A little bit about ropes

When was the last time you stopped and thought about the ropes on your boat?

By James Harris, Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone

Ropes (lines if you want to be pedantic) of various types, but generally natural fibre and synthetic, are ubiquitous to recreational boats and are used for all sorts of purposes. However, they are also rarely given any consideration at all. When was the last time you stopped and thought about the ropes on your boat? For that reason, we want to take just 400 or so words and a couple minutes out of your day to concentrate on ropes.

Like anything else, ropes do become damaged over time. When they become damaged, they must be replaced.

If not replaced, they can fail at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way.

They tend to do this because ropes are often used for functions that involve putting them under strain.

In order to detect a damaged rope, you need to regularly check your ropes as part of your wider maintenance schedule. You should also check any rope you are about to use. To do this effectively you need to inspect the rope internally and externally for signs of deterioration, undue wear or damage and you need to satisfy yourself that the rope is adequate for the intended working load.

When you are using a rope, whether natural or synthetic (or wire for that matter), of any construction or thickness, you should not put it under a load suddenly or take up the slack with a jerk.

Doing this can very easily overload a rope and damage it.

Whenever you are not using a rope, it should be stowed under cover in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated location on your boat. Synthetic ropes in particular are susceptible to damage from prolonged and unnecessary exposure to sunlight. The only exception to this is if a natural fibre rope has become wet; allow it to dry naturally before storing it.

To extend the life of ropes on your boat, you should avoid:

. excessive stress and strain

. rubbing or chafing against sharp objects

. passing them through too small a sheave or block

. allowing the formation of a kink in a rope under strain

. avoid unnecessarily exposing synthetic ropes to sunlight when not in use

. avoid exposing synthetic ropes to heat generated by friction

If a natural fibre rope is suspected to have come into contact with any acid or alkaline substance it should be discarded immediately. Likewise, if a synthetic rope is suspected to have come into contact with organic solvents, such as paint stripper or paint, they should also be discarded.

If you have any questions about ropes, or anything else related to your boat, you can always contact Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone at: james.harris@mrq.org.au or www.vmrgladstone.org.au