7 Ways to extend the life of your boat ropes
It's no secret that boat ropes take a beating out on the open water. Salt and sun can quickly deteriorate fibers, leading to premature failure. But with a few simple steps, you can help prolong the life of your ropes - keeping you safe and your boat looking good for seasons to come. Read on for our top tips!
This guide applies to all types of dinghy & yacht ropes:
- Control Lines
- Mooring & Dock Lines
- Anchoring Lines
Follow these simple steps to extend the life of your ropes, saving money, increasing sustainability and improving safety.
- Wash after use
- Store in well ventilated, dry environment
- Don’t store under tension
- Cover high load areas with Chafe Sleeve
- Keep ropes off the ground / boat park floor / sandy beach
- Buy quality
1. Wash after use
If you sail in a salt water environment, washing your ropes is particularly important as salty ropes remain damp for longer and tend to collect more dirt and grime which cause friction, and damage the structure over time.
Ideally give your ropes a rinse off after each outing, as a minimum they should be washed annually using fresh water (you can add a laundry detergent - ph value between 8-9), dunk and leave the ropes in a bucket of water before gently agitating and remove to dry.
2. Store in a cool, dry environment out of direct sunlight
In a perfect world, ropes would be dried and hung after each use in a well ventilated space, out of direct sunlight until next required. However in the real world a giving them a quick rinse out with fresh water and hanging inside the cabin to dry or in the case of dinghies if there is enough room under your cover, hang them off the boom. Try to keep ropes out of direct sunlight as much as possible, as UV gradually degrades the rope over time. For any Aramid based ropes such as Kevlar® this is especially important as Kevlar® has a very low UV resistance.
3. Don’t store under tension
Where possible release tension from any running rigging to prevent creep; irreversible stretch, and allow the rope to revert to its natural shape.
When laying up your boat over the winter period or for long periods without activity, either either pull all halyards to the top of the mast and place the coiled ends into a bag at the mast base or for longer periods remove all ropes using mousing line to allow recovery when ready for use. The same goes for sheets, barbers and other control lines.
5. Cover high load areas with Chafe Sleeve
Once the preserve of pro teams with professional riggers, the addition of chafe sleeve is now a common sight from cruisers to expedition yachts. With modern ratchets and winches becoming increasingly aggressive, manufacturers have worked hard to improve the durability of yacht and dinghy ropes, however the fact remains that continued use of a rope around a winch, through a cleat, jammer or ratchet will wear the rope down. To prevent this, chafe sleeves can be spliced into required sections of the rope where chafe is most likely to occur. In some cases the chafe sleeve will replace a less hard wearing outer cover, in other cases the chafe sleeve will add bulk to high performance Dyneema® ropes to improve clutch holding performance.
6. Keep ropes off the ground / boat park floor / sandy beach
Sounds obvious right? The reality is that almost all of us have dragged sheets around the boat park and up the beach at some point. In doing so the the ropes pick up lots of small debris that become friction points slowly rubbing against the fibres and causing them to breakdown. If you do find yourself with a rope full of sand, go back to step 1. and give them a good rinse out.
7. Buy quality
The old adage, buy once buy well, mostly applies to ropes. Whilst you can’t buy once and forget due to the consumable nature of a rope, buying a good quality rope, fit for its purpose and well looked after will undoubtedly outlast a rope of limited provenance. Not only in terms of natural wear but also in its ability to meets its minimum breaking load.
With some really simple steps it’s possible to greatly extend the life of your sailing ropes, reducing running costs, environmental impact & improving safety margins.
Can you afford not to?