Ropes for Dopes Pt 1 of 4

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Ropes for Dopes

Good morning mates,

Let’s start talking about rope. The “Dummies” series of books can’t write about rope…if they did they’d have to call it “Ropes for Dopes” and that wouldn’t work. Rope is the basic stuff that we purchase to use on our boats to control our sails, attach our boats to the earth, and secure things.

types of rope, learning the ropesLearning the ropes

Actually, rope is something that we buy at the chandlery (the rope store). It comes on big spools that are hung on rungs. We go to the store and immediately get intimidated by all the colors, sizes, descriptions and the wide range of prices for what pretty much looks all the same. After we make our decision, often governed by the pretty color or our fear of being seen staring at the choices looking stupid, we cut off a chunk and from then on it is a line.

We take those lines to our boat and give them a job to do and with that we give them a name. That name is dictated by convention so that we can go from one boat to boat and communicate with each other. We call these lines names like sheets, halyards and rodes.

Types of rope

There are three basic types of rope (there are actually many more) that we deal with on boats, single braid, double braid and twisted. Each has its own characteristics and uses.

Twisted rope

Twisted (We tend to see three strand twisted although there are other variations), is designed to have a lot of stretch (16-20%). It is great for dock lines and anchor rode. There are two primary variants of twisted, right laid or left laid and we should always coil them with the twist. Right laid three strand has the twist going clockwise when you look at it and left laid three strand…well you take a guess.

Double braid rope

Double braid rope has less stretch than three strand and is constructed of a braided core (most commonly constructed of Dacron on our boats) with a braided cover. The core and the cover each share the load imparted on the line. Typical stretch limits on double braided rope are around 6-8%. We see double braid rope on our boats often as sheets.

Single braid rope

Single braid rope has even less stretch, often in the range of less than 1% to 3%. It is constructed using an inner core of parallel strands covered in a braided cover. Single braid line does not rely on the cover to carry any load rather it is there to protect against chaff and UV damage. A common use for single braid rope is for our halyards.

In all three types of rope there are many variants and at the end of this series I will provide some useful links to help you further in your selection. Tomorrow…what to pick and why!

There you have the types of rope, so basically you are now ‘learning the ropes‘!

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