When I’m camp-cruising, I carry gear that is simple and multifunctional. My heaving line and a monkey’s fist come in handy for a variety of situations. They’re traditionally parts of the same line, but having them separate makes both more versatile.
The separate monkey’s fist makes it possible to use other lines for heaving and to get lines over high branches when setting up camp. The line, 60′ length of ⅜″ laid poly, gets used for everything from tying the boat up at the dock, to setting my sea anchor, warping out of a crowded marina, anchoring, and setting up camp. Tied to the monkey’s its light weight makes throws longer and keeps it afloat for easy retrieval.
The monkey’s fist is relatively easy to tie, taking only about 5 to 10 minutes. It is a series of wraps perpendicular to each other. The monkey’s fist here is tied with a length of manila around a round fishing cork with two ¾-oz fishing leads I’d inserted into it. The lead adds weight for better throwing without losing buoyancy. Golf balls also add some heft and aren’t so dense that a poly monkey’s fist won’t stay afloat with one at the core.
It’s easiest to insert the core after the second series of wraps begins. After the third series of wraps all of the slack is worked out from the bitter end and through the turns. The tail is usually spliced into the integral heaving line at the other end, but a short loop is what I use. The two ends of the line can be tied or spliced together to form the loop, but a quick-and-dirty finish is to cut one end flush and tuck the other in alongside it. Superglue keeps them in place. I finished the one shown here with a quick half-hitch braid around the loop.
When I need to toss a line, I tie it to the monkey’s fist with a clove hitch. There are a couple of different techniques for setting up to throw, but I prefer to coil the line (starting by tucking the tail end between two fingers so I can hang on to it when I’m throwing) into my non-throwing hand and then carefully transfer three or four coils of the line into my throwing hand with the monkey’s fist hanging about even with the bottom of the coils. It is important to coil the line properly. I coil both laid and braided clockwise into my left hand, adding a slight twist with the thumb and forefinger of my right hand to keep the coils loose and even.
I can consistently throw the line and monkey’s fist 50′ to 70′ with good accuracy. I try to get the monkey’s fist well past the target and slightly to one side to avoid hitting the receiver. With a little practice you can get fairly accurate with your throw.
Having a heaving line and monkey’s fist at the ready may just make a critical difference one day in an emergency, but in the meantime it can spare you the embarrassment of throwing a line only to have it land in a heap far short of its target.
A native Floridian, Thomas Head grew up working on his father’s home-built stone crab boat in the small coastal town of Inglis. He has 19 years of service in the U.S. Navy. His account of racing in the Everglades Challenge appeared in our November 2014 issue.
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