In For The Long Haul
A Guide for the Tow
By Sam White
Once a custom tow eye is installed, the next step is the harness. Having a purpose-made towing harness set up for each individual operation is the best solution. One popular provider is Rope Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale.
According to Rope Inc's. Jack Hutchinson, they will take into account the size of the vessel being towed in addition to the speed and distance of the anticpated trip before coming up with a customized solution. "We usually start with two legs of New England Rope premium braided nylon, which absorbs shock and provides some 'give'" he says. "But keep in mind that using an all-nylon system is a bad idea because of the stretch factor- nylon will continue to stretch like a rubber band until it fails, and that could send a shackle snapping back into the transom." The legs are usually 50 to 75 feet in length, and are followed be a hawser made of 12 strand Plasma Rope, a Spectra fiber that is stronger than the similar-sized cable, stows and handles easily and even floats. Hawser lengths usually run between 150 and 200 feet. "It might seem counter-intuitive, but longer is usually better," he says.
The heart of the system is the Tylaska snap shackle that links the hawser to the pendant. The mathematical curvature of the release mechanism enables these specialized pieces of gear to open easily even under tremendous loads. The shackles are manufactured to the highest level of precision usually reserved for critical aerospace components.
A pennant or painter line runs from the boat's tow eye to the snap shackle, enabling easy connection to the harness from the bow of the vessel. It's connected tothe tow eye with a high-strength bolt-style stanless steel shackle.
So what's in store for the future? Rope Inc's. Jack Hutchinson feels that the practice of twoing small boats will continue to gain in popularity. "I'm seeing a lot more couples and families that want to be able to enjoy their smaller boat when they arrive in their destinations," he says. "Plus there's improved fule economy- you don't need to burn 75 gallons an hour to go fishing, and can go a lot of places the bigger inboard boats can't. Towing is inherently dangerous, but using the proper tow eyes and harness setups and with a little practice, it can be made much safer.
See the Mighty Tow towing page on this site.
Contact a Rope Inc. representative today for a quote for your towing rope application.