Article on Sea Kayak Tow Rigs

-- Last Updated: Sep-09-08 12:32 PM EST --

I've been doing a lot of towing in the last couple years. I've been limping along with my salamander rig for quite some time. I decided based on the amount of towing I was doing to go with a new rig, like a lot of folks I went with a Northwater Sea Tec. Just as a note for those who are like me, sort of beginner-intermediate coaches I thought I would share this article:

I would welcome any other suggestions or oversights from those that have done more towing than me. I googled around and ironically didn't see any other articles, so I'm sort of filling the void.

Also thanks to Brian Nystrom's webshots a constant source of information

Thanks for the nice writeup. I too just bought a SeaTec, although I’m not all that experienced in towing. This is my first rig. I did ask the folks at Northwater to put in a longer line, just in case. I think I have about 45ft. Whether or not I will need the extra length is yet to be seen but I can always shorten it.

I must say that Northwater as extremely accommodating and even added some extra velcro on the bag to help it close with the extra bulk from the extra line. Very good people to work with!


Some good points
I’ve seen the Sea Tec surf the tow-er and the raft at stock length. The cure for that is a 15 foot extension with a clip on one end and a bowline on the other (krabs on krabs can disconnect themselves.) Here is another online discussion:


Nice article.
You did, however, leave out the coaming mounted towline. I have one from North Water. They work but I replaced it with a belt tow.

Hey you’re right
I forgot about the coaming mount. I was never a fan of that, it seemed like a bad idea when I saw it. Do they still have that product?

I like the deep pouch
of the EE tow belt. Makes restowing a breeze. That, and the second biner which makes daisy chains a breeze. Swapped out the stock line for floating line though, and wish the belt itself were wider.

Yes they do
The main problem with the system was coordinating attaching the tow system with putting on the spray skirt. Once it is in place it doesn’t interfere with wet exits and functions very much like a deck tow system. But trading off with someone else is tricky if they are not familiar with it. No epoxy required! :slight_smile:

A few thoughts
I’ve used a few systems in the past few years, although, this year, I haven’t had to tow once, yet!

I have three systems right now: a boat mounted system, a waist rope, and a lifevest mounted rope. It’s nice to have a choice on what to use.

Generally, I just slip the lifevest on and I have a tow rope and pig tail built into it. It’s not very easy to repack after deployed, but usually, for the guiding I do, I’m going to repack it after I’m on the beach with the person I had to tow. Otherwise, my lifevest has a large pocket on the front that I can stuff the rope behind.

If I think there may be problems and I’m on a group (opposed to work) paddle, I’m going to throw my boat mounted system on the kayak, because it’s less work on my body if I have to use it, and, generally, someone else or two in the group is going to have another tow rope if we have to trade off.

The waist system just doesn’t get used much anymore with the other two. I have the Northwater version prior to the Sea Tec and have used a Kokatat waist belt. The Kokatat belt packs up very very quickly by being able to wind up the rope on a plastic piece, but the Northwater also stuffs quickly. Both are nice.

man you really got the
whole belt and suspenders thing going for tows don’t you?

Deck, pfd, and belt.

It took me a bit
It took me a bit of work to figure out what exactly I liked the best, and I settled on the same tow system that almost every other guide up this way uses.

belt and suspenders
would be if he carried all three at once! :wink: