Towing the Dink

Bob & Debbie Huddleston huddlestonb_d at
Mon Mar 23 16:49:40 EST 1998

Great input. Just thought I would add this "humorous" note. This happened on
my sailboat, but I can see it happening from the flybridge of a trawler. We
were at anchor at Point Reyes in about 50 knots of wind and were leaving the
next morning. We removed the motor from our Avon and hooked up the bow
painter to our spinnaker  halyard. My wife  had hold of a line attached to
the stern of the dinghy (I told her to not wrap the line around her hand).
You pretty much know the rest - The wind caught the dinghy, jerked the line
from my wife's hand and took off. It was flying almost horizontally 50 feet
up. Every dip in the wind sent the dinghy toward the deck. We were lucky to
get away without damage or injury. Do I  have to learn EVERYTHING the hard
-----Original Message-----
From: Bryant Vann <vann at>
To: trawler-world-list at <trawler-world-list at>
Date: Monday, March 23, 1998 9:41 AM
Subject: Re: Towing the Dink

>>Think of the word: "Shipshape"
>As I was reading some of the recent comments on this subject, it occurred
>to me there MIGHT be one or more TWiLers "out there" who haven't understood
>what we've meant by "dinghy flying," or, if they DO understand what it
>means, haven't seen it happen and MAY not believe it's possible.  Perhaps
>the others can just skip on to the next message...
>Anyway, here's how it works...  It has nothing (or, at least, very little)
>to do with the waves, it's the WIND that does it (and the direction it
>comes from is important).  This is why you can even have it happen in
>"protected" waters without much wave action.  Here's how it works -- the
>towing boat is headed from about 45 degrees to maybe 135 degrees off the
>direction the wind is coming from.  As the wind speed rises, the dinghy
>slides off away from the wind, maybe 45 degrees from the dead-astern
>position.  All of a sudden you will see the windward edge of the dinghy
>rise a little and the wind catch under it and actually lift it off the
>water.  THEN it rolls over UPSIDE down.  NEXT the process is repeated, and
>it will start rolling over and over, winding the tow line up tighter and
>tighter until knots start to form -- with the dinghy getting closer and
>closer!  Obviously, whatever was INSIDE the dinghy is NOW gone.  Even
>having an outboard on the transom won't stop this from happening under the
>right conditions.
>It can also happen if you are heading dead downwind, only under THESE
>conditions the dinghy can slide around almost even with the towing boat's
>transom, but headed perpendicular to the direction the towing boat is
>headed.  THEN it starts flying/rolling.  Of course, if it catches JUST
>right, the bow can go under and THEN the durn thing heads toward the bottom
>at which point SOMETHING is going to break!
>Now, I must say that I KNOW it will happen with an all-rubber inflatable --
>even a heavy, Avon-type (voice of experience here -- even though I had been
>warned).  I have never given an R. I. B. a chance to do it.  Nor have I
>seen a hard dinghy do it, which is not to say that it can't happen with
>these also.  How much wind does it take?  I can't say for sure, but
>probably it will start getting "light" in the 20 to 25 knot range.
>Once this get started, you will be risking your dinghy to continue on and
>recovering it may not be possible.  At that point, your only option (other
>than cutting it free) MAY be to head up directly into the wind, which may
>or may not be possible to do safely.
>Again, my apologies to anyone who didn't need all this...
>- Bryant

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