Please select your home edition
Edition app (top)

Is your rigging ready?

by Emma Donovan 23 Apr 2019 11:00 BST
Marlow Ropes on a Finn dinghy © Marlow Ropes

At the start of the new sailing season, here are some useful tips & tricks for keeping your ropes ship-shape for safe sailing whilst ensuring you get the most out of them!

If in doubt, always check with your local rigger and chandlery. The most common causes for ropes to fail are usually as a result of the following, either collectively or in isolation.

  • Chafe
  • Cutting
  • Damage in clutches, wearing in winches
  • Chemical damage, UV degradation
  • Fatigue
  • Tensile overload

Rig Inspections

To ensure you minimise any damage to your rope, it is worth remembering the following:

  • Your ropes must be safely stored when not in use, keeping them loosely coiled off the ground (preferably hung) in a locker away from direct sunlight.
  • If you think your rope needs to be washed, gently soak them in a bucket of water and avoid using any chemicals. It is often good practice to do this if your ropes have a build up of saltwater as over time this can encourage fatigue.
  • Never use anything abrasive to clean your rope as this can damage the fibres.
  • Always inspect your hardware to make sure there are no loose bits of metal or sharp sections that can cut or snag your rope fibres.


It is worth remembering that a percentage of strength in your rope will be lost when a rope is terminated, either in the form of a knot, lashing or splice.


Knots are a very common way of terminating a rope, however significant strength is lost when ropes are knotted:

  • Nylon/polyester ropes lose 50% strength
  • Covered high strength ropes lose 60% strength
  • Uncovered high strength ropes lose 70% strength
Actual figures will vary depending on rope type, size, the knot quality.

If you do decide to use a knot, we recommend the following 'Magnificent Seven' which can be used to solve almost any rope problem. If you only learn one knot, a Figure 8 is likely to be the most useful to you.

  • Figure 8
  • Alpine butterfly
  • Reef knot
  • Sheet bend
  • Clove hitch
  • Round turn & 2 half hitches
  • Prusik knot
When knotting a rope, strength is lost due to:
  • D:d ratio (the diameter ofthe bend compared with the diameter of the rope)
  • Compression
  • Friction
  • Twist
Collectively, this will affect the performance of the rope and specifically in high performance ropes where exotic fibres are often used such as Dyneema or Technora. This is due to the longer braided angles created when the rope is constructed. High performance fibres are low- stretch and therefore unable to accommodate the distortion created when using a knot.

To avoid a lack of strength you must make allowances for strength reduction and as a rule, we recommend splicing over knotting.


In almost all cases a splice is stronger than a knot, with only 10-15% strength lost.

Splicing is a rewarding skill to learn that will lengthen the life of your rope significantly. We provide various tutorials to demonstrate the following splices, in addition to supplying splicing kits and publishing a step by step Splicing Guide instruction manual which are all available from your local Marlow stockist.


A good way to start splicing is usually with the D12 Bury Splice (this can develop into the D12 Locking Eye Splice) or the 3 Strand Eye Splice.

Recommended Marlow splices:

  • D2 Eyesplice
  • Doublebraid
  • Marlowbraid
  • D12 Locking Eye Splice
  • Taper
  • 3 Strand Eye Splice
When splicing, it is worth remembering to avoid:
  • Short tails which results in the splice slipping and pulling apart.
  • Poor tapers a splice typically falls at the taper, learning to taper well is the difference between 10% and 20% reduction in strength.
  • Do not rely on 'Brummel' locks in 12 strand ropes this can reduce strength by approximately 30-50%.
For further information about rope care and splicing please click here.

Marlow Ropes is the UK leading manufacturer of high performance ropes, supplied worldwide. Marlow have been making ropes for the Leisure Marine industry in the UK since 1807 and have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the innovation, construction and development of rope in all its' applications. Marlow Ropes are the official rope supplier to the British Sailing Team, US Sailing Team, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and Ineos Team UK.

Related Articles

Marlow Ropes introduce bio-based Dyneema®
New innovation reduces Dyneema's reliance on fossil fuels Marlow Ropes are proud to be using bio-based Dyneema. This new innovation reduces Dyneema's reliance on fossil fuels and helps Marlow achieve our sustainability and carbon footprint reduction targets. Posted on 11 Sep
More Grip/Less Friction = Faster Dinghy Rope
A special Zoom webinar co-hosted by Charlotte Dobson & Saskia Tidey David Mossman at Marlow Ropes invites you do a special Zoom webinar co-hosted by Charlotte Dobson & Saskia Tidey, the GBR 49er FX Team selected for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Posted on 27 May
More grip, less friction
David Mossman from Marlow Ropes explains all at the RYA Dinghy Show 2020 A first-class insight into the development of dinghy lines and how they interact with various hardware options. David Mossman from Marlow Ropes explains how to maximise performance and retain strength in your ropes. Posted on 23 Mar
Why choose a locking eye splice?
Marlow's online Media Hub continues to educate rope users At the start of 2020 Marlow Ropes released an online Media Hub in their continued effort towards educating their end-users. The online portal contains a range of videos to inform and advise sailors on different subjects. Posted on 12 Mar
Marlow Ropes to partner with Team Malizia
For Boris Herrmann's Vendee Globe 2020 campaign Marlow Ropes, the world's leading manufacturer of performance sailing rope has announced that they will be an official supplier to Boris Herrmann of Team Malizia as he embarks on a journey to the 2020 Vendee Globe. Posted on 1 Mar
Why Splice?
Marlow's rope-care education campaign continues at the RYA Dinghy Show Marlow will be continuing their rope-care education campaign and sharing their expertise throughout the weekend of the RYA Dinghy Show, 29th February - 1st March with interactive talks and splicing workshops. Posted on 27 Feb
Marlow Ropes showcase education & innovation
With the British Sailing Team at RYA Dinghy Show 2020 Meet your British Sailing Team heroes along with Marlow's experts, & learn the latest innovations in ropes with Marlow Ropes (Stand B52) at this year's RYA Dinghy Show. Posted on 31 Jan
Blue Ocean Dockline wins PITTMAN Innovation Award
Marlow Ropes' dockline made from 100% recycled waste plastic bottles Marlow Ropes are delighted to announce that their eco-conscious Blue Ocean Dockline, made from 100% recycled waste plastic bottles was awarded a PITTMAN Innovation Award 2020 under the Green Award category. Posted on 30 Jan
Marlow Rope-Show dates announced
Start your 2020 with upskill Splicing & Ropecare sessions A New Year brings new opportunity to begin, learn and improve your skills, and here at Marlow Ropes we are pleased to now share our 2020 UK nationwide Rope-Show programme dates. Posted on 14 Jan
Marlow Blue Ocean Dockline is Dame nominated 2019
This sustainable innovation has seen great enthusiasm from the Leisure Marine market Marlow Ropes are delighted to announce that their eco-conscious Blue Ocean Dockline, made from 100% recycled waste plastic bottles has been nominated for a DAME Award 2019 at the METSTRADE show taking place in Amsterdam this November. Posted on 27 Oct 2019