How to look after your sailing ropes

17/03/2017
by Andrew Dowley
sailing ropes

With the sailing season about to start we thought we would give you some tips on how to look after your sailing ropes. Every boat has plenty of rope onboard and the start of the season is a good time to check your boat over including your rope and rigging systems.

The first thing we’d advise you to do is to check each and every dinghy rope very carefully, run through from one end to the other looking for any issues, fraying areas and inspect where the rope goes through cleats or sharp turns. It’s also important to check your rope work, if you’ve got splices, joins, tapers or whips check them over.

Secondly, check the ends of the ropes, if they’re not sealed then finish them off properly with a heat knife or rope hot gun. Some people prefer to cut the rope and seal with a lighter, if you’re going to take this approach then put some electrical tape round the rope before making the cut – then you can heat the end. We would recommend a rope seal hot knife, a great little tool and very handy for the dinghy park.

If the sailing ropes do come off the boat without too much hassle then why not put them into the washing machine. It might sound a bit weird but it’s the best way to get them clean. Just make sure you don’t use soap with a beaching agent.

Once the ropes are washed make sure you dry them thoroughly, it’s best to put them in a dark but warm room where the sunlight isn’t going to get to them. Sunlight is one of the biggest killers of sailing and dinghy ropes, especially those which do poke out of the boat cover.

When you go to put your sailing ropes back onto your boat check your pulleys, cleats and boat for abrasion points. If your rope is running around a sharp item or pulley that doesn’t work then it’s not going to last as long. At that point it’s probably time to replace the hardware on the boat, or add some protective tape to reduce friction.

Caring for your ropes is important, we see lots of people pulling their boat from the water to their boat parking space with a mainsheet trailing across the concrete. This is a very fast way to reduce the ropes lifetime and create weak areas.

Another important factor is to use the right rope for the job. Yes, we all love a bit of cheap string but sometimes a cheap bit of rope won’t last as long, costing you more money over time. Check what sort of load each line is going to be taking, obviously control systems, sheets and halyards are going to take the biggest loads. You’ll be fine with a bargain bit of floatline for your boats painter though!

If you use a rope which isn’t suitable you’ll see your sails start to have problems. For example if a rope can’t act correctly as a halyard you’ll see it stretching and your sail starting to drop from where it should be, no matter how much you try and tighten the halyard it won’t work. If you’re unsure of which rope you need then please just give us a call, or drop us an email – we are always more than happy to help.

Summary

Do’s

  • Check your ropes thoroughly including splices, tapers and joins
  • Check for abrasion points on your boat
  • Seal rope ends when cutting
  • Wash your ropes
  • Dry your ropes once washed
  • Use the right rope for the job

Don’ts

  • Leave your ropes in direct sunlight
  • Use a soap which contains a bleaching agent
  • Drag your ropes on the floor

Questions?

If you’ve got any questions about which boat rope is going to be best for you, or if you just want to talk through the options then feel free to give us a call.

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