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Towing a canoe?

A forum for discussing topics relating to older MacGregor/Venture sailboats.

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Towing a canoe?

Postby vizwhiz » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:38 pm

So we have an inflatable dinghy, one with rigid foam inserts for the floors. It's actually pretty nice. But it doesn't roll up very small, and so far we aren't doing the kind of traveling that would make it really useful. I will probably start taking it out with us eventually, just haven't gotten to that point yet.

But we also have a small two-person plastic canoe that we used to use all the time to go fishing and exploring in the shallows in Tampa Bay. We just found much of TB to be less accessible from the canoe than we wanted, so we got the bigger boat. Now I'm thinking about taking the canoe with us on the boat. There are times we could easily sail to good fishing grounds, anchor in the shallows, go exploring and fishing...

So there are stability concerns dragging a canoe. If it was to flip while towing, that would be a major problem. I was thinking of setting up a bridle of sorts that would allow up-and-down movement, but not twisty movement. Essentially a hinged, twin-arm tow bar of lightweight square tubing or angle. Design not detailed yet, just a napkin idea so far. Also thinking of making a snap-on or drawstring cover for it to keep it from filling with boat wake, rain, etc. while being towed.

Anyone else ever tow a canoe behind their mac?
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Re: Towing a canoe?

Postby Sumner » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:39 am

I've done lots of canoeing over the years and it wouldn't be my choice as to something to tow. As you mentioned you are going to probably have to spend some time on a harness to actually tow it, but I've never tried to tow one.

My other concern would be rain water. I have a 17 foot aluminum canoe and if it filled with rain water not sure if it would be easy to empty attached to the boat. Wouldn't want to have to paddle it with water in it too shore and a lot of places there there is no shore only mangroves. Maybe yours is light enough that you could see flipping it somehow from the Mac. Maybe a hand pump would empty it pretty quickly.

Just don't end up like this ...

https://youtu.be/Krx0tIA8nWU

Sumner

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Re: Towing a canoe?

Postby Chinook » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:26 pm

Early on, before we got our first dinghy, I tried towing our 17 foot aluminum canoe. We experienced several problems. Towing with a line, the canoe wanted to slalom back and forth, in and out of the wake. I modified the tow line attachment, so the pull came from down near the water line of the canoe, and it helped, but it still wasn't good. Swamping is a hazard, as is slowing when the canoe is under tow. It wants to ram the stern of the boat. We also had challenges when at anchor or at the dock, having to raft the canoe up alongside, and trying to come up with a way to adequately fender it. I'm not sure how good a rigid tow arrangement would work. We went from the canoe to a rigid folding boat, and finally ended up with an inflatable, which has worked best for us.
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Re: Towing a canoe?

Postby vizwhiz » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:52 pm

Sumner wrote:I've done lots of canoeing over the years and it wouldn't be my choice as to something to tow. As you mentioned you are going to probably have to spend some time on a harness to actually tow it, but I've never tried to tow one.


I actually had in mind a lightweight 'ladder', modeled in my mind after the pics of you towing your dinghy using the folding boarding ladder. Just two arms with a single cross brace, hinged at the transom so it could go up and down, with two hinged attachment points on the canoe (or a small rod crossing the canoe). That should keep it from wanting to twist, but still allow vertical hinged movement at both the transom and the canoe. (That way the canoe can go up while the boat goes down, and vice-versa.) Being rigid would also solve Chinook's concern over banging into the boat or needing to raft it. We're an S, not an X/M, so wake doesn't really concern me.

Sumner wrote:My other concern would be rain water. I have a 17 foot aluminum canoe and if it filled with rain water not sure if it would be easy to empty attached to the boat. Wouldn't want to have to paddle it with water in it too shore and a lot of places there there is no shore only mangroves. Maybe yours is light enough that you could see flipping it somehow from the Mac. Maybe a hand pump would empty it pretty quickly.


Definitely thought about rain...I live in Florida! :D I was thinking that a lightweight cover could be made up if water collection became a problem. But I think I would start without one and see how it goes. I would use a handheld pump if water collection became an issue, as they're pretty effective. I have one on the boat and use it for the bilges. But truthfully, a whole inch of rainfall puts...an inch of rain...in the bottom of the canoe. I should be able to handle that pretty easily (or i probably shouldn't be on a boat!). Heck, we've been fishing before and gotten quite a lot of water in the canoe that i dutifully scoop out. I've even tipped it once before by accident. We've since bought stabilizers for it, but they're pretty heavy and cumbersome. Not sure I'd take them every time I go.

Sumner wrote:Just don't end up like this ...

https://youtu.be/Krx0tIA8nWU


Ha! Thanks!! :D
No no, that was pretty foolish. (They were going much faster than a regular canoe is designed to go...)

The canoe wanting to slalom back and forth, as described by Chinook, is my concern from the start...and that's what can easily cause a swamping. Will have to give it some more thought as the fall sailing season approaches.
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