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Old 12-15-2005   #1
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
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Simple Z-drag

Some good information on this link but scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the diagram of the Z-drag. It is a very simple version of the Z-drag for all of you who have wondered what it is but were afraid to ask. There are many versions of this technique but this is the absolute basic idea.

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Old 12-15-2005   #2
WhiteLightning's Avatar
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Even more simple- in a pinch, you can clip back through the biner on the boat (or pinned object) instead of a knot with biner hanging half way, if you have access to it.

So instead of boat -> anchor on land -> biner on knot on the rope -> pull

You can do boat biner-> anchor -> back to boat biner -> pull

given a distance that works with the amount of rope needed, and access to the boat.

Sorry if that confuses things, I'll try to see if I can post a drawing of what I am talking about.

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Old 12-15-2005   #3
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3rd grader version of simple very dirty Z-drag

Can be done carrying 1 rope (if short enough distance) 2 biners, and some sort of webbing or something to attach around anchor.

Ideally, you would have prussics, pulleys, spectra rope, extra ropes to add more mechanical advantage systems, extra biners, and so on, however you can still work without all of this.

Be careful with non-locking biners which can be an entrapment hazard.

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Old 12-15-2005   #4
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Both of those are extremely basic z-drags, but show the principle well.

When using biners instead of pulleys some of the mechanical advantage is lost to friction.

I prefer to use prussiks so you can pull as far as needed, sliding the prussiks up the rope and pulling again.

I also prefer to use another pulley at the anchor so the pulling can be done parallel to the river instead of perpendicular to it.

The set-ups shown also have no braking device, to hold the line where you pulled it to. A figure "8" device is typically used on the anchor to perform braking via a second rope and prussik.

The "Z" can be repeated for even more pulling power, say for a wrapped raft.

Always stay on the upstream side of any rope!
A come-a-long is also a handy ay to unwrap a boat, although a bit heavy for a kayak, but easily carried on a raft.

A z-drag can also be use for getting a vehicle unstuck, dont ask me how I know this .

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Old 12-15-2005   #5
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Exactly, as I said, there are lots of ways to improve on the system by adding complexity. The basic principles remain the same. As Philbob mentioned, pullys can improve the effectiveness. The diagram I drew is to show that even if you are kayaking with the most minimal amount of rescue equipment, you can still make a Z drag. Also just to show what a Z-drag is to begin with.

In addition to automobiles, they work great for other applications. I've used one for raising and lowering a folded 120lb raft up to a 3rd story deck where I stored it that didn't have stairs. I'm sure there are mountaineering applications as well, but I'm not knowledgable on the subject.

Anyways, if you want to learn all the options (prussics, pulleys, 7:1 systems, and so on) for mechanical advantage systems, take a swiftwater rescue training course, and you'll learn all the details.
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Old 12-16-2005   #6
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I just had to mention that you are all underestimating the difference between pulleys vs plain biners. A 3:1 Z-drag is essentially rendered completely ineffective if you're just using biners and not pulleys. Biners with narrow angles cause an enormous amount of friction. You'd be better off boyscouting it off with 10 buddies. Moral: Invest in a real pin kit as a christmas present for all those that you kayak with. It'll run you about 30 bucks - well spent.
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Old 12-16-2005   #7
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If you don't have pulleys, you can also use double 'biners at each point to reduce the amount of friction of the sharp angles JC is talking about. Still not as good a pully, but better than single 'biner.
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Old 12-16-2005   #8
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Seattle, Washington
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or pick up petzl micro pulleys, which turn an oval biner into a pulley. No bearings, but a damn site better than just a biner.
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Old 12-16-2005   #9
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I agree. A pin kit is essential in your boat as well as having a back up kit.

Here is a biner that can function like a pulley:

Here are some pulley's that have worked really well for me in the past. And at $12 a piece, get 'ur self some.
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Old 12-16-2005   #10
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Yea, the simple picture of the Z-drag gives you the basics, but in practice you rarely can use that set up.

The problem with that simple picture is that the boat is close to shore. Normally the boat is in the middle of the creek/river. This leads to two problems: getting a pully hooked up to the boat and having enough rope to reach the boat and back.

In a normal situation, where the boat is in a current, it's hard to attach just one line to the boat and nearly impossible to get that second line in the biner on the boat.

Once you get one line to the boat, you take it to land. It's much easier then to set up the Z-drag by not going back to the boat, but setting up the second pulley by using a prusick cord on the rope to the boat.

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