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Throwing A Line And Other Rope Tricks

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This is one skill that every crew member should learn, earlier rather than later. The rationale for doing so stems from the simple fact that it is not always possible for a crew member to free themselves up to throw the rope that another crew member is responsible for

It only takes a few minutes to learn, a few tosses to perfect, and, like riding a bike, the technique is almost never forgotten, though, quite often when time is very short, the thrower must remind themselves not to overlook taking the few seconds that are required to make the necessary preparatory coils and to throw it correctly.

To throw a line, coil it in one hand, then, divide the coils between the hands paying attention to not intermingle the coils. After gripping the bitter end, ’tween a couple fingers, throw one of the coils, then, quickly release the coil from the other hand. When releasing the rope in this manner, the rope from the first hand will carry the second set of coils with it. After a few tosses it will probably be discovered that accuracy to within a foot or two can easily be achieved.

The bitter end can be belayed, instead of gripping it with a hand, but, in many instances this limits not only the position of the thrower, it often makes the throw more awkward. It also reduces the length of rope available for throwing.

The above technique is the one to use when you need to lay the line out straight toward a target. But, when the line needs to remain in a loop, when tossing it over a piling for example, the same approach is used, only each end of the rope remains gripped in a hand (or one is cleated), with the bight thrown over the target.

No matter how accurately a line is thrown, do not expect success if the rope being thrown is too short. For most boats in the recreational range, “docking lines” shorter than 25 feet will often make the person trying to catch the line look foolish; do them a favor, instead, throw ropes that are 30 to 40 feet long or longer.

ROLLING HITCH: If you could know only one knot, which should it be? Well, on our boat it is the Rolling Hitch. This is the one knot that can be used for just about any job on a boat that requires the use of a knot, so, if a crew member only has enough energy to learn one knot, this is the one that we insist they learn. With it, they can secure docklines or attach a snubber to the anchor rode.

SNUBBER BRAID: When a rope is too thick to allow a rolling hitch to grab, putting a snubber braid in the end of the line will solve this problem. In fact, a Rolling Hitch tied with a snubber braid and snugged up tightly, usually comes with a manufacturer’s guarantee that it will not slip or slide.

To make a snubber braid, put on a whipping approximately 24 inches from the end of the rope, then, unlay the strands back to this whipping. Divide up the strands into three groups, then, braid these three groups back together like braiding a girl’s hair. Put in one or two whippings to hold everything together and trim to suit.