Marine Heads Analysts Make Towing Your Boat Safely Look Easy

Your Marine Heads Professionals Give You the Power to Help Others

Raritan Engineering Company would like to share with you this week these tips on how to make towing your boat safely look easy and on marine heads.

You’re on your way home, feeling the last warmth of the sun as it kisses the horizon, when the cellphone rings. A buddy, with his wife and three kids aboard, can’t get his motor started, and there isn’t a commercial towing vessel nearby.

Boat and Gear Limitations

Your cleats and lines may not be the floating, low-stretch lines and generously backed hardware found aboard towing vessels. Your alternative will be a strong, long anchor line to tow with and a pair of dock lines for a bridle (see illustration below). “Nylon line stretches more than half its length,” warns Capt. Clayton Tieman of TowBoatUS in Tampa Bay, Florida.

While they vary between states, good Samaritan laws mitigate liability, provided you’re not outright negligent and you don’t take money, fuel reimbursement, football tickets, or even a drink at the marina bar.

Federal Code 46-2304

A master or individual in charge of a vessel shall render assistance to any individual found at sea in danger of being lost, so far as the master or individual in charge can do so without serious danger to the master or individual’s vessel or individuals on board.


“If there is no emergency, don’t make one,” says Capt. Terry Hill of TowBoatUS in Potomac, Virginia. To buy time, anchor the disabled vessel. “Make a 360 around the boat and size up the situation, then back off and make a plan.”

Marine Heads Analysts Make Towing Your Boat Safely Look Easy

Your Marine Heads Experts Show the Best Approach to Towing Safely

Your marine heads specialists know that once the towing line is passed, maintain a safe distance while it’s secured. “Take up the towline slack very, very slowly. Just bump it in and out of gear,” Hill says, “and never, ever back down with that towline behind you.” Ungrounding tests professional towing skippers and their gear beyond the limits aboard recreational boats.


“Typical anchor lines are 100 or 150 feet,” Hill says. “That’s about the distance you want between boats for shock absorbency and safety in ideal conditions.” In close quarters, halve that towing distance.

Pass the eye splices in a pair of dock lines from the stern cleats through trailer tie-down eyes so you can adjust length at the stern cleats — a short bridle while maneuvering but a long one for straight-line towing.

A 45-minute cruise home at 30 mph becomes four or five hours when towing another vessel. “You’ve got to get yourself back home too. Are you going to have enough daylight and enough fuel?” Tieman asks.


“For everyone, professional towers or good Samaritans, the highest anxiety occurs right near the dock,” Hill says. Approach a wide-open dock with your bow into the wind or current, if possible. Tie off your boat, and then bring the towed vessel in by hand.

Just because you could tow, doesn’t mean you should. “You’ve got to know your limitations,” LeBlanc says. “You’ve been out in the sun all day. You’re tired, hungry,” Tieman adds.

Options Instead of Towing

Federal law mandates that commercial and recreational boaters help anyone “at sea in danger of being lost, so far as the master or individual in charge can do so without serious danger to […] the vessel or individuals on board.”

  • Tow a short distance to a safer location, anchor the boat, and take everyone aboard your boat. Just check your boat’s capacity and bring along extra life jackets.
  • On lakes without commercial towing vessels, check with BoatUS 24/7 dispatch (800-391-4869) or local law enforcement. This isn’t the first breakdown on that lake, and they’ll know whom to call.

Visit us at and see how Raritan Engineering Company always has more information on marine heads and on how to make towing your boat safely look easy.

via Rendering Aid: How to Safely Tow Other Boats

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.