Ropes are an integral part of sailing. Nautical rope or marine rope , as it is sometimes called, have multiple uses whether that be to control the sails, to lift an anchor, to secure the boat, to secure loads and much more. As a sailor, rope is something you will have to get to grips with.
Before synthetic materials were available rope was made from natural materials. These types of ropes can still be seen today in historic vessels that are on show in various ports around the globe and in some cases still in use as boats or as stationary dining experiences or event venues.
Modern nautical ropes can be made from a variety of materials. The rope has to bear the elements and so synthetic alternatives improve performance of the rope and make the life of the sailor using it just that little bit easier.
Marine rope can be made of polyester and commonly is so. This type of rope doesn’t float however but because it is usually cheaper than alternatives it is often used as nautical rope. It has a high resistance to abrasion and ultraviolet and provides a sure gripping surface. It is also easy to splice which can be important in a marine setting.
Nylon is thought of as a classic material for rope as it is strong and quite elasticated hence its most common usage being for anchor lines. It can, however, weaken as it gets wet. It is resistant against rot and mildew and is not damaged by oil. It is a great shock absorber too.
Kevlar® and Dacron are other alternatives, but they don’t have much flexibility and therefore are only really useful in a nautical setting for halyards, they are more expensive and more durable than the other options.
Polypropylene ropes are commonly used for dinghies and other small vessels as they are light enough to float and comparatively cheap, they also make good safety lines.
High modulus polyethylene is utilized heavily in the packaging industry because of its exceptional strength and light weight which also makes them good anchor lines and halyards as the also are able to float.
Aramid rope are the luxury rope for sailors. It is high strength, low elasticity, and light weight but is pricey compared to the alternatives.
Nautical rope comes in two types; braided rope or the three-strand rope. Braided ropes contain a core of braided fibers that are encased in a protective layer – similar to how bungee ropes are constructed. The three-strand rope however is the most traditional type with twists instead of braids making it strong and flexible.
Rope is used in many ways in the marine industry - emergency tow systems, harbor work, salvage, escorting, long haul towing, river towboats, offshore towboats, barge tie-up lines, mooring lines, marine construction, winch lines, pulling lines, purse lines, trawl net line, Gilson lines, buoy mooring, array mooring, the list goes on.
It is recommended to take into consideration the local climate and conditions in which the boat you are purchasing rope for mainly resides.