The key characteristic of a buoyant heaving line is that it floats! Ideally, the throw line should be contained in a floating bag that is both pliable and easy to stuff. As well, the bag helps with distance and accuracy of the throw and makes the line easy to grasp by the person being rescued in the water. Store your buoyant heaving line in an easily accessible spot on your vessel.
Occasionally practice with the throw bag to learn how far it can be thrown and how accurate you can be when throwing it. Stand on the loose end of the rope so it doesn’t go overboard and with an underhand toss, throw the rope (bag) over the head and beyond the victim. Then draw the rope back slowly so that the victim can grab it.
When repacking don’t stuff or force the line into the bag because this could cause the line to tangle, knot or snag, restricting the distance the rope can be thrown. Instead, let the rope naturally fall back into the bag and slowly feed it into the bag until the line is completely engulfed within. Then tighten the draw string at the end of the bag to keep the buoyant line from falling out.
Some devices are contained in a large sturdy bag that includes both a floating line and a floating “belt” that someone who has fallen in the water can get into in order to be more easily heaved back to the boat.
Among popular brands is the well-known Lifesling. Although not approved in Canada, this type of device can be used alongside the approved ones.