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Every year we hear of throw ropes stuck in the river. Again yesterday I recovered one from in the right channel below Silver Bullet, directly in the path of potential swimmers. It was deployed with the bitter end chocked in the rocks upstream and the bag downstream. The culprit, of course, a knot used in the rope at the bitter end.

Please do not put knots at the bitter end of your throw ropes. Instead, leave yourself a few coils of rope for insurance rather than a stopper knot. And certainly do not tie a loop that a hand can be inserted into.

Using a throw rope is a big responsibility. Please learn safety skills for their use before attempting to utilize one. Ropes in the river are a hazard.

Best regards,
Ken
 

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Ken, thanks for getting that rope and starting this discussion.

I see the point about leaving the end bare, but that is not how I roll and think there may be more issues raised than avoided.

I keep a small loop tied and also keep a carabiner on it as well as a Prussick loop on that end.

I fell this provides quicker options when something needs to be done quickly.

What are other people's bought a on this issue?

Be safe.


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Ken, thanks for getting that rope and starting this discussion.

I see the point about leaving the end bare, but that is not how I roll and think there may be more issues raised than avoided.

I keep a small loop tied and also keep a carabiner on it as well as a Prussick loop on that end.

I fell this provides quicker options when something needs to be done quickly. In order for mine to be seperated from my boat it would literally have to tear my boat in half.

What are other people's bought a on this issue?

Be safe.


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Ditto. Small loop for a thumb wrapped around the BACK OF THE HAND with a carabiner on it. In cold water I've seen people toss the whole bag. If you open your hand it comes off your thumb.

The knot doubles it's purpose by not allowing all the rope to come out by cinching up the bag just above the knot. The carabiner is clipped off to the bag then and my boat.

By not having a knot how do you know where the end of the rope is when you need it NOW and have ice cold hands? I've recently been in two situations like this. One could have ended very badly without quick access to a rope. (The shitty pin spot in the S turn in the steeps in Bailey)

I believe the better fix here is to secure your rope bag in your boat.
 

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I've never really thought much about the knot at the end. I have a small knot on the end of mine because: (a) it's faster to identify the end, (b) I think my ropes came that way, and (c) it was suggested to me in my first SWR class with Mathers.

I can see the argument that it can be chocked into a rock when you lose it, although isn't it just as if not more likely for the bag end to do the same. You need a knot on the bag end to keep the rope from sliding out too, right? Do you not secure the bag to your rope?

Btw - slipping a rope around your thumb sounds really scary to me.

Seems like the main culprit of ropes stuck in the water are people not being careful about how they deploy them. Ropes are one of the scariest hazards on commonly run river sections and I can't agree enough about being serious about deploying them and even more serious about leaving one in the river.
 

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Preach! I just pulled a rope out of my local run, while towing a swimmer to shore. Not one message or post warning about it being in the river.

I also keep a small loop (follow through figure 8 ). Makes it that much faster if you need a biner on the end and helps keep it in the bag. Maybe even a little extra weight for throwing coils. I don't know, maybe that's a stretch. I see your point Ken but if it didn't snag because of the knot it would have gotten stuck somewhere else.

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+1 for knots.

I use a figure eight. I keep the loops at both ends small enough to prevent someone from sticking their hand through it.

Every Rescue 3 instructor I've taken a class from has a loop at the end of their throw bag rope and recommends setting up a rope with one.

You never know when you may need to quickly clip a carabiner to the end of your rope to extend it with another rope.

Also use that loop to run the throw bag clip through so the end of the rope is immediately accessible.

I've never seen or heard of anyone not having a knot in the end of a throw bag rope.

Maybe the most important lesson here (other than be responsible with and for your deployed ropes) is always carry a knife.
 

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1. Is there evidence of victims not being saved because there was not a knot at both ends of the rope?

2. Is there evidence of ropes being lost / getting stuck in the river in part because there are knots in both ends when they were deployed? Yes! just read the lost rope/ found rope history in this forum.

3. Why not anchor the rope to the side of the river before throwing it? Sure it may still get stuck but at least then you have an end to work with to help with the removal process.
 

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3. Why not anchor the rope to the side of the river before throwing it? Sure it may still get stuck but at least then you have an end to work with to help with the removal process.

Anchoring a rope before every toss is not that efficient. By the time you identify the anchor and secure the rope, the swimmer is likely gone.

I have been dragged into a river with a swimmer on the other end. A solid and secure standing platform and low center of gravity (i.e. Sitting if necessary) was my lesson from that.

I have a knot in the end of my rope. I don't know if that is good or bad, but I wasn't planning to change right now.

Good conversation.


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This should be an interesting topic because every rescue class is not equal. I know this because there are far too many people advocating for knots on a throw rope in this thread. IMO, ropes are the last ditch effort.

Some manufacturers put a loop in the end and that is the first thing we remove. Some boaters clip into this loop to leave the ropes' end obvious and accessible. If the cinch cord at the top of the bag breaks or the rope decides to payout, you now have the possibility of a 50+ft rope entrapment in your boat. The bag can get caught on a number of things, so why create another snag point at the opposite end of the rope? Do you like to limbo while you swim?

I have taken a few different Rescue 3 SWT/WRT/AWRT/TRR over the past 15 years. One detail I have retained, a knot can and will get caught between rocks/trees where a clean rope won't. I have seen this happen to a "prestigious" outfitter in the top of Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne. Six customers swimming with a 75ft loop of rope in the water off a pinned boat. It is unfortunate they're so protective over the footage because it presents a valuable lesson on ropes with knots in water.

If you have enough time to clip two ropes together under tension, you should have noticed this and just set boat safety that could paddle/row to swimmers, pre-anchor the rope, or apply a girth, munter, clove hitch. Friction can do a lot; one foot of webbing or rope is enough to wrap around a leg or arm and entrap a body.

Of course... all of this depends on the situation.

I have been dragged into a river with a swimmer on the other end. A solid and secure standing platform and low center of gravity (i.e. Sitting if necessary) was my lesson from that.
Everyone needs to look into the friction coefficient of the human body in relation to the surface it's on. One person can pull and sustain an average of 75lbs with secure footing. Do you think secure footing is easily found on a riverbank and enough to hold a swimmer in current? Keep in mind, 1 cf of water = 7.48gal x 8.34lbs = 62.38lbs.

No offense, but if you got dragged into the river after throwing a rope, good. That's what happens with piss poor planning while also showing you're committed to your buddy. Now you know more than one person on a rope isn't just a good idea. What doesn't kill you...
 

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No offense, but if you got dragged into the river after throwing a rope, good. That's what happens with piss poor planning while also showing you're committed to your buddy...

Agreed, like I said it was a lesson. If only all rescue situations could be under perfect conditions.


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Discussion Starter #11
There are certainly both schools of thought. However, I think many people consider the idea of a knot favorable while overlooking the major cons of a knot. Knots, whether in your throw bag, hanging from clothing, or whatever, can be an entrapment risk. A clean line will more likely slide through rather than chock. Most Pros recommend a clean line with some extra rope left for insurance when throwing. Having a backup person anchoring you is wise, as well. If I need to anchor something ... my flip line, carabineer, prussic, and pulley are all readily available in my PFD pocket and I can add a figure 8 on a bite in about 5 seconds or less. Probably never do I really have to set a system in that big of a rush. Better to start with a clean bitter end and have some insurance rope left and backup. If your not confident in your footing or your target pendulum objective, then probably not appropriate to throw. If it's not a swimmer, but an entrapment instead, then I probably have time to build a system if needed. We can go on, but I think the pros of a clean line outweigh the cons. Once a rope has gotten into the river with a knot it will likely get chocked and then getting to it with a knife may be unlikely. Trying to access and remove it is often a difficult task (as it was yesterday). I also recommend removing the stopper knots out of your Jackson backband and bulkhead adjustment ropes. Be wise. Have fun. Educate others.

Cheers!
 

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I Feel the best option is to leave a figure 8 on a bite tied to the bitter end of the rope. This is my opinion because,
A: It helps you find the end of the rope
B: In the event you need to clip into your throw bag FAST.
C: it gives you a warning if you are nearing the end of the rope.

I do not agree with clipping the loop into the strap at the top of the bag, because this becomes a major hazard once the bight of rope begins to catch on things.
The whole rope, including bitter end, should be stored inside the bag, with the cinch strap tight.
I use the 8 on a bight to find the end, and believe the way to avoid loosing the whole rope is to hang on to the end when you throw it.

Thank you to the o.p for starting the thread!
 

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Definitely agree with you about removing the knot after the bag on a throw rope Ken.
You are right that we need to be extremely careful with rope in the water.
I have both retreved a throw rope from the river, and had to leave a piece of cut rope in the river ( never to be found) Makes me sick, i know of at least one person that has drown this way.
Be extremely careful with rope.
 

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...
I do not agree with clipping the loop into the strap at the top of the bag, because this becomes a major hazard once the bight of rope begins to catch on things..
How does the bight become a major hazard? What can it catch on when the bag is clipped to a D-ring or biner inside a boat?
 

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How does the bight become a major hazard? What can it catch on when the bag is clipped to a D-ring or biner inside a boat?
So if you pull the loop tied in the end of the rope, out of the bag, then clip the strap on the OUTSIDE of the bag though it, the rope has the potential to keep pulling out of the bag. This can happen in situations such as flips, wraps, surfs, and other mishaps. You could end up with the entire length of rope,(while the bag is still CLIPPED IN to the boat), coming out of it's bag, while your boat is getting pummeled by the river, this is bad news if any one is near the boat.
 

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I once saw a bow line come completely untied, and thread itself under all three thwarts of
a 14' raft, while surfing. The rope was tied up properly, no one helped out, just the power of the river currents. The relentless movement of water can do a lot, it carves things like the grand canyon. Definitely will mess with a chunk of rope if given the chance.
 

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So if you pull the loop tied in the end of the rope, out of the bag, then clip the strap on the OUTSIDE of the bag though it, the rope has the potential to keep pulling out of the bag. This can happen in situations such as flips, wraps, surfs, and other mishaps. You could end up with the entire length of rope,(while the bag is still CLIPPED IN to the boat), coming out of it's bag, while your boat is getting pummeled by the river, this is bad news if any one is near the boat.
Got it.

Guess I've never thought about that because, while the bight is outside the bag to keep the end of the rope immediately accessible, I keep the knot inside the bag, behind the tightly cinched drawstring closure., to prevent the rope from accidentally coming out.

I hear you on the bowline. That's why we keep ours inside a tightly closed bag.

After thinking about this topic I looked at my Rescue 3 Manual. They state the pros and cons of both--knotted and un-knotted ropes--and don't come down on the side of either. I guess it just comes down to personal preference.
 

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The conditions of the run dictate how you deal with throw ropes. Most of my miles are on local day trips and family style Colorado Plateau extended trips. I'm not usually rescuing or un-pinning kayakers on the Upper Animas.

So my personal preference is with the bight outside the bag and the figure-8 knot just under the cinch. The rope loop accommodates 3-4 fingers but not a whole hand. No dangling knot is necessary at the bag end, that is easy enough to eliminate.

The fast-tek buckle and loop is an adequate and convenient attachment that provides for a quick deployment. A carabiner is something I just have to spend time removing it so it doesn't hit the target in the head after I toss it.

The main purpose for my throw bag has been getting nearby (within 30-40 feet) swimmers out of the water, be it from shore or from raft. Situations where I end up letting go of a throw rope, voluntarily or otherwise have yet to occur for me. (Knocking on wood... )

I prefer some kind of a knot or loop for the sake of grip, a straight line is more difficult to hang on to under stress. But ya it's obvious that a knotted line is way more likely to get hung up when things go awry.

There are trade-offs involved with all methods, adapt them to suit your conditions. The decision to throw a rescue line has many factors that lead to it.
 

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As a climber I've seen plenty of rope get caught in rocks without a knot. I'm sure anyone who has climbed and rapped a multipitch route in red rocks has witnessed the same. The idea of not having a knot on the bag end shows inexperience.

This thread proves to me how important a reputable swiftwater class is...
 

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I think a lot of comments in here are coming from rafters as well. A kayak is a lot different. 70' rope bag is about as much as you can take and you often want to be able to use all of it.

I've been a swiftwater "pro" for 12 years. I have the perspective of a professional rescue team and a kayaker (who are usually much more efficient). Not that it matters, we should all always be learning.

I've never been involved in a class- either teaching or from instructor trainers who advocated not putting a knot after the bag and not knotting a small loop on the end. My certification training has all been through dive rescue international.
 
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