Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

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JulesT
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Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sat May 27, 2017 3:36 pm

A carabiner and float at the end of a towline seems like the accepted norm. But I've found there are inherent problems with this design.
Attaching near the front of a single towed kayak the person being towed cannot release it. If you feed the crab under the towline section at the front and actually clip the crab further back toward the cockpit, the paddler can release it, but then it will most likely snag as the crab tries to escape under the front deckline. When doing a rafted tow, passing the crab under the rescuers kayak and onto the casualties kayak; this permits the rescuer to paddle forward and release the crab from the casualties kayak but again its most likely that when the line is pulled it will snag at the front of of the rescuers kayak, wedging into where the deckline meets the mounting point. A float only makes matters worse. If its fixed near the crab then its harder to pass under a deckline and even more likely to snag. If its fixed a metre or two away then its not doing the job it was intended for and the crab will sink by the amount of separation.

So my solution is no crab and no float, instead a clean line only that will pull clear without anything to snag; and a clamcleat attached about two and a half metres from the clean end.

Attaching to either a single kayak or rafted pair:
Pass the clean end under the deckline(s), loop back over and jam into the clamcleat. This makes a loop of a fraction under half the distance between the clean end and the clamcleat. Once the line is slackened then either the casualty or the rescuer can paddle forward until the clamcleat comes within reach, and release the clean end from the clamcleat. The line will then pull free.

The clamcleat is plastic and lightweight and the floating towline has sufficient buoyancy to support it. Its strong, I've made the loop around a tree and stood my weight of 88kg on the towline with no sign of slippage. Note that because there is a loop that part of the line jammed into the cleat takes only half of the pulling force. Plastic floating rope squeezes very nicely into a clamcleat. For modern towlines of 7mm diameter I use the smaller clamcleat cl223. For an older towline using 8mm rope the larger clamcleat cl234 is better.

See here for some pictures: http://www.kayakjules.myzen.co.uk/blogs ... -1024.html

Readers comments ?
Jules

Mr Ed
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Mr Ed » Sat May 27, 2017 4:06 pm

Interesting!

My main worries would be speed of deployment. I like my carabiners because it's just an unclick, click then paddle.

Is there not a lot of faff? In a gully a quick rescue is pretty handy!

I have 0.5 metres of elastic looped 4 times tied off with a double fishermans for shock absorption with 15m of line with a float 4?m from the carabiner. I've gone for snagless DMM crabs.

Seems to work quite well.

Have you tried it towing in big seas? Any issues?

Ed

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sat May 27, 2017 5:16 pm

Tried yesterday for the first time - testing to continue. Granted attaching a crab to a single kayak will be quicker but once you're talking rafted tow little difference if any.
I also have a DMM crab, one of the best IMHO. One could fix a crab and float at the same position on the line as the clamcleat to offer both types of solution but it could get bulky.
Jules

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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by TechnoEngineer » Sat May 27, 2017 8:11 pm

I like the idea although I would be concerned that you may not be able to release it under tension (and it may cone undone suring slack periods).

I like Kim Bull's "snap shackle" technique, which would work well for long tows (towee would pull the pin on the shackle and release it), I made a variation of it for a contact tow so that I could hook someone up and be able to quick-release them myself.

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sun May 28, 2017 10:42 am

Releasing under tension: no chance with the traditional carabiner approach. There is a chance with the clamcleat. If instead of making a big loop with a short release end of the cleat; one makes a very short loop with a long release line that floats back to the towee. My mate came up with this idea when we were testing and it seemed to work well. Concern that the rope might self release but it didn't at the time. We were not in big seas - will test again.

Yes the snap shackle with a long release line can work - again there is a chance that it might self release or not release at all (have seen that happen) - snap shackles need to be just right.

As mentioned on my webpage, the floating rope is quite squidgy and bites down into the cleat really well.
Jules

Owen
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Owen » Sun May 28, 2017 2:21 pm

My concern would be rope on rope contact, if the towed boat is jerking around by either tide or wind you'll end up with the deck line and tow line rubbing up and down on each other. You can cut a nylon rope with another length of nylon rope really easily.

pathbrae
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by pathbrae » Sun May 28, 2017 5:41 pm

Could adding a snagless carabiner into the loop in the jam cleat help? Release in the same way, from the jam cleat, but leaving the carabiner attached to the towed boat - quick to place and avoids rope on rope issues.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sun May 28, 2017 9:34 pm

My concern would be rope on rope contact, if the towed boat is jerking around by either tide or wind you'll end up with the deck line and tow line rubbing up and down on each other
Valid point - but I think the rope will get wedged up against where the deckline goes under the mounting point and there won't be chafing - but admit it needs testing with some extended towing.
Could adding a snagless carabiner into the loop in the jam cleat help
Good idea - then the clean end can be in the clamcleat before starting the rescue but then we're back to needing a float again, unless the seadog clip http://palmequipmenteurope.com/product/seadog-clip might be very lightweight - I'll try one.
Jules

Allan Olesen
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Allan Olesen » Sun May 28, 2017 11:57 pm

Regarding float:
In my case, the boyancy of 0.5 meters of tow line is enough to carry my carabiner in seawater. So I see absolutely no reason for a float element.

The carabiner is a lightweight aluminium carabiner for climbing. IIRC the weight is 30-40 gram.

The tow line is a Jeff Allen throw tow line - but with the original carabiner replaced with the one mentioned above. (I think the original carabiner had more or less the same weight.)

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Mon May 29, 2017 11:14 am

Owen - surely the possibility of chaffing is there in any arrangement of a rafted tow.
Jules

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:58 pm

After pathbrae's suggestion, the best of both worlds:
Image
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Allan Olesen
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Allan Olesen » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:48 pm

Neat idea. Though I suppose that you will sometimes need to buy new spare carabiners because you forgot to retrieve your carabiner from the victim's kayak.

Two questions:
1. What is the additional part in the photo called?
Looks like some kind of clam cleat, just for rope mounting. But I would not know what to search for if I should buy one.

2. How would you do a rafted tow? Would you put the carabiner on the victim's kayak as usual, or would you put it on the assisting kayak?
The latter approach might be the best with this tow line, but I guess you may need to do a lot of explanation - especially during an assessment - before people understand why you are doing it in the "wrong" way.

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:56 am

Including the carabiner means that the towline can be used just like any other either for towing a single kayak or in a rafted tow.
The clamcleat allows the kayak(s) being towed to release the line.http://www.clamcleat.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=cl223
Jules

Allan Olesen
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Allan Olesen » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:29 pm

JulesT wrote:The clamcleat allows the kayak(s) being towed to release the line.
Yes, I understand that this is the intention.

But I asked the question because I was not certain that it would work as intended if you hook up like you normally would in a rafted tow. Let me explain, what I mean:

In a normal rafted tow, consisting of a victim and a person assisting the victim, you put the rope under a deck line on the assister's kayak and then hook the carabiner to a deck line on the victim's kayak. If the person assisting wants to release the tow line, he will move to the front of the victim's kayak, release the carabiner and then hope that the carabiner will slide under his own deckline when it is pulled out - which it unfortunately often doesn't. (I know that I am telling you something you already know, because you have already described the situation and have come up with your modification to avoid exactly that situation.)

When rafting with your setup, using the same method of hooking the carabiner to the victim's kayak, it seems to me that the person assisting will have difficulty bringing himself in a position where is able to reach to the clam cleat. As I see it, he has 3 options:

1. Release the carabiner from the victim's kayak. But then nothing is gained compared to the normal rafted tow - he will still have the risk of the carabiner snagging under his own deck lines. So obviously, that is not your intention.

2. Go to the front of the victim's kayak, grab the tow line and pull it towards himself until he can reach the clam cleat and release it. But during that operation, the clam cleat will at some point have to pass under his own deck lines. So he will still have the risk of a component snagging under his own deck lines - now that component is just a clam cleat instead of a carabiner.

3. Grab a piece of the tow line which is between his own kayak and the tower's kayak and pull it towards himself until he can reach the clam cleat and release it. But that will require some slack from the person doing the towing, and it may also require the assister to paddle and "chase" the rope in the water, with his own kayak while still being hooked up to the victim's kayak.

So which of the above methods do you intend to use? Or is there a fourth method which I have missed?

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:25 pm

The main idea behind using a clamcleat is that in addition to the 'tower', the 'towee' can release the towline.

Rafted towing:

In Allan's scenario 1:
If a carabiner is in the towline in addition to the clamcleat, then the rescuer has two choices:
a) Paddle forward / use paddle to catch the towline to bring the clamcleat into reach and release it. A longer length of loop between the clamcleat and carabiner would be needed or it could prove tricky to achieve if the kayaks start drifting apart. In which case do b)

b) Release the carabiner from the casualty, then paddle forward / use paddle to hook the towline to bring the clamcleat into reach and release it. The carabiner would be lost.

If there is no carabiner in the line, as in my original posting then the same as in a), a longer length of loop between the clamcleat and carabiner would be needed.

If this sounds complicated its because there are choices which one doesn't have in a regular towline with carabiner and float as described in my original post. ie if the rescuer releases the carabiner from the casualty its most likely to jam in the rescuers deckline.

I'll do some more testing to see what works best...
Jules

Mike A
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Mike A » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:53 pm

If worried about crab snagging on decline in a rafter tow, you could;

Clip a tape onto casualties decline

Pass under deckline of assistores and ask them to hold the free end

Clip towline to tape between the two boats


That way;

Tow paddler can release at waist

Raft can release with only the loose end of a tape in the water.

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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Chris Bolton » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:00 pm

There is a fourth possibility in the case Allan suggests, which is to set up the clamcleat with a long 'tail', ie, pull enough rope through to reach the assister, who can just pull that to release the clamcleat. This would need testing, as it might not work, because the tail might catch in the cleat once the assister has let go.

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:55 pm

Updated - the complete waist mounted towline in detail:-
http://www.kayakjules.myzen.co.uk/blogs ... tical.html
(website updated and previous links no longer supported - this replaces them)
Jules

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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by TechnoEngineer » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:48 pm

JulesT wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:55 pm
Updated - the complete waist mounted towline in detail:-
http://www.kayakjules.myzen.co.uk/blogs ... tical.html
(website updated and previous links no longer supported - this replaces them)
The bungee C-D should be in parallel with a length of line, so that if the bungee breaks, the line doesn't detach.
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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:48 pm

With sufficient force in any mechanical system, something will break. Many systems are designed with a deliberate point of failure to protect the more valuable parts, (e.g. a shearpin). I haven't seen anything in the specifications of commercial kayak towlines to say what would be the first part of the system to give way. So when an extreme snatch occurs what part of the system would you wish or expect to fail ? I would hazard a guess that the deckline mounting on the towed kayak would give first. I wouldn't wish for the towing system to be so strong such that the rescuer doing the towing is either injured or pulled out of their kayak. If that happens the whole scenario would take a turn for the worst.

The shockcord thickness (8mm) is intended to be in keeping with the strength of the rest of the towline system (7mm line). I've hung my weight of 85kg on the shockcord and it was fine. I reckon that is quite enough force to take around ones waist.

So I disagree with:
The bungee C-D should be in parallel with a length of line, so that if the bungee breaks, the line doesn't detach.
Jules

Incayak
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Incayak » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:09 pm

You've assembled a nice bit of kit but if this tow line is permanently elasticated then the towing paddler will be constantly pumping kinetic energy into the bungee and so tire (more) quickly. This doesn't happen when towing with a taut line. The reason why the bungee should be in parallel with the towline is because it lessens the inevitable snatches when towing thanks to paddling rhythm and choppy seas. Also, the bungee won't last very long if subjected to full stretch for extended periods ..... compare to towing a car with a bungee ....

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JulesT
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by JulesT » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:48 pm

Hi Incayak - welcome to the discussion - some interesting comments !
will be constantly pumping kinetic energy into the bungee and so tire (more) quickly.
If it were a pure spring there would be no energy loss at all, there would only be energy loss if there was a damper and if there was continual stretching and contracting. The amount of damping will be small (like a car suspension with a damper that's 90% worn out) and in normal towing there is little stretching / contracting so I can't see there being an issue. It must be preferable to the same situation in which there is no shockcord and continual snatching on your waist.
The reason why the bungee should be in parallel with the towline is because it lessens the inevitable snatches when towing thanks to paddling rhythm and choppy seas.
On the contrary that's why its in series.
Also, the bungee won't last very long if subjected to full stretch for extended periods
In 'normal' towing there is only a small pull on the line, I'd guess around the 20kg mark max so little extension.
Once it shows signs of deterioration then replace that part. How often do we tow in reality apart from on courses ?
compare to towing a car with a bungee
Car towlines are usually plastic and in that scenario with the masses involved the towline will have a bit of spring in it (like climbers ropes).
Likewise the actual kayak towline will have some give in it, especially over 15 metres.
Jules

Incayak
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Re: Towlines - no more carabiners or floats

Post by Incayak » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:49 am

Whatever works for you, I've towed plenty and would always go for a taught line with a bungee in parallel to reduce the snatch between strokes.

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