Throw Rope Bags

man using a throw rope bag to reach an overboard crew member

Throw rope bags are helpful when rescuing overboard crew members.

By Tom Burden, Last Updated: 5/6/2021

A throw rope bag is a wonderful addition to your safety arsenal. Their core function is to allow you or your crew to throw a line accurately. Many boaters have no problem tossing a line to someone on the dock or to a capsized boat, but having a throw bag on board ensures that any member of your crew will be able to effectively throw a line in an emergency.

With throw rope bags, you are virtually assured of an accurate toss. The floating line is stored inside a soft nylon bag, which also contains a small piece of foam to ensure that the bag floats and SOLAS reflective tape to make it easy to see. The bitter end of the line has a loop in it which is placed over the non-throwing hand to secure it. With a gentle underhand toss, as if you were pitching a horseshoe, you can send the bag and line out 50' to 70', right to your victim or docking helper.

If the intended recipient somehow misses the line, you can pull it back and  do one of the following:

  • Restuff the line in the bag (too slow!)
  • Coil the line quickly, then throw it like a conventional line, or
  • Drag the bag in the water to pick up some weight and use it like a monkey’s fist to get the line to the victim.
yellow Throw Rope Bag

A throw rope is a great addition to your safety gear and is required for offshore races.

Returning the line to the bag requires some technique. We’ve found the easiest method is to throw the line over the shoulder and–while holding the bag in the right hand–feed the line into the bag with the left hand. The line must be stuffed, or flaked into the bag—coiling it and then putting it inside the bag causes one big tangle.

Cheap, effective and an embarrassment preventer, a throw rope bag is a great addition to your boat. Whether passing a line to another boat or snaring a crew overboard, you can master the technique with a modest amount of practice.

Offshore sailboat racers note: The 2018-2019 Offshore Special Regs, which set equipment requirements for racing, list a heaving line in section 4.22.7: “a heaving line shall be provided 15m - 25m (50ft. - 75ft.) length readily accessible to cockpit.” The Throw Rope Bag meets this requirement.