, and I don't want to make it where they don't want to go out.


    I took the coast guard class some years ago, and I know the rules regarding priorities of lending assistance - if someone has these, it would be good to repost them on this thread.

    So the point of this post (which may get lost) is that I am looking for input on towing. I think there are several 'for hire' towing services out of Whittier, is that correct? At what speed would it be possible to tow a boat back without excessive fuel burn or risk of damage to my motor? Have others here offered tows back, and what was your experience as far as time, fuel, etc. in this process?

    Assuming this was a boat built for running the ocean not a flat bottom built for running the rivers, your best safe speed would be slightly better then troll speed. Without knowing the exact balance on their boat the bow could dig in on a wave making their boat walk sideways into your wake and roll over. Also the stress on ropes and cleats is HUGE.

    I once did a tow for a 26 footer (I'm 28') from the East side of Esther to Whittier never again as it took forever, almost 12 hours. When the weather went from dead calm to 2 footers I was ready to quit as we started to hear things groaning away. We put the boat alongside to pull into the Harbor making it a tight fit but allowing us better control. Calling on the radio before entering the harbor got us no help and we still had to contend with boats trying to exit. A few were down right RUDE to be nice about it. I now only do short tows, Pigot Point to Seldovia would be the longest and very weather dependent. Tows to a safe anchorage with a ride back to port and I would even go as far as giving them a ride back if needed, but providing a tow for any distance is not going to happen.

  4. #4

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    My friend tows a 32 foot bayliner 60 miles out of the valdez harbor with a tow harness at about 650 rpms with very little extra fuel burn.

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    Jim, this is a very good thread and a good group of questions. First of all, are there actually "for hire" towing services available in Whittier or Seward and can they respond rapidly? Shark Bait and I have posed the question of what one would do if they really needed to be towed to port themselves or someone else needed to be towed in a dire circumstance. Towing a boat is a risky proposition and has a lot of liability attached.

    As far as speed goes, you are probably not going to be able to get on step while towing. It is going to take a lot of fuel and time to get someone back into port no matter how you do it. But you might be able to save someones valuable boat rather than leave it in the approaching bad weather.

    Most people do not have a proper tow harness to tow their boat or others. Shark Bait and I are currently having tow bridles fabricated by Arctic Wire Rope & Supply here in Anchorage so that we will have a towing apparatus available in case of emergency. Most boaters think that they can use their anchor rode and dock lines to make a tow harness, but I am not willing to ruin an anchor rode to tow someone's boat into port.

    The tow bridles are not cheap. They will cost us each over $500 to make. They will have two stern legs 50 feet in length and a single tow hawser line 100 feet in length made from 12-strand blue steel copolymer. The final piece is a 20 foot double braid snubber pendant which attaches to the towed vessel. We will be using stainless steel attaching hardware. This makes the entire harness 170 feet long to get behind the second stern pressure wake.

    At least when I have a problem and the good samaritan boat says throw me your tow line, I will have a tow line available to give them.

    I would welcome your questions and comments.

    Dave T.

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    Member idakfisher's Avatar
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    Default TooLoose

    Your tow harness sound interesting. I carry two 100' lengths of half inch nylon rope for emergencies. If I attach each end of one rope to the stern eyes of the tow boat and then tie the other 100' from that to the disabled boat, would I have about the same thing, except for the extra 20 foot piece that you have? And what is the purpose of the extra 20'?

    And do the Coast Guard or State Troopers ever pull boats in?

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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by idakfisher View Post
    Your tow harness sound interesting. I carry two 100' lengths of half inch nylon rope for emergencies. If I attach each end of one rope to the stern eyes of the tow boat and then tie the other 100' from that to the disabled boat, would I have about the same thing, except for the extra 20 foot piece that you have? And what is the purpose of the extra 20'?

    And do the Coast Guard or State Troopers ever pull boats in?
    The Coast Guard Auxiliary tows them in. I have seen boats under tow in Whittier & Seward both by USCG Auxiliary vessels. It takes them awhile because they don't go real fast - My guess is somewhere around 5-10 knots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    The sound was great yesterday, lots of boats out. Maybe due to the start of the year, there were a lot of requests for attention. I could have come back with three boats in tow Saturday afternoon. One boat flagged me down in Colross Passage passage requesting a tow back to Whittier. I would tow him into an anchorage, assist with tools or give a ride back to Whittier, but I was not willing to tow back to Whittier. He ended up getting a hold of a friend, so he did not need assistance from me. My wife thought I should tow him back, but I did not feel comfortable with that for several reasons:

    1. Load on my motor - This is something that they told me that I had to watch, and that if I 'overprop' this would cause damage to my motor. I assume that if I tried to pull someone on step, that this would be what I would be doing.


    ******** If you have a diesel in your rig the best thing to know what load your engine is under is a pyrometer but i doubt you have one and i'd bet almost nobody in the rec fleet has one. That being said if you had to tow them i'd just go along at a fast idle or a bit above.

    2. Fuel Burn - I assume that I would go through a lot of fuel doing this, even if at a slow speed. I am not sure about this but assume this is the case.

    ******** Tell them outright first stop is at the fuel dock!

    3. Time - I assume it would be an all day event to get back with a boat in tow. I have young children that were already getting ready to get off the boat, and I don't want to make it where they don't want to go out.

    ******** Yup it will be a slow trip.


    I took the coast guard class some years ago, and I know the rules regarding priorities of lending assistance - if someone has these, it would be good to repost them on this thread.

    So the point of this post (which may get lost) is that I am looking for input on towing. I think there are several 'for hire' towing services out of Whittier, is that correct? At what speed would it be possible to tow a boat back without excessive fuel burn or risk of damage to my motor? Have others here offered tows back, and what was your experience as far as time, fuel, etc. in this process?
    *********Find out what their problem is first maybe they just don't know how to trobleshoot it or fix it, i've had many times when things broke on my rig and just about always i've been able to cobble them together to finish the fishing perod or to crawl back to the harbor, but i carry lots of spares and odds & ends of hydraulic, exhaust, fuel & even garden hose, wire, twine,screws and nails(remember i'm a old lobstah fisherman and we can fix just about anything with pot nails, twine and wire).
    If you do have to tow them make then tow a 5 gal bucket off their stern to make them track straighter and if possible try to tow on your end ahead of your rudder or motors it will make steering easier.

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    As always Steve is spot on with his observations. If you can't fix what ails you at that point (cobble something up)",or you may be destined to sink. Think about future scenarios and arm yourself appropriately.

    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    *********Find out what their problem is first maybe they just don't know how to trobleshoot it or fix it, i've had many times when things broke on my rig and just about always i've been able to cobble them together to finish the fishing perod or to crawl back to the harbor, but i carry lots of spares and odds & ends of hydraulic, exhaust, fuel & even garden hose, wire, twine,screws and nails(remember i'm a old lobstah fisherman and we can fix just about anything with pot nails, twine and wire).
    If you do have to tow them make then tow a 5 gal bucket off their stern to make them track straighter and if possible try to tow on your end ahead of your rudder or motors it will make steering easier.

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    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    JRodgers isn't kidding. I couldn't believe the number of calls in Saturday for boats dead in the water. I was going to help out with one until I heard it was a 36ft Nordic Tug. Ended up a USGS research boat hauled them in.

    Unless it was a small boat I don't think I would haul them in. Just too much stress on my boat. I would certainly offer to help, offer a tow to a safe anchorage or offer a ride back. But the amount of wear and tear towing a boat all the way back to Whittier is just too risky. I'd hate to blow a motor and then be wondering how I was going to pay or fix or replace my outboard.

    Good info all around though and what a beautiful weekend.

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    Member breausaw's Avatar
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    If the Coast Guard has time they will offer a tow. Thursday night we encountered the Coast Guard towing a vintage cabin cruiser through Colross Passage with their Red runabout. Yea, the radio was full of distress messages this weekend, finally had to turn it down to get a good night’s sleep.
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    Last year I towed a 28 foot seasport in with my little 17 footer w/ a 75HP 4 stroke in from Eshamy bay, it took 9 hours and my buddy and I got stuck overnight in Whittier sleeping in my Subaru Baja. We used a stainless carabiner as a pulley and 40 feet of line going from the port rear cleat to the starboard rear cleat. Attached 100 feet of his line to the carabiner and away we went, it worked really well.

    Good thing it was one of those glass smooth days or I could have never done it.

    They gave me 400 bucks for my trouble so I wasnt complaining, but it wasted an entire fishing day.

    Never ever never EVER go out on the salt with only 1 motor and enough fuel for it to get back to port. I think its irresponsible to rely on only 1 motor, like going out with no anchor.

    If you're being towed you're only going to go hull speed anyway (5-8 knots, if that) so even a small 8HP trolling kicker will get you going that fast, it'll still take you forever to get back; but at least you dont have to rely on the kindness of others or pay for a sea tow. And a kicker could keep you off the rocks in an emergency before anybody else could respond.
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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Since we're on tows i know a couple of brothers in the cordova gillnet fleet that towed in their brother in law after he broke down, they got all three of their boats up on step even with the tow by towing the broke down boat with both their bowpickers at once, 2 boats towing one quite the show

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    Quote Originally Posted by idakfisher View Post
    Your tow harness sound interesting. I carry two 100' lengths of half inch nylon rope for emergencies. If I attach each end of one rope to the stern eyes of the tow boat and then tie the other 100' from that to the disabled boat, would I have about the same thing, except for the extra 20 foot piece that you have? And what is the purpose of the extra 20'?

    And do the Coast Guard or State Troopers ever pull boats in?
    Idakfisher, the 20' snubber pendant is double braid nylon which stretches from 30% to 35% and will remain attached to my boat in case I need to be towed someday. Many boats can not have a line attached to their bow ring by anyone on that boat because the reach is not accessable. As a towing boat, I don't want to attempt to attach a line to their bow ring in rough seas and possibly cause damage to my boat.

    The Coast Guard Auxiliary will tow a boat if they believe it is an emergency situation.

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    There are lots of ways to get hurt when towing if you don't know what you're doing (myself included). Cleats that come out and become projectiles, lines that snap, etc. I've only been on a boat once that was towing another boat. I remember the towed boat line being tied off at their cleat on the bow. I thought it should have been tied off to their bow eye instead because the bow seemed to be digging in. I've wondered if the towing boat should have the tow line fastened to the aft cleats or if it would be better to fasten it to the transom tiedowns instead. Any opinions?

    You think there were lots of calls for assistance last weekend, just wait until the Memorial Day weekend.

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    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    I've towed a few boats in Resurrection Bay for distances that varied from 3 miles to 20 miles out of harbor, and it usually took the entire day, as I was able to safely run only 4-7 mph. I was also towed in once, and made sure I paid the guy for his lost fuel - I couldn't give him the time back, but I could make sure that it didn't cost him a penny from a fuel perspective.

    I don't hesitate to help out with a tow, because it could be me the next time someone needs a two, and karma has a way of making its' way back around, both good and bad. I understand the concerns, but disabled out in Blackstone, or in Culross, Eshamy, or even farther out is not a place I'd leave anyone. The fish will be there next time I go out . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra Hotel View Post
    I've towed a few boats in Resurrection Bay for distances that varied from 3 miles to 20 miles out of harbor, and it usually took the entire day, as I was able to safely run only 4-7 mph. I was also towed in once, and made sure I paid the guy for his lost fuel - I couldn't give him the time back, but I could make sure that it didn't cost him a penny from a fuel perspective.

    I don't hesitate to help out with a tow, because it could be me the next time someone needs a two, and karma has a way of making its' way back around, both good and bad. I understand the concerns, but disabled out in Blackstone, or in Culross, Eshamy, or even farther out is not a place I'd leave anyone. The fish will be there next time I go out . . .
    This and the previous points are all good ones. I've just seen many motors we use for work blown due to working them too hard. This isn't from towing but from loading the boats down with too much gear so that the engine is working too hard. What do folks think about the wear and tear of towing a boat back many miles for what would likely be many hours. Does it put alot of undo stress on the towing boats motor?

    That's my only concern and why I would be hesitant to tow a boat all the way back to whittier.

    Impressive story Potbuilder!

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    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra Hotel View Post
    I've towed a few boats in Resurrection Bay for distances that varied from 3 miles to 20 miles out of harbor, and it usually took the entire day, as I was able to safely run only 4-7 mph. I was also towed in once, and made sure I paid the guy for his lost fuel - I couldn't give him the time back, but I could make sure that it didn't cost him a penny from a fuel perspective.

    I don't hesitate to help out with a tow, because it could be me the next time someone needs a two, and karma has a way of making its' way back around, both good and bad. I understand the concerns, but disabled out in Blackstone, or in Culross, Eshamy, or even farther out is not a place I'd leave anyone. The fish will be there next time I go out . . .
    This and the previous points are all good ones. I've just seen many motors we use for work blown due to working them too hard. This isn't from towing but from loading the boats down with too much gear so that the engine is working too hard. What do folks think about the wear and tear of towing a boat back many miles for what would likely be many hours. Does it put alot of undo stress on the towing boats motor?

    That's my only concern and why I would be hesitant to tow a boat all the way back to whittier. I would certainly be willing to help out but I don't want to end up with my own problem. This exact thing happened this weekend. A guy was hauling another boat back to whittier, lost his main and was down to just his kicker. He was still pulling the original boat back to town.

    Impressive story Potbuilder!

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    went out on a charter years ago, a different charter boat broke down and our boat and another boat stopped to assist. with the two operational boats helping eachother, we got up to speed just fine.

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    Default Knife

    When towing remember to have one thing on hand and ready. A good knife to cut the rope with.

    I have towed and been towed. The easiest time I was towed, we put fenders between the boats, tied them together and drove back as one unit. Works but takes and experienced skipper.

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