There are several reasons for towing when sea kayaking:

  • Getting a sick or injured paddler back to shore.
  • Assisting a paddler who is in trouble on the water by towing them away from danger.
  • When a paddler has lost or broken their paddle.
  • Assisting a slower paddler, especially if the group is under time pressure e.g. from impending darkness or a storm.

In an emergency situation the best towing method is the one that gets the paddler away from the source of danger quickly.

About Towing  Single line tow  Assisted tow  'V' Tow   Safety Common Mistakes


The safety risks when towing include:

  • Catching fingers or equipment in the tow line.
  • Cutting hands with the sharp edges of the carabiner. 
  • Using a tow line with a narrow diameter can result in the tow line cutting someone’s hand.
  • Entanglement, for example if the line is not secured properly after use.

Towing should not occur in the surf zone unless absolutely necessary. If a paddler is in trouble in the surf zone, it is often best that they swim to shore and their kayak is recovered later.

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