No. 48 - April 1982



Richard Kennish (#439)


I have a fancy outboard

     on my Tanzer 22.

It's made by Evinrude

     and it's painted metal blue.

It starts first time I pull the cord

     10 horses fleet and tried,

It runs and never fails me

     When to the dock I'm tied.

When I approach a concrete pier,

     a lock or awkward jetty,

Especially when the wind is strong,

     or waves and tide molest me,

You may be sure as sure can be

     my outboard starts to sputter

It eats its plugs, or coughs its rings

     or clogs its carburetor.


The death it dies is slow and cruel

     I fiddle with the choke,

But at the crucial moment

     it gives a final croak,

All hell breaks loose, the crew moves fast

     we struggle with the boat,

"Sorry skipper, did my best

     - look at your blank gelcoat".


And when thieves come at dead of night

     and break into my boat, or

Steal my beer, binoculars

     they never take my motor

So I must learn to trust the wind,

     for power is an evil

Or press a gang of galley slaves

     or should I buy a diesel!




John Charters (#1000)


Old Salts often like to ask newcomers to the sport, "How many ropes on a boat?”, hoping for a long and detailed answer. The classic reply "There is only one, a bell rope." You and I know, of course, there are several more. Luff rope, bolt rope, bucket rope, to name a few. The foregoing not withstanding until it is put to a specific use, rope is rope and that is what we are going to be talking about. And we will confine ourselves to synthetic or manmade fibres, so if you are looking for a learned discussion of the relative merits of sisal, jute and hemp, forget it.


We will discuss three kinds of rope fibre; nylon, Dacron (terylene in England), more often referred to as polyester and not to be confused with polypropylene, which is the third kind. Kevlar and other space age fibres are beyond the scope of this article. Also beyond the knowledge of the author.


Of the three, nylon is the strongest and the stretchiest. Polyester, on the other hand, is the least stretchy of the three, and is the heaviest (in terms of pounds per 100 feet). Polypropylene is the lightest, the weakest and incidentally, the cheapest. As a result, no one fibre is best for all applications. Sorry, you cannot go out and buy a reel of rope and use it for every­thing on your Tanzer.


To further confuse the novice, rope comes in three forms. Three strand braided (generally double braid) and plaited. We will confine our remarks to the first two, as these are the two you are most likely to use.


If this isn't enough, rope size is measured in two ways. Either by circumference or diameter. In inches or millimetres. We will use inches and diameter when discussing size. (If you really must know, 3/8" diameter rope is 10 mm or if ordered by circumference, ask for 1 1/8").


If you will allow, I'm going to generalize a bit and recommend a specific rope for a specific task. Knowing, there are those that will disagree, and go to great length to justify opinions.


As mentioned, polypropylene is the least expensive, about 1/3 the price of nylon. Generally yellow in colour, available in three strand and braided (hollow) and most often is a monofilament. Polypropylene has one unique property. It floats. I see it as being used as a heaving line or perhaps to tow a dinghy (less likely to get caught in your propeller). And not much else. Tensile strength (Strength as if you were pulling it) is slightly over 2,000 lbs. Please do not be tempted by polypropylene's low price. Other than mentioned, it has no place on a well found yacht.


Dacron. Not as strong as nylon, and should be used anywhere where you don't want your line to stretch. Be careful, back in the days when I sold rope, I got a reel in that I almost mistook for nylon. I had neglected to specify "pre-stretched". In yachting circles, there is little use for anything other than pre-stretched, so chances are your local marine store or chandlery only carries the right kind. All our Tanzers are equipped with Dacron rope tails. On the new Tanzer 10.5, the entire halyard is Dacron, no wire used at all. The sheets are always Dacron. At one time, we used three strand for our halyards, now we use double braid, which is much easier on the hands. The only advantage to three strand, it is generally easier for the average owner to splice. 3/8" Dacron has a tensile strength of 2,350 lbs.


Nylon, as we said earlier, stretches. It should be used anywhere where you might expect a shock load. It is unsurpassed for anchor and mooring lines. Three strand will stretch more than the double braid and for that reason I prefer the three strand, especially for your anchor rods. However, this is not critical, if you prefer braided, it will do the job just fine. Tensile strength of 3/8 is 3,500 lbs.


Every week or so, I get a call asking how long some piece of line should be. You may wish to clip out table 1 for future reference. All of these lines are Dacron.


Another application for nylon rope is to tow a disabled yacht. I choose nylon, knowing full well there will be those that disagree. However, nylon's greater tensile strength, coupled with its elastic property, to me, offset its disadvantages. Table 2 gives all the specifications for the three types of rope under discussion. Having decided what you wish to use the rope for and the characteristics you need, a glance at the chart should give you the answer.


One last little thought, to do with anchor line. It seems many people wishing to improve anchor holding power make the mistake of buying heavier (i.e. larger) rope. What you need is a heavier anchor, coupled to the lightest nylon line that will safely hold your boat. We are looking for a nice stretchy anchor line that will absorb the shock of your boat as it surges. So in this case, smaller is better. Anchoring is a whole other subject. The Danforth people put out a very good booklet on the subject. Write for a copy.


The greatest enemy of rope is wear and chafe. Each spring you should check all your halyards and sheets. If worn, replace now, don't wait until something breaks in the middle of a race, or when cruising miles from home.




Graham M. Sterritt


Aluminum angle stock screwed to cabin sole fits crack between wood door face and plastic inner well so as to form a hinged stop along the lower front edge of the door/well unit. This angle stock is low enough that when the toggle latch is opened and the door/well unit is tipped forward, the entire door/well unit can be lifted out and taken on deck for draining, cleaning, etc.