Long distance Towing of multiple boats

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by guatom, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. guatom
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Guatemala

    guatom Junior Member

    I have been looking into the possibility of towing several 20 to 24 foot power boats to Guatemala. There are thousands of nice old boats setting in the back yards of folks, basically sound of hull but abandoned by owners generally due to power issues. For example, on a recent trip to the US to attend my 50th anniversary of high school graduation, I was given a Grady White 191, a sweet and almost solid 19 footer w/cutty cabin, trailer included. It has a couple of soft spots here and there but in Guatemala where the labor rate is about $20 a day to do this kind of work, rather that $85/hour, this is nothing but a thing. The problem is getting the boat(s) down there at a reasonable cost. For this boat, which is located on the coast of Virginia, it would cost me about $800 to get it to Miami and another $2050 to ship it RORO to the east coast of Guatemala and you still need to pay duty!
    During my visit I could have secured at least 10 more of the same type of boats for about the same type of money, perhaps not all Grady Whites but nice older boats for the price of a song and they would have let me sing the song.
    When I got home, I began to plot and plan on how I could bring four or more of these beauties down here without spending >$12k in freight. Eureka! I raft them together and tow them down when the hurricane season ends using my friend's 30' twin detroit 50 series powered aluminum work boat. I then designed a rafting system using 3x6 planks cut to slightly more than the width of each boat with a heavy duty hinge fastened on the end(s) to connect to the other boat(s) in tow. Heavy duty nylon strap would be used to secure the timbers to the boat passing completely around the hull. Four such timbers would be used for each boat. A tire would be placed between the boats, the the hinged timber passing through the tire to act as a bumper in the event there was wave action 90 degrees to the course of the tow vessel. Piece of cake. Or not. Let me know what you think.

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    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010
  2. wardd
    Joined: Apr 2009
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    wardd Senior Member

    I would use some sort of ball joint or universal joint and have 2 joints on each intercostal
  3. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    A raft of boats? No way, no how, will this survive. Pile them on the deck of a workboat. Literally, stack and pile them like junk and strap them down well. (If they are nice and have to be strapped individually, they will take up more room). Be advised; binding with steamboat ratchets or chain binders has crushed/ripped apart many sportboats. Be careful and spread out the load if binding. Cradles are necessary for nice boats.
    In Fact, I'd consider getting a truck and driving them there.
  4. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    And I would leave it.

  5. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Homework for you:
    -Would they fit,on an angle, inside a shipping container?
    -40,45,or 53 footers?
    -Remove windshields,tops,outdrives and stack them in an open or high top??
    -cost of each box

    I used to ship cars to China,they could jam 3 16' Toyota Camrys into a 40' box.

    I'd say running those 2 Detroits in that boat for the ~900 miles wouldn't be cheap either...
  6. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    Yes, good grief. You could jam pack a container with 'em. Good idea.
    Be careful when you open the door!
  7. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    As it is so often, maybe a matter of scale.

    Ship 50 of them and charter a coaster.
  8. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Coastal Georgia

    SamSam Senior Member

    IF somehow you POSSIBLY manage to tow a bunch of junked boats back there and fix the hulls, then what? What about all the mechanical parts you have to fix? And what do you do with the boats, is there a market there? There isn't one here. Check out any marinas in your area, boats get abandoned for a variety of reasons all over the world.

    Also, do you know much about boats?
    Nothing but a thing seems ominous.
  9. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    One sighting by the USCG and you'll no longer be towing anything remotely like this.
  10. RHP
    Joined: Nov 2005
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    Location: Singapore

    RHP Senior Member

    What a great idea though..... tell me a few fellas off this forum wouldnt have a great time trying to make it work.....
  11. guatom
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Guatemala

    guatom Junior Member

    USCG response

    Now, apart from all the very interesting replies, this one has me most interested. Having had to submit to the TSA regimen every time I need to fly some where, throwing away good water and nail clippers, government intervention, apart from the safety factor, worries me the most. I am am American and, as such, I am allowed to complain about my government's apparent need to keep me safe from myself. If the TSA, EPA, OSHA, etc., etc. had been around a couple of hundred years ago we might all be speaking Algonquin. Never the less, what is, is.
    I have seen tugs both pulling and pushing multiple barges rafted together all over the world. I admit I have never seen this take place in a typhoon as I have always been a practical sailor with the practice of avoiding these kinds of events if at all possible. With todays electronics and advanced methods of weather prognostication, there is no need to sail into a storm if your journey is a 1000 miles or so.
    But the USCG, I'll bet they can do just about what they care to do if it is within the boundaries of law based on their discretion. Does any one have any specific rules that would prohibit such an endeavor, the towing of rafted boats off shore?
  12. guatom
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Guatemala

    guatom Junior Member

    Ominous? What a curious reply. In regard to knowledge of boats, and I assume you mean boating in general. I have designed, built, and sailed boats 40 of my 68 years but confess to being only a boating disciple rather that a master. My discipline is that of an industrial engineer.
    To enhance your knowledge of third world boating focusing on my 25 years of experience in Guatemala, let me tell you that down here there are few persons that can afford any kind of boat and the few boats that manage to make their way south are placed into service by someone forever or until they burn or are stolen. Not unlike America these days, 95% of the wealth is held by 5% of the population. Totally unlike America, 90% of the rest are poor to extremely poor. The 5%or so of middle class makes for not a lot of market for $80k Grady Whites but a lot of market for $3k units. I hope this helps.
    You cause me to recall the phrase, one man's junk is another man's treasure. I am just looking for a way of recycling fiberglass boats that would otherwise help fill the affluent American landfills.
  13. guatom
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    guatom Junior Member

    I would think that if one had the proper Zarpe there should be any trouble.
  14. guatom
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: Guatemala

    guatom Junior Member

    Charter a coaster

    Without a doubt, the best way..... if one was looking to build a career rather than just have an prosperous adventure and create a "can do" environment. I will look into the costs and availability of such a service and let you know the results.

  15. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    The legal, marketing and safety issues aside, can we discuss the technical ones?

    I suspect tying the boats together into a flexible raft, if I have understood the concept, would give problems in all but a very calm sea. Barges are specifically designed for towing and, as far as I know, do not venture out to sea - at least not too far and not for too long. Power boat hulls, on the other hand are not. In my limited experience towing one boat in ideal conditions can be less simple than it seems; a boat with a deep forefoot on a towline acts like a puppy on its first leash. A couple of dozen of them?

    I look forward to some inputs from people who know more ...
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