Ropes and braids
It's time to moor! Welcome to the page of our e-commerce dedicated to mooring lines, essential elements in the universe of mooring. boat ropes.
Among boating accessories, mooring ropes are certainly among those around which there is most discussion: what is the best mooring rope? How long must it be? What material should it be made of? And should it be spliced? And if so, how? The questions, in short, are wasted, and that is why, in this page dedicated to the sale of mooring ropes, we decided to insert a short guide to help you choose the right rope for your boat, whatever type and size it is.
Why is the choice of mooring ropes so important?
Going around the docks, unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon to see old sheets or recycled halyards becoming mooring lines. There is in fact a rather widespread thought that places little value on the actual quality of mooring lines, whereas instead there is a tendency to seek the highest quality for all those ropes that have directly to do with sails. But is this reasoning really rational? Well, with the exception of regattas, it must be stressed that this way of reasoning is completely fallacious. Think about it: any halyard and sheet, if not excessively worn, will certainly do its job, without ruining the sails in any way and without endangering the crew. Well, now imagine that you see signs of wear on that same halyard, and therefore decide to use it as a mooring line. What will happen after the hundredth violent gust of wind that slams the boats moored to the quay?
Come on, you've probably heard some sailor say that the bow and stern lines should be able to lift the whole boat. Why, then, recycle as a mooring line a halyard which, in your own opinion, no longer even has the necessary hold to do its original job? The greatest danger that any boat has to face is that of the coast, and during mooring it is only a few centimetres from our hull: why multiply the risk by using unsuitable mooring lines?
What you need, therefore, are mooring lines capable of resisting the pulls generated by wind and waves.
What type of line is best able to dampen these threatening movements?
The materials with which mooring lines are made: merits and demerits
Generally speaking, you can choose between mooring ropes made of three different materials, namely:
Nylon mooring ropes
The mooring ropes made of this material are by far the most elastic, stretching up to 40%. The greatest advantage of these mooring ropes is therefore their excellent reaction to traction. Among the disadvantages, however, is the typical progressive stiffening of the rope due to the passage of time.
Polyester mooring ropes
Polyester mooring ropes are the most common. They are less elastic than nylon ropes, not going beyond a 15 i elongation, but still perform sufficiently well, at a cheaper price.
Polypropylene mooring ropes
Polypropylene provides similar performance to polyester. In this case, however, it should be emphasized a marked deterioration over time, which makes this material more suitable for other types of ropes.
Elasticity is undoubtedly the number 1 characteristic to consider when buying a mooring line. It is certainly not necessary to underline the fact that the boat, in port, is not parked on immobile asphalt, but on water in constant movement, with a wave mode that continues to stress the hull. To all this we add the wind: we certainly don't want all these tractions to be exerted directly on the boat, do we? Well, to make sure that the mooring lines absorb them it is necessary to count on a good elasticity.
But what does it mean for a cable to be elastic? Well, to be considered as such, a line must not only stretch when subjected to a certain traction: no, once released it must also return to its normal dimensions - provided that the traction exerted does not end up exceeding its mechanical limits.
One understands therefore why old halyards cannot in any way constitute valid mooring lines. Not only that, being old, they do not have the necessary resistance. What's more, these ropes are natively less elastic than mooring ropes, so they will never be able to render good service in securing the boat to the dock!
Choosing a mooring line according to the type of cable
Cables don't just vary in size and material. No, as you can see among the mooring lines for sale on this page, there are important distinctions also with regard to their invoice. In principle we can talk about the classic three-stranded ropes, double braided ropes or square line ropes, each of which is distinguished by different characteristics, to be combined and refer to the type of material used.
A three-strand mooring line guarantees a convenient purchase cost, but it should be noted that, for the same diameter, this type of cable is characterized by lower breaking loads. For good performance, therefore, it will be necessary to increase the diameter of the mooring line selected. Double braid and square line ropes, on the other hand, are stronger, more manageable and softer. The square line, moreover, has the advantage of not fearing the cocks, or those annoying folds of the rope that sometimes hinder and block the sliding of the rope.
How many mooring ropes are needed?
But how many ropes are needed for mooring? Well, this depends on the type of mooring you are going to do. Let's start from the mooring at the quay, specifically from perpendicular (stern). In this case you will need four lines, two of which will measure the length of the boat, while the other two will be twice as long. When considering the length of the mooring lines, it should also be borne in mind that, when mooring at the quay, there is a tendency to tie a double rope on the cleat, so as to increase elasticity and make the unmooring phase quicker.
If you want to moor in the English style, i.e. alongside, you will need a total of 6 lines: the 4 already mentioned plus 2 crossbars as long as the boat (although some say that the crossbars should simply be longer than the maximum beam of the boat). If, for any reason, you wish to moor in the English style using only 4 lines, however, you should entrust a double task to the line surrounding the bow cleat: the latter, in fact, should also act as a return spring.
The dimensions of the mooring lines
We have already mentioned how to calculate the length of the mooring lines: in most cases, in fact, you can be satisfied with 2 lines as long as the boat and 2 others twice as long.
However, these formulas are not sufficient and correct in all cases. Sometimes, longer mooring lines are required. This is very often the case when mooring with lines on land, which is not uncommon when sailing along the Turkish coast, for example. In this case, the length of the mooring line changes according to the actual distance from the shoreline.
As far as the diameter is concerned, there is an equally simple rule, which usually guarantees that the rope is strong enough (if in doubt, of course, the larger diameter should be considered). The formula in question consists of taking the length of the boat, adding 4 and transforming in millimetres: that will be the diameter necessary for the mooring line of your boat.
As we have already seen, however, different materials of construction of mooring lines require different diameters. Nylon ropes, being the most elastic, require a smaller diameter. Consider a 14 metre boat, for which it will be necessary to use a Nylon mooring line with a diameter of 18 millimetres. Well, in the case of a polyester rope, instead, the diameter of the rope to be used for that same boat will have to increase up to 20 millimetres.
Accessories for mooring ropes
In order to preserve the mooring lines as long as possible, it is advisable to equip them with special accessories called energy dissipators (or, sometimes, compensators and shock absorbers). There are two different types of energy absorbers, namely metal spring absorbers and those made of rubbery materials. What are the main differences?
Both dampen the effect of wave motion, so as to allow greater comfort on the boat and to preserve the mooring lines as long as possible. If the objectives are common, the paths taken are different. In the first case a metal spring is used, while in the second case a rubber compensator is used. The metal dissipator, however, is prone to corrosion (a disadvantage that is mitigated by opting for chrome-plated steel) and, in addition, produces an annoying squeaking noise which, in rough seas, tends to become quite annoying, both for its own passengers and for those of the boats positioned on the same quay. The dissipator for mooring lines in rubber, however, does not fear corrosion, and does not produce any kind of noise.
In this section you can also buy an ankle for splicing, which is a tool that facilitates the operation of splicing on lines to refoli.
Using mooring lines
All Italian sailors know this very well: the docks are always full of people and boats. Despite being a country with a staggering number of metres of coastline for every inhabitant, and despite having a small number of boats compared to the amount of water that surrounds us, there are very few and very crowded moorings in Italy. Mooring your own boat, therefore, means in most cases carrying out manoeuvres in narrow spaces, and that's not all: these operations must also be carried out in front of a probable public from the quayside, which is often only there to smile at the sailor's mistakes. And we're not just talking about wrong manoeuvres or risky touches, but also the difficulties in putting the mooring lines in order.
In short, it is not enough to buy the best mooring lines: it is also necessary to know how to arrange these essential cables in the best possible way, according to the type of mooring you are going to do. And we're not just talking about the need for a Mediterranean mooring (perpendicular to the quay) or an English mooring (parallel to the quay). It is also a question of keeping in mind the variables present on your boat, and therefore of all the mooring accessories present on board, from the bollards to the fairleads, passing through the various rings.
Finally, it is important to carry out the right maintenance of the lines, which must be checked periodically and then treated with the right methods. But what are the alarm bells that warn us of the actual wear of a mooring line? The first factor to check is the appearance of the rope, which can present several defects. It is enough to look at the rope against the light to notice a possible damage of the surface, denoted by a widespread loss of external hair. Another important sign is given by the progressive discolouration of the typically bright colours of the strings, as well as by an increasing difficulty in separating one piece of wood from another. This is not all: among the main symptoms of the age of a rope there is also the increase in its rigidity, which becomes greater and greater, with the parallel decrease in its elasticity.
No mooring line, not even the best, can obviously last forever. However, it is possible to delay its retirement as much as possible through correct behaviour and good maintenance. This means sheltering the ropes when they are not in use, and washing them periodically to remove the harmful salt that lurks among the wood. Another very useful shrewdness is then to take countermeasures to avoid abrasions, using in case of need the rubber coatings.
Well, now you know what are the main factors to consider when buying a new mooring line for your boat. And if you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us!