Tow lines

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Andywright
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Tow lines

Post by Andywright » Sun Sep 21, 2003 6:03 pm

I have recently purchased a sea kayak and have completed my Level 3 training but am having a trouble deciding on a towing system.

Should I have a long tow (15-20m) attached to my boat, bearing in mind I can't let anyone else use it, and a short waist tow line

or

no boat tow system and a waist tow system that can be made short or long depending on my needs?

Your thoughts, observations, and experiences would be appreciated

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Mark R
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Re: Tow lines

Post by Mark R » Sun Sep 21, 2003 6:35 pm

It doesn't answer your question, but the first thing I'd consider is, in what circumstances is it likely to be used? Club paddles around the harbour, or open epic crossings?

Arguably something short and body-fixed would suit the former situation, something longer and boat-fixed would suit the latter. To generalise wildly.


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MikeB
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Tows

Post by MikeB » Sun Sep 21, 2003 6:53 pm

Didn't this get discusses (at some length) here (or "elsewhere") a while back?

A search would find it - apologies for not looking myself but I am coming under some pressure to be sociable this evening!

Mark's comments - agree - but personally I like to have a deck mounted tow as it would be by far the preferable option for a long tow of a loaded boat in big seas!

You can buy a fully featured system from the likes of Knoydart (their bag is especailly handy) or make your own from floating rope, suitable hook, bungee etc. I use of a combo of home-made rope etc stored in a Knoydart bag.

The waist tow has merit - especially for a plastic boat where conventional thinking suggests that a boat fixed system is inpractical (why? fear of pulling thro the placcy I suppose - wouldn't a couple of big washers prevent that, just as with f/glass??). Also good of transposing between boats.

There are also a number of tow systems coming on the market which use the cockpit rim as the anchor - ideal fro plastic boats if the concern is for fittings pulling out and also allows easy transferability.

Personally I'd be loath to subject a composite rim to that sort of stress for fear of breaking the bond between it and the hull.

Certainly every sea boater should have some sort of tow system, even if only to use as a drying line in camp :D More seriously, I know of two instances this year where having a tow available potentially saved a life and a waist tow is better than nothing.

Mike.




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Jim
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Re: Tow lines

Post by Jim » Sun Sep 21, 2003 7:07 pm

Oooh, oooh, we like this discussion! It always generates loads of responses!

Not sure where the 15-20m boat tow idea came from, 5 - 10m (or 1-2 boat lengths) is more normal - did you mean 15-20 feet?

If you might have to tow for any distance a boat tow is far superior, usually) longer than a waist tow (which makes the tow a lot easier in sea boats) but also won't keep squeezing your guts with every paddle stroke! I'm not really sure why anyone else would want to use your tow system, everyone capable of towing (so we can allow learners not to carry all the gear!) should have their own, and if they are in the same frame of mind, theirs will be attached to the boat too!

A long boat tow can easily be cleated in as a short tow if you have need of one, but I would never dissuade anyone from carrying extra safety kit, if you wan't to take a waist tow as well do!

You can manage with just a waist tow, but I guess if you're doing level 3 you are going to be sea paddling a lot and it just doesn't make sense not to fit one to the boat so it's always there whatever type of paddling you are doing. Does your boat already have a fairlead and cleat on it? If so all you need is a rope a crab (and a piece of bungy if you want a shock absorber), if not you'll have to drill 4 holes to fit them but it's hardly a major project!

As you'll soon find ot, we all have loads of subtley different idea about this - and to be honest a lot of the time it will depend on your rear deck layout!

JIM

Andywright
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Re: Tow lines

Post by Andywright » Sun Sep 21, 2003 7:22 pm

Thanks for the replys

I have only just joined the forum so I will trawl the past discussions to see the previous debates, yes I think I got my lengths wrong! :lol

I do have a fitting for a fair lead and I think I will have a deck fitted tow and a waist tow. My Sea kayaking interest is with peers, clubs and coaching at the moment so a varity of situations do arise

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NickB
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15 metres not 15 feet

Post by NickB » Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:48 am

For your help the previous discussion can be found in all its glory on page 7, for convenience my comments are below:

I use a deck mounted system with the common fairlead and camcleat arrangement, the line being stuffed into a velcro sealing bag that is then stowed under an elastic net fixed between decklines immediately behind the cockpit.

Restowing is easy, the whole lot can be stuffed back in the bag and the bag replaced under the net without assistance.

Advantages of this arrangement are many; no stress on body during extended tows or whilst towing multiple kayaks or other weighty objects; easily, infinitely adjustable towline length just by locking the towline in the desired position and allowing the free end to trail in the water; rapid simple release in the event of an emergency.

In my opinion the length of towline needs to be far longer than discussed previously, my line is nearly 15m in length, this gives plenty of distance between the boats especially for a following swell. Another advantage of having this length of towline is that it allows the 'Husky' tow to be performed efficiently.

For those of you who do not know this one it is where two or more boats can tow the casualty(ies) at the same time with their towlines attached directly to the casualty(ies) boats. The towing paddlers sitting abreast to each other but a few meters apart.

Advantages to this include; should the towing paddlers stop paddling the casualty(ies) kayaks will not smash into their backs but harmlessly come up between them to instantly form a raft to give assistance etc; if the towing paddlers actively paddle backwards the casualty(ies) can be emergency stopped; directional stability is maintained around objects and the load of the tow is equally divided between the towing boats unlike 'line astern' towing.

Obviously this kind of towing is a team skill in its own right and in my opinion should be practiced in a variety of conditions in much the same way as rolling or rescues, but having used it in anger in moderate conditions and for the rescue of among other things a speedboat and a yacht it is well worth the effort and a lot less unpleasant than doing all the work yourself like when you are the initial boat attached to the casualty(ies) in a 'line astern' tow.

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MikeB
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Length

Post by MikeB » Wed Sep 24, 2003 10:45 am

"I have only just joined the forum so I will trawl the past discussions to see the previous debates, yes I think I got my lengths wrong! "

The length isn't critical - too much may be better than too little but sometimes you are constrained with what you have to work with anyway. My line started life as a 15 meter tHRow line - clearly a few knots has reduced it a bit! I would like a longer line, merely as it offers more options, but what I've got has proved perfectly adeqeuate so far.

Be aware of the constraints and difficulties a short (and long) line causes - the main problem with a line that is too short is of your being speared by the towed boat as it surfs a wave behind you :rolleyes

As with anything, irrespective of what some coaches (or "experts") like to believe, there is no right or wrong way. There is best practise, proven technique and the like but if you have a safe, reliable system that works and can demonstrate your awareness of the pros and cons of whatever you are using, then thats a good starting point.

Being open-minded to change and other views is also important in the eyes of assessors in coaching / assessments.

Think about:

* Daisy chain whatever length of line you are using. With some form of clip to restrain it, you have a quick, short tow-line option and a long-line is readily available when you need it. Overall length is then easily adjusted thro the cleat - handy for those "husky tows" or setting the length to allow for wave height.

* Consider storage - the Knoydart bag is available separatly and comes with velcro which you can glue to your rear deck to attach it. Or buy sticky backed velcro from B&Q. Or some form of bag tucked under deck elastics. Or take a bight thro a point at the rear and loop back to the cockpit. Initially I looped the line like that, leaving it free down the side of the boat - now its bagged.

(Bagging allows me to restow myself - looping off the rear doesn't.)

* Whatever you do, have the fulcrum (bullseye / fairlead) as close to you as possible, and on the centre-line to centralise the pull - having the rope leave the boat at the stern thro the grab loop is a very bad idea!

* Position your quick-release system (usually a suitable cam-cleat) to whichever side you find easiest to release hold of the paddle. Probably left side for right handers. Some systems use an ordinary cleat - how do you quick release?

* Include a shock absorber (bungee cord) in the system - perhaps near the hook as that then leaves clean rope to pass thro the bullseye / fairlead when the rope is released. Dont't cut the rope to include the bungee, loop it round the bungee to give slack - ensure the rope tightens before the bungee stretches to its max! That stops the bungee ripping out of the rope.

* Dont forget to put a float on the line at the hook end! Means you dont have to recover 15 mtrs of line to get the hook ;) Knoydart sells a neat, oval shaped float. Or a fishing net float or similar from a chandler.

* Hook - you could use a krab (think about removing the hooked bit at the end) but alu eventually corrodes badly in salt water. A stainless hook with a spring clip of some form is much better. Knoydart again, or SPS or a chandlers.


"I do have a fitting for a fair lead and I think I will have a deck fitted tow and a waist tow. (snip)"

Gives you more options certainly. Having a waist tow available means you can switch between boats and retain your towing capability. It also means you can provide someone else with a tow-line if they dont have one of their own. Who knows, maybe you will have to be towed sometime!

Mike.




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sub5rider
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Re: Length

Post by sub5rider » Wed Sep 24, 2003 11:10 am

"Whatever you do, have the fulcrum (bullseye / fairlead) as close to you as possible, and on the centre-line to centralise the pull - having the rope leave the boat at the stern thro the grab loop is a very bad idea!"

An idea that's gaining currency with the group I paddle with is to have a loop of bungee (12-18" log when flattened but not stretched) thro' the grab loop. The towline then passes from the centrally mounted fairlead thro' the loop.

This allows the towline to be kept taut on deck (being doubled back thro the bungee loop) and gives an immediate short towline approximately equal to the length of the rear deck. When towing, the bungee allows to towline to go about 20deg either side of your centerline and acts as an extra shock absorber.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm told this system has little effect on the directional stability of the towing boat.

What concerns me more about this whole idea of deck mounted tows is what happens when you've a pile of luggage on the rear deck ? The system described above gets around this to some extent in that it prevents the towline "sawing" back and forth across the deck.


:)
Nigel, aka Sub5Rider, Onioneer

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MikeB
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Length

Post by MikeB » Wed Sep 24, 2003 12:11 pm

The Onioneer said "I haven't tried it yet, but I'm told this system has little effect on the directional stability of the towing boat."

Hmmmmmm. Initially I used a static loop at the rear to achieve my return point and this formed the fulcrum - while it didn't allow any real lateral movement it most certainly effected the towing boats directional stability.

Not a problmem in a straight line - but course changes (or even allowing for wind) was a problem and confined area manouvering was impossible to all intents.

Interested to hear how it works. Sticking a point of pull that far back MUST impact on the ability to turn when needed I'd have thought. Must try it.

"What concerns me more about this whole idea of deck mounted tows is what happens when you've a pile of luggage on the rear deck ? The system described above gets around this to some extent in that it prevents the towline "sawing" back and forth across the deck."

It concerned me too! Which is why I tried the rear mounted fulcrum point! The purist answer is not to have gear on the deck - makes you look like some form of sea-gypsy - most unprofessional :p . That opens another debate of course :p !

Meanwhile, back in the real world - - - - - even spare paddles get in the way, although using a couple of bits of plastic piping to secure the ends helps stop the tow slipping under them.

IF gear on the deck is the ONLY way to carry what is needed, then placing it right behind the paddler (over the day-hatch area for example) helps ensure the rope has a clear arc - and also puts the extra bulk in the area where there is least windage.

Placing it further back (over the main rear hatch) will certainly catch a rope as well as being a major windage problem and also a problem in larger seas as breaking waves get caught up on it.

Mike.





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Jim
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Told you so!

Post by Jim » Wed Sep 24, 2003 4:02 pm

I said: "As you'll soon find ot, we all have loads of subtley different idea about this - and to be honest a lot of the time it will depend on your rear deck layout!"

I just have my towing eye between the pump and all the rear deck clutter (paddles, big dry bag, spare pump, helmet) which means that in use (not had to in anger yet) it would be forced to one side or the other by all the clutter and would keep trying to rip all my essential clutter off the deck. Passing through the grabloop or a loop of shockcord which is through the grabloop helps in this respect, but will make it much harder to manouevre your own craft when towing. You need the eye behind the cockpit anyway and you can just experiment with whether or not to pass through your grabloop or not without making any commitment! Personally I find the line or elastic through the grabloop makes it hard to get hold of the grabloop comfortably, which is a nightmare when you are trying to carry my dads heavy and overloaded baidarka explorer :-)

You are in the lucky position of coaching on the sea, so you can easily get your groups to experiment with all sorts of different tows (and join in yourself) until you find the ones you like the best, and the system that works for you. I only get out a couple of times per year and we are too busy going places to play with towing systems (don't worry I am quite inventive when it comes to rope systems - lack of practice won't adversely affect my ability to do it!). Nick has obviously done a lot more towing than most of us!

"The purist answer is not to have gear on the deck - makes you look like some form of sea-gypsy - most unprofessional "

Is this a scouting thing? our GSL was very particular about not having gear tied to the outside of our rucksacks because it makes you look like a gyppo! I try and avoid 'deck cargo' because it always seems vulnerable, but if I put everything inside I won't have enough room for beer.......

JIM

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MikeB
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Hmph

Post by MikeB » Wed Sep 24, 2003 4:49 pm

Jim said "Is this a scouting thing? our GSL was very particular about not having gear tied to the outside of our rucksacks because it makes you look like a gyppo!"

|I and he was right! If it wont go in, you dont need it! Concentrates the mind wonderfully :D .

"- - - if I put everything inside I won't have enough room for beer......."

Yes, thats a problem. I came across a Dutch paddler a couple of weeks ago who had an old N/kapp. The inside of the cockpit was outfitted with a lot of bungee attached with short bit of pipe glassed into the hull. He had an amazing amount of stuff so secured, including his flask which was bungeed to the underside of the foredeck and had a beautifully sculpted foam cradle to hold it. Very neat. Winter project me thinks.

Mike.

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Jim
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Cockpit outfitting

Post by Jim » Thu Sep 25, 2003 12:12 am

In exchange for your credit card details Knoydart can supply you with all sorts of itmes to help your winter modifications:

Knee tubes
Underdeck bags (see marks photo entry in boys toys)
Beside the seat bags
Topcleats for securing those bungees
All sorts of other bags for various things, including ones that can clip to a plastic base you are meant to glue to your deck, but what the hey, I'm sure you can glue it to bottom shell instead :-)
Not to mention the foam to sculpt!

JIM

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NickB
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Rear deck clutter

Post by NickB » Thu Sep 25, 2003 7:27 am

A certain amount of rear deck clutter is difficult to avoid, items that need to be within arms reach can only go one of 2 places, infront or behind, if infront are things like nav gear, drinks bottle, fishing line etc, the back deck gets, amongst other things the BA and the splits.

Here using a Husky tow has an advantage the tow line leaves the fairlead behind the cockpit to one side or the other and not through the rear deck melay, the sawing action is therefore to the side and not through the gear.

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Mark R
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Re: Rear deck clutter

Post by Mark R » Thu Sep 25, 2003 7:04 pm

I keep my front deck clutter in a rather natty deck bag (hooks to the decklines) I picked up in Vancouver.

Back deck...well, what you can't see can't hurt you.


-----------Mark Rainsley

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Jim
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Re: Rear deck clutter

Post by Jim » Thu Sep 25, 2003 8:57 pm

"Back deck...well, what you can't see can't hurt you."

Until a wave picks it up and brays you round the back of the head with it :-)

JIM

dave miller
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Under hull sling tow

Post by dave miller » Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:41 pm

Here's a quick system that works on any boat, doesn't affect steering at all and cant get caught on all that cr*p on deck and the pointy ends.

Tie /whip a loop into one end of the tow line, tie the other to your victim's bow loop with a guick release knot and give your victim the end so they can release it easily.

Take 2m of 4/5mm chord, thread through the loop in the towline end, pass round your hull and tie the ends together using a quick release knot to make a sling. Leave 6in end to grab in a hurry (I thread the end through my spray deck release loop to keep it in one place.

Hook the sling under the front of the cockpit coaming and take up the slack. The towline end will slide under the boat to the keel just behind you, and you can tow and turn to your heart's content.

A neater alternative sling attachment for sea kayaks with deck lines is to tie one end of the 2m chord to the deck line on one side just in front of the cockpit, thread through the tow line loop, pass under the boat and tie to the deck line on the other side with a quick release knot. This way you don't lose the sling when you release.
Don't tie direct to RDFs, they may break.

Use yellow floating line so you don't lose it, and keep it down to 4/5mm (I use 3mm polyprop) so the stretch takes out the shocks.

On assessment, find out what your assessor likes. Some like it simple, others insist on half a chandlery bolted to your deck. Whatever, always have a waist to on , except for open canoe where it is (for reasons I can't imagine) an almost instant fail.

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