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Thread: Heaving Line Weight

  1. #1
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    Default Heaving Line Weight

    Do folks have any recommendations for a ball/weight to use as a core for the monkey's fist at the end of a heaving line?

    I used a golf ball for the one I've currently got, which is a great size, but at the end of a length of 1/4" line the best I can manage to heave it is 50'. (Yes, I'm a wuss; let's skip that part.) It seems like maybe adding weight might help --maybe?

    What have you all used for a heaving line weight, and what do you recommend?

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Large spherical lead fishing weight.

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    DON'T. An armed monkey's fist is a deadly weapon. And you'll get plenty of distance if you make an underhand toss with the fist and at least half the line's coils.

    If you really must arm your fist, paint it orange. It's still an illegal weapon in the commercial sea world, but at least then whoever is on the receiving end has some warning.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Yep, a loaded monkey's fist is a huge no-no. Tossing a line with a weighted monkey's fist at the end from the deck of a ship can kill a longshoreman quick. Back in the days before everything was containers, if a seaman threw a messenger line with a weighted monkey's fist on it to the dock, the longshoremen would likely cut it off and have the union steward to lodge a complaint. While they make cute key fobs, there's really no purpose to a monkey's fist on the end of a heaving line. As Ian correctly says, a properly coiled line, divided in half, with the one half thrown underhand and the other half held, palm up in an open hand, should coil out and land exactly where you want it. Practice makes perfect. Use the weight of the thrown half of the coil to take the half coiled over your hand out where you want it.
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 06-17-2017 at 03:49 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    ^ what they said. Furthermore you want the line to float, not sink.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    Yep, a loaded monkey's fist is a huge no-no. Tossing a line with a weighted monkey's fist at the end from the deck of a ship can kill a longshoreman quick. Back in the days before everything was containers, if a seaman threw a messenger line with a weighted monkey's fist on it to the dock, the longshoremen would likely cut it off and have the union steward to lodge a complaint. While they make cute key fobs, there's really no purpose to a monkey's fist on the end of a heaving line. As Ian correctly says, a properly coiled line, divided in half, with the one half thrown underhand and the other half held, palm up in an open hand, should coil out and land exactly where you want it. Practice makes perfect. Use the weight of the thrown half of the coil to take the half coiled over your hand out where you want it.
    We were just doing this today at the beach. I would heave a line out to the kids, then pull them in. They'd swim out, I'd heave the line, then pull them back in.

    Great fun, and great practice.

    Peace,
    Robert

    P.S. I was tossing a 1/4 line about 15 meters with ease and accuracy. Well. Ballpark accuracy.

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I agree with all of the above re: weights. How much do you want to catch?

    Even a golf ball, I think, is less than sporting. Would you want a golf ball thrown at you?

    What I've used is a tennis ball. Quarter inch line, five bights per wrap, covers it well. It's not heavy. I've been hit with it, and neither filed a union grievance nor found it lethal. I used "Manila" poly that I found at Rope Warehose, and yes, it floats.
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    You can get throw weights full of lead shot from arborist shop/ suppliers. Like a hackey sack with a tying eye. Less impact.

    Like Ian said, they're not really necessary if you coil correctly and practice your throw for mooring situations. With the correct size line I can throw almost 100 feet horizontally. About half that vertically. I use them all the time to get my climbing lines into tree crowns.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I would absolutely *not* use a lead weight. As so many of you have pointed out, at that point the heaving line becomes a weapon. If was going to go that route, I might as well just use my sounding lead --sheesh! And yes, I want it to float. I had hoped there was something between a golf ball --not especially dangerous when wrapped in 1/4" nylon line-- and the dangerous "kosh" of a lead weight. In short, I didn't know if there was some standard for the application that I simply hadn't heard about.

    Side note: I tried a lacross ball (which floats, incidentally), but it's far too big and a little too dangerous. A hacky-sack sounds like a clever idea, depending on its size and heft.

    Yes, a coiled line is a good way to go --I'm pretty good with a coiled line, actually-- and I have been rather surprised at how much better a coiled line travels than this new monkey's fist. I suppose after decades of hearing, "oh! for a first-rate heaving line you really need a monkey's fist!" I had expected vast improvements to my throws once I had the monkey's fist. Not seeing those improvements, I suspected my flawed knowledge of heaving lines to be the culprit and so brought my question here.

    Seems more like I've been duped by yar lore. I'll just go back to my coiled line, maybe with a grommet of 1/2" spliced to the end of the 1/4" to make the terminus obvious and easily grabbed.

    Thank you all.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I didn't say this... but the lead weighted rubber ball out of a Baby Blake discharge pump is perfect.

    Don't ask me how I know this, because of course I don't use one...

    Commercially... in the past ten years I have had a container terminal chasing us because one crew member managed to put a monkey's fist through the windscreen of the linesmen's parked minibus (honestly! - and we had to pay up under the terminal contract!) and a tug hand knocked unconscious (we didn't pay - he wasn't wearing a hard hat).
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 06-18-2017 at 05:20 PM.
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    In the Navy, we used lead weighted monkey fists on the heaving lines for our submarine. The line had to carry a longer distance than on most pleasure boats. Plus, us swabbies were good at dodging the weights. The trick is to coil the heaving line so that it and the fist travel in a fair arc and the coil lays out smoothly. It is better to let the fist pass by and snag the heaving line over your arm.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I like the idea of the rubber-coated Baby Blake ball, but I haven't the first clue where to find one, and I might find I was as shy of using it as I am about using a plain piece of lead shot.

    I may make a lead-weighted line just to see what it can do, but I expect that living amongst pleasure craft, who might not know to dodge the fist and grab the line (as Jay suggests), or even in the chance encounter with something military --say, the Coast Guard-- where they might not be expecting a "live round" from a pleasure craft and thus not know to dodge, I'd do best to just stick with heaving a coil. As I said, I'm pretty good with that, I just expected that a monkey's fist would improve my game further.

    But I'm enjoying the discourse, so don't stop because I've got a tentative plan of action!

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Alex, use that silicon putty recipe I sent you and mould a thick layer around a dense core .
    http://www.chonday.com/Videos/protoputymake4
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Hey, that's not a bad idea...

    Thanks, Peter!

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    I like the idea of the rubber-coated Baby Blake ball, but I haven't the first clue where to find one, and I might find I was as shy of using it as I am about using a plain piece of lead shot.

    <SNIP>

    Alex
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    In the Navy, we used lead weighted monkey fists on the heaving lines for our submarine. The line had to carry a longer distance than on most pleasure boats. Plus, us swabbies were good at dodging the weights. The trick is to coil the heaving line so that it and the fist travel in a fair arc and the coil lays out smoothly. It is better to let the fist pass by and snag the heaving line over your arm.
    Jay
    The M-14 they use as a launcher also helps...
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Hi Guys- On larger vessels sometimes you need the money fist (not weighted) to help carry the heaving line far enough or into the wind. The objective is not for the shore end to be caught but rather sail past the line handler ashore. He does not catch it- he collect his end once the monkey fist is down beyond him. From the ship end, the heaver is not trying to hit the line handler ashore or get him to catch it. The objective is for the line to pass by and beside him, then he hauls the messenger or even the dock line ashore. my 2 cents/ Cheers/ JC ( I also have a line handling gun that shoots an 18" bronze rod!!!! ha ha))

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Thank you, Jim. Call me stingy, but £28 plus shipping seems a bit steep for building a heaving line.

    The M-14 they use as a launcher also helps...
    Well, yes, not to drag this conversation into the bilge, but I suppose I could put my M1A into service. Seems excessive for a 19' sloop, though.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I'm amazed at how many everyday boaters don't know how to toss a line. It is so easy to learn the split coil trick and works so well.

    Another useful trick; make your bow line just a little bit shorter than the distance from your bow cleat to your prop.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    A couple of geological ages ago, during basic seamanship training when I was a young officer in the Canadian Navy, part of the drill was making and practising using heaving lines. Back then the lines we used were braided nylon, about 3/16” diameter if I recall. The main issue was one of windage. That size of line was small enough to reduce windage yet strong enough to haul a messenger line across.
    In making the monkey’s fist, a small stainless steel nut, from a 3/8” or ½” bolt, was added to the centre of the monkey’s fist to give it added heft, but not enough to cause injury should it hit someone. The idea was, exactly as JamesCaird says, for the receiving person not to catch the line, but to let it fall on the jetty or deck and then to scoop it up. The technique was to first wet the line, to ensure it was supple. Then coil the line in easy coils maybe 18 inches long and take one turn of the end of the line around your left hand (if you’re right handed). Than split the coils in half so that one half rests on your open palm of the non-throwing hand and the other is in your throwing hand with the monkey’s fist hanging down. The throwing technique that was encouraged was side-arm. It’s easier to get distance that way but also accuracy.
    I remember after one training run in our frigate, when we were coming back to port, I had been bugging the petty officer of the foredeck party, to which I was attached, to let me throw the first heaving line for real. He agreed, but got nervous as we approached the other ship alongside the jetty where we were to raft up, as the wind had increased and was blowing offshore across the jetty, but I insisted I could do it. The skipper misjudged his approach, due to the wind, and brought the ship to a stop maybe 50 feet out, at which point he lost steerage way. When it was clear that the ship wasn’t going to get any closer, and in fact was starting to drift away, the order came to toss the heaving line, when by this time we were about 75 feet out. With a confidence borne of naiveté, I made the toss, the line soared in a shallow arc to hit the forward gun housing dead centre and dropped to the deck. Whether it was skill or luck, it was the perfect toss. The sailor on the other ship picked it up and hauled our messenger and then hawser across. We winched our ship in and made it look as if we had planned it that way. The skipper later sent down his compliments. We had saved him the embarrassment of having to go round again, with the whole squadron watching.
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I'm amazed at how many everyday boaters don't know how to toss a line. It is so easy to learn the split coil trick and works so well.
    True. And I've seen some spectacular failures. At least one of them involving not just the line but, as you tacitly caution about, the propellor. One of those moments where I'm glad I'm a spectator rather than a participant, but even being a spectator isn't that much fun.

    ...We had saved him the embarrassment of having to go round again, with the whole squadron watching.
    Great story!

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Alex, we used to carry a .45-70 line throwing gun on my destroyer (circa 1972) It was very effective at smashing the Chief
    Bosun's Mate coffee mug that he placed behind a stanchion on the receiving ship. It took quite some time for me to live that
    down.

    Rick

    (Thread drift apology)

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    What I need to do is rig this, perhaps Bucephalus's most extravagant toy, to throw a line:



    And yes, now we're talking *serious* thread drift. (Sorry folks.)

    Back to the topic: So far, short of finding myself a Baby Blake check ball, I like best the idea of deciding on the correct weight for a monkey's fist and encasing it in the silicone putty that Peter referenced.

    But mostly, I'll just continue heaving a coil. Safer for everyone involved, and I know I'm pretty good at it.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by AJZimm View Post
    The throwing technique that was encouraged was side-arm. It’s easier to get distance that way but also accuracy.
    'Zackly.

    Best,
    Chris
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Long time lurker here.

    Something I haven't seen mentioned is stitching a little sand bag onto the end of the heaving line. All of the heaving lines on the tall ship I crew on are done like this and part of the crew training is to let the line go past then step on it so it doesn't fall back into the water.

    I'd never considered trying to heave a line without a weighted end, perhaps a weight makes it a bit easier if you haven't practiced enough without one?

    Cheers,
    Rex

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Back to the original question -- on the boats that get discussed on this forum, how is 50' not enough distance? Even in my tall ship experience we very rarely had to toss that far, and on any boat under 40 feet, say, you can usually bring her to rest a foot from the dock, no heaving line necessary. I do like the bean bags or mini sand bags over the monkey's fist however. They don't bounce around when they land, and they are less prone to slide back under the weight of the suspended line before it's grabbed.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    What I need to do is rig this, perhaps Bucephalus's most extravagant toy, to throw a line:



    And yes, now we're talking *serious* thread drift. (Sorry folks.)

    Back to the topic: So far, short of finding myself a Baby Blake check ball, I like best the idea of deciding on the correct weight for a monkey's fist and encasing it in the silicone putty that Peter referenced.

    But mostly, I'll just continue heaving a coil. Safer for everyone involved, and I know I'm pretty good at it.

    Alex
    OH! Now that's just too cool, Alex! But I agree with both avoiding weighted throw lines (popular among whitewater rafters for some reason!?!) and using a sidearm toss to lay out a half-coil of line. Although I've not had to do more than hand a line off in longer than I can recall.
    Current is still ripping on the Columbia and with light winds a 3/4 mile run turned into a 45 minute enduro looking for current relief the whole way.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    The traditional Lyle Gun, any left-over shotgun mounted launchers such as Mossberg used to make, or the modern technical rescue units (that really look like orange and yellow SuperSoakers!) are the thing for difficult swift water, surf, mountain, and tower rescue where you need to get a messenger three hundred or more feet. For normal coming alongside anything or taking a tow, if you can't get within thirty feet, go back to boating class.

    I have a friend who never comes in with lines prepared. Mostly he comes in slowly and properly enough that I can just hold the boat while he sorts his spaghetti. But when he's just out of reach - ten feet away - he has a way of grabbing a line, acting like he's coiling it but actually he's packing tangles, and then tossing such that the pile gets half way and then falls to the water.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I was a Boatswain's Mate during my hitch in USN and worked as a shipyard rigger for a year after I got out and never once saw an unweighted monkey fist. Ever.
    The only time the line throwing gun got used was during UnReps.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    OK, I'm sorry, but I think I am responsible for some of the thread drift. I was pulling Jay's leg a little bit. I remember pulling on on USS CLEVELAND (LPD-7) and was amazed that there were Boatswain Mates with M-14s on the side decks. I thought that was a bit heavy for security in San Diego. It was only when I saw them load up the monkey's fists that it made sense.

    BUT back to the real purpose of the thread. As I said, my line is poly that looks like Manila, 1/4 inch, covering a tennis ball. Just heavy enough, but non lethal. It's only 50 feet of line, but I've never had to throw it farther than that. Yes, I can throw a coil too, but I had some pretty stiff spring lines, and having the fist was just "handy". Floats. Free if you live near a tennis club, minimal cost if you buy the cheap ones. I bought a tube of three, used one in the fist, taped two together to make a lumbar roller, and used the tube to catch and release the small lizards and geckos that Ontos (the ship's cat) caught but did not want to release.


    Honestly, where it really came in handy once was tossing lines over the spreaders. I'm trying to remember what we had that was tangled, I think it was a lazy jack or something that was on the right side of the lowers but the wrong side of the intermediates. I don't remember the whole story, I do remember that it was important to put the line between things, and the fist made for a very accurate throw.

    But hidden in there is a tennis ball.
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    Back to the original question -- on the boats that get discussed on this forum, how is 50' not enough distance? Even in my tall ship experience we very rarely had to toss that far, and on any boat under 40 feet, say, you can usually bring her to rest a foot from the dock, no heaving line necessary....
    Yes. I was wondering how the thread got so far afield!
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    in the days of my youth salvage tugs used a rocket line to pass the messenger, unless your "mark" was a tanker in which case you dug out the Kongsberg Gun which was a fearsome contraption using compressed air to send a thing like a young harpoon, with a rubber end on it, across. Tradition dictated that you signed the Lloyd's Form and rolled it up and shoved it into a condom attached to the heaving line, with a spare condom included for sending it back, once signed. The heaving line was followed by the light messenger which was followed by the big messenger which the casualty took to a winch to bring in the towing connection - a pair of wire tails for making off to bollards unless the casualty had a Smit bracket (which you dropped over the towing chain) the towing chain to take the chafe in the Panama fairlead, the double nylon spring and finally the main winch wire. Standing in the way of the Kongsberg projectile would not have been a good idea...
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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh MacD View Post
    But I agree with both avoiding weighted throw lines (popular among whitewater rafters for some reason!?!) and using a sidearm toss to lay out a half-coil of line.
    Just a comment on that from personal experience:

    I’ve never seen a “weighted” throw line used by whitewater boaters. A lot of rescue/throw bags have a piece of foam attached to the bottom inside the bag to ensure that it floats after a toss. Floating line is standard. If a first toss with the bag is off the mark, the quickest way to make a second throw with the same line is to gather up coils, starting from the end in hand until there’s enough length gathered to reach the mark, then toss the coils, while holding, or standing, on the bag end which may still be trailing out in the water. So, it’s good to practice tossing coils as well as bags. I can throw a bag further and more accurately but tossing some coils is often good enough. Some people prefer to butterfly their coils, but for me, loop coils seem to pay out better. I always bring one or more throw bags for any kind of boating that we do, whitewater or flat; kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and sailing. And knives. I usually have a throw bag in my truck as well since I often drive along rivers.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Heaving Line Weight

    I made up a heaving line a while back more as a safety line to throw to a swimmer if needed, prompted by a local tragedy, where the both the rescuer and the victim both drown. I try to think through the situation and ask what do I have that could have made a rescue safer and maybe successful. A floating line can be thrown more accurately than a seat cushion float or ring. The floating heaving line seemed like a good idea to have aboard.

    Marlow and Sampson, and others make some floating lines in smaller sizes that have good strength, and high visibility colors.
    I used Sampson MFP Floatline 1/4", and added a small hardwood ball in the knot to give a little size and weight, but still keep the knot floating.

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