Various ropes or straps may be attached to your dory, raft or cataraft for different uses.
Here we discuss Belly Bands, Tag Lines and Flip Lines.
A Belly Band is a rope or strap attached to a raft, dory or inflatable kayak that helps anyone get on top of the watercraft in the event of a flip. This rope or strap generally runs from oar-lock to oar-lock under the boat (the belly). It is typically snugged tight against the bottom of the boat to not catch on passing rocks. Some boaters will run the belly band from bow to stern under the boat. The idea is simple. This rope or strap helps swimmers get on top of an upturned boat.
Here is a photo of a very embarrassed dory boater using a Belly Band to get up on the bottom of his overturned dory. The rapid is Crystal and the boat and rower are passing by the left wall of the rapid. WAIT! Isn't that Tom Martin out there?! Yup... Photo credit Dave Mortenson 2012
Some folks running cataraft boats will rig Tag Lines, a 9 foot or shorter length of free rope, floating in the water and tied to each corner of the cat. Again, these tag lines are only used with catarafts. The idea of a tag line is should you be thrown from the cataraft, you can grab the tag line and pull yourself back to the boat.
Check with your boat captain about the boats Belly Bands, Tag Lines and Flip Lines, as not all boat rowers use them.
Some folks will only add a Belly Band or Tag Line to the boat on big water days.
The idea behind a Belly Band or Tag Line is to get out of the water and on top of the overturned watercraft as soon as possible.
The Flip Line is typically a rope or strap going from one oarlock to the bow or the stern of the boat. There may be one on either side of the boat. These are almost always seen on dories though they may occasionally appear on the smallest of rafts. They are used by one to three people to right an overturned dory. The Flip Line is unhooked from the bow (or stern) and brought around the side of the boat. The people standing on the bottom of the boat hold this line and step back to the opposite side of the boat, then lean back. The will flip the boat right side up as they fall back into the river themselves.
Here is a photo of the very same and equally embarrassed boater along with his irritated passenger using a flip line to roll their overturned dory right side up. Photo courtesy Miles O'Kelly 2010
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