Towing operations by
Safety Boats are to be considered as Rescue Operations, and should only be
attempted where absolutely necessary. Towing another vessel astern or
alongside can be potentially dangerous, and the Cox’n should carefully
consider the situation before attempting a tow. If in doubt the Cox’n will
summon assistance and will ensure the safety of persons on board the
casualty vessel by taking them aboard the Safety Boat.
The Cox’n must consider:
Is it safe for the
Safety Boat to tow this craft or is another vessel in the area more
Is it safe for the
persons to stay aboard the casualty vessel whilst under tow?
Are the weather
conditions such that it would be safer to recover the persons and leave
Are there any other
dangers which would make it safer to recover the persons and leave the
What method is to be
used to tow the vessel to safety.
This is the safest and
most frequently used method to tow another vessel using a Safety Boat and
can be used in a wide range of weather conditions.
A long towing rope is to
be connected to the towing bridle using a figure of eight descender or a
large ring or shackle. The towing bridle is fixed to two strong points,
cleats or towing eyes, on the stern of the Safety Boat. The other end of
the towrope is to be connected to a strong point on the vessel to be
towed. In poor weather conditions the towrope needs to be as long as
In heavy weather and
large seas the length of tow must be adjusted so that both Safety Boat and
casualty are climbing waves. If the length of tow is such that they in the
same trough between successive waves, they casualty may ‘surf’ down the
face of a wave, out of control, and broach or ram the stern of the Safety
When towing displacement
boats, the speed of the tow should never exceed the maximum hull speed of
A crewman must attend the
towline at all times during the towing operation, to maintain contact with
the casualty vessel, to ensure that the towline does not become
wrapped around the
propeller if the tow rope goes slack, and to be able to cast off the tow
rope quickly if the situation dictates.
Adjust the length of the tow
rope to keep both the Safety Boat and the casualty
climbing waves at the same
If the casualty vessel
exhibits a tendancy to broach whilst under tow a coil of spare line should
be streamed over the stern of the casualty, the line still coiled up. This
will act as a form of brake, and help to prevent the casualty moving so
fast through the water, thus keeping weight on the tow line which will
decrease the likelihood of a broach.
Depending upon conditions
at the time it may be expedient either:
To attach the towline
securely to the casualty and facilitate easy slipping from the Safety
To attach the tow
securely to the Safety Boat and facilitate easy slipping from the
The decision as to which
method is used will depend on many factors, particularly casualty crew
condition, and can only be made by the Safety Boat Coxn. at the time.
THE TOW SHALL AT
ALL TIMES BE CONNECTED IN SUCH A WAY AS TO BE ABLE TO “QUICK RELEASE” IF
DISABLED CRAFT WHICH
HAVE TAKEN OR WHICH ARE IN DANGER OF TAKING WATER SHOULD NEVER BE TOWED
This method is suitable
only in calm conditions or in a harbour area to come alongside. This
method offers far superior control during manoeuvring.
Four ropes are required,
two will be used as springs:
1. From the
forward anchor point of the Safety Boat to an after strong point
vessel to be towed.
2. From the
stern of the Safety Boat to the bow of the vessel to be towed.
3. Short rope
from the stern of the Safety Boat to the stern of the vessel
4. Short rope
from the bow of the Safety Boat to the closest strong point
vessel to be towed.
The Safety Boat should be
positioned so that its engine is well astern of the vessel to be towed
with springs 1 and 2 fitted and tightened as far as possible.
Put the safety boat into
slow ahead gear and retighten the stern spring as much as possible, then
engage slow astern gear and retighten the bow spring. Tighten breast ropes
3 and 4 and the tow is ready.
If the Safety Boat engine
is not positioned far enough astern of the vessel to be towed the safety
boat will not have steerage, therefore reposition the Safety Boat. Towing
should be done in a slow manner, retightening the ropes as necessary.
TURNING PORT &
With the Casualty and
Safety Boat positioned as in the diagram, boat handling will be totally
different to normal. Turns to Starboard will be performed relatively
easily as the engine of the Safety Boat will be pushing in the right
direction, however, turns to port will require a different procedure and
some prior planning.
To turn to port in a
situation as depicted in the diagram, put the gearchange to neutral, turn
the helm to STARBOARD, engage reverse gear, and briefly apply
throttle. This action will have the effect of dragging the bow of the
casualty in the direction required, to port. Once the bow of the casualty
is pointing in the required direction, engage neutral, return the helm to
the required position and resume normal operation.
During the course of an
alongside tow, particularly in confined waters, it may be necessary to
alternate between forward and reverse operations frequently and rapidly.
Coming alongside should
be done with the minimum of throttle and gear changing from ahead to
astern. The Cox’n should take full advantage of tide and wind conditions
and approach slowly from down wind/tide at an angle of approx. 30 degrees.
The crew, briefed beforehand, will make ready the necessary ropes and
prepare to fend off. Just before contact, turn the bow away, put the helm
amidships and engage astern gear.
ropes are required:
Forward anchor point on Safety Boat to after strong point on
Stern of Safety Boat to forward strongpoint of casualty.
Stern of Safety Boat to stern of casualty.
Bow of Safety Boat to closest strong point on casualty.
The degree of assistance
that you render in this case will depend entirely upon whether the crew of
the capsized boat are uninjured and capable of helping themselves.
Your presence, an
encouraging word or a helping hand with the mast or centreboard or
bringing the boat head to wind after righting may be all that is
If you are required to
assist to right the dinghy then the best approach is towards the forestay.
The Safety Boat crew can ‘walk, the mast up towards the Safety Boat hull.
This, combined with the efforts of the dinghy crew, is normally enough to
right the dinghy. This method is of particular use when assisting single
handed dinghies or those crewed by children when the ability of the crew
to help themselves will decrease rapidly.
Remember to assist for
long enough for the crew to re-board and prepare for sailing.
If a greater degree of
assistance is required, consider recovering the casualties from the water
into the Safety Boat, this will not only remove the casualties from
danger, but will also give you more manpower in the Safety Boat.
Approach the capsized
dinghy from the forestay, or if it safe to do so, alongside the
centreboard, with the Safety Boat facing in the same direction as the
casualty dinghy. The Safety Boat can then be used as a stable platform
from which to work, allowing the crew to exert leverage either from the
centreboard or via the jib sheet pulled over the hull. These techniques
are easier if the Safety Boat can manoeuvre itself and the casualty dinghy
head to wind.
Fully inverted boats are
In deep water with the mast clear of the bottom
In shallow water with the mast touching the sea bed.
Where a. applies, come
alongside the leeward side and try to sink the leeward quarter to bring
the boat into the 90 degree capsize position. If successful the method
above should do the trick, if it does not work, try taking the jib sheet
over the dinghy, aft of the centreboard if it is still in place, stand on
the gunwale and pull. An alternative method is to tow the dinghy slow
ahead which may screw it round to the 90 degree capsize position.
In case b., take the
dinghy crew aboard the safety boat which will release any weight off the
hull and may then release the mast from the sea bed, any swell may be of
assistance. Once the mast is free, treat as in a. above.
Remember to keep your
crew briefed on your plan, also, the dinghy crew may be of great
assistance, so, keep them briefed too.
Righting Capsized Dinghies.
Approach towards the forestay
and walk the mast upright.
Righting capsized Dinghies
If the mast is stuck in the
mud, take the jib sheet over the boat
and drive the Safety Boat away
from the casualty.
The righting of capsized
catamarans requires some special techniques, and a high degree of
co-operation between the Safety Boat crew and the casualty crew, however,
provided both crews work together as a team, righting catamarans should
present no great problem.
It is vitally important
that, before attempting to right a capsized catamaran, the bows of the
catamaran are brought head to wind. If not, the catamaran, on righting,
may either sail off, possibly without the crew, or, capsize the other way,
on top of the crew.
During the routine for
righting a capsized catamaran, definite actions are required of each part
of the team as follows.
Stand on the outside gunwale on the leeward hull, near the stern, using
the righting rope to support you and wait. The stern will sink, the
opposite bow will rise and the vessel will move to the 90 degree capsize
If this does not work,
probably because the casualty’s sails will not let it right, release
halyards as necessary and ‘drop’ the sails, i.e. pull them to the surface.
Safety Boat Crew.
Ask the casualty crew to pass you the main halyard. manoeuvre the Safety
Boat so as to position the mast of the casualty pointing into the wind,
and use the main halyard to pull the masthead to the surface.
Righting capsized Catamarans.
‘Drop’ the sails, take the main halyard to the Safety Boat and pull the
masthead to the surface.
When in 90 degree
Cat Crew. If the
kite is up, lower it and stow it on the mainsail, just above the boom.
Make sure the mast is pointing into the wind. Make sure all control lines,
ijncluding mainsheet traveller, are uncleated and free.
Take righting rope over
the top of the upper hull and lean out. If this does not work, take the
righting rope through a crewmembers trapeze hook, under the front beam and
back to the crewmembers hand, the crewmember can then lean out without
hurting their arms. The second crewmember can then stand on the trapeze
harness, thus getting the maximum amount of weight over the side.
When the boat rights it
is important that the crew grabs the beam close to the lower hull in order
to prevent the boat capsizing the other way.
Once righted the crew
should re-board the cat over the front beam inside the hulls.
Safety Boat Crew.
If the casualty crew is unable to right the boat from the 90 degree
position, make sure the mast is pointing into the wind, and lift the
masthead and push the boat up while the crew are leaning out.
Alternatively, secure a line to the end of the righting line and drive the
Safety Boat away from the casualty. Do not secure the line to the
Safety Boat, be ready to release the line as soon as the casualty starts
To tow a catamaran all
sails must be lowered and/or furled.
catamaran with sails set is liable to sail off by itself as soon as it is
righted and in certain circumstances may be able to ‘outsail’ a Safety
Righting Capsized Catamarans
If the crew are unable to
right the boat,
take the righting line over
the top hull
and drive the Safety Boat