Dinghy Towing Safety

Dinghy towing needs to be taken just as seriously as boat towing, whether you're on the land or on the water. Any time you've got something trailing behind a moving vehicle, you've got an increased chance of accidents and injury. Dinghys may be small, but they can do big damage.

On the Road
Treat dinghy towing just as you would any other kind of boat towing. If the boat is small enough, you may be able to secure it to the roof of a car or the back of a pickup truck. Since you'll likely be securing the boat with the hull up, be aware that the boat acts as an air scoop. If it's not tightly secured, it can easily break through ropes or cords and go flying off the back of your vehicle.

If you're using a trailer, follow the same precautions you would for a full-size boat. Check the tires, trailer brakes, tail lights and tow hitch for any signs of wear. Be sure your boat towing insurance is paid up before you leave.

The light weight of a dinghy won't put the same pressure on a trailer as a full-size boat. That's easier on the tires, but it also means the trailer can whip around if you try to take sharp or fast turns.

On the Water
There are several things you should have ready near the dinghy if you're towing it behind your boat. Keep a VHF marine radio, a flashlight, emergency flotation devices for each passenger, an anchor bag with a small anchor, at least a gallon of water and a flare gun with flares stored in the dinghy. If you can't keep these items in the dinghy, keep them in a waterproof box at the spot on the boat where the dinghy is tied on. In the event of a boating accident, you do not want to be rushing around looking for supplies.

The anchor bag should also contain a waterproof bag with a whistle, an air horn, an extra flashlight, extra batteries, flares and a can of smoke. The fuel tank vent on the dinghy should be closed at all times, to keep water and moisture out of the fuel.

When towing the dinghy, use two polyproylene lines and a bridle to attach the dinghy to the boat. They should be shortened so that the dinghy is close to the side of the boat during maneuvers. The knots used to tie the dinghy to the boat should be quick to release, so that the dinghy can be instantly separated from the boat in the event of an emergency. 

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