Towing means to attach two or more kayaks together and tow one or more in one direction in case of emergency or as assistance to a sick or weak paddler.
On the market there are numerous towing lines you can buy. Nice hip belts with panic release and a pocket containing a swimming line with shock damper and karabin that floats.
Very nice and they do what they shall, however I find with all the seakayaking equipment available, this is an item you don't need to buy and that doesn't need to be fancy.
I personally use 5m of elastic line 4mm in diameter. Each end contains a loop that is closed by plastic interlocking pieces you find on each backpack. One loop is large enough for your body and one is quite small which is attached to a bow line, toggle, deck line or similar.
This towing line is very light, small, cheap and also does what it shall. I never experienced any problems or need for more.
But no matter what you use, the towing line shall at least provide you with these attributes:
- You can detach the line on both ends
- It has some elastic component to reduce shocks to your body from the towed kayaks movements.
A towing line shall always be available, so have it in your life vest, in your cockpit or on the deck.
I don't recommend to have necessary equipment in your cockpit as you have to open your sprayskirt to reach it and you might loose it when you capsize and swim.
The best method to tow a kayak is to attach one end of the towing line to your body as low as possible to the kayak OR if your kayak is equipped with such, on a towing anchor point on your kayaks deck.
The second end shall first and foremost be attached to the other kayaks bow line.
The bow line is a line which has a fast point on the kayaks bow and is fasted in front of the cockpit in a way that the paddle can loosen it quickly, e.g. by knot on slip.
Thus the towed paddle can detach himself from the tow if necessary.
Otherwise you use the deck lines, toggles or similar to attach to bow line to the second kayak.
Fast Tow without line
If it has to go fast, just push a swimmer out of a dangerous area, e.g. shipping lane or surf zone with your kayak and deal with the kayak later.
It is much easier if the swimmer can lift the legs our of the water.
However with seakayaks designs, the swimmer shall not lift himself out of the water as he will pull the low volume bow into the water which makes the rescuing kayak instable.
Single tow means you use one towline and tow another kayak, attaching the line as described above.
Of course the second paddle needs to be able to paddle himself while you paddle in front.
See assisted tow if this is not possible.
Double or V tow
This means you are three kayaks, tow towing a third one.
You can each use a towline or attach one towline to the tow towing kayaks with the middle part in the third kayaks bow line, deck line or similar.
This is a term for three or more paddlers towing one or more kayaks.
Practically it gets complicated with more than three paddlers towing one kayak, but if necessary you could tow in parallel or attach one towline between two towing kayaks and then one from the second towing kayak to the one needing assistance.
This arrangement you could build up a second or even a third time if you have to tow a raft, see Assisted tow.
I don't recommend such practices (and never had to use this) as all these lines will do you more harm than help.