In calm conditions, would you offer a tow to a broken down yacht? James Stevens answers your Questions of Seamanship

Would you offer a tow to another yacht in calm conditions?
Would you offer a tow to another yacht in calm conditions? Credit: Graham Snook

Do you offer a tow or not?


Paul and Jill are sailing their 11m cruising yacht, Rigel, south along the French coast to Carteret on the west side of the Cherbourg peninsula.

There is a marina with a sill and the entrance channel dries, so they are aiming to arrive in a couple of hours, about an hour before high water.

About 12 miles from Carteret, Paul and Jill are motoring over a windless sea when they come across a sailing yacht about the same size as Rigel with the crew waving their arms and clearly in trouble.

Their problem turns out to be lack of fuel.

They are heading for Granville another 50 miles down the coast.

The favourable south-going tidal stream will turn in a couple of hours and flow northward at about two knots.

The easiest solution would be for Paul and Jill to hand over a can of spare fuel, but unfortunately they used it a week ago and forgot to replace it.

Should Rigel take the yacht under tow? If so, where?

If they go to Carteret, will they get there in time and how are they going to handle a tow in a very confined marina

It will be difficult enough finding a berth for Rigel, never mind a disabled yacht.

Alternatively, should they leave the other yacht and tell them to either anchor or call the emergency services or maybe a towing company?

What would you do?

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