Early season practice + clean up
If you choose to carry your gear in a bag instead of on your pfd, keep your gear in sets. Too many times did someone grab a biner and forget a prusik or pulley. They had to go back to the bag for the right components.
The first set is caribiner + pulley. This is for your web anchor. Set this up first.
The second set is biner+pulley+prusik. This is the Z part of the setup on the main line.
The third set is biner+prusik. This is your brake. We also found it beneficial to set your brake LAST. If you put it on early you might have to slide all of the main line through the brake before you can pull. We also experienced a time saver by setting up a seperare web for the brake instead of using the 1st web anchor. The brake didn't get in the way as much. If you think you want to skip the brake step think again - you've successfully released the boat and now you want to go rescue a person but you can't let go of the rope - wait a minute, you CAN let go because you tied a brake!!! It's like having another crew member.
Another tip - in your gear bag, clip into 1/2 of the pulley only. If the biner is clipped on both sides of the pulley It takes a second to pull 1/2 off and feed the rope through.
Another tip - to keep your ropes segregated - after you tie the rope to the anchor pulley take your slack and toss it off to the side. This keeps you from tripping on it and confusing your ropes.
Another tip - if you choose to carry your gear primarily in the bag you might consider keeping an extra prusik and biner on your pfd. If you drop a piece of gear in the drink you might be screwed on your Z drag.
Another tip on prusiks - tie three loops even if it takes an extra 5 seconds. You will wish you had three loops if your knot starts to slip. Buy prusiks that are smaller diameter than your rope -you'll regret not doing this if the prusik slips. Lastly - don't make the prusiks too small - hard to make loops on tiny prusiks. It's obvious to most but have your water knots already tied - you can't waste precious time tying knots in your prusik cords.
I personally like my webbing already with a water knot. However if you choose to keep it untied you might want two small water knots on the ends so you can quickly click in your biner. Sometimes having a big knot can be hard to feed through your blocking stone if the knot is too big. What if you only have one good anchor to use? It's all preference at this point.
These are small steps but when discussing about a drowning victim you might only have seconds before they drown. Also if you have a breathing tube with a two-way valve on you, consider getting the victim an air supply before you start the z drag.
Stay safe out there and start practicing - you might be rusty and a 10 minute Z drag might be the difference of life and death. You can do this in your garage or yard. GO DO IT!
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