Do you Tether?

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Do you Tether?

Postby Griffd » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:38 pm

Since it has been a long depressing winter (except for those of you who are skiers), I would like to pose a question that is certain to generate some controversy and get us thinking about being on the water again.

Question: should you ever tether yourself to a sea kayak?

This question is directed at those of you who paddle solo or perhaps with one other paddler, and have found yourself in extreme weather conditions.

For example, Bea posted a trip back in August, 2013, talking about her and Bob crossing the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal from Wing’s Neck into Buzzards Bay while fighting a strong current and winds. Had one, or both of them, capsized, and lost contact with their kayaks, a beautiful day on the water could have turned hazardous.

If you choose to reply, please be specific.

Also, if anyone does have experience with tethering themselves to a kayak, I would be interested in hearing what method you use…. i.e., coiled leash, straight leash, PFD quick release attachment, etc.



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Re: Do you Tether?

Postby norm » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:30 am


You should take up skiing. It's great!

I have thought a little about tethering but have never been out in bad enough conditions alone to really consider doing it. I think most of the people in this group would choose to stay off the water if they were alone and the conditions were bad enough to think about a tether. You might not get much debate or commentary here.

Your example about Bob and Bea is a good one though. It was a case where it would have been difficult for one person to help the other if the boat was separated from the swimmer. In that case, you would have to rescue the swimmer first and then it would be difficult or potentially impossible to catch up with a drifting kayak with a swimmer in tow or on the rear deck.

I'm curious to hear people's thoughts on this tether subject also.

I think you would need to have whatever tether device you rig up prepared in advance and know what you would want to attach it to on the boat and your body. A quick release would be important too. I have started regularly mounting a contact tow system on my front deck. I have not needed it for a contact tow yet, but it has come in handy for rafting up 2 or 3 boats as you may have seen in my Florida Bay pictures. I used it in an emergency situation once also, but not to perform the tow. I believe the system I have might be usable as a tether if one became necessary. It could attach to a deck line or bungie and to my PFD side straps. It has a quick release buckle on it too.
Here is the one I have:
I normally strap it to my front deck for easy, quick access. I learned about this device from Briggsy years ago and have since seen others using this and similar contact tow devices.

Thanks for starting the discussion.


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Re: Do you Tether?

Postby noseykate » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:26 pm


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Re: Do you Tether?

Postby Griffd » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:02 pm

OK .... one of you obviously read my suggestion about being specific with your reply (I'm kidding here).

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Re: Do you Tether?

Postby Johnysmoke » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:09 pm

Surf kayakers use a seat belt to buckle themselves into the boat, but that's a totally different animal. It means you have an additional step to the wet exit, which can be difficult if you're getting thrashed.
I'd be hesitant to tether myself to an 18 foot boat getting worked in water I can't stay up right in to begin with. If my roll is failing then most likely I can't maintain a grip on the boat, unless it was some random wave that knocked me down. If I were to use a tether I'd probably just clip my tow line into the deck line where I can reach it from the cockpit, but again if it's nasty enough to make me swim I'm now connected to a 500 pound missile dragging me through the water by the waist. Not conditions I'd be able to reenter a kayak in anyways, not to mention the risk of getting tangled. I'd be more likely to get out of there and look for a different place to cross, or wait for a better weather window to make the crossing. Much better to use good judgment rather than relying on a random piece of equipment to keep me safe.

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