Similar to Peter in many ways…
– Last Updated: Mar-30-05 10:09 AM EST –
...so I'll borrow some of his text.
1 - I've towed quite a few times, though mostly in training and practice. I've done short and long tows, contact tows, rafted tows, tandem tows, stabilizing tows and emergency tows of paddlers in shore breaks (including a few real rescues).
2 - I've towed over a mile on occasion, but most tows have been considerably shorter.
3 I wear a belt rig and also have a 3' contact tow on my foredeck lines at all times.
4 - Northwater quick release rescue tow rig, heavily modified. I use the original bag, rope and float, but a custom belt, shock absorber and my own carbiners. My mods can be seen at:
5 - The rolldown bag is easy to restuff. The old models require modifications, but the new ones look good.
6 - ~50' of 1/4 inch polypropylene.
7 - Braided floating line.
8 - Every spring in training. Occasional use during the rest of the season keeps me in practice.
9 - Always carried on the ocean, though on RARE occasions I don't actually wear it (calm water with skilled partners and very little chance of needing it). The contact tow is always on my deck lines, right next to my spare paddle.
10 - I really dislike the quick release buckles found on all commercial tow rigs. I wear tow rigs with the bag in the front and the buckle digs into my back and spray skirt during laybacks. I replaced the belt on my rig with one with an "Industrial Strength" Velcro closure with a 12" overlap. It's very secure and is much more comfortable than a buckle. I also use a foam ball (from a pet store) on the release end, rather than a hard plastic ball, for the same reasons that I got rid of the buckle.
Shock absorbers are important and I would not use a waist mounted rig without one. The difference in comfort is dramatic.
Towing a swimmer in breaking waves really sucks! Towing a swimmer on flat water is nearly as bad.