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What is the Purpose of a Buoyant Heaving Line?

February 23, 2022

A buoyant heaving line is a floating rope that can be thrown overboard to assist a person in the water who is in distress. A soft floating object is attached to one end of the buoyant heaving line to help it float and to act as a weight so that it can be thrown more accurately.

Buoyant heaving line requirements

  • A buoyant heaving line must be at least 15 meters (50 feet) long.
  • A buoyant heaving line must be in good condition and able to float in order to be approved for use.
  • A buoyant heaving line must be one unbroken length of rope, not several pieces tied together.

Every size and type of craft should have a buoyant heaving line. It should be readily accessible at all times, and the boat operator is responsible for informing everyone on board of its location. The line should never be used for any purpose other than as boating safety equipment in an emergency situation.

How to throw a buoyant heaving line

Before throwing a buoyant heaving line, tie one end to the boat, stand on it or hold it securely to make sure it doesn’t slip overboard. Hold the floating object in one hand and the coils of line in the other. Use an underhand toss to throw the float, letting the line spool out of your other hand. Aim to throw the float beyond the person in the water. Then, slowly reel the line in until the victim is able to grab onto it.

Boat operators should practice throwing their buoyant heaving line to improve their accuracy so that they can be ready to act in the event of an emergency.

Find out more about boating safety from Drive a Boat Canada

Buoyant heaving lines are just one aspect of boating safety. Find out more about safe boating practices on the Drive a Boat Canada blog! You can also take our boating safety course and pass the online boating exam to obtain your pleasure craft operator card, which is required in order to boat legally on Canadian waters.