tow lines

I see all these ads for Throw bags and tow-lines and it occurs to me that my painter (with carabiners at both ends) would tow as easily as any tow-line… and be cheaper and be one less thing to carry.

Or in a pinch, my throw bag line could tow a boat or tie a tent.

So why buy a specific tow-line when i have a painter that will do the dsame thing?

And personal experiences or good logic to explain why?

The biggest advantage of dedicated tow rigs is that they have a quick release that’ll let you easily dump the tow under load with one hand if something goes wrong. It’s hard to do that with a carabiner.

Double that
Lots of reason to be able to do a quick release, not just the obvious like the boat doing the towing is under risk because of something going wrong. If there is a long period of towing needed, a full tow belt with a quick release can be passed between paddlers as one tires.

also quick deployment
Tow ropes are often worn around one’s waist while paddling, making them all set to be deployed (wether thrown or just attaching the end to the other boat).

Plus they often have extra flotation built in (where your caribeaner may cause the end of your line to sink).

I use my tow rope for extra duty, like tying up the boat.

AA tow set up from the stern of your boat, will prevent you from turning.

The tow point needs to be from the middle of the boat or as close to it as possible.

You also need to have a much longer tow line than your painter. My tow line is 45 feet, and at times that has been too short and I’ve needed to add more line to it.

Couple that with everything said before, and now you know why you need a dedicated tow system, not just a line with a biner on it.

Good points
thank you.

It depends on where and what
Where you are towing and what you are towing.

On the rivers here in Georgia all I use and need is a 6’ rope with a carabiner on each end and have towed canoes and kayaks.

If what you have does the job then…you’re fine; unless you believe, he who dies with the most toys, wins.

Keep in mind that GK only paddles on small streams where there’s a river bank on each side…

He never goes on big water, where a good tow line would be essential.

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My generic collection…

6’ dog leash,

12’ rope,

20’ tow kit (inland use),

60’ throw rope (for ww).

Sorta OT but …
this thread reminded me of the time I towed a 19’ runabout with 4 drunk college kids out of the channel. It might have been a bit demoralizing for them had they been sober. :slight_smile:


Here in Canada
You are obliged to carry a 50 foot buoyant heaving line. We spell 50 ’ 15 M. “same thing.”

I use a belt system and also use the same system to dry cloths at camp, tie up the boat when I bring it ashore (Experience) last time I forgot I had no less than Wendy Kildoran chase my NDK. across Pouch Cove.

If you can put it around your waist or close to the centre of your boat (Combing for example) and it has a good quick release with floats at both attachment points it will be fine.

I use a commercial tow system that I won’t name because it incorporated aluminum carabineers that don’t like salt water. They were replaced. the rest of my boats all carry a 50 foot tow rope some with clips and floats some without. I have a family of 5 and 5 sea boats.

The painter as I understand it ties to the bow of the boat so in my 17 foot boat is out of reach should I want to help someone else.

I have used a painter arrangement on trips with less than strong paddlers. I tie the painter on and tag it under their deck lines. As it is already there a quick tow is fast and simple without having to repack a tow pack at sea.

Anything is better than nothing; but you must know what ever you have. If you can spin off a one handed slip knot quickly with hands as cold as they get where ever you are, a bit of strong floating rope is fine. My favorite length is 30 feet, my 50 foot tow line is slip knotted to that length.

Good luck, hope it is cozy there.