Rope Care

Here at Nautical Rope, we want you to get the best performance and value from your rope. Using ropes correctly and avoiding damage is key to keeping them in good working order. This article is a guide to keeping your ropes at their best.

As rope is no longer ‘just rope’, it pays to look after it. Simple routines like not treading on it, driving over it, dropping an anchor on it or letting it stay dirty will pay dividends in maintaining its condition.

In use, ropes will wear and they are made to allow for this. Typical wear will show on the outside of a rope by the fibres becoming fluffy due to individual fibres breaking or wearing out. Normally the strength loss due to this wear is insignificant but as it progresses whole yarns or strands will begin to lose strength.

External damage caused by the rope working over sharp or rough edges will be more significant and can be avoided by using wear sleeves. External damage can be seen and assessed as significant or not. A light fluffy appearance is the start of fibre wear and is inevitable but if yarns are pulled out or broken or the core is showing through the sheath then the rope is probably worn out and should be replaced. Assessing the rope’s condition is a matter for common sense. If in doubt about the rope then discard it or seek professional advice from us or from a rigger.

Anything that upsets the construction of the rope will reduce its strength. Knots, twists, hockles and if it’s a core-cover rope any upset in the core- cover relationship. Some ropes will not allow the core and cover to heat seal together; aramids for example, they should be well whipped to maintain integrity.

Contamination of a rope can cause it to lose significant strength. Acids and alkalis will seriously damage some ropes and the effects may not be visible, they may only be affecting the core fibres. Some ropes are resistant to common chemicals such as battery acids and cleaning alkalis. Others will be damagedand lose strength so it’s best to avoid contamination as its effect can be insidious causing failure without warning.

The best care is to keep ropes clean. If they get contaminated seek advice or discard the rope. Ropes can be cleaned in dilute soap solutions if the soap is well rinsed out. Ropes should not be washed in a washing machine as this can damage ropes, rather hand washing in warm water. After washing store ropes, without knots, hang in a dry airy place. Dirt, salt crystals and chemicals will all damage fibres to some extent, and often it is not visible damage.

Hardware used with ropes is a working partner with the rope and needs to be correctly sized for the rope. Pulley systems put stress on the rope that becomes excessive if the sheaves are not correct for the rope and worse, jammers will cut the fibres if the rope is too small or too large.

If you would like further advice please feel free to get in touch.