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Best way to pack a 50 foot tow rope


Brian McCormack
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I recently purchased a 50 foot tow rope and started  practicing and re-packing it.  Unfortunately,  my packing is only 50/50, since half the time the rope gets tangled and doesn't fully deploy. 

Any recommendations or videos on the best way to pack it?  I tried stuffing it like a WW throw bag, coiling it,  and laying it out.   Neither worked particularly well. 

The tow rope is a NRS Tow kit. 

 

Any good advice is welcomed. 

 

Brian

 

 

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Since we normally don’t need 50’ of line for typical towing, I woul recommend starting out by daisy-chaining to shorten it. This is done by creating a loop in the line a couple of feet from the carabiner, then reaching through that loop and pulling another loop of line, then repeat, repeat, repeat. Each loop should be loose enough to pull apart easily, but not too big as to become sloppy.  Once your loops get up to the bag, you want to create a securing method that will hold the loops from pulling out but still allow you to release quickly if you need to lengthen the line. Most setups I have seen utilize another carabiner in the bag, but you can experiment with other quick-release methods and equipment if you desire. 
 

As far as packing away, a figure-eight pattern inside the bag helps the line come out of the bag with minimal binding. Having the line daisy-chained makes it that much more manageable too. 

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Rob is right on the money with his suggestions. I typically daisy-chain my rope to a length of no more than 30', which is plenty for towing under most conditions.

My tow rig has evolved considerably over the years and I've modified it considerably:

  • The daisy chain clips to a rope-and-bungee shock absorber (rope spiraled around heavy bungee cord), which makes towing much more comfortable. The clip also allows me to shorten the deployed rope by throwing a quick overhand loop in it and clipping it to the end of the shock absorber.

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  • I also have a short tow rope that exits out the opposite side of the bag from the long tow.

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  • The carabiners for the short and long tow ropes clip to loops I added on each side of the tow belt (the loops have plastic tubing inside the webbing to stiffen them). That way I can quickly grab a short or long tow as needed. Quickdraws provide good handles for the 'biners and prevent them from slipping through the loops on the tow belt (some of the pics were taken before I installed the quickdraws).

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  • I have a shorter contact tow clipped to my deck rigging, so I can deploy it instantly in emergency situations. It also serves to hold two or three boats together when rafting, by passing it through the deck rigging of the adjacent boats. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it handy.  BTW, I use cord and sliders for deck rigging, not bungee.

 

  • I buck the trend of using a quick-release buckle and use a belt I made with ~12" of Velcro as the closure. It's very secure, but releases quickly and it's more comfortable than having a big plastic buckle digging into your gut as you tow. I prefer to keep the tow rope low - rather than up on my PFD - as it reduces the strain on my torso when the towed boat tugs on the line. The pic shows the original belt which had a separate quick release for the bag, which I never used. The new belt is much simpler.

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I won’t disparage Brian’s or anyone else’s gear modifications, but I would recommend that you consider holding off on permanent modifications until you are familiar with how the equipment performs for YOU and how YOU might want to modify it.  I have done several modifications to mine that others might question, but they work for me.  I have one modification that I did early on because someone I looked up to suggested it, and have regretted it ever since.  The more “undoable” a modification, the more you need to decide if it is the right decision.  Just some food for thought.

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5 hours ago, rfolster said:

I won’t disparage Brian’s or anyone else’s gear modifications, but I would recommend that you consider holding off on permanent modifications until you are familiar with how the equipment performs for YOU and how YOU might want to modify it.  I have done several modifications to mine that others might question, but they work for me.  I have one modification that I did early on because someone I looked up to suggested it, and have regretted it ever since.  The more “undoable” a modification, the more you need to decide if it is the right decision.  Just some food for thought.

It would be interesting to know what modifications you did and why they did or did not work for you…

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3 hours ago, prudenceb said:

It would be interesting to know what modifications you did and why they did or did not work for you…

Ok, well.......  I was told early on that having a "terminal loop", where something like the bow of a boat could get caught and trapped, was a bad idea, so it was suggested that the D-Ring on the belt be snipped so that the carabiner could pull loose if needed.

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However, I found that the carabiner pulled loose of the D-Ring too easily, and was just falling off constantly, so had to repair the D-Ring with a length of shrink tubing.  To this day, I don't think I have had any entrapment issues with the rope connected to the belt.

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The repair has held up over time, only having to replace the heat shrink tube once after maybe five years?  Although it holds just fine, just the fact of knowing the cut is there is always tickling the back of my brain anytime I pull or reconnect the carabiner. Apparently though, it doesn't bother me enough to replace it!!

 

Other modifications made:
 - Reattached rope inside bag with a little extra line to hold a retainer carabiner which holds the daisy chain (note size of daisy chain links)
 - Removed float (found that it caught on deck lines.  Also, I never leave the line in the water long enough to justify needing the float.
 - Secured tow carabiner using stitching, whipping thread, and heat shrink tubing
 - Don't recall if the carabiner is original, but like the attachment eyelet, and quality stainless steel has held up for nearly 10 years without any issues at all

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I am realizing that the retainer carabiner in the bag was just tied, and not secured like the tow carabiner.  I don't think the retainer carabiner is as critical, and if it came off, that would not create potentially consequential situation unlike if the primary tow carabiner came loose.  With that said, I might go back sometime and redo that connection.  Maybe!

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Again, Rob is on target as far as making mods based on how you use your tow rig. For me, it was an evolutionary process that coincided with training and actual emergency use. Your NRS rig is already incorporates some of them and some others we suggested may not be desirable, or even possible. The use of a heavy-duty plastic carabiner is interesting; the stresses on a tow rig are not very high and climbing or marine carabiners are serious overkill. The only thing that concerns me is whether you can open the gate with heavy gloves on.

An interesting side note is that I sent pics and descriptions of several mods I made to Northwater (the manufacturer of the rig I use). A few months later I noticed that they had incorporated several of those mods in new rigs they introduced. They never said boo to me about it or even acknowledged my email. I realize that they may have gotten similar suggestions from others or developed mods in-house, but it would at least been nice if they thanked me for the suggestions. 😋

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