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Tips for towing broken down sailers
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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 829
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tell you what will save a lot of time & trouble if towing --- 12' of downhaul, tucked in a harness pocket or wherever you can stash it. Mine is tied onto my harness, which doesn't have a pocket. Universal of the tow-ee, front footstrap of the tow-er. Sometimes you can use the line to fix whatever's broken, I've tied broken booms back together good enough to get to shore, you can replace any broken lines (duh!) etc..

Last time I broke a mast I didn't have my line with me ('cos I'm stupid), and my friend Dan and I took turns using one or more of the techniques described here to get me back to shore, wore us both out, would have been much easier with a towline.

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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3387

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sailor needs to hold on to the tow line if possible so that you can control the instability and release when needed, esp. on a long tow.
The load on the sail is not a lot different than loaning your gear to a guy much bigger than you to butt drag around.
You can operate the sail much as normal during a butt drag.
To raise it higher you scrunch in closer to the rig. If you have tried to butt drag any distance this will be clear to you.
If you spend five minutes trying his method next time you are out all doubts will be eased.
If I can find a waterproof camera and a jetski maybe I will try to make my first you tube.
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zirtaeb



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 2396

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure how the sailor can hold the tow line. In his teeth? My two hands are occupied holding onto my booms, usually hooked in, STANDING UP, sloggin slow. Buttdragging takes you a bit downwind of your original position.
You cannot have taut lines atop your board, as you need to put your feet somewhere it won't get wrapped or pinned.
Having the broken down sailor grab your harness is unrealistic. How can you set up a waterstart if he's holding on to you?
Agree you need a emergency release. Draggie holding your rear straps, to eject him, just lower your boom whacking his hand, if he won't let go to you command. He always let's go with that boomslap across his wrist.
Line is nice, but makes ejection harder to control.
Butt dragging for a mile, at say....2 mph, would be a drag. Better to stand up, slog, and tell war stories to each other.
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windoggie



Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 2399

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is all too complicated. Let em swim.
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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3387

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a viewpoint on long distance tows standing I refer you to the original OP since he and I have have done them with the same experience.
The reason we have been involved in so many rescues is because we have operated the sailing center in Belize for more than twenty years, among big waves and coral everywhere.
We were involved in nearly every rescue in the country.
The most usual reasons for breakdowns with us is broken fins, with broken masts from touching the bottom during a Maytag as second.
I hold the Belize record for being rescued with eleven, add the time last fall in Maui when my sail cap broke and I got a tow from the lifeguards from about mile out.
I was lucky. Lifeguards at Kanaha sometimes make you abandon your rig, which I have done three times in Belize. In helio pickups in Maui they make you leave the board as well.
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pduff



Joined: 13 Apr 2001
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was towed once after breaking a u-joint under the GG bridge. Given his numerous heroics, it could have been Zirtateb. Because the ebb was taking me out at a good clip, I ditched my rig to make headway more quickly. A thousand dollars seems pretty immaterial when you are outside the gate with nobody in sight. Anyway, a guy came along and had me grab his back footstrap as he slogged by me. If I remember correctly, the trick was to keep my board from banging his. I do recall, however, that holding on to the footstrap, even without the drag of my rig, was no easy task. The guy towing me seemed fine.

One other lesson I learned was that it is not easy to paddle a windsurf board when waves are coming from the side, which would be the case for many/most Crissy breakdowns. It is far easier to paddle when waves are coming from behind, like at Stinson.
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zirtaeb



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 2396

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prolly not me, since I haven't sailed Crissy since the mid '90's.
Might be SteveYong, a dimunitive Chinese guy, really talkative.
Don't really believe anyone would bother to buttdrag for a mile.
Ejecting just the sail is the most prudent call, as the mast can be stuffed inside your front straps, the base across the rear straps, and the booms towed by the outhaul line, or uphaul line.
Sailing without a fin, directly across the wind, is super easy. Sailing downwind without a fin is a launch fest. Sailing upwind without a fin is not possible.
Always took about 1/2 my day's sailing away when I towed someone in, especially from longer than 1/2 mile. Longer is not always more taxing, as you learn the technique to rest, stay hooked in, and slogging, conserving energy.
Attachment method.... I always approach from upwind, waterstart position butt dragging, swing by, have broken down sailor grab my rear strap, ONE try before I sail away for 5 minutes. If they don't listen to my instructions, I ALWAYS sail away for a few jumps and jibes, then come back. If they still don't listen, I leave. Obviously, if they're shellshocked, I'll hang around and give them a last chance. I've punched guys, slapped guys in the face, and plenty of times yelled at guys who wouldn't respond to my instructions.
This is not a forum for group hugs, and I'm not out to make you feel good.
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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3387

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Butt drags are a skill like any other. We sailed in the eighties and with those baggy no batten sails you could easily get in trouble if the wind went over 35 knots and you were on a 7.0.
Even with the door open the sail would rip out of your hands in the gusts.
This was a big deal on the 18 mile crossing to the next island. Variations on butt drags were the only way home through the coral.
If you relax your arms and rely on your harness you can do it for hours, resting as needed. The first to arrive sent the boat for the others.
As Lee pointed out, longer was not always more taxing, if your technique was adequate and the water was warm.

Fastest guy was Greg who would lay on his back on the 12 ft boards we used, with his head on the tail and the boom on his chest. He could steer as long as it was downwind by moving the boom left to right.
Your arms get tired pushing up on the boom to catch wind and take the weight off your chest. It helped to cross your arms on your chest to give the boom a place to rest not right on your chest.

Attitude was important. There were no other options out in the remote blue far away from a little island a mile long.
Lee sorry I am not speaking clearly. The sailor being rescued is the one who should hold on to the rescue line which is connected to the harness lines.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14239

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zirtaeb wrote:
Having the broken down sailor grab your harness is unrealistic. How can you set up a waterstart if he's holding on to you?

Why waterstart? Who wants to put his body in the power chain when hardware can carry the whole load. As we've discussed before (SEARCH on key words tower towee), The towee de-rigs and grabs the tower's harness (that handle on my kite harness chosen for that purpose works great), the tower gets in the waterstart position hooked in, and the two of them broad reach into the sunset, chatting to avoid boredom. The only human effort is in the forearm hanging onto the harness. (Hell, SOMEBODY has to do a little work, and it needn't be the hero pulling off the rescue.)
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14239

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zirtaeb wrote:
Don't really believe anyone would bother to buttdrag for a mile.

Why not? It's effortless, even relaxing, to both parties, if the towee de-rigs to cut drag.
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