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What's Drifting

  • Fall on the Waccamaw
    Continuing my focus on excellent Fall paddle destinations we now take a virtual tour of one section ... read more
  • Onto the Black
    Continuing my Fall paddle series I would like to take you on a virtual tour of the Black River The B... read more
  • Feels Like Fall
    It s starting to feel like Fall October 1st arrived and it was as if a seasonal switch had been flip... read more

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Tow Boat

There are a couple of pieces of gear I always have on my person while paddling. One is a PFD of course, and the other is a tow/throw bag. For a few years I didn't carry a tow bag with me. I did carry a length of rope in a dry bag, which was used a few times to attach my self to another kayak. .The tow bag resembles a fanny pack, but is stuffed with about 20 ft. of rope, the end of which has a carabineer attached to it. Once you strap it on, it's easy to deploy when needed. The question is, when do you use it? I try not to advertise the fact that I carry a tow bag. If the group assumes I'm wearing a fanny pack, hey..I know it's no kind of fashion statement. It's not that I don't mind towing another boater, in fact, I do it gladly.  The bag does come in handy when a kayaker tires out and needs an assist. Some folks gladly take me up on a tow. Others..not so much. If I see some one struggling, I'll sometimes offer a preemptive tow. Some take me up on it, while others prefer to go it on their on.  If the situation is hazardous, I'll attach the tow rope without asking or offering. Recently, while paddling a section of the Black River, a first time kayaker was headed right for a strainer,( a log or tree lying partially submerged in the water). It looked like a roll over waiting to happen, so I quickly paddled over and deployed the bag. Hastily paddling away, the rope snapped tight and she almost fell in line behind my boat. Almost..but not quite. Swinging back to her left she was headed for a sideways collision with the log. I reached around the back and frantically reeled the rope in, pulling her back in line just in time to avoid the log. Luckily, I rarely use the bag for those sorts of circumstances. Usually, as the Bard famously said, to tow or not to tow? That is the question.


The Latest

Continuing my focus on excellent Fall paddle destinations, we now take a virtual tour of one section of the Waccamaw River. The Waccamaw, like its brethren, the Black and Lumber, is a meandering black...


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Experience first hand what it's like to kayak with the Expedition Organization.

Scott Schmolesky has been kayaking for over 20 years and has been an instructor the last ten. Most recently he started the outfitter and guide service, The Expedition Organization which offers guided kayak programs in Southeastern, North Carolina. His paddling adventures have taken him through Australia, Europe, and throughout the U.S. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can read more of his articles here.

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