Rafted bulldog tow^

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Adam_Bolonsky
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Rafted bulldog tow^

Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:54 pm

Has anything like this been experimented with in the UK?

It's a rafted tow that, in addition to the tower and rafted pair, uses a bulldog to push the rafted boats' bows to windward in an onshore wind.

In my experience, without the bulldog, the near-impossible element has been getting the towed and rafted kayaks to turn to windward.

Without the bulldog, the towed boats stay locked on a course parallel to shore.

Blog link later.

Image 1:
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Image 2:
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Geoff Seddon
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:26 pm

Can't see that working, there would be an awfull lot of crashing and banging going on and probably over-riding. Use a longer tow, get the rafted pair to use a stern rudder and/or edge and use the "Bulldog" to tow as well, thus increasing speed and steerage, not to mention helping the poor sod who is towing two boats.
Geoff

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Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:15 pm

Geoff Seddon wrote:Can't see that working, there would be an awfull lot of crashing and banging going on and probably over-riding. Use a longer tow, get the rafted pair to use a stern rudder and/or edge and use the "Bulldog" to tow as well, thus increasing speed and steerage, not to mention helping the poor sod who is towing two boats.
The idea is that the two kayakers are rafted because the one (injured) requires stablization, which is why their paddles are stowed. Thus, they wouldn't be able to stern rudder or edge.

The bulldog's there to get the passive raft to turn to weather.

The technique was experimented with for a couple of hours and worked pretty well: longer tow line (as you mentioned), the bulldog making sure the raft swung to windward.

That's the point of the bulldog: he's there to help the poor sod doing the towing.

The tests here found that using a bulldog was the only way to get the rafted boats to turn to weather.

Perhaps I wasn't clear that the bulldog and the tandem tow gets used when one paddler is injured, and thus when the two rafted boats are clipped together bow to stern so that the one member of the raft can attend to the injured paddler.

Does that make things clearer, or only obfuscate more?

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Post by Owen » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:17 pm

If your rafted pair are bouncing up and down on the waves how does the bulldog's bow stay in contact with the raft? Surly it will just ride up over the other two!

If your bulldog were to join the tower and tow him in tandem then you'd have much more pulling power to pull the raft around into wind.

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Post by AllanJ » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:20 pm

Don't like the look of that! In any kind of sea there'll be bashed boats and people most likely. As mentioned above use two paddlers to tow. I've towed 'in anger' and it's hard enough to tow just one boat. Tow both boats forward. Most kayaks have weather helm so naturally turn into the wind. Use skegs/rudders if available on towed boats.

No harm in experimenting (just not with my boat)!

Allan

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Post by Pelagic » Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:37 pm

Part of the problem may be the bow to stern attitude of the towed boats. It would rarely (if ever) be necessary for the assistant to be facing the wrong way. I can see how this would be very comforting for the victim in this case but the overriding consideration would be getting to a safe position quickly.
Towing two boats in a back to front configuration is a major pain in the ass, as Geoff points out there would be a lot of crashing and banging going on, left untended the natural thing for them to do would be to sit crosswind making a huge amount of leeway. When towed the boats would want to "fight" each other.
Short answer:
The two boats are better being towed bow to bow, a short "snatch tow" to keep the hulls together forward of the paddlers in a shallow "V" would be a great help.
The second paddler can then be more usefully employed towing direct from a bow loop to increase speed and steerage to get the rafted boats to windward quickly, this could well be a short tow at a fairly high angle. The main tow should be longer obviously with the paddler being positioned more upwind than your diagram suggests. It is often the case that you as a tow person needs to tow to steer the raft not necessarily where you would like to go!
Once the boats were happily being towed upwind the second paddler could detach from the ad hoc "fan tow" and be more usefully positioned ahead of the main tow boat in a serial tow. It's hard towing a raft upwind on your own! However there is only the risk of your manly pride being damaged, there is definitely a lot more potential for damage bulldogging boats in anything like a seaway or break, as Geoff points out the possibility of overriding would be very high, not to mention substantial damage to a composite boat.
As a final thought, I find it's always easier to pull a boat rather than push it.

Phil

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Post by Geoff Seddon » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:26 pm

"The idea is that the two kayakers are rafted because the one (injured) requires stablization".

I understand that but do not think the assisting paddler is precluded from stern ruddering between the two boats. Also once you have boat speed the tow can be steered, to a certain extent by the assisting paddler edging his boat.

"That's the point of the bulldog: he's there to help the poor sod doing the towing".

My point is that his best way of helping is to tow. I can imagine the response I would get if I volunteered to keep the raft pointing to windward, whilst someone else towed on his own.

"Perhaps I wasn't clear that the bulldog and the tandem tow gets used when one paddler is injured, and thus when the two rafted boats are clipped together bow to stern so that the one member of the raft can attend to the injured paddler".

No I didn't pick up on the bow to stern thing and although it enables the cas. carer to have easy eye contact, fiddle with whatever requires fiddling with and the cas. is protected, to an extent, from the weather, boats aren't really designed to go backwards. Indeed it is quite possible, with that configuration, you would end up with a raft which you couldn't get to go in the direction you wanted it to and how silly would that be.
Geoff

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Post by Jim » Fri Mar 30, 2007 9:12 pm

As a modification to the technique in the interests of avoiding the bulldog crashing into the raft, can you arrange for the bulldog to be a vector tow?

With the powerhouse ahead of the raft and building speed, the bulldog has a second towline to the front of the raft but paddles off at 90 degrees to the towline in order to provide steerage. When the raft is head to wind, or at a suitable ferry angle, the bulldog can then come round to the front and add traction assistance. I think I would leave the bulldog on his/her own slightly shorter towline so they can swing back to vector pull mode if the wind gets the better of the raft again.

Give it a try and report back, I'm sure further modification will be needed to find an optimal arrangement.

I guess this could be another use for portable VHF, so whoever is in charge of the tow can communicate and direct the powerhouse or bulldog or both - who says one of them has to be in charge? In fact if they don't have headsets the best person to direct would be the able paddler in the raft. Obviously do a radio check before starting so the towers don't have to stop paddling to answer.

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Post by Jim » Fri Mar 30, 2007 9:18 pm

Modify that idea already, bulldog should be on a longer towline as he/she will have to drop back and let slack in the line in order to manouevre off to the side and back again.

Jim

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Rafted "guidedog" tow - sorry

Post by capsized8 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 9:56 pm

Why all the fuss?

Surely a double tow, tandem or fan (preferably fan) is the requirement here. You can afford to have a shorter tow as the wind should prevent surfing of the towed kayaks into the towing kayaks. Then set the tow to "ferry glide" with the wind.
I think the main problem will be the strong possibility of breaking wind driven waves upsetting the tow, with the paddler if it is a solo tow constantly having to brace and lose headway, with a fan tow the likelyhood of the same breaker getting both boats simultaneously is reduced, maintaining headway.

pete

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Post by Geoff Seddon » Fri Mar 30, 2007 10:36 pm

Fan tows are pretty crap. Top tip if part of an in line tow, don't be in the front - it's far to easy for folk to see when you are not putting enough effort in.
Jim - I shall put myself and Tom forward as guinea pigs for you and Colin to tow all over the small Isles next week using a great variety of methods, that way we should end up with a definitive answer. To limit the number of variables and therefore have more meaningful results it will, of course, always have to be me who is being towed, a sacrifice I am prepared to make.
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Post by Pelagic » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:19 pm

bulldog should be on a longer towline as he/she will have to drop back and let slack in the line in order to manouevre off to the side and back again.
We call 25ft short..................if that's any help? By the way Jim "vector tow"...................................that's the word!
To limit the number of variables and therefore have more meaningful results it will, of course, always have to be me who is being towed
Can I volunteer to dislocate his shoulder? In the interests of authenticity of course............
Fan tows are pretty crap.
They do make lovely diagrams though........

Phil

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Post by Geoff Seddon » Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:07 am

Pelagic wrote: Can I volunteer to dislocate his shoulder? In the interests of authenticity of course............Phil
No you can't and anyway it doesn't have to be a dislocated shoulder it could be a slightly sore finger. Or I might not be feeling "at one with myself"
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Post by Pelagic » Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:36 am

Pete said;
I think the main problem will be the strong possibility of breaking wind driven waves upsetting the tow, with the paddler if it is a solo tow constantly having to brace and lose headway, with a fan tow the likelyhood of the same breaker getting both boats simultaneously is reduced, maintaining headway.
Sorry Pete, got distracted there for a bit, this is the reason for the short and long tow scenario, the long tow being on the upwind and hopefully different wave interval and the short tow acting as a "snatch" to alter the rafts position relative to the wind. as you say it hopefully means a constant tow with a successful outcome.
Good point well made, it is in fact the problem in a nutshell.
It's the reason we practise.............and although we don't usually like fan tows, I think this situation is an exception.
As Jim points out it is probably more correctly described as a vector tow for the short line.

Phil

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Post by Jim » Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:48 pm

Vector tow is something escort tugs do to tankers with disabled steering gear, at least in theroy, I don't know how often it's happened since the Braer although at least now the tugs are in place!

I simply borrowed the terminology because something very similar would appear to be a neat solution here.

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Post by IN-UIT » Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:02 pm

A couple of things caught my eye about this towing scenario…

In Image 1 the ‘Tow’ is pulling the raft directly into danger. Why not tow in the opposite direction away from the rocks? To recover the situation the ‘Tow’ should stop pulling for a moment, ease up on the tow line long enough to turn 90 degrees or more into the wind, then continue paddling into wind. The raft would naturally blow around to point into wind. Should the ‘Tow’ need more power to get up-wind and away from the danger, the second assisting paddler should clip onto the ‘Tow’ and provide the extra power. Once the whole tow has enough sea room they may then change back to the original course or ferry-glide home as Pete said.

The whole scenario may be simplified and executed safely providing the ‘Tow’ identifies the danger in good time, changes direction and/or heads out to sea before the situation becomes scarry, not as shown in the first picture.

Pushing the boats around does not substitute for the lack of pulling power of the singular ‘Tow’.

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Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:54 pm

Jim wrote:As a modification to the technique in the interests of avoiding the bulldog crashing into the raft, can you arrange for the bulldog to be a vector tow?


Jim
Jim,
that's an intriguing idea, and one would that likely work also, but would require more time.

As for bashing boats and cracking gelcoat and so on, the paddlers who were testing the method have over the years become not only quite cavalier about damaging their boats, but also quite skilled at both gelcoat and fiberglass repair, or at least know someone who is good at it.

The advantage of the configuration I mentioned was that it is fast and quick to deploy, and effective.

And the key with the bulldog is that he can see everything that's going on. With two towers forward, neither can see what's going on behind them.
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Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:00 pm

Owen wrote:If your rafted pair are bouncing up and down on the waves how does the bulldog's bow stay in contact with the raft? Surly it will just ride up over the other two!

If your bulldog were to join the tower and tow him in tandem then you'd have much more pulling power to pull the raft around into wind.
  • Hi Owen,
    when we ran this drill (about a dozen times, modifying it until we came up with the arrangement above) the waves were 2-3 feet, the winds about 13 kts.

    There wasn't much problem with the bulldog overriding the raft.

    Rather, the sticking point was doing the rescue fast enough, as we were running the drill with the injured paddler already in the water.

    With the injured paddler in the water, we used a scoop rescue and a stirrup rescue.

    In another permutation we used the so-called hand-of-god, in which the capsized paddler does not wet exit, because for some reason he has been knocked unconscious.

    The hardest part of developing the rescue was making sure that everyone fully understood their job and their role, and that anyone in the group knew how to play any one of the roles whether bulldog, tower, or rafter.
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Re: Rafted bulldog tow/fully update and full text links

Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:54 pm

Adam_Bolonsky wrote:Has anything like this been experimented with in the UK?
I've since fully updated the story on the technique and added all relevant art.

Image


Above: the setup of the raft-and-bulldog tow, when aiding an injured or frightened paddler in onshore wind and when not too close to shore, where towlines are otherwise seen as a bad idea due to the risk of entanglement.

Note the use of decklines, and how the towline is anchored on the victim's boat after being passed through the loop of the secondary rescuer's decklines.

The victim and rescuer sit face-to-face to remain eye contact and for the use of CPR (after a hand-of-God rescue) or first aid.

The bulldog is top right, the raft bottom center.

This is from a five-part report I wrote about a kayaking accident I was involved in that led to the development of the rescue.

Several of us from nspn.org developed and tested the rescue in the accident's aftermath. We also spent several hours in a classroom chalktalk discussing the accident and how we could have likely prevented it.

The art is by Pete Smith, from connyak.org, who illustrated the story I when I first wrote if for WaveLength Magazine.

Here's a link to the first part of the five-part series. The story's different than its original print form.

Comments and feedback appreciated:

http://paddlingtravelers.blogspot.com/2 ... scue1.html
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:12 pm

My opinion is still that you need searoom/time and that means TOW head into wind initially, with as much vigour as you can manage. No problem with the raft bit, apart from both boats bow to bow, skegs, if fitted, up. I can't envisage being able to do effective CPR in clapotis. Your earlier point about the towers not being able to see what is occuring behind them can be solved by skill and/or radio. I have now progressed to the stage where I am capable (most of the time) of looking abeam. Another few years and I may well have the looking over my shoulder bit cracked, just another 90 degrees to go.
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Bulldogs

Post by capsized8 » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:45 pm

Said it in earlier post, all spare bodies towing into/slightly across wind and "ferry glide". Geoff mentioned skegs, I would be inclined to put the skeg 1/3 - 1/2 way down for the "ferry glide".
By the time you have had the committee meeting to discuss what is supposed to happen with a "rafted bulldog tow" (it must be the name) in conditions, that I would assume, not everone will be happy to be in, I fear you will have lost the plot, as you are not gaining sea room but trying to maintain it in conditions that will not allow you to do so especially with a loose paddler.

Fan or vector - two paddlers at slightly differing angles, one more acute to the wind than the second will give you a better chance of holding and probably gaining sea room with the added transverse direction to clear the danger. What happens with the injured paddler and rafted assistant is to be perfectly blunt, their problem until the situation regarding group position vs danger has been resolved.
If you are looking at CPR you will need three people involved as a minimum in the conditions you describe.

After all, who do you try to save, when taken to the extreme, the person still flailing in the water about to drown or the one lying motionless?
Answers on blank pieces of paper.

" Chalk talk " An argument needing lots of black space!

Aye Cap'n sir, the dead horse has been flogged cap'n, just as you ordered!

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Re: Bulldogs

Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:47 pm

Here's the keys as I see them:

1. Agree before setting out that conditions could warrant a bulldog-and-rafted tow, so that all know what to expect should something warrent the rescue.

2. The issue as I see it is that one needs the raft to assist the injured/disabled paddler. The tower acts essentially as a belay while things get organized.

3. It's tough to use a radio when the seas are rough.

4. The bulldog is the only way we could find to get the raft to turn to windward. Most kayaks these days have their pivot point midships, such that when drifting they turn neither upwind nor down but remain neutral.

We had to chalk talk this one because it took quite some time to figure out how to have better handled the initial rescue. And how else do new techniques get developed except by discussion and experimentataion?

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Post by Geoff Seddon » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:17 pm

1. Yes make sure the group is aware of rescue techniques and that anyone of them may be required to perform any of the tasks involved in them.

2. Yes people who need a tow often require close support both mental and physical. I still recommend a bow to bow raft, it is more manageable.

3. That's when you are likely to need a radio and it's operation should be practised, just like everything else, when things are interesting. However the able paddler in the raft should be able to operate his radio with ease.

4.Yes boats do drift like a falling leaf and tend to lie beam on, but once someone has attached a towline and is actually putting some work in and with two boats/paddlers to tow that's a lot of work, in anything like a reasonable headwind, just to maintain station, the raft will turn head to wind. That's why I keep reiterating don't mess about with your "bulldog" who, in my opinion, has a near impossible and dangerous task in a lumpy sea, rather stick another engine on the tow.

The priority as I see it is to "get the flock out of there".
Geoff

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Post by Adam_Bolonsky » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:41 pm

Thanks for the input, Geoff. Only point I'd make that it was tough to get the flock out of there because we couldn't get the raft to turn to windward without the bulldog. When we tried the tow without the bulldog, the tower could not by any stretch get the raft to twist upwind. The were locked on a parallel to shore course and lost exit time due to downwind drift.

Anyhow, if anyone in the UK experiments with the technique, I'd like to hear their feedback.

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Post by NickB » Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:01 pm

Bow to Bow with rafted boats.
Long long long tow lines
Vector Tow (or Husky where you can get even more engines into the pull) a paddler out to the side in a vector/husky tow will only have to look over one shoulder not behind to see what is happening with the raft.
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Post by Owen » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:39 pm

What's puzzling me is if your tower is pulling into the wind, from one end of the raft, why isn't your raft swinging around so it's down wind of the towing kayak?

I've not done much towing, but whenever I have tried to tow across the wind the towed boat tends to swing round so that it's down wind of you. I still think that the best way out of this situation is to get as many paddlers as you can muster to clip their towlines on and pull directly into the wind away from the rocks. If all your towlines are attached to the bow/stern of the raft the wind will turn the raft; surely?

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Post by Jim » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:45 pm

Owen wrote:What's puzzling me is if your tower is pulling into the wind, from one end of the raft, why isn't your raft swinging around so it's down wind of the towing kayak?

I've not done much towing, but whenever I have tried to tow across the wind the towed boat tends to swing round so that it's down wind of you.
Easy - In the situation that lead to the development of the technique the wind was so strong that they could not have made headway directly into it so were forced to try and paddle diagonally upwind in order to reduce the rate of drift and pass the obstacle(s). Often you would simply throw more power (tow boats) into getting the raft away from the shore and then work on moving cross shore once you had a safe margin, but Adam has made it quite clear that this was not possible in this situation.

We could obviously make all sorts of alternative suggestions, and come up with wierd ways of dealing with unusual situations. To be honest I can't really see myself needing the technique because if it was windy enough to require this technique I mainly wouldn't be out, and if I did happen to be, I would be an effin' long way from the shore avoiding breaking surf and reflected clapotis and stuff. At the end of the day who knows one day one of us may need this, or some variant of it - reading this thread might just prove useful in some way?

Jim

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Post by Pelagic » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:32 am

Interesting conclusions Jim, however I feel the need to point out that I for one don't consider this a safe technique in windy conditions, far from it.
It seems to have been developed in winds of 13 mph. Not windy really.
Also it isn't really an unusual scenario, it is a perfectly normal situation for someone to be in trouble / injured and needing a quick rescue.
Both Owen and Nick have in different ways pointed out the obvious flaw, the boats need to be bow to bow to be encouraged to point head to wind (or head to tow if you prefer).
In the original incident (if memory serves) Adam attempted a classic "snatch" which due to swell / clapotis etc. failed. Sods law says that the biggest and nastiest wave of the day will occur at the precise moment of maximum inconvenience! and you will be facing the wrong way.........
As to Geoff's assertion that the Bulldog isnt a particularly useful item in waves or wind I would offer this:

This is Geoff trying NOT to hit me in some waves................
Oh alright then, succeeding in missing me..................

Image

Would you really be happy being hit by that?
Rafted or not.
I am sure Jim could work out the point loading but personally I don't want to think of it.............

The diagram illustrates the bulldog approaching from downwind and wave, surely the worst possible angle for control? Geoff in the above picture is perfectly in control but one of the reasons for that is, he is going quickly. For which my gelcoat, seams and ribcage are eternally grateful..........

Incidentally when I took the photo we were actually practising close quarter manoeuvres and rescues, the Laurel and Hardy rescue we developed that day is probably best left to another thread!

Phil

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Post by Geoff Seddon » Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:17 am

The thought of Phil "coming in your ear" doesn't really appeal either

Image
Geoff

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