So Many Rope Choices

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by durwoodghib, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. durwoodghib
    Joined: Jul 2007
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    I need to replace the ropes on my sail boat. All of the ropes are stiff as a board or frayed. When I look on different web sites for rope there are a min. of 7 different brands/types up to 20 brands/types of rope to choose from. How do I know what is right for me/my boat. 16ft. fiberglass day sailor. 1 main, 1 jib.
     
  2. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    marshmat Senior Member

    The same rope won't work for everything.
    For the mooring lines, it's hard to beat braided nylon. Some prefer the twisted, but I find that frays too easily and picks up junk.
    For your main and jib sheets and halyards, there's a few options. Braided nylon is cheap and is easy on the hands, but is kind of stretchy, so not the highest-performance option. Dacron is somewhat more expensive but not as stretchy. Spectra is damned pricey and hardly stretches at all. Kevlar/aramid, even more expensive, lighter, but breaks down in the sun rather fast compared to the others.
    I am of the opinion that any rope whose advertised name starts with "poly-" is best avoided on boats, except as a floating tow-line. (note- most synthetic ropes are poly-something; nylon is polyamide, kevlar polyaramid- but only the cheap ones tend to use the 'poly-' moniker on the sales sheet.) Others may disagree but I find the cheap yellow and/or white plastic lines to be rough on the hands, they don't hold knots, and they chafe to shreds in a matter of hours.
    In all cases, I tend to prefer the largest diameter your cleats and blocks can comfortably take; the thinner ropes are hard on the hands. Braided is less likely to jam up in the blocks than twisted, if you ask me.
     
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  3. durwoodghib
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    Thanks for the info it gives me a place to start for right now...I am probably going to be replacing the cleats on the boat as well due to some of them not moving and others are cracked from being in the sun for ever with out use. so I will be sure to get some that hold heavier lines..
     
  4. riggertroy
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    riggertroy Senior Member

    Unless the boat is built for it I would avoid using spectra or similar(low stretch) for the sheets as have heard of gear failures as the fittings not built for the shock loads (the stretch acts as a shock absorber), I'm going to be using a terelyne for my sheets (nylon has to much stretch).

    Ask people that have the same type of boat that you have what they are using.
     
  5. durwoodghib
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    Thanks again... It is ok to use "non-stretch" for the main and jib Halyard?
     
  6. riggertroy
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    riggertroy Senior Member

    My personal opinion, yes, but as I said before - ask others that have similar boats - there may be good reasons why they use certain types.
    Good point from marshmat - the largest diameter that your gear can handle for ease on your own hands.
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Judging by your experience level, which I'm assuming isn't particularly high (you're still learning), you can skip all the fancy high tech cordage and just use plane old polyester double braid (Sta-Set for example, from New England Rope Co.). This is one of the less expensive lines (rope is called a line, unless it's attached to an anchor, then it's called a rode), is reasonably flexible and has moderate stretch. For the average novice sailor, you'll not notice the difference between line that costs $5 a foot or 50 cents a foot. As your expertise grows, you can upgrade your halyards to a less stretchy line, if you desire. Again Sta-Set X brand from the same company, will be fine for those halyards and not much money.
     
  8. PI Design
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    PI Design Senior Member

    Halyards should be low stretch so that the sails don't come down a few inches when you pull on luff tension. Sheets can be 8mm (5/16"?) polyester or similar.
     
  9. durwoodghib
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    Thanks for all the input been mighty helpful
     
  10. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    Just a word in favor of the oldest style of rope. Three-strand dacron (polyester, terylene) is not so favored any more, but I like it. It is very easily spliced, has good grip, and is very affordable.
    I use it for sheets, halyards, and anything else except anchor rode, which must be nylon for springiness.
    I can join two rope ends practically invisibly to make a longer rope, splice an eye, make fancy stoppers on the ends, join two ropes, in other words, this kind of rope doesn't need a rigging loft to customize.
    One side benefit is that it comes in one color for the most part--- white. Colored ropes with stripes look tacky to me.
    I am somewhat of an anachronism, I admit. Still, I've never had a rope break, and splices are so easy that regardless of the somewhat greater strength of double-braided stuff, if it's tied rather than spliced, you've just lost any advantage it had over three-strand (except abrasion resistence, which matters to a certain degree).
    In any case, sheets are always over-sized to allow the hand to grip them, so it makes no sense to buy for ulimate strength. They will never reach even close to their breaking point.
    Halyards, on the other hand, should be strong and have as little stretch as possible. I would never use nylon for halyards because especially jibs can pull very hard. Nylon stretches to 1 1/2 its original length before it breaks.
    Use dacron polyester for halyards, or if you can afford it, spectra, which is a braided rope. Spectra is just about as stretch-free as a rope can be and it is very strong and light.

    Alan
     
  11. tylerars24
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    tylerars24 Junior Member

    I reccommend a Polyester 12 strand double braid, like new england ropes Sta-Set.

    Its tricky to get the splice right at first, but once you you get like 2 of them correctly its a breeze.

    Its pretty cheap, good wear resistance, good stretch for the price.


    Every piece of running rigging on my boat is double braid 12 strand, I like it.
     
  12. durwoodghib
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    I am thinking for my main sheet and jib sheet (I think that is what it is called) I will go with the Sta-Set by New England Rope...1/4" - 6mm and for the main and Jib Halyard I am going to go with something less stretchy like a 5/16"-8mm made from Dacron...IF someone thinks that this is not a good approach let me know please...
     
  13. tylerars24
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    tylerars24 Junior Member

    I recommend you go with at least 5/16" for the main sheet. 1/4" is pretty hard on the hands. I guess you could get by with 1/4" jib sheets because they aren't handled as much as the main sheet.

    I have 3/8" main sheet, and 5/16" jib sheets.


    Tyler
     
  14. durwoodghib
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    durwoodghib Junior Member

    I will consider the 5/16" for the sheets but I need to make sure it will work with the current rigging. It only had 1/4" on before.
     

  15. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Sheets get "handed" quite often, meaning they need to be comfortable in the hand. I consider 3/8" a bare minimum for these types of lines, unless they ride on self tailing winches most of the time. 7/16" is comfortable to most folks and I prefer 1/2", because my beat up hands need all the help they can get.

    In light air, these heavy sheets can be a hassle, causing the boom or jib to fall inboard. This isn't a problem except when the air is very light and the wind is just able to fill the sails.
     
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