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Towing Floating Dock

Old 11-18-2020, 07:28 PM
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Default Towing Floating Dock

Plan is to tow 6’ x 20’ floating dock from Bennett’s Cove/ Cormorant pt area Hampton Bays to Center Moriches. Plotted a course and looks like 17 miles through shinnecock bay, quogue canal into moriches bay then up the forge river into old neck creek. Saturday looks like the day high 50’s and light winds. I have a plan using a couple of pulleys and bridles to tow it behind the boat then cinch it up close for a side tow once we get close. My question is on regulations. Any special lights or flags to fly?

considering side towing the whole way for better control but don’t want to damage my boat in the process.
Old 11-19-2020, 05:33 AM
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anyone?
Old 11-19-2020, 05:34 AM
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For towing during daylight hours, no lights or shapes are required if the total length of the tow (your boat, tow line and dock) is less than 200 meters. If more you will need to display a diamond day shape. Personally, I would not want it more than 50' back and keep the tow speed to 5 knots. Not a big fan of side towing long distances, especially in more open waters.
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Old 11-19-2020, 05:55 AM
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The guys building docks around here either push or strap their floaters along sides.
I have yet to see one towed behind. Doesn't mean they don't do it, I've just never seen it.
Most of them use small Jon boats with square bows that make it easier to push. Perhaps that's why.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies. will definitely be during daylight and a good amount will be open water so I'll stick with the original plan to rear tow it then cinch it up along side when we get close
Old 11-19-2020, 06:12 AM
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The current really rips thru the Shinnecock, I haven't been thru the Quoque. Having control of the dock in these area's would be a big concern.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:23 AM
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Use floating ropes for the pull and twin engines are a good idea.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:24 AM
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Keep tow close to the boat, no more than 50', when in open water. Do a hip tow in tight areas. That is where tow boat is side-to the tow, and as far aft as you can tie it. Being aft gives you better steering control.

And good luck towing at 5kts. These things don't like towing that fast. Might be limited to 3-4.

You really need to time the currents in the places where there are currents. I'm not from that area but here in NC if you want to tow a dock that is one of the first things to consider. No fun making a true 1kt against an unfavorable tide!!

Here, nobody worries about the dayshapes or such, but we don't do it at night. Commercial guys with work barges and such put those blinking yellow lights on their stuff at night.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:24 AM
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Have seen guys try. It digs in when you go too fast or if current really starts ripping. Good luck
Old 11-19-2020, 06:31 AM
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Whilst there are no regulations you need to follow re shapes - and TBH how many leisure boaters would look for or recognise them, as you are (presumably) using a leisure boat for the tow and therefore probably not expected to be towing by other boaters, I think I would add something highly visible to the dock so you don't have anyone running too close to your stern and in risk of hitting the dock.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:43 AM
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It's been years since I have been down there. But is the plan to lock through with a hip tow? I can imagine going through the canal on Mr. Toad's wild ride with a hip tow, or traditional tow. Or maybe I just don't recall the route that well.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:45 AM
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I would stick to your plan. The guys a I know that move barges around regularly push rather than tow for better control but they also have purpose built push bars on the front of their boat, I assume you don't.
Old 11-19-2020, 07:18 AM
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Your movement will be very limited and worse once you have it on the hip. Report back on how it goes!
Old 11-19-2020, 07:37 AM
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Worst 4 hours of boating in my life. Hurricane floods lifted my floating dock over the piles and it went racing down the Alafia river. Found it several days later stuck under a railroad trestle 15 miles or so down river. Towed it back with a 17' Whaler (boat was not on floating dock at the time) while the river was still swollen. Bad idea. Had to navigate under 2 bridges while the dock was pulling the boat all over the place. Can't make any suggestions other than have plenty of boat to tow the dock.

Good luck
Old 11-19-2020, 08:00 AM
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I've admittedly never done anything like this, but my intuition would be to ballast the "stern" of the dock with some sandbags or something in order to raise the "bow" end in order to keep it from plowing into the water during tow. Can't hurt can it?
Old 11-19-2020, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Legobusier View Post
I've admittedly never done anything like this, but my intuition would be to ballast the "stern" of the dock with some sandbags or something in order to raise the "bow" end in order to keep it from plowing into the water during tow. Can't hurt can it?
my thought exactly on the ballast. To clarify, We won't be going through the lock at shinnecock. Dock is located at Cormorant point, south of the lock. If the lock was in play, I wouldn't do it. I've watched some side tow vids on the youtube and as a previous poster said, I plan on doing that in tight areas, using multiple lines to positon my twin engine boat aft of the dock as much as possible.

Ive never boated over there but have done work on dune rd for years/driven over the bridges and yes, that quogue canal looks a little tight lol
Old 11-19-2020, 08:13 AM
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I've towed a floating dock multiple times, it's not hard, but it's slow and you will have to experiment with the tow bridle to get it ride behind you. If you can secure the load ahead of the engines it's way easier, but without a tow bit you may not have a clean lead to your spring line cleats. I've towed with the typical stern bridle, the boat will be steered by the load as much as you steer the load.

On the hip for close maneuvers is a good idea, but practice it before you get where you need it. Experiment with the stern tie to the opposite side of the dock and letting the spring line pull the load, it doesn't make sense until you try it, but you'll find the stern line being too tight causes a turn, the spring line pulls in the direction you want to go while the bow line can be adjusted more effectively to tow straight.

Speed will be lower than low, with a lot of throttle you can make a big mess in the water and go 6 or you can use way less throttle and way less load and go 5, bring a snack, it's a long 17 miles!
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Old 11-19-2020, 08:14 AM
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Somebody just did basically this a couple months ago here in FL, here's his thread: Towing Floating Boatlift - Jupiter to Pompano - Any Advise?

Old 11-19-2020, 08:36 AM
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I've done this a few times in NJ but never more than six miles or so. Towing is counterproductive as the propwash pushes the dock away from the boat. Best method is if you have a portable outboard, 8 - 10hp or so. Pop a couple dock planks at one end of the float and install the outboard on the end of the dock, now you effectively have a boat which is much more maneuverable than any type of towing rig. Never worried about regulations and the marine police never questioned the setup. Bob
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Old 11-19-2020, 08:36 AM
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Open water, a stern tie may be good with 30 or so ft of line.
**confined waters alongside tie with stern behind tie fit steering leverage..
It this is an uncovered dock, put a flag on it so it can be seen.
Take food and water for all day.
Don’t get in a hurry and damage your equipment.
Weather, wind and wakes will impact your operation.!

Have fun! Will probably be a good adventure.

Please let us know.

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