Polypropylene rope tow line specs

I am looking for advice to figure out the best type of polypropylene rope for use with a deck mounted tow line. I have two daisy chained ropes I switch out depending on what length I want to use given the conditions/wave size. Problem is they are the same color! I keep messing up which one I bring. I was hoping to find a rope like the NRS Rescue Rope without a core, but in white, since I usually am often in murky water. How There are so many specification when I look up polypropylene rope, how do I know exactly which kind to get? I tried asking NRS for specs on their rope but they didn’t know over the phone.

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I just use a tow belt or a throw bag as the tow. I use a throw bag if doing caves . I took the rope out and made end opposite the tow side into a straight tail long enough to go thru the fair-lead and to the cam /tow clete . did a stopper knot for the stop.

The top picture is a salamander tow belt, rigged as a deck tow, but also able to be handed to someone else and used a waist tow, belt is just folded under. The second picture is a throw bag from a Stolquist WW PFD that rode piggy back on the PFD. It is rigged as a deck mount , but can also be used as a throw able

for places You don’t wish to get near.

Have you watched this (from the Learn section)?

How to Tow a Kayak: Contact Tows | Paddling.com

There are also various YouTube Videos, here are links to some:

How to Build a Sea Kayak Contact Tow Line | Skills | Adventure Kayak | Rapid Media - YouTube

Contact towline - Sea kayak Towline - How to make your own - YouTube

What you will notice right away is that they are all different…

I am actually making a pair of these right now, so this is what I am planning to do:

1: Use stainless steel hooks (especially for salt water) that will not snag on the rope easily. I bought these:

Amazon.com: SHONAN 2 Inch Carabiner Clips, 4 Pack Flag Clips for Flag Pole, Stainless Steel 316 Marine Boat Clips for Ropes, Clip Hooks for Keychain, Dog Leashes, Fishing, Camping 220 Lbs : Sports & Outdoors

2: For the rope I am going to use some leftover rope from restringing my kayaks perimeter rope. I used this kind:

SGT KNOTS Solid Braid Dacron Polyester Rope

3: I am going to use a quick release knot to attach the carabiners to the rope. Here is a diagram (credit to www.netknots.com):

I am sure more experienced members will provide good suggestions for improving this :slight_smile:

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I’m not a fan of that style of clip because the keeper arm can bend to the side and miss the closure. On our boat I’ve found this style of clip easier to release because the line can’t get in the way when you try and open it. These are too big though: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Buy-Stainless-Marine-Trigger/dp/B082LWM5L1?th=1
I haven’t used this style but its designed to allow you to detach while under tension: https://www.amazon.com/Croch-Shackle-Release-Rigging-Stainless/dp/B08DCQWJJP
Tie a short length of paracord to the ring so you can open it with gloves on.
Also I wouldn’t use a mooring hitch to attach the clip because you can accidentally release it when handling the rope.

@Kevburg I like the second clip you linked to, with that type, like you stated you can attach a short cord to affect a quick release. With the first type of clip, you link to (like the one I chose) you need some type of quick release mechanism.

For a quick release the mooring hitch may not be ideal, but I have found it to be ok, as long as you tie it tightly. Some sort of quick release is needed, so I am open to other suggestions.

For different color ropes, suitable for tow lines, this might help:

Ropes, Tie Downs & Hardware – North Water

Now I’m going to have to follow this thread. I was just about to order the same as raosborne before I saw the thread start. :thinking:

I have to disagree with the clips suggested above, based on having done a fair amount of rescue and tow training in cold water.

I don’t want anything that has swivels or small buttons that need to be manipulated, as it becomes a major pain when wearing thick gloves or with cold, wet hands. Simple and easy to hold is best, so I use keylock carabiners attached to quickdraws, which provide easy handling and quick clipping, as the 'biner can’t flop around on the end of the rope or twist in your hand.

Keylock 'biners don’t have a hook on them, so they won’t snag when you’re unclipping the the tow.

The quickdraw (the short black/red sling) fits the 'biner very tightly and is specifically designed to facilitate fast clipping (originally for rock and ice climbing, but it applies to towing as well). If you use aluminum climbing carabiners (as shown), you need to rinse them thoroughly after use in salt water and lube them periodically. Stainless carabiners require less maintenance, but are a lot heavier, more expensive and I haven’t found a design that I like.

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@bnystrom What do you do about a quick release?

Of course, being so new to this I only have you guys plus what I can find online as references (plus a few classes.)

So maybe a quick release is not as important as I assumed based on my sources?

For me personally, I am not worried about cold water and gloves because if the water is cold enough to need gloves, I will be warm and snug at home.

But there are many aspiring cold water kayakers reading this so the points bnystrom are making are important for those people. One that was made by inference, but not stated outright, is that a bigger clip (carabiner) would be much easier to operate, so do not choose one that is small (like I will admit in hindsight I did.)

I don’t have a quick release on the rope, I have one on the waist belt that releases the entire rig (that’s standard for waist tows). If I used a deck-mounted tow, I’d use a cam cleat (a.k.a., “clam cleat”) with a fairlead to direct the pull on the rope as Roym showed above. However, one disadvantage of this setup is that you can’t have anything on the end of the rope (loop, ball, etc.) to make it easy to grab, as it has to pass through the fairlead. You can’t use the cleat alone, as the direction of pull isn’t always straight back, especially in rough conditions where the towing boat may be in the trough of a wave or starting up the face and the towed boat may be on the peak of of a wave, creating an somewhat upward pull on the rope. Cam cleats aren’t designed to resist an upward pull.

That disadvantage of deck tows, plus the ability to hand off the tow to another paddler, is why I prefer a waist tow. I incorporate a shock absorber in mine - as do many commercial waist tow rigs - which makes it surprisingly comfortable to use. I can release it in a heartbeat if I need to. I posted some pics of my rig in another forum recently. Best way to pack a 50 foot tow rope - General Message Board - NSPN Message Board

You’re correct about the size of the carabiner, bigger is better to a point, depending on the size of your hands. You need to be able to grab it and open the gate instantly, either with your thumb or forefinger. That’s another reason why climbing gear is good; it’s designed to fit into the sweet spot between “too small and fiddly” and “too large and awkward”.

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Was going to say heavy shock cord built in to tow line would be good. Oh well late to the party :tada:

What size 1/2"? How long 2-3’