Choosing the right rope for the job
With the advent of advanced rope technology materials, such as Dyneema, Spectra, Vectran and many others, choosing the right rope for the right job has become complex and confusing. In consequence, we have noticed that sailors frequently choose ropes that do not have the properties required for the purpose at hand. The default position is often: do it all in Dyneema.
We visited Kaya Ropes in Istanbul, Kraken’s partner supplier for ropes, to talk to the experts and select the right ropes for the lines, halyards and sheets for a Kraken 50. The rope requirements for a cruising yacht are of course different to those required for a racing yacht since the core requirement for racing is minimal windage and weight, therefore thin rope made from ultra-strong material is essential.
Nurettin Sözüdüz, Kaya Ropes’ International Sales Director, guided us through the maze of fibres, weaves, covers and cores, and after spending several hours considering all aspects of the ropes available, we are happy that the lines we have chosen will really improve the handling and performance of all aspects of running rigging.
Every modern sailing yacht carries an extensive wardrobe of cordage, mooring lines, running lines, furling lines, sheets, and halyards, and each one requires a rope with specific characteristics.
Halyards require a very low stretch rope. You don’t want to have to constantly re-tension halyards to take the sag out of
Nurittin advised that we choose a rope built with a Dyneema cord and a polyester cover. The Dyneema has very low stretch, around 1%, and with a cover the owner can easily see if wear or chafe is occurring, such as at the sheaves. The polyester cover also protects the core from degradation from UV light and helps the clutch cleats or jammers to grip.
We chose Storm D Pro 10mm.
Sheets need a soft, flexible rope that can be handled comfortably as well as flaked and coiled easily. There’s nothing worse than to have stiff, hard sheets, that you have to wrestle with to get them to coil and flake, as they develop a mind of their own. In this case, we needed a 12 plait polyester core with a 16-24-32 polyester cover.
We considered a rope with a very soft ‘fluffy’ cover such as Kaya’s Lupes Soft but Nurittin advised that although this is a nice rope to handle, it needs replacing more often because it suffers from chafe more quickly.
We chose Lupes Plain 12mm.
And other lines
We will use the same polyester rope for the furling, car and mainsheet traveller lines, the toppings lifts, the flying sail guys and the preventer.
A polyester rope is the best choice since you need a reasonably soft rope so the clutch cleats and jammers will be able to grip the line well without slipping.
We chose Lupes Plain 6-10mm according to application
These lines need to have lots of elasticity so the yacht doesn’t snatch at the cleats or mooring bollards, they also need to have good abrasion resistance, and be easy to throw and coil, again a polyester cored rope with cover was recommended but a three strand polyester would also suffice.
We chose 20mm Lupes Vipera which has a 16-20-24 plait polyester cover and a 16 plait polyester core.
Stern-to Mooring Lines
In the Mediterranean most of the mooring, whether in marinas, ports or anchorages is stern-to, so there is a need for a specific rope for this purpose.
It needs to be strong, light, have plenty of stretch and it must float and be visible.
A sinking rope will fall to the sea bed and snag on rocks or other underwater obstructions.
Nurittin advised a Polypropylene 8 stranded-rope.
We chose 20mm Lupp Square in yellow.
Extension Anchor Rode
On all Kraken’s we splice an extra 60mts of anchor rode onto the very ample 100mt anchor chain, so that our owners can anchor in very deep water if they need to.
The best material for the anchor rode is HT polyamide due to its strength and resistance to UV. An eight strand plaited rope allows the rode to be neatly spliced onto the chain.
We chose Lupa Square 20mm.
Avoid rope upsizing
There is no need to go too big on the diameter. Modern ropes are very strong, gone are the days of 16mm sheets. On the Kraken 50 the biggest diameter we use is 12mm and that is purely for ease of handling, a 10 or even 8mm would be strong enough. Similarly if using Dyneema, say on a 50ft blue water cruiser, a 6mm halyard would hold the 2500kg load from the mainsail. We use 10mm instead as it handles and grips better.
The simple solution is to have every line, or pair of lines different colours, that way when you shout ‘no, the blue one’ mistakes aren’t made. The exception to this is the mooring lines, where black or grey will be the best solution.
I once saw a yacht that had all starboard lines green and port lines red! Whilst it’s understandable that new crew may not instantly recognise which sheet or line is which, I do think we could assume they know port from starboard.
What is Dyneema?
The material that these types of ropes are made from is ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene – UHMWPE. The specific build technique or lay up of a UHMWPE rope is generally referred to by its brand name, Dyneema, Vectran or Spectra for example. These lines offer marked holding characteristics and very low stretch values. The technology has progressed enough for it to be available to all, but they come with a hefty price tag. Generally, they are at least four times more expensive than a good quality polyester rope, and it must be noted that although they are ultra strong they may have poor UV resistance and potential for brittleness after a long time exposed to the elements.
Spend some time and carefully consider what attributes each rope has before deciding if it’s the right rope for that specific purpose. You could spend a lot of money and still not have the best ropes for the job.
Thanks to Nurattin and Kaya Ropes.
The Ocean Sailor Knot of the month
The Rolling Hitch
One of the simplest and most useful bends and yet one of the least known in use today. Essentially it is for bending (tying) a rope to a spar, but it can be used to bend (tie) a rope to log, wire, rod rigging, or other standing rope where no end is available. It’s value is it doesn’t slip along the rope or object it is tied onto.