Please select your home edition
Edition
upffront 2018 Ronstan shock blocks Leaderboard

Basic Rope Maintenance from Upffront

by Diego Sosa, Upffront 16 Jul 2018 09:28 BST
Courtesy of Gottifredi Maffioli © Gottifredi Maffioli

Salt water and dirt tears away at the fibres of the rope, shortening their lifespan. 'Salty ropes' are damp, thus collect more dirt. Ropes aren't cheap. Proper maintenance ensures you get the most out of your ropes.

Cleaning lines isn't only a matter of cosmetics; clean ropes are easier to handle. This is especially the case for overworked ropes such as genoa and mainsheets. As a minimum, ropes should be cleaned properly at least once a year, at the end of the season.

General

1. Use only fresh water. Sometimes rope cleaning can be a simple freshwater rinse. Strong chemicals can damage ropes.

2. Use cleaners with pH values between 8-9. If this sounds too complicated (or if you aren't into chemistry), then stick with laundry detergent.

Washing

There are several ways to maintain your ropes. A few options are listed below:

A. Rinse: Lay the ropes on the deck, or your front porch / driveway. Scrub them with a mild soap and rinse with a hose or pressure washer. Hang up to dry.

B. Soak: Place the lines in a bathtub and let them soak for 24 hours. Scrub with a brush and rinse continuously. They can be hung on a clothesline or dried with an electric fan (no heat - see below).

C. Machine wash: Ropes must be washed in cool water (around 16 degreesC/ 60 degreesF) and at a slow cycle. Use either a pillow case or a mesh bag to prevent the lines from tangling; it is safe to say none of us are fans of untangling ropes! You might want to place the ropes through another cycle, considering that the spins of the washing machine are slower than usual.

Why don't any of these methods suggest machine drying?

Surely that would get you back out sailing in no time! Placing lines in the drier is nearly the opposite of rope maintenance.

For all methods, water temperatures should be low. Warm wash cycles might be effective for getting rid of dirt but at the cost of wearing down ropes.

Heat from driers will also disintegrate rope covers, and then cores, resulting in a frail rope.

Try to tie a figure 8 with a brittle rope!

Patience is key.

Conclusion

Whether you consider yourself a racer or a cruiser, ropes are an essential element of your sailing systems. Whenever possible, use a fresh water hose and generously douse all accessible running rigging and deck hardware.

How often you remove the rigging and give it some extra TLC depends on the boat. Lines should be maintained at the same rate that they are used!

To learn more about running rigging, check out our free guide at upffront.com

Related Articles

Nick Black Talks Main Halyard Locks
Final discussion in the series on lock systems for yachts The final in our series on lock systems for sailing yachts, Andy Rice talks to Nick Black of Rigging Projects about mainsail locks. Reef locks have taken off in a big way in recent years, mostly because clew loads have become higher and higher, Posted on 14 Jan
Introduction to Winches
With recent innovative features and performance improvements Although the fundamental mechanics of winches have not really changed over the years, there are some innovative features and performance improvements which have appeared in the industry in more recent years. Posted on 11 Jan
Top-down and Bottom-up Furling Units
Differences and options broken down by upffront.com What are the key differences between bottom-up and top-down furling units and do I need a dedicated unit for each type of furling? The primary difference is that a top-down drum has the addition of a free floating tack swivel mounted on the furling drum. Posted on 28 Dec 2018
Nick Black and Andy Rice on Furling Halyard Locks
Bringing costs down to a more reasonable level The new generation of swivelling locks combine a tripless locking system with a high-performance bearing system. An enormous amount of R&D has gone into the development of these fittings, which is why for many people they are also too expensive. Posted on 21 Dec 2018
Structural Furling Forestays
An increasingly popular, lightweight alternative Continuous line furlers, together with a torsional cable, is an alternative furling system for the main structural forestay. This is an increasingly popular, lightweight choice for both racing and cruising sailors. Posted on 17 Dec 2018
Furling Systems: Options and Accessories
Several other furling considerations need to be taken into account When purchasing a furling system, there are several other considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure you have a fully operational furling system. Some are basic/essentials and others are optional extras. Posted on 12 Dec 2018
Is it worth paying for better running rigging?
The cost versus benefit trade-off for a 25ft boat What is the cost versus benefit trade-off for running rigging options on a 25 ft sailing boat? We take a look at three running rigging specs and investigate whether the increase in cost is justified by the performance benefits. Posted on 7 Dec 2018
Top-down versus Bottom-up Furling Cable Specs
What to look out for Have you got any idea what's the difference in design between a top-down or bottom-up torsional cable? Find out what makes a good torsional cable and the important differences between the two applications. Posted on 3 Dec 2018
Brand New Bamar Furling
Two well-engineered product ranges available now If you're a regular visitor to Upffront.com, you will have noticed two new impressive additions to our website: the Bamar RLG EVO Gennaker Furling and the Bamar GFM Manual Foresail Furling systems. Posted on 28 Nov 2018
Make Waves with nke Marine Electronics
Innovative systems for racing or cruising It's the age of information, and global technological advancements have revolutionised our lives and industries alike. As with many others, the sailing industry has benefitted from the introduction of marine electronics that make it easier. Posted on 23 Nov 2018