Tow Ropes/ Grab Cleats

This is somewhat of a forwarded question… have a friend who is a longtime WW paddler who moved to a new sea kayak last year and mulling over options re a tow rope setup. Because of the WW background, she already has the habit of reaching back to release a tow rope from a cleat (and a great roll). So she likely has as quick a release from a deck-mounted grab cleat as others would have from a belt.

Has anyone mounted a grab cleat (and guide) for the rope on their sea kayak, and if so where did you place them (the new sea kayak is a “pointy ended” one - Necky Chatham).

Thanks much, Celia

I Am Surprised…
most white water folks use a short tow from a quick release belt. Can’t say I have ever seen a cleat set up on a white water boat. You don’t want to be fudging around behind you while going down a rapid.


Did that, once.
Hi Celia, I used to have that cleat system on my Perception Pirrouette (I’m now dating myself to the whitewater community - s’ok I paddle a much shorter playboat now). When I moved on boatwise I moved to a short bungee tether like Sing mentioned, much easier. For your freinds Chatam I’d probably recommend that she go with a waist or low on the pfd style tow rope. The Chatam has a raised stern and she might find that her deck mount rig might be occasionally caught by the tip of the stern or the grabloop. At least there is no rudder on the boat to snag up on. I’d probably recommend a stuffable bag style like the Wildwasser Touring Tow rope or the same worn on an Astral 300 vest that has the tow belt built onto the vest (just happens to be the right size for that bag - find another use for the belt that comes with the tow rope) Also she won’t have to puncture her boat next to the dayhatch to set cleats into the deck. Always nice not to have to drill into your boat.

Looking forward to Ballston Lake practice in a couple weeks.


Useful Clarification
Friend was doing major WW kayaking 30 years ago, so the grab cleat thing may have changed since then. Certainly the boats had more real estate than now. This is useful info in itself.

On hitting the stern, that actually is her primary concern since she is used to very flat back boats. She is only an inch or so taller than me (5’5" or 6") and the Chatham 18 doesn’t have the lowest profile in the world on someone our size, so a belt mounted system may create the same issue. Thought is that mounting a guide towards the stern may reduce hitting it? Or not so?

Thanks for the replies!

(PS - Which Thursday are you figuring on coming up? I was planning to make it whenever it seemed there’d be people I’d like to connect with. My last pool session was in early February and we didn’t make it into the ones in March where I would have had a chance to get upside down - between time lapse and and suddenly cold water I figure I’ll look like a complete disaster the first session, so might as well have good company for the entertaining mess.)

I plan on messing up frequently, Jed has shown me the value of doing so! Hope it helps you to have some company!


A couple of points
I really question the utility and safety of PFD mounted tow rigs. Wearing the tow that high places undue stress on the paddler, due to the extra leverage it creates. Such rigs are also difficult to share with other paddlers, when the need arises. Waist mounted rigs are better in both regards.

I’ve found that the ability to re-stow the tow line quickly and securely is really valuable under the kind of conditions one is likely to be towing in (I don’t consider cramming the rope into your PFD to be anything more than an emergency expedient). That’s hard to do when the bag is on the back of your PFD or on the side with a rear-facing opening. It’s hard to beat Northwater waist mounted tow rigs in term of re-stowing the rope. The large, roll-down bags swallow a lot of rope in a hurry and hold it securely.

I’ll come watch

  • No pool session in April or May? I think there may still be some openings.


Pool Session
I probably typed badly again, and had dates messed up so didn’t realize I actually do have one early pool session the night April 6 (and in early May). But at most one of these may be before the first Ballston Lake evening. Last time I went in after an 8 week layoff I had a really good session, but it took 30 minutes of repeating basic skills to get that old familiar feeling back with herself (the LV). That was a lot more comfy to do in 70 plus degree water than anything outside in early May…

As I recall there was a canoe that needed sinking.