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Old 08-27-2002
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Throwing a Dock Line

Whatís the best way to toss or throw a dockline when docking?

Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question. What youíre asking about is an often overlooked skill, but something Iíd consider as a basic component of good boathandling. First, donít try to throw a line that hasnít been properly prepared for that action. Too often crewmembers will hastily grab a line and toss the whole tangle in the direction of someone awaiting the line on shore or on another boat. Thatís just a recipe for problems. A line first needs to loosely coiled so that it will have the best chance of traveling unfettered through the air to its destination.

After youíve got the loosely coiled, split the coil into two halves. Keep the bitter end of the line wrapped around the hand that will remain stationary, and the end you intend to toss in the other hand. Itís best to toss the line with a sweeping motion of your arm, as if you were throwing a roundhouse punch. As you do that, make sure that you point your other arm in the direction of the recipient. Doing that will make it easier for the rest of the line to uncoil from the loops in your stationary hand.

When throwing a line to the dock or person standing by, it helps if youíve got a large loop at that end of the lineóeither a splice or a loop that youíve tied beforehand. That allows the person on the receiving end to simply drop the loop around a cleat, or bollard, or post. You might find it hard to believe, but frequently the person on the dock wonít know what to do with the line once theyíve caught it, so having a loop there will allow you to give them minimal instructions, and you or your skipper to execute a successful docking.

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