With new materials to choose from, there is a range of ropes now available. The introduction of numerous types of superior ropes has changed the way we rig our boats just as significantly as the introduction of Polyester in the 1950’s. This fiber makes the popular double braid polyester rope. But choosing the right rope from the bewildering selection available is not as hard as it seems. Selecting the correct fiber is fundamental.
Pick the wrong fiber and you will either end up with a rope that is inadequate for the job, or more expensive than it need be. In most applications, high strength and low stretch are priorities. However, there are applications where a little bit of give can be a good thing. Anchor warps are the obvious example, but there is a place for some shock absorption in other places too.
Polyester High Quality
Polyester composes double braid polyester rope. If one were limited to just one fiber for all uses, this would be it. It is strong, resistant to UV light and chemicals, kind on the hands and stretches just moderately when loaded. This is the fibre to choose in any application where the ultimate performance or minimum weight is not essential.
Types of Construction
Selecting the most durable and correct type of rope construction is the next major decision. Though in many cases there may appear to be the little choice there are subtle differences between the various construction systems employed by the various manufacturers.
Braided ropes offer an inherently lower stretch design, a softer feel and less friction. With the exception of anchor warps and dock lines virtually all ropes used in modern sailing have some kind of braided cover while many also use a braided core. To achieve a good balance between flexibility, cost and ease of use virtually all manufacturers produce their covers in 16 plait form, using 16 individual yarns for the cover.
Having selected a fibre and the most suitable construction, it remains only to determine the size required. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Calculating the loads on sailing boats is a notoriously difficult thing to do and it is as well to remember they are not often as big as you might imagine. On bigger boats, the designer may be able to give some guidance. Smaller boats need some simple rules.