9.8 Lassoing a Piling -- A LONG Way Away!

[A post I made to the Trawler-World List in Dec. 1997]  I went down to the boat a couple of days ago to set up some lines to make installing the ice eaters a little easier later in the winter. Naturally, one of the pilings is too d*#n far to reach without untying the whole boat and moving her back (WAAAY too much work except as a last resort). OK, so let's try to lasso the piling -- out maybe 15 feet away and 10 feet tall.

Of course, the cowboy-style approach is a possibility, but not only is that something I've never taken the time to practice, but I'd end up with a slipknot wrapped tight around the piling, when what I REALLY wanted was a doubled line that would allow me to adjust the depth of the ice eater from the boat.

Remembering a article from a few years back from Coastal Cruising (boy, I really miss that magazine -- sure hope those folks can get that going again...), I gave the two-handed, underhanded-toss a shot, and it worked the first time. Whew!

I thought there might be a few folks here who might find it useful, so I'll take a shot at explaining it. The reference is "Solutions," Don and Gael Steffens, Coastal Cruising, April/May 1994, p. 52. They learned the trick from Frank and Marjory Moyer aboard Halcyon, their 25-foot Fisher motor ketch. The coolest thing about this is that your 1st mate (or even guests) can learn to do it easily. Heck, "he'll" probably end up being better than you are...

Here's the deal, slightly modified from the description in the mag. OK, you need a line that's a good weight for throwing. I use 1/2" twisted nylon. My 3/4" docklines are too heavy, and lighter ones are hard to toss in the wind (but you find the size that's "right" for you). The line needs to be a LOT longer than the distance to the piling and back. The one I used in the example above was 40 feet long, and it wasn't ANY too long. Hold one end in your hand and use the other hand to coil the line, putting a 1/2 twist in every coil so it's nice and round and open and even. When it's all coiled up, split the coil equally between your two hands, AND (here's the hard part to describe) grasp the end of the line between your thumb and forefinger and hold the 1/2 coil in your other fingers (same hand). If you're still with me, do the same thing with your other hand for the other end and 1/2 coil. Now with your other hand... (no, I'm just kidding...)

OK, the rest is easy. Stand, facing the piling and stare at the top. From the article, "Both hands now hold coiled line with the two ends held tightly. Staring intently at the piling, throw up your hands as you would toss a basketball underhand and flip the line (both hands at once) over and beyond the piling." Continuing, "The trick in tossing the line is to aim farther than the piling itself. This ensures sufficient line to reach the target." I would add that it helps to toss the coils several feet to the sides of the piling (one on the left, one on the right, obviously), as well as, high OVER the piling top. This makes your aim far less critical. I've passed this tip along to a number of folks. I've NEVER seen anyone miss on the first try.

If your tossing line isn't strong enough to use directly as a dock line, tie your dock line onto one end and pull it around. This will free your tossing line for another piling, if needed.