Attaching a Bow (or Stern) Line

Hi Folks,

I’ve seen some kayaks with a line tied to a bow fitting and led back to some point near the cockpit. I’m not talking about perimeter rigging. This looks like a line to be used to tie up to a dock or something. I have some extra 1/4 inch rigging line, and was thinking of doing this (on my CD Caribou). I figured I’d just tie a bowline on the bow (has a certain poetic appropriateness). How do people typically tie off the line back at the cockpit? I have various kinds of plastic hooks, snap hooks, etc. (I have lots of boat fittings of all sorts). Also have some small cleats. Or I could just tie it to the foredeck bungee.

I guess it’s kind of a minor question, but I don’t love the idea of more things to get hung up on. But I do kind of like the idea of a bow line.

Would welcome any thoughts.



In my neck of the woods bow lines
are mandatory… The boat can get blown away so its always tied to a tree… This can happen anywhere.

We have 12 foot tides which move fast and I don’t want my boat leaving. So if we are at lunch on a beach I deadman the bowline to something

I don’t put permanent knots in the bowline and simply run it under foredeck rigging

sells floating ‘painters’

tie the painter to bow hardware with a bowline.

Bowlines are tied several ways. You get extra points for knowing 3-4.

The painter line is looped, body placed under parallel cross deck shock cords with loop’s 2 grouped ends folded over the shock cords tops.

If the deck had 4 cross lines, 2 close together either loop end…an 1/8th" shock cord would suffice as the hold down cord.

Tie the 1/8th" to the perimeter line with a horse line knot.

So when you fall out, grab the line running forward, the loop spills out with a ‘tug’…in theory if not practice.

Bow lines…
I have them on all my boats because I launch off a dock. Mine is a little longer and gets coiled under the deck rigging. I remove it for car topping.

jam cleat
A jam cleat is one way:

It used to be pretty common for whitewater kayakers to have a short line about a half boat length in length or so tied onto the stern grab loop running up to one side of the cockpit where it was secured with a jam cleat.

These were often used as quick release tow lines. The line could be released from the cleat, run through the bow grab loop of the towed kayak, and re-secured in the cleat. If it became necessary to release the towed boat, the line could be quickly pulled up out of the cleat and released.

Of course, you could use it for a line running from the bow as well.

I don’t need one because…
my wife always has one on her boat.

She has a caribiner on the bow end, and just coils it under the rigging in front of her.

We use it all the time when we pull up in the Mangroves.

And Grayhawk -above can attest to how handy it came one day in some rough water when we helped a fellow paddler.

Jack L

Floating polyethelene line 1/4 inch orso
Tie the bow line to the forward carry handle. as soon as it is attached to the boat it is transformed into a “painter”. Run it over the top of everything back to the cockpit, coil the slack and stuff the coil under the closest bungee with the bite (the free end) hanging out towards you. When you hit the sandbar grab the bite and step out. The coil falls out from under the bungee and you are holding onto the painter to keep the current from washing your boat downstream. Pull boat onto sandbar, open refreshing beverage of choice.

It’s also handy to hold onto the line as your reboarding. Once you’re onboard coil the slack, stuff it under the first bungee with the bite hanging out.

Repeat as necessary.

I would think the perimeter line too thin to grab easily and may sink when wet.

I tie a square knot in the bite to keep the line from unravelling and to prevent it sliding through your hands.

Great ideas, thank you all. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of just coiling the bite (yes, 30 years as a sailor… I know the lingo :slight_smile: ) under the bungees. Also hadn’t thought of getting some floating poly line, was just going to use the deck line (which is 1/4 inch), but yes, I agree, floating is a useful feature for this line.

Thanks for your help.


we all know what each other was talking about… but spelling is maybe evolving?

Bite is what my bear does.

Dock launch - take out
I tie a line to the perimeter line in front of the cockpit on the side next to the dock. Run it under the line on the other side for launching or landing the other way. A couple turns around a cleat, and the boat does not move forward as you get in or out, and won’t push away from the dock.

Double line

– Last Updated: Sep-27-14 7:14 PM EST –

I needed perimeter line on a skin boat, and also wanted a painter. So I copied something I saw on a Mariner kayak.

I use a long line with a small SS carabiner at each end. It clips in front of the cockpit, threads through the bow hardware (actually just a small bungee loop) and runs back to the cockpit on the other side of the boat. A buntline hitch adjusts the length.

You undo one biner and loop it around a tree or post to tie up. If you need a longer line, unclip the other biner and let it slide up to the bow hardware, clip it there.

For car topping, both ends unclip and hang down (with some twists) to the tow hitch on the front bumper to act as the bow tie down. It all works so easily, I've added one to each of my boats.