Messenger line

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A USCG sailor uses a specially adapted firearm to fire a messenger line to another vessel.

A messenger line or just messenger is relatively light cordage used to pull a heavier cable across a gap or through a tube or duct.[1][2] The term is also used for a line used to pull or lower a package along a downline or jackstay.[3]

A heaving line is a rope with a weighted end which can be thrown relatively easily across a gap. If it is attached to a heavier line, warp, or chain and then used to pull the heavier line across the gap it is being used as a messenger line. The name heaving line refers to the function of pulling the line, and messenger line to the function of transferring the object it is fastened to.


  • A heaving line thrown from a ship to shore then used to pull the mooring warp from the ship to a bollard.[1]
  • A light line installed inside a mast during manufacture, which is later used to reeve a halyard or pull an electrical cable into place.[2]
  • A line used to lower a toolbag or equipment along a downline to a diver.[3]
  • A line used to lower a weight (messenger) along a taut line to trigger a mechanism. For example: to close the mouth of a towed sampling net.


  1. ^ a b "Wärtsilä Encyclopedia of Marine Technology: Messenger line". Wärtsilä. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Reeving halyards". The Rigging Company, LLP. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Barsky, Steven. M; Christensen, Robert W. (2004). The Simple Guide to Commercial Diving (Illustrated ed.). Hammerhead Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780967430546.