A heaving line has a weighted end to make it easy to throw ashore or to another boat. Usually a huge heavy knot called the ‘monkey fist’ or heaving line knot is made on the end of a heaving line in order to make an accurate distant throw. A heaving line is also called a messenger as it is basically a line that is knotted at one end from which a larger mooring line can be pulled. A heaving line in such a situation can be light as another stronger and thicker line will be attached to it. It’s sufficient for most yachts to have a heaving line of 6mm diameter
When out on a boat, it is essential to carry an efficient heaving line used to get it ashore or to reach another vessel. Most boaters who do not come equipped with a heaving line may try to make use of any old line they can lay their hands on at that moment and may achieve the purpose provided their target is within easy reach. But a proper heaving line is required and its needs to be thrown in an accurate way to target any boat at a distance.
It is customary for heaving lines to have hollow knots on one end. The popular knots are the ‘capsized Turk’s heads’ and the monkey’s fists which are weighted down with chunks of lead or golf balls. An alternate to the heaving line, especially for the amateur boaters would be the throw rope contained in a bag. The throw bag is a small bag containing a heaving line and is thrown to give it added momentum. It is sufficient to grip one end of the heaving line and throw the bag allowing it to be released from the opening provided.
Using a heaving line needs a certain technique, two thirds of the coiled heaving line is held in the right hand or the casting hand while the rest of the carefully coiled heaving line is held in the left hand. In heaving, the heaving line in the left hand is released to run freely while the right hand is held straight.
Heaving lines are manufactured with certain specifications of the weights used and non- kinking fibers so that they are free from snarls while in use or when kept in storage. Like the other equipment used on board which are regularly checked, heaving lines are also inspected periodically. Basically the heaving lines should not be frayed and be free from any snarls, twists and knots. Of course using a heaving line is a skill that has to be learnt especially to handle the distant targets. Learning the technique and frequent practice would help the seaman to attain perfection in the use of heaving lines.