using whitewater safety gear for sea kayaking

SarahHargrave

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Jun 3, 2021
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Halfmoon Bay
Hello. I am heading to the Broken Group with a group of four in July. This will be my first multiday sea kayaking trip, though I have some canoe tripping and lots of whitewater kayak experience (though this was mostly 10+ years ago).

What I am wondering about is trying to make use of some of my whitewater safety gear to save on purchasing safety gear specific to sea kayaking. I am specifically wondering if I could safely use my quick release tow belt on my PFD in combination with my throw bag in case of needing to tow someone who may be injured or exhausted. I've towed my young kid (who was paddling a small kids boat) with my tow belt as is but that only worked because her boat was so small and light. I understand that tow belts for sea kayaks are worn around the waist (separate from the PFD) and are much longer than the little pigtail dealie I have. Could I somehow use the length of rope from my throw bag to lengthen my existing system? Or am I setting myself up for entanglement?

For reference, below is what my gear looks like (can of pop included to give rough scale of size of throw bag).

Thanks for your thoughts.

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JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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3,054
Location
Victoria, BC
the idea would be to stow the throw bag on the deck,not attached to your person/PFD?
When you needed to tow, you could clip your pigtail from the back of your PFD on to the throw bag bottom rope loop.
If you add a carabiner (and perhaps a foam float) to the end of the throw bag rope, it would be set to clip on to the 'victim' boat.

For towing, it's sort of the reverse of a throw bag. Throw bag, I hold keep the rope end and throw the bag.
Towing I keep the bag and clip the rope end to the 'victim' boat, paddle away and let the rope pay out.

If eventually you get a different PFD (with more pockets for radios, snacks, etc etc) you could opt for one without the wrap-around strap; that would work with a separate tow belt. But with the PFD you have, why not use that strap with the quick release? Flipping open the buckle should release the pigtail and get you separated from the tow. That's floating rope, and the bag may have a disc of foam in the bottom (or you could add one), so you should be able to retrieve it from the water.
BTW, it's often convenient to have a way to use all of the tow line or a shorter section. But get the basic setup working first.

How long is that throw line?
 

Peter-CKM

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Dec 1, 2011
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637
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San Francisco, CA
The fact that yours would connect to your PFD as opposed to around your waist is not an issue. The waist belt style is there because of its quick release ability (ability to drop tow line if an emergency occurs), which it looks like you can do with the rescue harness.

Connecting the throw line in tandem with your pigtail should work. John's thoughts on how to connect sound very good.

Note - Canada has a rope requiremnet for small boats. X meters of floating rope or something like that. Never seen it checked for nor do I think it really adds much safety wise ovr what we would otherwise carry, but might be goot to check to seee if your system would meet requirement.
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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854
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Bend OR USA
In feet, I believe the Canadian length is 50 ft and the USA length requirement is 30 or 35 ft. Some people put an figure-eight loop or alpine loop in their line so they can clip a 50 ft line shorter. At first, I thought the Canadian requirement was for a tow rope but in other posts in this forum there was a discussion that they actually required a throw rope - maybe translation differences between English and French.

That said, I’ve never been checked for a rope - tow or throw - of any kind. I used to carry a tow rope but on reflection of where/when I’d need it, it seemed the throw variety would be handier. Once the recipient attaches the throw line it becomes a tow line.

I only used a tow rope once - more as a proof-of-concept exercise. But I was in one situation where I wished my paddling companions had one they could have tossed me.

Life presents challenges. I can paddle with others who have no interest in “safety” while requesting that mythical “adventure without risk” experience. Or I can paddle alone - upping the risk level for more “walk in the park” endeavors.

You should stow your throw bag so you can get to it if necessary, But one of the attractions of the Broken Group is it pretty much “protected” waters. And the distances don’t appear so long that someone would tire. Oh the other hand, you are used to being propelled by gravity/flow, not so much your own steam :)
 

Sparky961

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Jul 22, 2017
Messages
26
Location
BC
For the masochist, here's the full Canadian regulation:


A friendlier summary is in this PDF (skip to page 16 and make sure to carefully read all footnotes):


But for the rest of us, the technical language regarding rope for most sea kayaks is:

One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long

The justification for this specifically vague requirement in a sea kayak is open to debate. Lots of different setups make you legal but some are more useful than others.
 

YYJ Paddler

Paddler
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
20
Location
Victoria, BC
I was asked if I had a buoyant rope by an RCMP boat in Ucluelet harbour - just after he had watched me unclip from the kayak that I was towing :). He also asked why I didn't have a paddle float, which isn't required.
 
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