Heaving Line - With or Without Monkey's Fist?

Working on getting into the industry and have been reading various books. I was recently reading Tugs, Towboats, and Towing and it stated the dangers of a monkey’s fist on a heaving line. It then went on about wetting the line, making coils, etc.

Is the monkey’s fist a necessity for a heaving line, or does the usage of it vary between ships?

Generally, you need some sort of weight at the end of a heaving line so that it will actually go somewhere when you throw it. Monkey fists are easy to make, and throw a couple of nuts wrapped in a rag in there, and you’ve got a hefty weight. On my ship, we also have some big rubber teardrop looking things that can be attached to the end of the heaving line. I wouldn’t say that these are less dangerous though - when they land somewhere they take some crazy bounces and you never know where they’re going to go. I still prefer a monkey fist - and you never run out of them!

Whenever we made them on my boat, the captain went behind and cut them off and threw them away. He claims they are illegal but some believe otherwise. We now make a large eye splice at the end and wrap it in some tape for a little extra weight. Gets the job done but I’d rather use a monkeys fist instead.

I always chuckled when a monkey’s fist would go through someone’s windshield when we would tie up at 32nd St. Naval Base in San Diego. Was crazy how they had all those cars parked right along the piers like that. MF is the way to go. I use nuts and wrap them with tin foil.

Some ships use a small canvas bag filled with sand with a grommet to attach the heaving line. They fly as good or better then a monkeys fist and are less likely to cause damage.

We had some pre-manufactured heaving lines that had an orange plastic ball on the end of a bit of line. Never got to see if they did any more or less damage. I think you’ve got to have SOME weight on the ling though or it’s not going and really, is a heavy wetted line going to do any less damage than a weighted knot?

When I worked as a AB on a ship in the Norwegian Coastal Express (hurtigruten) we used to make a donut shaped head to the throwing line out of lead rope. It had the benefit of laying still when it hit the ground, and you didn’t risk nuts flying wild if the monkey fist got broken.

Golf balls work ok with 5/16 line. Not ideal though, because that’s about 6oz of round lead.

If you’re decking on a twin screw ship assist tug with an h-bitt on the bow in new york you need a monkey fist on your heaving line. No way around it. No chance you will get your line up to the deck of a partially loaded or light tanker on a windy night/day without it and the captain/mate will expect nothing less. The crews of container ships usually have a 1inch line rigged and ready to drop down to the z-drive tugs.

On some of our vessels they’ll make a monkey fist and dip it in paint let it dry and repeat till they get the desired weight…

I like to use old lacrosse balls and 3/8" line to make monkeys fists. In my previous line of work pair trawling I used to hammer a lead washer into a ball and wrap it in a rag. Missing a toss was not an option.

If I recall, a monkey’s fist is legal to use on heaving lines. Putting metal inside is not. . . .

[QUOTE=cmakin;166716]If I recall, a monkey’s fist is legal to use on heaving lines. Putting metal inside is not. . . .[/QUOTE]

Metal weights in the monkey fist could be trouble, it is illegal in places, Antwerp sends out a noticeDangerous heaving lines, prior to arrival:

“The use of heaving lines the end of which is weighted in such a way that the action of throwing the line constitutes a hazard and/or cause damage and/or injury is prohibited”. This has created a legal basis for the imposition of fines, and the Antwerp Port Authorities have made use of it when incidents involving dangerous heaving lines have happened. The four most serious cases have resulted in 66 man-days off work due to injuries and there are also cases of damage to cars and other equipment. One person received a weighted monkey fist in his face and was lucky to get just a broken nose. The kinetic energy from such a weight thrown from high above could be sufficient to kill a man or make him permanently disabled if hit in the head. If such a hit should result in death, that could also lead to criminal prosecution for manslaughter against the persons found responsible.

The sand filled bag flies just as good or better then the monkey fist and, as has been mentioned, " sticks" to the pier better, it’s less likely to bounce back into the water.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;166718]Metal weights in the monkey fist could be trouble, it is illegal in places, Antwerp sends out a noticeDangerous heaving lines, prior to arrival:

The sand filled bag flies just as good or better then the monkey fist and, as has been mentioned, " sticks" to the pier better, it’s less likely to bounce back into the water.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, but the bags are ugly :).

We carry both, with a short eye splice at the end for changing out easily. Some would argue that the bags don’t fly quite as good, and I know what I would reach for if I really needed to make a toss. The part about bouncing off a pier is valid. If we’re mooring at a potentially litigious place out come the bags.
I enjoy making beautiful heaving knots, otherwise we’d probably just have the bags.

The big thing is don’t throw a heaving line AT people. Throw it TO them. There is a difference!

[QUOTE=MickAK;166784]Yeah, but the bags are ugly :).

We carry both, with a short eye splice at the end for changing out easily. Some would argue that the bags don’t fly quite as good, and I know what I would reach for if I really needed to make a toss. The part about bouncing off a pier is valid. If we’re mooring at a potentially litigious place out come the bags.
I enjoy making beautiful heaving knots, otherwise we’d probably just have the bags.[/QUOTE]

We are still almost 100% monkey fist because that’s what has been in use for years and is the default method.

I think nothing wrong with the monkey fist but if you need to start using weights it might be worthwile to consider the sand bag instead. It definitely could be an issue in some ports. Some tug crews will cut off the ends if the fist is too big and heavy.

The most distance I’ve ever seen achieved with a heaving line was years ago in the Bering Sea. We were approaching a foreign trawler. I was on the foc’sle with a couple guys, we were so far out that my crew was still smoking cigarettes and shooting the breeze with our heaving lines still coiled on deck when the trawler crew’s lines started landing around us like they were dropping out of the sky.

They were using heaving lines made from parachute cord with weighted heaving line knots (not monkey fists) and they were swinging them in a circle then letting them fly bolo style. I’d say they were getting at least 50% if not twice more distance then anyone could get throwing a standard heaving line with a monkey fist side-arm.

I have seen a linehandler struck in the head with a weighted monkey fist, from way up high. Thank god he was wearing a hard hat. Crumpled him to the deck regardless. When he recovered, him and the rest of the gang attempted to charge up the gangway to get after our AB that threw it. I believe they would have hurt him badly if they had managed to reach him. Our AB’s had been joking around for the whole trip about hitting a linehandler. When it actually happened they turned white as ghosts and scurried away like rats. Well, all accept for our one gangbanger AB…

[QUOTE=Slick Cam;166801]I have seen a linehandler struck in the head with a weighted monkey fist, from way up high. Thank god he was wearing a hard hat. Crumpled him to the deck regardless. When he recovered, him and the rest of the gang attempted to charge up the gangway to get after our AB that threw it. I believe they would have hurt him badly if they had managed to reach him. Our AB’s had been joking around for the whole trip about hitting a linehandler. When it actually happened they turned white as ghosts and scurried away like rats. Well, all accept for our one gangbanger AB…[/QUOTE]

This post and this thread makes me think that it’s time to get rid of the monkey fists and purchase something purpose made for heaving lines. Who knows what’s inside the ones made on the ship?

An injury to a shoreside worker is serious enough by itself but it also can put the captain and mate in very real legal jeopardy.

Most line handlers in the new york/new jersey area would benefit from getting hit in the head by a monkey fist.

When you toss a heaving line up to someone on a ship the best place to aim is on either side of them. If you get it high enough the monkey fist will fly above them and they can stick there arm out sideways and the slack will literally fall down onto there arm. Its hard on a windy day to be accurate especially when coming alongside a ship. Much easier when sailing a ship that is at the dock.