How To Throw A Line ... Properly!

By Pam Wall

It's all in the preparation. To toss a line accurately, and have it arrive at its destination, follow these four simple steps.

How cool would it be to throw a line ashore, to another boat, or to someone who has fallen overboard and always have it land where you want it to land? It's easier than you think. Here are some simple steps to follow for throwing a line and having it reach what you're aiming for.

  • Photo of coiling and twisting a line

    1. Coil, Twist, Repeat

    Coil the line in a clockwise direction using your fingers to give each coil a slight twist clockwise. Make sure that each of the coils is not too long, about 15 inches, and not twisted.

    Photo of the divided coiled line

    2. Divide And Conquer

    Carefully take half the neatly coiled line in your left hand (if right handed) and the remainder in your tossing hand. Make sure the coils can flow out of your hands in sequence as you toss the line. Left-handed sailors will still coil the line clockwise, but the throwing hand will be the left hand and the second half of the line will be in their right hand.

  • Photo of coiled line in both hands

    3. Look Before You, Um, Throw

    Using your left hand facing forward with half the coil and your right hand with the other half of the line to throw, look at what you are aiming for!

    Photo of throwing the line underhanded

    4. Let It Fly

    Using a strong swing with your right hand, if that’s your throwing hand, throw the line underhand to where you are looking and let it fly out of your right hand and then out of the left hand with the remaining line following what has been tossed.

If your right-handed toss is strong enough, the coils in both hands can flow out of your hands easily (sometimes too easily — you may want to tie off the bitter end), provided the lines aren't twisted and, most importantly, your eyes remain on target. I guarantee you will always make the mark. 

Pam Wall has helped hundreds of people realize their dreams as a sailing instructor, seminar speaker, and consultant to world cruisers.

— Published: June/July 2014

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