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Thread: Tow the boat or push with kicker?

  1. #1
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    Default Tow the boat or push with kicker?

    My buddy and I were just cussin and discussin the problems we have when we use our kicker motors. He has a 9.9 Yamy and I have a 15. When we stand in the back and drive (if you call it that) visibility is nil. Wind can be a challenge too. I made the run from Galena bay back to Valdez harbor on the kicker a couple years ago. No fun sitting in the back of the boat trying to keep it straight and look through the cabin or around it. We both have inflatbles (12' Achilles & Zodiac) and tow them behind most of the summer for going to shore etc. Would it be easier to leave the kickers attached to our inflatables and if/when we have a break down in the bigger boat (24 & 26 footers) just use the inflatable and kicker to tow the big boat rather than push it with the same kicker? I think I'd have better steering control pulling with the 15 than I would trying to push and steer from the back of the big boat with the same motor.
    Has anybody got experience or inputs? Is it a good idea to tow with an inflatable?

  2. #2

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    I'm sure it depends on your boat. My boat is a displacement hull with no ob motor bracket on the transom. I have pushed the boat with the zodi secured to the port stern quarter. Made it back into my slip with no issues. Seiners often do this with their seine skiff. So much better to be self sufficient instead of calling for help on the radio. Good thread idea!

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    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    Tealer, I used to work in a marina a couple centuries ago and got to tow many 20 to 40ft sail boats quite often. Towing control is a real issue. What happens is the bow of the towed boat will oscillate port to starboard, as it goes one way, slack in the line will jolt it back to the other side and the towed boat sort of zigzags along. The longer the line, the greater the zigzag. The other issue will be to stop the towed boat when you get to where you want to go. This can be real tricky. Often I had to ease straight at a slip and veer of at the last second, let the work skiff bump the dock, jump out and catch the bow of the towed boat before it hit the end if the slip. Having said all that, I suppose it depends if you are alone or with a crew that can help with the towed boat. With or without a crew, the control is with the power.

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    A few years back I wasn't paying attention and ran out of oil for my 150 direct inject outboard out by Esther Island in PWS. I have a 8 hp yam kicker on my 22 foot Hews it took me about 4-5 hours to get back to Whittier. luckily it was flat calm out. I throttled up the kicker and locked it in position, went up front and steered using my main motor as a rudder. Made a pot of coffee, kicked back and tried to enjoy the slow trip back.

    With your boat size it might be quicker to just use your Zodiac to run back to town for what you need to get going again.
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    Two choices, cheapest is to install an EZ steer that connects your kicker to your main motor.
    Next up is to add a Garmin TR1 to your kicker. This allows you to control your kicker from a remote control. Pricey, but people swear by them.
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    Get one of these doohickeys, attachs with slide snaps in seconds. Works with outdrives and outboards. I had to bend and twist the stainless rod a bit to make it work, sure beats standing at the tiller. When you get close to port and need more control just remove the coupler.
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  7. #7

    Default Right kicker for the job.

    Had a riser melt the boot on my Sea Sport once out of Seward during the beginning of a week long stretch of crappy weather. Got out past Caines head when it happened, the tide and wind were opposite each other, which was good as they canceled each other out when it came down to resistance. The seas were terrible, even at the harbor entrance! Using the Yam 9.9 high thrust kicker all the way back it only took an hour or two. The kicker controls the boat well enough as long as you "stay with it and drive the thing" in heavy seas, anticipate the waves, throttle up, turn aggressively, etc. Going that slow meant we could crash through whatever hit the bow. I think the kicker needs to match your boat and then you can control it, if it's not a true "tractor-type" powered kicker it might not cut it. Visibility; drive it like a train, look off to the side.

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    I spend all summer trolling in the 26' hewes, using the kicker and a PVC pipe tiller extension. One day at Pony last summer there were 20+ boats with kickers there trolling or motor mooching, and I was the only one using the kicker to do so. Everyone else was racking up hours on their pricy mains. To each their own, I guess.

    It's no real big trick to drive a boat straight in rough seas with the kicker. For a long time. From the back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    I spend all summer trolling in the 26' hewes, using the kicker and a PVC pipe tiller extension. One day at Pony last summer there were 20+ boats with kickers there trolling or motor mooching, and I was the only one using the kicker to do so. Everyone else was racking up hours on their pricy mains. To each their own, I guess.

    It's no real big trick to drive a boat straight in rough seas with the kicker. For a long time. From the back.
    I would have a hard time trusting a kicker in rough water. One of my 300's will push me a long at 10 knots all day with not too much load on the motor and if I want I have a lot more motor left to help get up a large swell. Going out 50-70 miles out of Seward with a single main and kicker never sounded like a good idea to me, as the weather can change in a instant and in +10' seas a 9.9 or 25hp would make me feel real uncomfortable ( but to each their own). I'll just keep on racking up those hours on my main with the peice of mind I'll be able to get back when it gets bad out. I used to have a single vovlo 24' seasport w/ a kicker. Main went down and had to go from the Cape Res. to the harbor, lets just say I was less then impressed with the performance. Luckily my buddy Capt Bob from Salt Water Safari picked me up and towed in at 18 knots. So I guess My vote with a kicker would be tow as long as the towing boat was capable and didn't restrict it's ability to maneuver.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ak Bird Brain View Post
    I throttled up the kicker and locked it in position, went up front and steered using my main motor as a rudder. Made a pot of coffee, kicked back and tried to enjoy the slow trip back.
    This is an idea worth eveyone trying. In my case, I have a hydraulic switch and can switch my steering between the main motor and the kicker, so I can run my kicker from either in the cabin or at the rear helm station. A couple of time I have forgotten to switch it, and if the kicker is set pretty straight, I can actually steer the boat pretty well using the main outdrive, even though it is not providing power. I don't know that this is a solution for everyone and all configurations, but for a long ride back to home it could make things both safer and more comfortable.
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    I think in some situations, it would work better if the inflatable was secured to the side of the boat... If you've ever towed someone in and turned them over to the harbor master at the breakwater.. The Harbormaster will secure their skiff to the side of the dis-abled vessel for better manuverability (where's a spell checker when you need it.???) in the harbor.../John

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    Member breausaw's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ak Bird Brain
    I throttled up the kicker and locked it in position, went up front and steered using my main motor as a rudder. Made a pot of coffee, kicked back and tried to enjoy the slow trip back.

    I tried this and didn't have much control with my set up, that's why I got the connector rod. I stow it, if I need it just snap on and away we go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tealer View Post
    My buddy and I were just cussin and discussin the problems we have when we use our kicker motors. He has a 9.9 Yamy and I have a 15. When we stand in the back and drive (if you call it that) visibility is nil. Wind can be a challenge too. I made the run from Galena bay back to Valdez harbor on the kicker a couple years ago. No fun sitting in the back of the boat trying to keep it straight and look through the cabin or around it. We both have inflatbles (12' Achilles & Zodiac) and tow them behind most of the summer for going to shore etc. Would it be easier to leave the kickers attached to our inflatables and if/when we have a break down in the bigger boat (24 & 26 footers) just use the inflatable and kicker to tow the big boat rather than push it with the same kicker? I think I'd have better steering control pulling with the 15 than I would trying to push and steer from the back of the big boat with the same motor.
    Has anybody got experience or inputs? Is it a good idea to tow with an inflatable?
    Forget the tow with inflatable.....I tried once on Big Lake on a 26' Larson vs a 10' Zodiac with 15 hp. No way to get it going the right direction. Had a little better success pushing it from the rear. But you are not getting anywhere fast.

    I would consider if it was repairable, shelter availabilty, and if the inflatable would make it back to harbor and run it back to port and get what I need or a friend's bigger boat.

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by breausaw View Post
    Originally Posted by Ak Bird Brain
    I throttled up the kicker and locked it in position, went up front and steered using my main motor as a rudder. Made a pot of coffee, kicked back and tried to enjoy the slow trip back.

    I tried this and didn't have much control with my set up, that's why I got the connector rod. I stow it, if I need it just snap on and away we go.
    I'm gonna have to look into finding one of those. My method worked but wasn't ideal. I'd get going in a nice straight line then a gust or wave would turn me. It'd take a bit to get going straight again. Then another gust or wave. Meanwhile my wife was trying to troll off the back, and kept asking me to slow down!
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    My boat is a 26' Thompson and a big heavy old girl so it looks like what Dupont Spinner said makes sense (he's been there done that) so I'll keep the kicker on it's bracket off the big teak swim platform. It's worked before but I was hoping to find something better. I had the same problem as AK Bird Brain had getting moved around. If someone watched from a distance my path would look like a coon hound looking for a scent. I will look into getting one of the connectors between my main and kicker though. Thanks folks. Thats what I love about this forum. I can ask and learn from others experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FISHFACE View Post
    I would have a hard time trusting a kicker in rough water. One of my 300's will push me a long at 10 knots all day with not too much load on the motor and if I want I have a lot more motor left to help get up a large swell. Going out 50-70 miles out of Seward with a single main and kicker never sounded like a good idea to me, as the weather can change in a instant and in +10' seas a 9.9 or 25hp would make me feel real uncomfortable ( but to each their own). I'll just keep on racking up those hours on my main with the peice of mind I'll be able to get back when it gets bad out. I used to have a single vovlo 24' seasport w/ a kicker. Main went down and had to go from the Cape Res. to the harbor, lets just say I was less then impressed with the performance. Luckily my buddy Capt Bob from Salt Water Safari picked me up and towed in at 18 knots. So I guess My vote with a kicker would be tow as long as the towing boat was capable and didn't restrict it's ability to maneuver.
    I don't know how the sterns of cats are arranged - but on one the size of yours, I'm thinking that hanging a kicker in the middle probably isn't an option.

    Plenty of monohull boats running around other parts of the country with two mains and a trolling kicker, though. Nothing special there.

  17. #17
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tealer View Post
    My boat is a 26' Thompson and a big heavy old girl so it looks like what Dupont Spinner said makes sense (he's been there done that) so I'll keep the kicker on it's bracket off the big teak swim platform. It's worked before but I was hoping to find something better. I had the same problem as AK Bird Brain had getting moved around. If someone watched from a distance my path would look like a coon hound looking for a scent. I will look into getting one of the connectors between my main and kicker though. Thanks folks. Thats what I love about this forum. I can ask and learn from others experiences.
    I did the try it before I needed thing and I am glad I did because it was an eye opener. I thought it would work easily.....I so wrong. Pushing worked better but not much. Putting the kicker back on the bracket is the best option to get to shelter.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    I don't know how the sterns of cats are arranged - but on one the size of yours, I'm thinking that hanging a kicker in the middle probably isn't an option.

    Plenty of monohull boats running around other parts of the country with two mains and a trolling kicker, though. Nothing special there.

    There was a cat 2' wider and 5' longer then ours from Armstrong Marine and it had a 25hp kicker in between the two mains. What I was referencing to was our experience with our 24' monohull SeaSport. I think trolling in calmer water would be fine with a kicker, but my experience with trying to navigate in rougher conditions wouldn't be ideal for me. My 300's troll perfectly ( right at one knot), so I don't think I need a kicker. I just figured it's another motor to have to maintain and I really don't put that many hours on the main motors annually. I guess it's all just personal preference like most things with boating.
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