Safety gear that we bring every time we launch our sea kayaks includes a contact tow.
A contact tow is a short tow line set up to perform a wide variety of functions. It is attached to the deck lines in front of your cockpit, where it can be easily reached. It should connect quickly and simply with wide gate stainless steel carabiners. Being able to vary the length of the contact tow line allows you to tow different length boats. As with all towing systems, some method of quick release is essential. A contact tow can be used to tow short distances; it can also be used to bring a boat to a swimmer, which is easier than towing a swimmer to their boat.
On a recent multi-day trip, one of our group decided to try a little surfing, resulting in a capsize close to breaking waves and rocks. Employing a contact tow helped to bring both the boat and swimmer out of the danger zone before getting the victim back into his boat.
“What do I do with my paddle when performing an assisted rescue?”
Most paddlers on our courses have asked us this. Consider rigging your contact tow with a non-locking carabiner large enough to accommodate a paddle shaft. NRS carries more than one of this kind. Your contact tow can then double as a paddle leash while you’re doing a rescue. Just clip your paddle on and drop it in the water. It will remain next to your boat until you retrieve it.