Our 3rd article on river safety covers throw bags and the advantages of what is called a “clean line”.
Neil Newton Taylor | Swiftwater Rescue – To the best of our knowledge there are at the moment only 4 manufacturers selling throwbags with so called “clean lines”.
Europe has been very slow to follow the lead of the mostly British companies in removing plastic handles from the rope end of their throwbags. Why should they? The customer can always remove it themselves if they want to, right? In our experience very few people make the effort to change a product to make it better, expecting the manufacturer to have done this already.
What are the advantages of a “clean line” on a throwbag?
- Safety: a knot or plastic handle on a floating rope can get caught between rocks much more easily than a rope without knots or handles. If the rope ends up in the water and someone has it wrapped around them, then they will be held under water until they can free themselves. This has happened in the past in the UK and also recently in Austria, leading to the death of the kayaker involved in both cases.
- Leads to better techniques: having no knot in the end of the rope means that the thrower has to think a bit more about using correct techniques to rescue a swimmer out of fast current rather than just hanging on to the handle. This leads to less force on the swimmer and the belayer.
- Easier and quicker to tie knots around objects: if you have minimum equipment and decide to tie the rope around an anchor, using say a re-threaded figure of 8 knot, then a handle on the end of the rope gets in the way, making it very difficult. If you use a sling and karabiner then this is not a problem, just make sure that you always have enough equipment with you (and a long enough sling).
- It makes the Italian (Münter) hitches releasable: one of the main advantages of using an Italian hitch in swiftwater is that it is releasable. However not if there is a bag or handle on the end of the rope that needs to pass through the karabiner. Not having a handle makes it actually releasable (as long as the bag end is in the river).
- Easy to join ropes together: The clean ends of throwbags can be tied together quickly and easily in order to make extra long throws and long lines. If a simple overhand knot is used, a pear shaped (HMS) karabiner will even slide over the knot when loaded.
So there you have it, the top 5 reasons that you never need to have a plastic loop on the end of your throwbag rope.