Why is a towline important in boating and crafts

In following seas, be sure the towline is sufficiently long so that the craft under tow doesn’t override the crest of a wave while you are in its trough. In such a case, the towed craft may surfboard down the slope and strike your boat, broach or capsize.

Adjust the length of towlines in conformance with the distance between one or more waves. Since the distance between wave crests and wave troughs will remain quite constant, strain on the towline will be at a minimum with both the towed and the towing boat ascending and descending the waves simultaneously.

Pay close attention to the freeboard of the boat being towed. If it has shipped water, it will be unstable and, should you tow at a high rate of speed, you may pull the towed boat’s bow under. You must also pay close attention to the safety of your own boat, so that the stern is not dragged under. This is of particular importance if you are towing with an outboard with a shallow, 15-inch rather than a 20-inch transom–or with an outboard not fitted with a self-draining well.

You may find that in extremely rough weather it is better to delay returning to the nearest mooring. Instead, it may be more prudent to head directly into the sea, maintaining only enough headway to keep excessive slack out of the towline and to prevent your boat and the towed craft from pounding.