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How to Quickly Coil a Throw Rope

Knowing how to quickly coil your throw rope for a second toss is an essential swiftwater rescue skill. Here’s a tip to help you make a fast, tangle-free second throw.

Running whitewater has inherent risks. For your protection, and the protection of your boating buddies, it’s important that you learn basic, and even advanced, rescue techniques. Our rescue videos and articles are excellent instructional and refresher pieces, but we strongly recommend you take a professionally instructed swiftwater rescue course.

Something every boater should have, and carry, is a rescue throw bag. Oftentimes they’re the best way to reach and rescue a swimmer. It’s important to practice with the throw bag so you’re prepared to use it in a stressful emergency situation.

Hopefully, your first toss with the stuffed bag will reach the swimmer. However, if it misses you don’t have time to restuff the rope into the bag. That’s when you need to have practiced a method of quickly coiling the rope tangle-free for a second throw.

The video demonstrates the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) technique. You can start from the end attached to the bag, but usually you’ll have the free end in your hands, so that’s the natural place to start.

Take the rope end in your throwing hand, with the palm facing out, rope pinched between your thumb and palm. Wrap the rope under your arm, outside your elbow, and over your wrist in front of your forearm. Repeat the wrap as many times as necessary to get a figure-eight coil long enough to reach the swimmer. Slip the bottom of the coil off your elbow, shake out the rope and you’re ready for a tangle-free toss.

The video mentions but doesn’t demonstrate a butterfly coil. Lay the loose end of the rope on the palm of your throwing hand. Lay a loop over your palm, then reach back and lay another loop over your palm. Alternating loops will lay on both sides of your palm in a “butterfly wing” effect.