Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

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ACB
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Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by ACB » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:57 pm

I saw a discussion on this on the Firefly forum and thought I would raise it here in a wider context.

Michael Brigg recommends taking the rudder out and towing stern first with the painter under the horse.

I wonder if this would work at sea? One would of course stuff the centreplate case top with sponges, etc.

My interest arises because I would very much like to take a Firefly or an Albacore on holiday (sailing big boat in the creeks of Essex and Suffolk) with us. I could lash the mast up the cruiser's rigging... if we were sensible with the weather rather than giving the big boat the sort of romping F6 that she really likes, could one get away with it?

How long should the painter be?

Advice very welcome...

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jpa_wfsc
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by jpa_wfsc » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:06 pm

Extended towing?

Forwards. Why backwards? I do not understand that - unless you are lifting the stern well out of the water and using the narrow bow section as a kind of skeg? If the transom digs into a wave the loads on tow rope and both boats will snatch to high levels.. not nice.

Painter through an eye (rope loop OK) at the bow and secured to mast step (e.g. tie around the toe straps at front of centerboard case). With a dinghy that has no skeg, then you will need some rudder - this must be secured in fore/aft position with no slop. You will have to experiment with ammount of rudder and maybe even make a small one, as to little she will skate around, and to much may cause her to shear over to one side of the cruiser's wake and then veer back to the other. Self bailers open, boat trimmed down by the stern a little. Fit a flat cover if you can to reduce intake of spray (keep her light).

Adjust the tow length till the dinghy is rising up the swell behind the cruiser - then she will not ram you when you slow down going up the one in front of you. (i.e. tow length = wave-length or some multiple of that).

Or buy a FD and use that to tow the cruiser - get there quicker!!! :P
j./

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Michael Brigg
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Michael Brigg » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:32 pm

I have towed my (uncrewed but with mast in situ) firefly backwards at up to 10knots in Chichester Harbour, which would be equivalent to the Essex creeks. I would hesitate to do so in F6 in heavy seas unless necessity was the word.

I was really referring to times when I have had to singlehandedly tow a firefly with a fast(ish) rescue boat. The principle would apply however to any shorter waterline dinghy with moderate rocker and no keel on the stern. Most racing dinghies of any era in fact.

Without a contolled rudder or stern keel strip, any dinghy towed forwars will tend to "trip over" its deeper forward section. The stem cuts into the water and at any speed atall the boat yaws about like a frightened horse.

Going backwards the bow wave (combined with a wake in the case of towing wit a faster launch) lifts the stern and transom well clear of the water and the deeper bow section acts like a stern fin. The boat follows obediently in your wake. The faster you go the higher the stern will lift. The only real limit is how brave you are!

I'm not so sure how this would work for a slow tow in bigger seas as the transom will perhaps be lower, but remember the boat is now unloaded and the stern will float well out of the water (especially if you place some ballast in the bow. The mast of course would help and only needs to be unstepped perhaps in higher wind strenth.

The other suggestion if you are not too worried about speed and you are towing an unstable and unmanned, hull would be to use a sea anchor behind the towed boat.
Michael Brigg

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Ancient Geek
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Ancient Geek » Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:09 am

Michael,
Years ago when God was young Ranelagh Sailing Club had a very popular winter series, (40-50 Merlin Rockets 20-30 National 12's, every other weekend come frost hail, snow rain, fog or whatever from October to March.) it also had a professional boatman and a truly excellent launch which was a reinforced Fairy Hot Moulded Albacore hull with a Stuart Turner inboard (This one started!) Bob was used to dealing with all sorts of competance, fitness and ages his most important bits of kit were a pair of cutters and tow rope! A capsizee who was perhaps cold and tired and in Bob's view not fit to go on would be greeted with a snip as Bob cut the main haliyard shackle, a cheery instruction to "pull your sail please down Sir", a request to pull up the centreboard a pull at Bobs ample hip flask of Naval Full Strength Rum and a rope round his main sheet horse to be towed backwards as Bob explained the sharp bit at the front makes a good vane and keeps it straight behind me! (Boats were often un bailed out and thus full of water too.).
He had a pocket full of shackles too!
So towing backwards of a Dinghy is a "Good Thing".
Simples.

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Brookesy
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Brookesy » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:06 pm

Please think twice before towing stern first, as quite often more harm is done than good.
I loaned my Finn out two weekends ago and after being righted from an inversion with outside assistance due to the plate dropping into the case, the rescue boat decided to do a stern first tow.
Finns usually go bows down when holding large ammounts of water, and the best way to solve this is to sail or tow them dry letting the bailers/flaps do the work.
Towed stern fist, the water already in the hull is sent to the bows which allows more to com through the C/B slot and before you know it you have a bouyancy test underway, and a difficult task to solve when you get it to the shore.
Fortunately it only suffered cosmetic damage, but this could easily and quickly been avoided with a bit of common sense/logic.
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Ancient Geek » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:30 pm

Brooksy
Three things!
1.
In my very brief Finn career (I was simply not man enough as a teenager in 1964-5.) we had shockcord (At least my Elverstrom Finn -K152- did.) to hold down the board in the event of an inversion, something that we had on our School and University Fireflys too, it made it bit harder to pull the plate up but (Like lavatory paper, parachutes, anchors or fire extinguishers.) when you needed it, you needed it badly, so it was worth living with that.
2.
I should have said remove rudder first!
3.
I would suggest that the Finn not having an easy or obvious attachment point at the real stern the "follow me" effect of a tug on the horse is not there, and the Finn being rather more balanced in hull shape (Relatively full bow realtively fine stern very rounded all round.)

However I have just (Well last week!) watched six Finns being towed stern first, in line, (Admitedly, masts down empty of water, no rudders, no one in them, between harbours after the Gold Cup. Following neatly like ducklings or cygnets.)

Michaels orininal post refered to Fireflys and Albacores and I submit stern first holds as a "Good Thing" for most boats with al the caveats and unless you are unconcious you can always say "No Thanks".
Simples.

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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Michael Brigg » Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:16 pm

I did not at any time want to be proscriptve. The best way to tow a boat is the method with which the tower is most familiar.

I mentioned the "backwards" method just as a point of interest and because it reminded me of a time when (for me) the summer was endless.
Firefly towing 2.jpg
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Coming back from East Head Beach. 1976

BTW, can we make sure the music at roadford can include "Beachbaby" by "First Class.

This "Off topic" comment makes me think... :idea:

Must start a thread on the underused "Social Events" section titled "Music requests for Roadford 2009"
Michael Brigg

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Brookesy
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Re: Towing a Firefly (or an Albacore...)

Post by Brookesy » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:29 am

Thanks AG, I do have a 10mm bungy double downhaul on my plate but the guy who was using it had forgotten to hook it up and as he rolled in on the gybe with only a little plate down at the time the problem occured. That said he knows what to do now and as I have just finished fitting out Elvstrom K336 for him this evening with the same set up he will hopefully be ok from now on.
GBR74 ex custodian of
GBR384 Mickey Finnale (Taylor,wood)
GBR455 Rubber Duck (Taylor, grp)
FD GBR350 Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious

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