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Lines - how to determine if what I have is junk or okay

Dec 1, 2020
86
CAL 27 Illahee / Brownsville WA
I purchased a 27' sailboat and there were a number of lines on the boat other than mooring type lines.

A rigger looked at the jib and main halyards when I was having the bottom painted and stated the lines were to small to risk having someone use them to go up the mast. He said I needed 5mm or larger lines. I have sailed the boat using the halyards, so they were adequate for raising sails at least. This has me questioning the quality of the other lines on the boat.

Is there some way to look at the lines or cut into an end to see if there is a certain type of core or braided line inside the outer covering to determine if the lines are junk or worth using?

See the photos attached.

Any thoughts are appreciated.



s
IMG_2320.jpg
 

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May 29, 2018
294
Canel 25 foot Shiogama, japan
Hi Rick
He said I needed 5mm or larger lines
You mention that the rigger suggested 5 mm or larger halyards.
Are you actually using a line smaller than that? If so how on earth do you handle it?

The lines in the photos look fine to me , although I can only guess the diameter.
As for me, when I feel the lines turn to dust in my hands, I dice them and get new ones.

gary


What are

 
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Mar 29, 2017
573
Hunter 30t 9805 littlecreek
That purple line looks questionable to me almost looks like a hardware store line. Yea cut 4" off and check core if there's not another brade of rope under there move to garage as a handy tie stuff up rope in back truck or something other than boat
 
Feb 20, 2011
7,774
Island Packet 35 Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
Is there some way to look at the lines or cut into an end to see if there is a certain type of core or braided line inside the outer covering to determine if the lines are junk or worth using?
From here, those look good. Here's a video to help determine the materials used in their construction.
Hey, that guy's wearin' a pinky ring!
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,746
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
On quality rope, such as that from Yale, NER, and Samson the color and the tracer pattern is unique. This helps to identify the rope which helps to know a rope is suitable for its intended purpose.

Generally, line that is chafed or worn looking needs to be replaced as well as line that gets stiff and hard. It also depends on the lines function. Old lines often make good fender whips or tie down lines where the loads are not that great and failure does not risk the boat or anyone getting hurt. The rope's strength is in the core of the rope, not the cover. so a little wear like on the white line w/green tracer is nothing to shy away from. However if the wear is concentrated in one area or the line is no longer even, i.e., you can see bulges or voids, the line should be tossed in the trash that would be evidence of core damage.

8mm line is about 5/16" which is small for hoisting someone up the mast, unless the line is dyneema which is incredibly strong. The other issue with halyards being used to hoist someone up a mast is how well it will hold knots. Dyneema fails in this category.

Some of your lines look to be of uncertain provenance. Images 2323 and 2325 look like hardware store line. The colors are too bright and shiny. The line in image 2325 looks particularly suspicious. Compare the weaving of the cover to the other ropes, the threads are not all that tightly woven. There are many loose individual strands. The better quality lines, like the white with green tracers have a cover woven with thicker tighter yarns. Another clue for cheap line is the inability to melt the ends. However this is also true of high tech dyneema lines.

Although many no longer whip the ends of the line with whipping twine, preferring a butane whip, it remains a good idea to whip the ends. Doing so takes the stress off of the butane whip and keeps the line from fraying.
 
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Dec 25, 2000
5,007
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Hi Rick, good replies to your thread. Different model boat here, but 5mm is equal to13/64", which is pretty small for handling or load work. The smallest on our boat is 7/16' double braid used for spin sheets and even that size is pretty small for hand use. As your rigger said, that small of a halyard imparts concerns when hoisting someone up the stick for repairs. The other stuff looks good in the pics, but some of the tips from posters above need serious consideration.
 
Dec 1, 2020
86
CAL 27 Illahee / Brownsville WA
Is routing a new line through the mast head potentially as simple as butting the new line to the old, and wrapping both with ducktape and then carefully pulling it through the top of the mast?
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,863
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Wouldn't be nice....
If we could look at a rope/line picture and instantly tell the quality. Like gold with it's 24 - 9 karats you cannot tell the quality of a line by looks.

As sailors we need more than a pretty face. We need to know the materials used and the way it is made, so that we can apply the proper line to the uses we have for it.

Here is an interesting site that attempts to help by "decoding" the color of the rope and the fibers.

Rope colour markings
'Standard' Material Markers:
ISO and British Standards and OCIMF Hawser Guidelines
Blue yarnPolyester
Green yarnNylon (polyamide)
Red yarnPolypropylene
Orange yarnPolyethylene
Manufacturer's Markings, General (partial listing)
green, 1 red, & 1 green yarnSamson / American
1 red, 1 white, & 1 blue yarnColumbia Ropes
Black yarnsMarlow Ropes
1 red, natural, 1 red yarnWall
1 red, 1 white, 1 blueBexco Le Lis
Blue yarnSamson
Red tracer yarnNew England
Manufacturer's Special Product Markings
6 strand rope with black and white yarns, plus red and green yarns in one strandSamson/American "Jetcore", nylon, polyester and polypropylene rope
3 strand and plaited rope with green and red yarnsSamson/American Mfg. "PNX", polyester and polypropylene blended rope
Light blue load-bearing strandSamson nylon double braid rope
Dark blue and red yarns between different strand pairsSamson nylon double braid rope
Dark blue non-load-bearing yarn between strand pairSamson polyester double braid rope
2 dark blue non-load-bearing yarns between different strand pairsSamson "Nystron" polyester and nylon double braid rope
Plaited rope with blue yarnsBexco Le Lis "DeltaFlex" polyester and polypropylene rope
Plaited rope with 2 green and 1 black yarn in each strand.Marlow "Supermix" polyester and polypropylene rope
Plaited rope with 2 orange and 1 black yarn in 2 strandsMarlow "Nelson 90" high-strength polypropylene rope
February 23, 2003
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,863
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Is routing a new line through the mast head potentially as simple as butting the new line to the old, and wrapping both with ducktape and then carefully pulling it through the top of the mast?
Rick, potentially yes.
My preference is to cut the ends of the line at a diagonal and scarf stitch the ends together making the wrap and stitching as close to the diameter of the current line as possible. I avoid a big wad of duct tape that might get caught in the mast or trying to navigate the turn at the mast head thru the sheave.

Another technique is to connect the lines with a smaller line between them.

I go slow and stop if the line begins to feel stuck.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,746
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Splice in a reaving eye, aka Flemish Eye, on tail end fo the halyard. This is cover only eye that eliminates whipping and gives you a place to connect the two halyards with a piece of whipping twine.

If the halyard has spliced in shackles, it will be necessary to run a messenger line first and then reave the halyard.
 
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Dec 25, 2000
5,007
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Is routing a new line through the mast head potentially as simple as butting the new line to the old, and wrapping both with ducktape and then carefully pulling it through the top of the mast?
Wrapping with duct tape helps, but what I do first is sear the butts of both lines to create a plug, use some upholstery nylon thread and tie the two butts together with a a sewing needle, then wrap with some duct tape. Always has worked for me.
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,916
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Climbing is commonly done on 8mm lines, but only very high quality line, subject to daily inspection and retired early (not the common condition of sailing halyards). 10mm is really the standard for climbing, and it should still be in very good condition, with minimal chafe and no evidence of serious sunburn (loose fibers). Additionally, most rope grab hardware is optimized for 10mm line and it is easier to safely handle. I would not use 8mm line unless I was experienced with the special considerations and the line was virtually brand new.

5mm was almost certainly faulty memory or mis-speaking. He didn't mean it.

Not a bad looking pile of rope, except for that weird splice on the red rope; cut that off and use a knot.
 
Jan 4, 2010
975
Farr 30 San Francisco
Is routing a new line through the mast head potentially as simple as butting the new line to the old, and wrapping both with ducktape and then carefully pulling it through the top of the mast?
Thats what I did. A more official way might be to use some whipping twine to kind of sew the two lines together.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,833
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
Is routing a new line through the mast head potentially as simple as butting the new line to the old, and wrapping both with ducktape and then carefully pulling it through the top of the mast?
Yes...I also unbent paper clip in the middle, and pushed one end into the new rope and the other into the old rope, then wrapped the ends of the rope with electrical tape. You want the splice to remains somewhat flexible to get over the shelves, but also have enough tensile strength that you dont pull it apart....that is why I used the paper clip.

Greg
 
Jan 19, 2010
942
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
So here is a tried and true way of replacing an internal halyard. First off taping butt to butt leaves you soley reliant on the mechanical bond of the tape. Take a paper slip or medium size and open it so it looks like the letter "E" minus the middle arm. Push the clip through the line so that were the middle arm would be is equal with the butt. Bend the wire towards the butt. Push the other end thru the other line likewise and bend the wire toward the butt. Now the lines are butt to butt. Use electrical or rigging tape and barber pole wrap from just above one end of the clip through the joint and finish below the other end of the clip.
The clip will take the strain of pulling the new line and the tape merely keeps it all together.. 20 plus times...zero failures...
 
Last edited:
Jan 7, 2011
2,833
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
Yes...I also unbent paper clip in the middle, and pushed one end into the new rope and the other into the old rope, then wrapped the ends of the rope with electrical tape. You want the splice to remains somewhat flexible to get over the shelves, but also have enough tensile strength that you dont pull it apart....that is why I used the paper clip.

Greg
So here is a tried and true way of replacing an internal halyard. First off taping butt to butt leaves you foley reliant on the mechanical bond of the tape. Take a paper slip or medium size and open it so it looks like the letter "E" minus the middle arm. Push the clip through the line so that were the middle arm would be is equal with the butt. Bend the wire towards the butt. Push the other end thru the other line likewise and bend the wire toward the butt. Now the lines are butt to butt. Use electrical or rigging tape and barber pole wrap from just above one end of the clip through the joint and finish below the other end of the clip.
The clip will take the strain of pulling the new line and the tape merely keeps it all together.. 20 plus times...zero failures...
wish I would have thought of that...;-).

but hey, great minds think alike !

Greg
 
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