Towing boat behind houseboat question

Discussion in 'Lake Powell Recreation' started by MrDeeds970, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. MrDeeds970

    MrDeeds970 Member

    Hi everyone! I have a question about towing our new Ranger behind the houseboat. I am new to houseboating and confused about what type of rope I need to purchase to haul the boat. Is there a specific kind most houseboaters use to pull a heavy boat? Thanks in advance!
  2. PowellBride

    PowellBride Well-Known Member

    We use 50'-75' of at least 1/2" Double Braided line to tow our speed boats with a heavy duty hook at the end to latch onto the boat. We'd advice against tiring the rope to the boat at the bow. Denver Rope is a good source of information for selecting the right rope and hardware, plus they will customize color for you

    We regularly a 21' Ranger and a 21' Stratos
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  3. Gem Morris

    Gem Morris Well-Known Member

    I use a 4,000 lb rated tow rope that is used for pulling tubes (it's the heaviest one I could find). I use a caribiner to attach it to the eyebolt of my little boat then tie it to the starboard rear clete on the houseboat. It's easier for me to watch from the helm that way.

    It's a floating rope so it won't sink and get caught in the props of the houseboat.

    Take the slack out until the line is taut then proceed. The boat weighs more than 4,000 lbs but at towing speeds of 10 mph +/- there isn't that much strain on the line.
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  4. MrDeeds970

    MrDeeds970 Member

    Thanks I'll give them a call!
  5. Jim Morgan

    Jim Morgan Member

    I use a "Y" Harness attached to both stern cleats. Propylene line floats.
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  6. BartsPlace

    BartsPlace Moderator Staff Member

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  7. PowellBride

    PowellBride Well-Known Member

    While a $100 or $200 investment in a good tow rope sounds expensive, it's pretty cheap when you consider the boat you're pulling costs $50K -$100k. Fixing damage if that boat comes loose and its bashing into a canyon wall before you find it, isn't cheap either

    Doesn't happen often, but I've seen jet skis and boats floating all by themselves mid channel
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
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  8. Jim Morgan

    Jim Morgan Member

    Another comment......If your bow eye is low on the bow, it may cause your towed boat to be too "bow high". Our old Maxum was this way, so we built another "Y Harness" and ran it to the two forward bow cleats and towed from there. Made the boat tow with a lower bow and less drag. We also tilt our drive up for towing.
  9. PowellBride

    PowellBride Well-Known Member

    That would make me nervous?! I'm assuming the eye bolt for the tow trailer strap has significantly greater reinforcement than the cleats? Jim, I hadn't thought about the position on the eye bolt, and I think ours may actually be a bit low....that would explain why our speedboat seems to drag more than I'd like. Anyone have any other thoughts to solve the "bow high" towing problem?
  10. birdsnest

    birdsnest Well-Known Member

    I've always had the tagalong boat pull up to the back deck while the houseboat is idling in neutral and have someone ready on the back deck to hook the tow rope caribiner to the bow eye of the tagalong and hold the boat . Have the driver of the tagalong turn off the engine and trim up then he can get off the tagalong onto the back deck then the houseboat captain can shift into forward when told to by the back deck folks. Obviously have the tow rope on the back deck to feed out as the houseboat slowly moves forward. If you are nervous about the engines on the houseboat running while transferring the tagalong captain you could have the motors off but in neutral the props are not spinning which I'm sure you already know. 1/2" gold braid is pricey but super strong. I don't think I'd use polypropelene water ski tow rope. I guess I've been lucky, I've never had to make a harness. By the way, have the tow rope already cleated on the house boat. I've pulled as many as 3 power boats and 2 jet skis with no problems. Just have your most capable people doing the job.
  11. PowellBride

    PowellBride Well-Known Member

    Nice thought to include the details on the process for hooking up the speed boat. Same process we've followed with success since '87. slow and careful while transferring, but it's pretty easy
  12. capt.catfish

    capt.catfish Well-Known Member

    That's the same process we've always used. We've always used the bow eye and not the cleats, which I was told are not as strong a connection point, but I've found actual load ratings for the cleats and bow eye difficult to locate.

    I don't see any issue with using polypropylene (I like having a floating line) as long as it's rated for a sufficient load (6,000-lbs should be near the static load for suspending the entire boat). I buy most of my line through Defender Marine and they carry most line by the foot and have a 5/8-in multi-filament polypropylene line rated at 7,400-lbs. They also offer splicing services and other associated hardware, like thimbles.
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  13. birdsnest

    birdsnest Well-Known Member

    polypropylene is great if it's large enough. PowellBride hit it on the head, Never risk your tow line breaking. Not only freaking out the first person to find the loose boat,(where are the people). but the damage that can happen while it's drifting. I think we all love Powell but it does demand respect. And I have seen folks pulling their boat with ski rope. So many wonderful things to see while on the lake.
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  14. Ryan

    Ryan Well-Known Member

    I would rather have the boat tow "bow high" than worry about water coming over the bow. Honestly, I really don't see any issue with the bow riding high.

    And, depending on the brand of boat, I would be very leery of using the cleats on the boat. Last year we were in Bullfrog, and a big windstorm blew through. There was a Bayliner tied to the dock that the cleat was pulled off during the storm. The bow and stern eyes are reinforced enough to be able to use as lifting points for the boats.

    And I think it is a good idea to use floating line. But I have been using cotton anchor rope for years. I'd hate to get it caught in the prop, but if you are cautious, I think the risk is low (hope I didn't just jinx myself). I think there is more risk of sucking a rope into the prop when anchoring the boat than towing.
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  15. birdsnest

    birdsnest Well-Known Member

    I think anyone who has replaced a cleat on a powerboat has seen the cheesy bolts that hold it onto the boat. It seems to me that the higher on the tagalong boat you tie the tow line, the more it will pull the bow down. Never been an issue for me. Also all bets are off trying to hook up a boat to a houseboat in a high wind.
  16. dubob

    dubob Active Member

    As an engineer in a previous life, my mind is always looking at problems analytically. I probably will not ever find myself pulling my boat (ThunderJet 185 Explorer) behind a houseboat, but I find this discussion interesting from the standpoint of the tensile strength of the rope recommendations. I'm NOT saying using a 6,000 lb plus rope is overkill, but most of the boats commonly being towed behind a houseboat can easily be moved by hand in the water at a dock by one adult. We do it all the time when pulling up to a dock and getting out and tying it off to dock cleats. And I'm pretty sure that most adults would not be able to pull a boat closer to the houseboat while under tow due to the drag on the boat. But how much actual weight pressure is there being applied to the tow rope from drag and/or wind while under tow? I also wonder if anybody has ever actually measured this weight pressure. That would be an interesting and helpful bit of information to have I would think. I wonder if the houseboat companies have ever measured this to help determine the weight specs for the cleats they put on the houseboat deck that you will tie up to. I also think that it would be a very good idea to inspect your tow ropes, splices, hardware periodically for abrasions, cuts, and wear. I suspect that most towed boat breakaways came from one of those causes and not from exceeding the Mfg. tensile strength rating of the tow rope. And again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a rope rated at 6,000 lbs or more. But as an engineer, I always wonder about things like what is the minimum actually required. If you don't think like an engineer, than my musings probably don't mean much to you. Regardless, have fun on Powell this year and be safe and sober when operating your equipment. :D
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  17. GregC

    GregC Well-Known Member

  18. Zman

    Zman Member

    I would be willing to bet on most setups the weak point is going to be the carabineer and not the rope. People assume because it is made out of metal it has to be stronger than the rope.
  19. capt.catfish

    capt.catfish Well-Known Member

    I've searched the web for this sort of information and come up empty. I did find this study on cleat strength, which varies greatly and seemed to be most dependent on the fasteners pulling out, but that would be dependent on the manufacturer and how they installed the cleats (I'm sure some are better than others). I'd agree that the static load on your tow line should be well less than 6,000-lbs, but not sure how big an impact loading you'd see when the towed vessel encounters a wake. One of the biggest causes of impact loading is having the towed vessel out of step with the towing vessel, but that's not really an issue on Powell since you don't really have a swell to get in step with. Not being able to track down a load rating for the cleats on my boat, I go with the bow eye as the preferred attachment point.

    You're right on with the likely points of failure; a knot will reduce the strength of a line by 50% as a general rule of thumb and most failures will occur at that point. A bowline is one of the best knots for minimal strength reduction and reduces the strength of the line by 60%; so a line rated for 6000-lbs with a bowline tied in it will have a safe working load of only 3600-lbs. I had a chief boatswain that used to say, "I know 100 knots, one is the bowline and the other 99 are not." Splices are a lot better and can retain up to 95% of the line strength, which is why I'd opt for a line with a spliced eye and a shackle or snap link (appropriately rated).
  20. capt.catfish

    capt.catfish Well-Known Member

    Very true, to get a snap hook that is rated anywhere near appropriate working loads (3000-lbs or more) your probably looking at $50. Most common caribiners are probably only rated at around 300-lbs. A similarly rated shackle (4500-lbs or more) is going to run you $15.