Ropes for Dopes Pt 3 of 4

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Ropes for Dopes

Good day to you all!

Yesterday we talked about selecting the correct line for the job. Keep in mind that we are talking about cruising boats, similar to the boats in Sailing Florida’s Fleet , not racing or passage-making boats.

types of rope, learning the ropes

Today, we will talk about the organization of your refit. There are several cordage (rope) manufactures that make products for the recreational boating market. The big three are New England Ropes, Yale and Sampson. You can go to their websites and read about their offerings for the lines we have spoken about here. They offer a vast array of products in a number of COLORS. The colors are what we’re going to talk about today.

I had a friend that bought a mid 80’s Ericson 27, or maybe it was a 28.  Anyhow, it was a very nice boat but still about 27 years old. When I went to see it I pointed out that he might want to think about replacing that 27 year old running rigging (you know, all the strings that make the boat go). He took my advice and went to the store and bought all new running rigging.

When he got home he went to work replacing all the lines on his boat. Later he called me and proudly announced that he had taken my advice and that I should come check it out! So, I did.

When I got there my mouth dropped as I gazed upon his boat decked out with 300’ of white and black checked stiff, rough, mostly undersized, nasty line. You know, the kind that when coiled makes squares instead of loops.   EVERY WHERE!

Did I mention that he was from West Virginia? Moral of the story: Be careful what you tell some people, they might just listen.   There are a couple of easy steps you can follow to make sure that your new running rigging is right and makes sense.

  1. Sit in the cockpit with paper and pen and make a list of all the lines you want to replace. Group them together like this:

Halyard                                   Sheets

USE                                         Color               Size     Type     Man               Size     Type     Man





Code 0


Color               Size     Type     Man






Reef 1

Reef 2

Main furler

Jib furler

  1. Decide what type of line you want to use for each of these groups (double braid, single braid, etc.)
  2. Research what size line you need for each specific job (i.e. main halyard, jib halyard, spinnaker halyard). This research will take into account the size of your boat)
  3. Select your manufacture (you might use more than one)
  4. Measure each line application and add 10%
  5. Select you color scheme for each ROW.

Okay, we haven’t talked about color yet so here we go. We are not trying to match the cushions nor are we trying to match the paint on the boat. We ARE trying to keep the lines organized by color to the sail they are controlling. For example, my jib halyard is Stay-Set X (white with red tracers) so my jib sheets are Stay-Set (red with white tracers). Got it?

I always make my 2nd reef solid red. I remember the following: “Put in red or your dead”. I like to use solid color lines for things that are not directly controlling sails. Things like the traveller and vang. I will change manufacturers to keep the theme going if I have to.

All those pretty color we talked about on day one exist for a reason, to allow you to distinguish every line and its job. Now we can order (very politely as we always do) our non-sailing crew to pull the red line and they will know what you’re talking about. You can teach them more as time goes on.

Tomorrow we wrap this up with a short talk about specialty and high tec lines.

Crap! Look at the time! I gotta go for so…..I’ll see you On the Water…With Captain

Ropes for Dopes Pt 4 of 4

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Ropes for Dopes

Good morning to all,

This is the last of the series on rope, YEAH! We have discussed the types of rope that we might use on our boats. What the characteristics of these ropes are and what applications on our boat each characteristic might be best suited for. I described a method that I use to organize the running rigging on my boat. Keep in mind that after you make your master plan you can carry it out in stages.

types of rope, learning the ropes

Maybe you replace all your halyards, or just one, but do so implementing your plan. Save that chart you made so you can refer to it over the years. Also, remember that there are many choices in rope beyond what we discussed. Presented here are just the basics for a cruising boat. For example I am very fond of a rope called Swiftcord – Maffioli for the mainsheet on my boats.

In general you can expect to have about 10 times your boat length in running rigging. Anticipate costs of around four dollars a foot for the cost although this may vary widely.

Those links I promised, well, I still trying to get them worked out. When I figure that out (after-all I’m a sailor not a nerd) I’ll get them posted.

One last thing: Did you know that all the little pieces of line in your locker are called small stuff? These pieces of small stuff are very important to have. They can be used for lashing things down, emergency situations and even for what I like to call “Arts and crafts at band camp” (you know, knot-tying practice on those long periods of time between tacks. Don’t throw them away, clean ‘em up and stow them neatly, you never know.

On Fridays I will be doing my piece called BITS N PIECES. Just little one-line items for fun. So:

Till then, do what ever you have to to get On the Water…With Captain Frank