towing a canoe behind a motor boat

I once saw a photo of a rope tow set-up for pulling a canoe behind a motorboat. It attatched to the stern of the canoe, had two lines that came from the rear, up both sides of the canoe. These two lines were then connected somewhere near the bow of the canoe, with one line then going on to attatch to the tow boat. The idea I think was so that the force on the canoe would come from the rear, with the two lines keeping the canoe tracking straight. (I once tried towing our old town canoe by just tying the line straight from the grab handle on the bow of the canoe, but the canoe quickly swamped and I ended up pulling the tow rope though the plastic grab handle on the bow)

Has anyone heard of such a tow rope that works for towing a canoe behind a motorboat? If so, could you lead me in the right direction for finding one? Thanks for any assistance you could provide.

towing a canoe
You can make a bridle a lot simpler. Use a rope tied just behind the bow, extend it long enough to go under the canoe and up the other side, and tie it in the same location. Make it long enough that when you pull on the loop it will just come out of the water. You want it to raise the bow slightly when you tow it. I tie mine to sides of the bow seat, that way the loop is just forward enough to lift the bow when pulled.

More detail
Ewade gave you the correct answer. Rig up a bridle. The theory that makes the bridle work is this: You want the actual attachement point to be on the bottom of the boat, right on the centerline. This helps to raise the bow when towing power is applied, but far more important, if the boat DOES get a little sideways, it won’t flip. If you use ANY kind of attachement point that is above the water line, the boat will do two things if, no, WHEN it gets a little sideways. It will (1) try to turn even more sideways, and (2) roll over and swamp once that sideways action has slung the boat pretty far off track (which happens pretty quickly). Even worse, if you are applying a bit of power when this happens, you are likely to break whatever part of the boat you tied your rope to.

Further refinement
I remember from my Boy Scout /Red Cross canoeing books this trick:

Tie a loop in the tow rope just large enough to slip over the bow of the canoe with some free play. Loop should be big enough to position the knot under the stem (as outlined above) with the loop near the front seat. Jam a paddle under the front seat, OVER the loop, and person riding holds the paddle’s grip. If something goes wrong, pulling the paddle out will release the loop.


There has to be a trick. I recently was
on a weekend float of the Little Pee Dee and we had two people in one-man skeeter boats with trolling motors and there was a very large canoe that was grossly overloaded with gear (and beer). The plan was to tow the canoe behind one of the skeeter boats. What a disaster. Whatever the trick is, we did not use it because that canoe had a mind of its own. We finally were able to corral it by two of us paddling beside it and using our wake and paddles to keep it more or less going in a straight line. It was definitely and adventure and something that I will never be part of again. ALthough, once we arrived at our camp site (Cedar Creek), it was worth it to have copious amounts of iced-down beer.