How to use rope on your boat

“A ROPE is to tie things with.” That’s an oft-quoted youngster’s definition, and it should be good enough for any pleasure boatman, provided he knows how “to tie things,” what rope is needed and how to care for it. A boat left to its own devices is a restless thing. Without rope you can’t moor or anchor, tow a water skier, haul a bucket of water aboard, or toss a line to a man overboard.

Another saying applies to the mariner: “It takes a fluke to stay put.” Anchors, like fire extinguishers, all too often are not given much thought until they are needed in an emergency.

The vital link between your boat and the bottom is rope. Rope, when cut into specified lengths and used aboard a boat, is generally called line. The pleasure boatman has a choice of four basic varieties of rope from which to make up lines. These are Manila, nylon, dacron and polyethylene. The choice of the lines should depend on the job each is expected to perform. All rope is cordage whether constructed of natural or synthetic fibers or, in some instances, wire.

Manila, which is made from natural plant fibers, is a general all-purpose rope and can be used wherever line is required. Typical good-quality, three-strand Manila of 1/4-inch diameter has a breaking strength of approximately 600 pounds; 1/16 inch, 1000 pounds; 3/8-inch, 1350 pounds; 7-16–inch, 1750 pounds; 1/2-inch, 2650 pounds; 5/8-inch, 4400 pounds, and 3/4-inch, 5400 pounds.

Working strength of any rope should be figured at 20 per cent of its breaking strength. Therefore, the working strength 5/16 -inch Manila is approximately 200 pounds. Since Manila generally costs less than half as much as nylon and approximately one quarter as much as dacron, pleasure boatmen frequently select Manila for reasons of economy. If Manila is kept clean and dried before storing, it will offer a long and satisfactory life. It is lightweight, flexible, easy to handle, doesn’t kink and coils readily.

Nylon is a synthetic yarn rope with breaking and working strength approximately three times that of Manila. It offers a number of advantages over Manila, but also has disadvantages. Nylon has high boxes is to use carriage bolts or other long metal fasteners. If such fasteners are used, the head should be hidden. On the top box this means that a hole must be counterdrilled for each head deep enough to allow a wooden plug to be inserted over it. On the bottom box, the bolt heads can be hidden by drilling the bolt holes only through the frame or blocking which runs underneath the desk top.