Braided rope is also used for sailing as it is easier on the hands though in these cases it is not called rope. Rope is the term used only for raw material.
It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength so it can be used for pulling. Common materials for rope include natural fibers such as Manila, hemp, linen, cotton, jute, and sisal.
Synthetic fibers for ropes include polypropylene, nylon, polyesters (PET or Vectran), polyethylene (Spectra) and Aramids (Twaron, Technora and Kevlar). Some ropes are constructed of mixtures of several fibres or use co-polymer fibres. Ropes can also be made out of metal fibers. Ropes have been constructed of other fibrous materials such as silk, wool, and hair, but such ropes are not generally available. Rayon is a regenerated fiber used to make decorative rope.
Ropes can be dangerous when left to their own devices, so they should be either coiled down on the deck or coiled and tied to rails ready for use.
Never stand in the bight of a rope as many people have been dragged overboard when the weight came on the rope. This also applies to hydraulic hoses.
The term ship shape was used during the sailing ship days to try to reduce these accidents from this sort of action.
One area of misunderstanding that needs to be brought to the fore is the proper interpretation of rope strength.
The two important terms are: "tensile strength" and "working load".
Tensile strength is the average strength of new rope under laboratory conditions. This is determined by wrapping the rope around two large diameter capstans and slowly tensioning it until it breaks.
The manufacturer recommends the working strength by taking the tensile strength and dividing it by a factor that more accurately reflects the maximum load that should be applied to a given rope to assure a good safety margin and longevity of the rope. This factor varies with different types of fiber used and the weaving construction. There are however always exceptions, most notably the fact that rope is susceptible to deterioration and damage in numerous ways that cannot be controlled by the manufacturer.
Here are a few examples of different rope materials showing how with the same 10mm diameter, the Tensile strength differs greatly and in many cases ropes are purchased and used where they may have a greater breaking strain than the equipment they are used with.
Rope material Kg per 100m Breaking load kg Breaking load kN
Sisal 6.8 635 6.23
Manila 6.8 705 6.91
Polypropylene 4,5 1425 14.5
Polyester 6.1 1590 15.6
Nylon 6.5 2080 20.4
Braided Nylon 7.5 2750 25.7
Working load for most kinds of rope is between 15% and 25% of the tensile strength.
Once a section of rope is designated for a particular purpose on a vessel, it generally is called a line, as in outhaul line or dock line. A very thick line is considered a cable. Lines that are attached to sails to control their shapes are called sheets, as in mainsheet.
If a rope is made of wire, it maintains its rope name as in 'wire rope' halyard.
Standing rigging Left
Lines (generally steel cables) that support masts are stationary and are collectively known as a vessel's standing rigging, and individually as shrouds or stays.
The stay running forward from a mast to the bow is called the forestay or headstay. Stays running aft are backstays or after stays.
Lines used to tie a boat up when alongside are called docklines, docking cables or mooring warps.
In dinghies the single line from the bow is referred to as the painter. A rode is what attaches an anchored boat to its anchor. It may be made of chain, rope, or a combination of the two.
Some lines are referred to as ropes:Bell rope (to ring the bell), bolt rope (attached to the edge of a sail for extra strength), foot rope (for sailors on square riggers to stand on while reefing or furling the sails) and the tiller rope (to temporarily hold the tiller and keep the boat on course).
Running rigging Right
Moveable lines that control sails or other equipment are known collectively as a vessel's running rigging. Lines that raise sails are called halyards while those that strike them are called downhauls. Lines that adjust (trim) the sails are called sheets. These are often referred to using the name of the sail they control (such as main sheet, or jib sheet). Sail trim may also be controlled with smaller lines attached to the forward section of a boom such as a cunningham; a line used to hold the boom down is called a vang, or a kicker in the United Kingdom. A topping lift is used to hold a boom up in the absence of sail tension. Guys are used to control the ends of other spars such as spinnaker poles.
Looking after ropes
Do not drag across the ground or rough edges.
Avoid dust and grit getting into the lay, this will cause damage to the fibers inside the rope. If dirty, wash with clean water do not force dry in front of fires.
Synthetic ropes should be stored out of direct sunlight.
Protect any wear areas with other material i.e. leather or plastic.
Inspect reguarly, their life will be extended by repair and protection in wear areas.
Inspect about 30cm at a time, turn to look at all sides before continuing.
Open the strands sufficienly to examine the inside surfaces.
Chech cuts and contusions they mayhave cause internal damage as well as external.
Chemicals may cause staining as well as damage to the material both internally and externally.
If in doubt discard and renew.
Note: never join left and right handed layed ropes together. When under strain one of them will unlay.
The official definition of a knot is as follows;
1. A lump or knob in a thread, cord, etc., formed by passing one free end through a loop and drawing it tight, or by a tangle drawn tight
2. A fastening made by inter twining or tying together pieces of string, cord, rope, etc.
The importance of a knot is that it is tied correctly so it can be undone by hand not with a knife. Some people have great difficulty remembering how certain knots are tied so this section is a reminder.
Photo left looks like it will undo really quickly when we need the winch!
Knots are an essential part of a responder’s knowledge.
These nine are used regularly and should be practiced until they can be done with your eyes closed or behind your back.
It should also be noted that a knot in a rope will reduce the breaking strain sometimes damatically. Research has shown that the figure 8 knot reduces the tensile strength by approximately 35%.
Figure of eight Bowline Bowline on the bight Clove hitch
Rolling hitch Sheet bend Round turn and two half hitches Cleat hitch
Reef or Square knot Granny knot Thief knot
As can be seen above one small mistake and you have a completely different knot. Knots tied correctly are usually geometric in shape.
The photos above are from the animated knot site by Grog where you could see how these and many more are formed.
Photo right are 52 of the commonly used knots, I tied with two colours of cord to show how they look when tied correctly.
Another site in Dutch and English is http://home.tiscali.nl/knotsandknottying/index.htm
If you have an interest in other knots, The Ashley Book of Knots written by Clifford W. Ashley is probably the worlds best reference material with 4800 knots and splices as well as 7000 decorative designs.
Taken from http://www.boaterexam.com
For those people who are interested in knots and knot tying click the logo to enter the site
As with everything it looks complicated until you know how to do it.
The photo left shows how ropes are left by people who have no seamanship skills, this rope given time will have it's length reduced to such a degree it will be thrown away.
The photo right shows the same rope 5 minutes later with a back splice preserving the length of rope and making it much easier to work with.
Being able to do these splices will make life easier for everyone who has to use them as well as extending their life and therefore reducing costs.
Below are diagrams of three basic splices used on a daily basis.The Back splice shown left is what was used in the photo above to finish of the end correctly.
Both of these methods will add extra life to ropes and make them much easier to use.
The eye splice forms obviously an eye at the end of a rope. Finding the position of the third tuck usually catches people out
This is a short splice used to join two lengths of rope of the same diameter making a smooth conection with more strength than a knot.
Photo left shows some spilces I did using a synthetic rope that mimic's natural fibre
Splicing braided ropes require different tools which are shown below. In many cases to finish these eyes will require hard eyes which may be made from stainless steel or plastic. This will allow them to have a much longer working life.
There are various videos on the internet (youtube.com) which show how to do most of these splices step by step.
A knife is an important tool as well as a safety item. Many seafarers have had their lives saved by a sharp knife.
Buying the right one is a personal chose but we are not trying to look like "Rambo" it’s a tool not a fashion statement.
For the last 8 years I have had a Swedish Mora 511 with a 3 3/4" serrated edge blade of high carbon steel. The plastic handle with finger guard clicks securely into plastic sheath. It holds an edge for a long time.
Note: The steel of this knife is high carbon. High carbon steel is an excellent choice for field and kitchen knives, but will rust and tarnish. To help reduce this, it is suggested you keep the blade clean, dry and lightly oiled. Rust specks and tarnish in no way indicate defects in the steel.
Just be careful where you put it down, as it will disappear quickly!
In the past I have used various deck knives like this one right, most have stainless steel blades which loose their edge after cutting a couple of pieces of polypropylene rope.
My set left is now over 20 years old and still going strong, it has a 6” adjustable spanner, Philips and slotted screwdrivers a marlinspike and a pair of pliers, Note: my knife is separate.
With these few tools you can get out of a lot of problems.
A fid is a conical tool usually made of hard wood in some cases steel. It is used to open knots and to open the "lays", or strands of rope for splicing. The bigger the rope the bigger the fid you will need.
Left are a couple of Swedish fids, with wooden handles but with a hollow stainless steel point they are excellent when working with smaller ropes. The fid opens the ropes lay and leaves a hole along the fid for you to slide the end though before sliding the fid back out again.
Far right traditional fids made from Maple with solid points.
Near right fid is made from a very hard strong wood called Lignum vitae which is which can be expensive. These may be up to half a meter long for ships mooring ropes.
Note: most of these fids do not float, so drill the head and thread a cord through and stay away from water when using them as they will usually roll towards it when you put them down.
A marlinespike is made of metal and is used when working with wire rope, it is also useful for opening screw shackles.
Palm and needle
This is a device used originally for repairs on sails. It is also useful for whipping or binding the ends of ropes.
The small device consists of a loop of leather with a hole for the thumb to go through. The widest part of the leather sits across the palm of the hand and incorporates a dimpled metal plate in rawhide to accommodate the blunt end of a needle.
Rub vegetable oil into the leather to make it waterproof and will last longer.
Sailmaker’s needles are necessary as they are tough and big enough to use with waxed thread which these days tends to be synthetic to resist the effects of weather and salt water. This is an excellent tool for quick fixes to split booms.
Braided rope kit
This kit includes 2 needles for different diameter ropes, a small fid, tape for the cut end of the rope and instructions showing how to do the splice.
You will need a pair of strong scissors for cutting the ends of the rope as well as the internal strands and a pen for marking the case of the rope.
If you just happen to have 32 meters of 25mm rope handy and a couple of hours to spare.
This is an Ocean plait door mat I made, it should last for the rest of my life.