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What's Drifting

  • Out With the Old...
    Here we are at the closing of another year Many people I suspect are ready to put 2017 behind them E... read more
  • Just Chill
    At what temperature is it too cold to go paddling The answer of course is subjective It all depends ... read more
  • On Black Friday
    It was Black Friday and I was far from scoring any discounted shopping specials I was kayak camping ... 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.

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Here we are at the closing of another year. Many people, I suspect, are ready to put 2017 behind them. Even if you don't believe in making New Year's resolutions, most everyone approaches the new year...

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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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