by Dave Hammond
Measuring out the length of your throw rope and writing it clearly on the bag can be a great help in an emergency.
Imagine this situation, you are guarding a rapid and have placed yourself on a rock about 5m above the river with some throw bags at your disposal. A swimmer comes along and you grab a bag and use it - it is at this point that you find out that you have a 10m line and that gives you less than 5m to play with.
Then again a swimmer may have got ashore on the opposite bank of a 20m wide river and needs to be ferried back; you grab a throw-bag only to find that you have tossed the victim a 15m line.
Another time there is an easy rapid made dangerous by a strainer shortly after, and a swift current pouring through it. It is decided to place a rescuer just before the strainer in case there is a swimmer. As the chosen rescuer you place yourself 15m upstream of the strainer and await events. A swimmer suddenly appears and he successfully catches the end of a well-aimed line. Unfortunately you have a 25m line which allows the swimmer to disappear 10m into the strainer! This sort of situation could be avoided by measuring out the amount of rope needed beforehand i.e. if you measure out and discard 15m of the line, and throw the swimmer the resulting 10m, this should swing them into the bank 5m short of the strainer!
Unlabelled throw bags can cause avoidable problems if not handled carefully, so get that indelible pen working!