Recovering a Soling 1M

The Capital Area Model Boat Association CAMBA purchased this tug with a motor upgrade kit to serve as a buoy tender and recovery vessel for the club. Christened the URGER, it is shown here escorting a One Meter Soling. Ted S. reports that the Urger has been able to handle the much larger Solings. Photos of their "dumper" towed by the tug to place buoys will follow. CAMBA is located in the Albany - Schenectady area of New York State. 

CAMBAUrger1.jpg (41656 bytes) CAMBAUrger2.jpg (42011 bytes)
They use a modified "steer horn" attachment to snag the side shrouds of the Soling. Here at work, the tug does look a bit small next to it, but lined up with the Soling, it makes the best use of its power to move the vessel.


We ( <> have been using the Vac-U-Tug as a club utility boat for 2 seasons now. Mark setting and recovery of ten pound Soling One Meters, sometimes two tangled together. (Don't put your cleats on the side of your booms.)

We've tried catching boats with a hook on the side and with a lightweight U shape ahead of the tug (as described in the message I'm responding to). By far the best solution we've found is neither of these. Catching boats on the
side works in many situations, but is slow and needs precision. Hard to see that well 50 or 100 feet away. The U ahead of the boat really slows things down, and its windage and water drag can make the tug hard to control.

The power of the tug just doesn't compare with a human arm's strength and sensitivity for pulling things back, so we use two systems:

The usual, our basic: As soon as we are done using the tug to set marks we attach a long line by a carabiner at one end to the tow point at the center of the back deck. The remainder stays on the spool until we need it. The 250 foot line was about 50 feet too short one time last year, so we've moved up to 500 ft. Also another attachment point further aft might help keep the tug in a more stable position.

For a recovery, one person drives the tug out while another feeds line. The tug then circles the boat(s) in trouble, trying to stay about 3-5 feet away.

This could be two tangled boats, a dismasted boat, etc. Stay clear of debris/mast/sails as we had a telltale foul our prop once. After a circle or two, start pulling the line back in. The tug will almost certainly get drawn into the mess, but usually won't slip back around. Slowly pull the whole mess back to shore.

In a few situations, circling the boats may be difficult: if they are in weeds, against a wall, &c. In those cases, we have a reverse hook extending out from the tug on either side, about even with the front of the deck house. (It's just a bent coat hanger attached to stainless screws mounted into the rail and epoxy backing.) It extends out about 4 or 6 inches and back by a little more than that. To recover a boat like this, again use the long line attached to the tug but this time just nestle upside the boat to be recovered and snag a stay or sheet.

Neither of these will work on a dismasted boat in the weeds, maybe that's what wading is for. Jamie F.

Big 10 pound sailboat. This tug is equipped with the Power Upgrade for Vac-U-Tug Jr, for 10 ounces of static pull. It is able to wrestle the Soling home, but some skill is necessary. Photos and commentary by James F. in Chicago.

Another method is to use the tug to pull the end of a 500' spool of heavy nylon string from the hardware store. Well... not from the hardware store, from the reel on the shore that your buddy is holding. It would take more than 500 feet if it were pulling from the hardware store. Not to mention the issue of traffic and the tripping hazard... Drive the tug out, run around the disabled boat or boats once or twice, use the reel to drag the whole mess back to shore. Hopefully, in the Spring, we'll have some photos to show more about this.

Tug Upgrade Motor Kit. Contents: 3 pieces. 380 type motor - pre-wired with capacitors and coupling end, 1-1/4 inch plastic prop, brass prop nut, and instructions.
At full power, the stern digs in deep and can swamp the rear hatch cover. Be sure to seal the rear hatch with the clear acrylic window. Since this motor/prop combination will push the tug to its hull speed at 50% throttle, you should not apply full power until you are pulling a load. TugMotorUpgradeRun.jpg (24014 bytes)
Finally got out yesterday with photographer (aka wife) in tow.


Soling1M1.jpg (101754 bytes)
I've been using a bent coat hanger as the hook bracket to try out different heights and aft/forward positions.  Soling1M2.jpg (92225 bytes)
Depending on the position of the hook, it can definitely make a difference with the ease of turning.  Soling1M3.jpg (88238 bytes)
With a moderate breeze, sails out, and rudder on the ten pound Soling 1M set to neutral, the turning radius can be up to 30 feet, depending on wind and direction of turn.  Soling1M4.jpg (97126 bytes)
I have a hunch that a U-shaped rig attached to the front of the tug might be really good for maneuverability. I'm working toward trying that out. Soling1M5.jpg (94269 bytes)
Jamie writes "By the way, my tug is extremely dry inside, even with an often wet deck." (Nice comment on a feature of the Vac-U-Tug!) Soling1M6.jpg (120449 bytes)