I recently wrote a brief article on one version of a Cross Over Contact Tow system. Although it has some real positive points, one negative aspect of the Crossover System is the lack of quick release. This article provides a look at an alternative contact tow set-up that is solves the quick release issue. Thanks go to Phil Hadley for showing me this system.

Parts:

  1. Stainless Karabiner x 1 (must NOT have ‘teeth’ where the gate closes as this can snag rope)
  2. Thin cord – over 2x the width between deck lines on your cockpit
  3. Whipping cord and needle

Construction:

Firstly measure your cord. This needs to be 2 times the distance between the the deck lines directly in front of the cockpit PLUS enough cord for the whipping the end of the line through the karabiner as well as enough extra cord at the other end to tie the quick release knot.

Pass one end of the cord through the karabiner and stitch/whip the line. Also ensure the other end of the line is melted to prevent fraying.

In Use:

  1. Clip the karabiner onto the deck line on one side of the kayak.
  2. With the other end of the line, tie a ‘Highwayman’s Hitch’ on the same deck line, next to the clipped karabiner
  3. Tucked the middle of the line under the opposite deck line

Quick Release Contact Tow System

Quick Release Contact Tow System

Karabiner & Highwayman's Hitch

Karabiner & Highwayman's Hitch

Doubled End Tucked Under Deck Line

Doubled End Tucked Under Deck Line

When a contact tow is required, approach the towee’s boat so it is on the correct side of your boat – ie: the sure you have the karabiner/highwayman’s hitch set up on. The karabiner can be unclipped from the deck line and clipped onto the towee’s deck lines. The doubled end of the contact tow tucked under the deck lines will pull free as you do this allowing the full length of the tow line to be used.

If a problem arises, simply pull the end of the highwayman’s hitch knot to quick release the tow.

Pros:

  1. Quick release
  2. Small outlay on equipment
  3. Very lightweight and small to carry

Cons:

  1. Need to learn Highwayman’s knot
  2. Set up requires you to, ideally, approach towee’s boat from one side

Quick Release Contact Tow Deployed

Quick Release Contact Tow Deployed

Clip From Under Deck Line

Clip From Under Deck Line

Pull To Release Tow

Pull To Release Tow

Summary:

This is a nice little system and once you have learn’t how to tie a highwayman’s hitch is very quick to set-up. I have a slight concern about a potential situation where the cord could end up pulling across your body if you had to deploy it quickly to a boat on the wrong side and would like to experiment with it further to explore this issue.

Highwayman’s Hitch

This video demonstrates how to tie the highwayman’s hitch.