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Throw bag curiosity.

A few questions:

What percentage of those you paddle with carry throw bags,(not counting dedicated tow lines)?

What percentage of them have the throw bag quickly available?

Have you ever seen practice with throw bags on a paddle?

Do you know if you can throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique?

If you miss, how long does it take you for a second try?

An interesting point brought up by the earlier post, what if you need a second try & can't reach the water; how do you deploy for mutiple throws?

These are all good questions IMO. I must admit, I'm not happy with some of my own answers. omething to think about.

All the best, t.george


  • Yes. and No.
    A throw bag is more useful than a big knife, but I've gone many miles without ever using either one.

    I wear my life jacket.
  • Probably your multiple questions have
    multiple answers.
    I carry a throw bag on Canadian waters because 15 meters of bouyant heaving line is required. I sure don't want it around my feet. In a bag is nice and tidy.

    But no, in the US I don't. My trips are almost all solo and at most even tandem with one boat. Usually I don't expect to see another canoe, much less one in trouble. Would it be a good idea to carry..yes. Throwlines are better for apporaching people in a panic, even on flatwater which is what I am speaking of here.

    On the river in a group..yes..always.

    More practice continually needed..of course. Don't use it and it goes away. I have never tried with a paddle..I suspect I would throw the paddle too.
  • Some answers
    I only carry one on WW trips. For sea kayaking I carry a tow rope. Can't think of any reason to have a throw rope on a sea kayaking trip. On WW you throw from the bank, not from your boat. If you miss, in most circumstances, that is it. The person is on down the river. If they are caught in a hole it is pretty easy to pull the rope in, dip the bag in the water, and throw again. Everyone on any trip I am willing to go on will be wearing a life jacket.
  • answers
    -- Last Updated: Dec-05-12 5:37 PM EST --

    On whitewater runs I virtually always have a throw bag and I usually do even on Class I river paddles. Since I usually am paddling an open boat, the bag is pretty accessible. I have one that attaches with a short length of 1" nylon webbing that is secured to a D-ring between my knee pads. The bag is stuffed underneath the front flotation bag but can be quickly pulled out. The nylon webbing strap has a nylon quick release buckle on it. I find that the bag can be released quicker and more easily using the quick release buckle than it could be if I secured it to the D ring with a carabiner.

    On training runs we sometimes will do rope throwing practice at lunch stops. If you want to get some real life practice and live near the southeast, go to the Nantahala River and stand on the rocks at river right below Nantahala Falls on a weekend summer day. You will have many opportunities to try your hand at reeling in swimmers.

    As for making a second throw, I have never been able to retrieve a throw bag rope quickly enough to make a second throw to the same swimmer. I have occasionally been able to be quick enough to make a throw to a second person swimming after the first. If I attempt a second throw, I coil the loose rope in my left hand as if it were a throw rope rather than a throw bag, and quickly stuff just enough rope back in the bag to give it enough weight to throw. The bag I usually use has sides made partially of mesh (as many do) so it really wouldn't retain much water.

    Sure, it is possible to throw a bag from your canoe. You usually have to throw side arm or overhand rather than underhand, though. The problem is how to anchor your boat so it doesn't get pulled downstream after the swimmer. If you are near another boater, that person might be in a position to belay your boat while you make a throw.

    As a matter of fact, my friend, known as Pyker here, did just that on the Lower Youghiogheny River a couple of months ago to haul our friend out of the current while I grabbed his canoe with one hand and a rock with the other.

    Years ago, my friend Hugh Worthy was leading me down the Little River in the Smokies above the Sinks. My paddle got snagged in Big Sycamore rapid and was stripped out of my hands and I swam. Hugh was sitting in his boat in a shore eddy near the bottom of the rapid and threw me a rope and hauled both me and my boat in without getting out of his. I have no idea how he did that but I suspect he must have wedged his paddle into some rocks with one hand, and deployed the rope with his other hand. But Hugh could do things ordinary men could not.

  • Always In Easy Reach
    -- Last Updated: Dec-05-12 1:24 PM EST --

    I only paddle rivers Class I and sometimes a low class II, but on moving water $hi+ happens. I can use mine, practice a time or two a year. I believe I used it in a situation 6 times in the last 2 years? Usually it's less than once a year. One time this year I ALMOST didn't bring it since the water level was less than 200 cfs. Glad I reconsidered as Boyscout and I had to rescue some folks that day.

    2nd try? Never timed it because I've always been in a hurry. Probably less than 30 seconds depending upon distance? I coil some around the throw bag when re-throwing.

    Many people on class I streams don't wear PFD's and think they are perfectly safe. It's too bad I can't show them some scenarios we've bailed people out of. They'd be donning their PFD's if they did.

  • Recent Dale Briggs video on topic
    Pete, here is a Dale video showing the things you mentioned in terms of throwing from the boat, having someone else hold yours, and snacks. Oh wait, you didn't mention snacks. But they are my favorite part.


    Big hat tip to "Youngy"
  • yes and no
    I carry a throwbag and pin kit when WW kayaking. I also have the class V vest. I was trained to coil the rope in the throwing hand and to toss a coil if a second attempt is needed. I can't coil very fast, but I have tossed a coil nearly as far as a stuffed bag.

    Sea kayaking I have a different vest with integrated tow system. I know there are rock gardening applications for throw bags in sea kayaking, but that sort of action is beyond my current set of skills.
  • Bay Area Sea Kayakers
    You didn't say what type of kayaking...

    BASK had a conversation about this on their lists a few years back. And Roger Schumann came to a meeting and had some people try using a throw bag from sitting in their seats. Distance and accuracy is pretty low when sitting in a boat. And when you pull on the throw rope after throwing it to the other person, who is getting pulled to who? if the person you threw to is a swimmer, and you are in a boat, the pulling will cause the thrower to go to the swimmer, not the other way around.

    This came from an incident that was written up in Sea Kayaker Magazine rescue/incident section where a guy was rock gardening off of Marin and trying to run one slot but got washed into another slot. A throw rope was used in the end to get him out. The throw rope thrower (TonyJ) had climbed out of his boat on to a rock and threw it from there.

    The general agreement now seems to be for white water and maybe rock gardening (where you likely would get out of the boat to throw it), a throw rope works. For touring boats, a tow line is better.

    That all said, I don't carry a throw rope.

  • A few thoughts, and a lesson learned...
    Practice with the bag you will use!

    About ten years ago I got a throw bag. (after theBob convinced me of its utility, though I'd never really needed one in many many years of paddling prior. But then I hadn't often paddled water as small, swift, complicated as what I was beginning to do.) Thinking I might on some unforeseen future occasion want to use the rope to pull a stuck boat out, I got a 70' 7/16 one. I practiced with it in the yard for quite a while, finding a strong underhand throw to give me the most distance and accuracy. I got to be OK with it. I carried it around for many years but never had occasion to use it except as a camping pillow.
    Then two years ago at Canoecopia I saw some 1/4" 70'ones at a good price and figured I'd get one that took up less space, was lighter and therefore (I thought) easier to throw. A month later a situation arose where someone got caught in a strainer, tipped, got out, and swam to the opposite shore. I was going to throw the rope over and haul them back to their boat.

    That lighter bag went in trees, fell short, got caught in wind, went every single where but the where I wanted it to go. It was like pitching a whiffle ball for distance. Well, I hadn't practiced with it and it surprised me. Don't do that. Its embarrassing. I've since discovered overhand, like a football, works best for me with that bag and I've since practiced that way.

    Practice doesn't have to be a grim "do or die" thing. If you ever take kids, nine or ten year olds, on summer paddles I've found most kids that age love to swim, pretend they're drowning, and have a bag thrown to them, and get hauled in as fast as you can. The faster the better. In playing that game you may even find you get more practice at their request than you really thought you needed. Multiple throws without repacking, fast recovery, repeat asap.

    For rethrows I bring the rope in in 6' (armspan) lengths. Loops for the first half of the rope go on an upturned left palm (for righties), on combined index, middle, and ring fingers for the second half of the rope. Comes in fast and feeds out pretty smoothly that way.

    Being a canoe guy, I carry mine clipped to a thwart just in front of me. I don't take it most of the time on my home river - flat, sandy, and with few strainers - unless I'm paddling with strangers or those whose skills I really don't trust much. Even then, if I were to need to do a rescue it would likely be by offering a grab loop and paddling them in. If I forget the bag in the back of the truck, as I sometimes do, I often don't make an extra trip at the put-in to get it. But in swifter water, with large groups, when its cold, paddling with strangers, its always there on that thwart just in case.

    Good things to have but, like so many things, useless without practice.
  • Options
    Standard Equipment
    I paddle mostly flat water but I always have a throw bag in the canoe and it is clipped to a thwart for easy access. Yes, I can throw it. As the other guy said earlier, it is more useful than a big knife. If there is anyone else around when I am out, I am likely the most experienced, probably the only one with any rescue training (and probably the only one wearing a PFD). When I'm done for the day, I just clip it to my pfd...it never gets forgotten.
  • Always but

    "What percentage of those you paddle with carry throw bags,(not counting dedicated tow lines)?"

    I do.

    "What percentage of them have the throw bag quickly available?"
    Mine is either clipped to a thwart or my bucket. which is bungied to a thwart.

    "Have you ever seen practice with throw bags on a paddle?"

    Practice like "hey lets try this out"? Rarely. Practive like "hey! Bubba's swimming again." Sometimes on whitewater.

    "Do you know if you can throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique?"
    Throw from the shore, or a rock or something solid. In your boat you are better off going in and towing if you can.

    "If you miss, how long does it take you for a second try?"
    At least a minute. That most often happens when rigging a cross river haul or bear bag.

    I figure a rope is useful for towing and lining and unpinning and clothes lining and tarp rigging and hanging my food in addition to rescue.
    Since already have several throwbags it's a no brainer to clip one to my boat or bucket.
    On day trips it rarely gets used. While camping it gets used often. In either case it's easy to haul and handy.
  • Options
    A few things
    Throwing a bag from a boat is always a risky endeavor, especially if you haven't carefully considered what is likely to happen when the full force of a swimmer is applied. If someone is on shore to grab your boat, you might be just as well to hand them the bag and let them make the throw.

    The exception might be when someone is stuck in a hole. They aren't moving downstream, so if you can get a rope to them and keep from having them pull you in with them, that might be a reasonable thing to do. If I were unwilling to join them in the hole, I probably wouldn't throw them a line from my kayak.

    Class II and Class III whitewater is a great place to learn and practice. There are many rapids that produce swimmers at reliable locations, so finding a spot to practice is a good idea.

    I don't care for 1/4 inch line at all, especially the kits with 40 feet of 1/4 inch polypro. Yeah, it's a small bag, but it is very short for many situations and it's hard to grip for the rescuer and the swimmer. The 3/8" and 5/16" are much better and 60 to 75 feet is much more practical. I have a bag with 100 feet of 3/8" nylon/poly, but I can only throw it about 75 feet. I carry it in remote rivers where a long, strong (3200 lbf) rope may be needed. It isn't as stretchy as polypro, it's cheaper than Dyneema/Spectra and it has a great grip. I think Sterling calls it Grabline.

    I have also seen the 7/16" throw ropes. to me, they are just too big for a small kayak -- the 5/16 to 3/8" seems to be plenty sufficient and strong for throw lines and simple haul lines.

  • Options

    And technically, it's bad form to use life-saving, rescue equipment as a general purpose line around camp.

    Even if you're only going to haul someone in a couple of times a year, you want to keep your rope in the best condition possible. And after 5 or 10 years of use, it's time to retire the bag and get another. I've seen a couple of ropes that are so frayed and worn, they must be 20 years old.

    Yeah, I baby my ropes more than most, but I have yet to hear a complaint when I'm pulling in a swimmer...

  • Dunk your bag
    Dunk your bag at the beginning of your trip. A wet bag/rope will be more accurate and travel farther.

    What percentage of those you paddle with carry throw bags,(not counting dedicated tow lines)?

    On moving water, always. I've been also known to carry one when hiking along moving water and when ice skating.

    What percentage of them have the throw bag quickly available?

    Has to be. Time is of the essence.

    Have you ever seen practice with throw bags on a paddle?

    Sometimes. You can practice without throwing the bag. I find underhand is the best for me. Pick up a palm-sized rock and chuck it. It will give you a feel for release and direction. Obviously don't practice this with a "victim".

    Do you know if you can throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique?

    As long as you can anchor your boat to something.

    If you miss, how long does it take you for a second try?

    Recoiling the rope so it doesn't end up a rats nest may be more important than speed. Heaving a lump of knotted rope won't do anyone any good. Quickest is, if possible, hand-over-hand recoil into a loose pile at your feet. Or, (this is an old school ARC lifesaving technique) anchor an elbow to the same side knee, fully extend free hand/arm and repeat to create equal coils that lie partially on the ground (keeps the coils from twisting); split the coils into both hands and heave the line. Both should be practiced.

    An interesting point brought up by the earlier post, what if you need a second try & can't reach the water; how do you deploy for multiple throws?

    I'm not sure I understand the question. I have 2 lengths, 1 for narrow creeks and streams; and a longer one for wider water. I would ask myself, what is the greatest length I might need? Too be honest, I don't think I have ever been able to fully deploy my 70' rope on a horizontal throw.
  • the situation happened to my husband
    I was in the water on the Snake River(Yukon) and the river is rimmed by canyon walls. 200 feet tall on one side and 20 feet down on the other. Dipping is not possible. What you hope for is being able to snag the swimmer and direct him/her to a shelf, where they may be able to climb up the sloping rock with assistance from the rope.
  • What I do

    What percentage of those you paddle with carry throw bags,(not counting dedicated tow lines)?I carry a throw bag when out canoeing on whatever river I'm on.

    What percentage of them have the throw bag quickly available? Mine is attached to a thwart by a quick release buckle.

    Have you ever seen practice with throw bags on a paddle? I usually practice at work as I work on a Fire dept and also teach Ice rescue where we use throw bags.

    Do you know if you can throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique? you can only throw as far as the length of rope you have. Most people can usually throw a bag out about 50-60 ft so I always suggest a 75 ft rope.

    If you miss, how long does it take you for a second try? As fast as I can recoil and throw the coil. I have a rubber dog toy at the one end of my bag filled with spray in foam insulation that aids when doing a second chance throw.

  • mostly yes
    of the people I routinely paddle rivers with, I'd guess a good 50% or more do cary a throw bag and have it easily accesible. That group is all canoes - a few people I go with will use kayaks, and a few of those will have a throwrope. Most of the people who don't have one are newbies.

    on ww, standard routine is for the first boat or two or whatever, to have the ropes more or less in hand setting safety below the rapids - I suppose you could consider that "practice" even if the ropes aren't used.

    usually if I'm in my boat, I would just go with the boat to catch a swimmer rahter than throw a rope, and just tow them to an eddy

    I don't recall seeing any throwing practice sessions - I've thrown my rope for real at least 3 times that I can recall - caught em all, for real.

    a second try would be to just do a quick coil in the hanbd and rethrow
  • I carry on small streams
    And have used it once on the Buffalo. We do practice on warm lunch breaks sometimes.

    We do a couple dedicated kids trips every season, these are always short trips with sevearal stops to swim. During the swim sessions we get out the throw bags and use it to pull the kids in before they reach the safety person at the downstream end. One of the kids is always willing to demonstrate proper technique to newcomers. If you tried to get the kids to listen to an adult explain rescues they wouldn't listen and understand, but playing a game they have real world experience and don't panic if a wave goes over their head, it's happened before.

  • I've made them and bought them...
    >>What percentage of those you paddle with carry throw bags,(not counting dedicated tow lines)?

    Off and on. If I have new people or kids, yes.
    If everyone is experienced, rarely.

    >>What percentage of them have the throw bag quickly available?

    When I carry it, it is shoved under a bungie behind my cockpit with a carabiner holding it in place.
    I figure that if I need it, I am on shore. On the water it is faster to paddle tothe person than to try to throw a bag while in a rocking boat.

    >>Have you ever seen practice with throw bags on a paddle?

    Seen? NEVER!
    Do? Yes. I'll practice in the driveway to get the technique down, then when on the lake, we'll head to the swimming beach and practicen throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique?
    We did do a throw-bag class for the Girl Scouts one year and quickly gave up the throw-bag for a PFD seat cushion clipped to a painter. I figured that I was wasting time loading and reloading the throw bag for a bunch of kids who will never own one. So I chose an idea that I knew they could make in a hurry.

    >>Do you know if you can throw from your boat & if so how far & what changes as far as throw technique?

    I know that I cannot! Besides, it would be faster to paddle to the person than to stop, unpack the bag and try to throw it from a narrow tippy boat which is drifting in wind and current.
    Throw from a boat is not a good idea IMHO.

    >>If you miss, how long does it take you for a second try?

    Moments. I reel it in, load with water and throw again. I never reload between throws. I DO try to keep the line free on the ground and one thing no one ever mentions…
    I clip the end of the throw-line to a tree. Never to me. If I loose balance or the rescue pulls too hard or current., I am in the water and two people need rescue.

    >>An interesting point brought up by the earlier post, what if you need a second try & can't reach the water; how do you deploy for mutiple throws?
    I find that by the time I pull it in, it is wet and waterlogged so the bag is heavy enough for another throw without filling with water.
  • Throw bag for the Sea
    I've king of change up my gear a bit. Now I carry a short tow attached to the belt on my jacket and I carry a throw rope.

    Sometimes, I can get pretty close to someone in breaking waves and throw them the rope from the boat while I'm out of the white zone.

    I've learned I throw it best from the boat by throwing it like a football.

    The throw rope can extend the short tow.

    The short tow is the most handy for moving people and boats a short distance to a safe zone.

    I'm learning as I go here but I've started keeping both short tow and throw rope handy on all trips except for flat water small lake exercise paddles.
  • Always carry one...
    I threw a rope once in a non-practice situation at the Springdale rapid on the Quinapoxet River. It was a lousy throw and my target couldn’t reach the rope – I had no time for a second throw. I caught up with him downstream about an hour later after he retrieved his boat.

    I have been the beneficiary of good throws on the West River at the Dumblings and on the Lower Millers at the Funnel. The trouble is that my boat ended up far downstream. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have been better off swimming after my boat.

    We practice occasionally – probably because I like swimming in easy rapids.
  • Throw bag............
    When do I carry it?
    Everytime I go out on the water in a canoe.
    It is in front of me; secured to the front thwart.

    Do I practice with the throwbag?
    Yes, on a regular basis.

    Second throw timing?
    If I miss on the first throw; I can usually redeploy the bag for a second throw within 45 seconds.
    I typically fill the bag partially full of water for the redeployment/second throw.
    If I have one of my throwbags that has a heavier/larger diameter rope; I can get a pretty good second throw using just the rope for the second throw.

    I have thrown a bag to someone in need while still in my canoe, but I exited my canoe to pull them into shore. It is definitely not an ideal position for making a throw, nor is it ideal to retrieve the person in need.

    I remove all the rope from the bag, and hang the bag & rope in the shade, inside my garage, after I return home from "every" paddling outing. I visually inspect the rope as I repack it into the bag.

    I have literally pulled 100s of people out of rivers with throw bags & throw ropes. More than a few could have ended up in very bad situations if I had not been there. Many were people I had never met before.
    In one instance, I actually pulled in 2 people at the same time; one on each end of a 50 foot throw rope.
    I don't recommend this; hard on your back!

  • disagree on dunk
    Depends on the bag and rope. I ripped up my shoulder trying to throw a heavy wet bag this summer. It was a large bag of NFPA nylon core, polypro sheath rescue line that got a LOT heavier when wet. Tried to make a maximum-distance throw from an awkward position and it's still not fully healed.
  • My paddling partner was so ready w/ his
    ... he plunked me right in the face with it -- full-on overhand throw -- from 15 feet away. And when I regained consciousness I still had hold of my boat and paddle!

    Thanks Pyker!
  • throw bags
    The nature of your questions suggests you have never used one. Paddle moving water and you need throw bags in every boat. Practice using them. Then all of your questions will be answered.

    I have used them many times. Be sure to learn to stuff a bag correctly so that the line pays out. Some people coil their throw lines and stuff them in the bag. A bad idea. Let us know how you do.
  • Only new to the kayaks this year...
    ...all my previous experience with throw bags are from shore as a support person for swift water rescue, lots of practice with throws & re-throws. More curious about the differences in practical application. Some good info on ww vs. sea kayak use ect.

    Thanks all, t.george
  • Butterfly coils
    -- Last Updated: Dec-18-12 9:37 PM EST --

    Good basic throwbag instruction that shows how to recoil with butterfly coils

    edit: this is one in a series of swift water rescue videos

  • I've
    only used mine in practice and to tie up 20 odd seakayaks that couldn't fit on the beach , also used for a drying line mostly
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