Kayak Towing Pack Kayak

-- Last Updated: May-21-15 9:49 PM EST --

I've searched but didn't find the threads I expected. Certainly this has been beat to death?

Several of us camp at a spot that we used to take side-by-side ATV's into. Some carried their packs and such. Due to erosion we won't be able to take the side-by-sides. We camp very close to a river that is slow moving. We have decided to kayak in. Three people are arriving later that night and are hiking in but we want to have their kayaks to paddle out with us. The river is an easy paddling one and we are in no hurry. The distance in will be 5 miles and the distance out is about the same.

We know that we could opt to not tow in the kayaks for our buddies but we have decided to do it unless we are risking certain death. Want I want to do now is find the BEST way to do it.

I'm doing a bit of kayak rescue towing techniques and am trying to borrow some of that knowledge. So far I've come up with the following.

- Hook the stern (rear) of MY kayak to the bow (front) of the pack kayak.
- Use quick release knot on MY kayak so I can cut the towed kayak free if needed. I can leave the length of rope long enough off my rear and have it with me at my seat.
- To stop the jerking I am thinking of using a small plastic water pipe to run the tow rope through to connect the two kayaks.
- Pack the towed kayak low to keep the center of gravity low. Also pack so that the front is slightly elevated.

Thoughts? Critiques?

Correction …
I’ve been reading that when I connect to the other kayak I should connect LOW in order to now have the towed kayak track all over.

Short connection

– Last Updated: May-11-15 2:46 PM EST –

The towed boat won't have a serious tracking problem if you keep your connection line as short as practical, like no more than one foot long or so. Using such a short line is do-able when towing a boat that's so lightly loaded (camping gear is light compared to the person who otherwise would be carried). You may have this part figured out, but another quick-release method might be to snake the tow rope through the handle (or other loop) at the stern of the towing boat, and then tie that rope within easy reach of the cockpit, so your effective "hitch" is the point of the stern and yet the quick-release location is accessible.

I agree with GBG
A short tow is better if there are no waves. You can also look up “highwayman’s knot” for a quick release. O search here or youtube for a kayak contact tow. A cockpit cover for the towed boat might be a good idea too.

Hope your paddling upstream to the campsite, a small change in wind or river level can make an upstream trip difficult or impossible.



Thanks. Keeping the distance between kayaks short isn’t something I had thought of, I’ll make sure to do that. As far as the location of the rope I did have in mind to snake it through the rear carry handle and have the rope and knot near me. I had originally considered tying it to the rear handle and then leaving the end long enough for me to pull but too much could go wrong so I changed my mind.

Thanks for the thoughts.

I’ll Look Up That Knot
Thanks for the knot suggestion, I’ll go look it up.

Yes the campsite is downstream about 5.5 miles. Getting out is about 6.5 miles again downstream where a vehicle will be waiting for us.

In a few weekends I’m going camping and will try out the entire thing on a lake. Not the same but I’ll learn something anyways.

As for the weight I am thinking that normal person is certainly more than what I’ll have in it. I may get greedy and put 100 lbs of stuff in it, some of it that I’ll have on my deck and then his deck when we kayak out.

I like to tow from an eye right
behind my seat (solo canoe thwart) or yack cockpit, and lead the line from the eye to an easy-to-release jam cleat on one side, and easy to reach. Having my end of the tow line right at my back allows me to bring the towed yak forward to adjust stuff, balance load, make it a stern quarter contact tow, etc. I also use a foot of good bungee in the tow line to soften the tow. Have used this system quite a few times and all seems to track and work well. Just thoughts, Rick

You didn’t mention whether
you had ever paddled those sections of river before, just that it was a slow easy river. A lot can change in 11.5 miles of water. No mention of how big a river. Will there be sandbars? A canoe is easier to get out of and push off. What about sawyers and strainers. Any whackos putting fences across the river? Is it big enough for power boat traffic? Just a few questions that you may have already considered.

where’s your sense of adventure?

Well, eh
60 years of living hasn’t ruined that yet. I just prefer to choose my challenges. What the heck? He should just go for it… “Hold my beer and watch this!”

I’ve towed boats a few times and my advice is to tie the towline to you (the paddler). If you lead the towline through your stern toggle, you will not have good control of your boat.

I have a rescue vest with the quick release belt and ring for towing, but it also works to tie the line around your waist with a quick release knot.

I would allow at least a reasonable distance between boats; if you’re too short the boats will be constantly bumping and if waves come up, you’ll want even more distance. If the towed boat has a skeg, or rudder, I would deploy it. Otherwise the towed boat will wander all over the place.

I’ve done it both ways
The advice by ricknriver above is similar. Where a strong pull is needed (like when a person is in the towed boat), or there’s strong wind, or when maneuvering is needed, a central “hitch” location, most likely the paddler himself, is best. When towing an empty boat under easy conditions, the extremely short connection provided by stern-to-bow towing is best. It sounds like what the OP has in mind is somewhere between those two extremes, and could go either way, as far as which method would be best.

I’m going out on a lake in two weekends to try what you (and others) have suggested close to a put-in place. I’m going to practice load balance, tie-off spots (like you mentioned), and releasing.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Good Thoughts
I’ve walked the entire section of this river but not paddled it. I’ve also read the reports (commercial kayak/canoe rental places use it) which only means so much. As far as power boats I don’t know the rules for that and nobody has, as far as I know) strung anything across it.

While nothing is nothing until I actually paddle it my assessment is a slow moving river with a few spots that I may need to get out and drag if I don’t see the right line to take.

Of course I’ll come back here and give you my trip report and if it turned out to be a raging mistake I’ll own up to it and give lessons learned, etc.

No sir…
This crowd won’t hold my beer. I wouldn’t get it back.

Sounds like you’ve
done some homework. While it doesn’t fit your plans you might be interested in a rig we had in Boy Scouts many years ago. We fastened two 17’ canoes side by side with 2x4s across the thwarts. It looked kind of like a catamaran. We had a 4x8 sheet of plywood in the middle to carry gear and scoutmasters! No need to tow anything. The rig handled slow rivers pretty well.

Have a safe trip and don’t lay your tee shirt on any poison ivy covered trees at night. (Like one of our scouts did.)

Roughing it
That reminds me of the rig I saw last summer on the Wisconsin River. Among a small fleet of rental canoes was a pair set up catamaran-style. It was carrying one of the largest propane grills I’ve ever seen. It would have just about filled up the back of a pickup truck.

Here I had been thinking that my ancient “Peak One” backpacking stove was bulky by today’s standards.

That’s the way
to do it!

Possibly for second trip
I’ve noticed pictures of things like that in google land. As I mentioned I’ve walked this river before but not floated it. After floating it once if it is what I think it is then we may give what you mentioned a try. If for nothing else the neat-o adventure aspect.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Reading says the same as you, hook it yourself. As I’ve never done that it would seem that if the towed kayak went to the side it could easily pull you over if you didn’t react fast enough. One through the stern would have the tow force directed in a more predictable way. Obviously I’m missing something as many many say to do it how you are saying.