Five “Sailing Rope” Rules for Longer Life

As another sailing season winds to a close, it will be time to go over each part of your running rigging, docking lines, and anchor rode. Follow these five simple sailing tips to add life to your sailing rope and save money on repair and replacement costs.

1. Wash Your Lines to Keep them Supple

Dirt and salt bury into the fibers of stranded or braided line. After years of use, this can make your lines stiff and tough to make sailing knots or to bend around blocks or fairleads to direct them from one point to another. Purchase a “fish net” type laundry bag. Put line inside and tie off the bag. Throw the bag into the washing machine on a gentle setting. Use a mild laundry detergent; add a dash of fabric softner if desired.

2. Coil with the Lay

Three-stand line often has a right-lay or twist to the strands. Check the lay of three strand. Hold one end straight up and look at the direction that the strands twist as they encircle the line. If they twist to the right, then you have right-lay line and should always coil the line to the right.

When you coil, twist your wrist 1/4 turn to the right. This helps keep the coils flat as they stack atop one another. With double-braided or cored line, do not use the 1/4 wrist turn. This line will often coil in a figure-8 shape. Allow the coils to do this as they stack atop one another.

3. Check and Renew Chafing Gear

Inspect all chafing gear for wear and abrasion. Remember that this gear will often sacrifice itself to protect your costly docking and anchor lines. This means it will need replacement so that your sailing rope continues to be guarded against chafe. For more on chafing gear protection and how to make chafing gear fast and easy visit

4. Renew Bitter Ends

Check the sailing sheets attached to your genoa clew. If you tie bowlines, the bitter ends will fray after a season of use. Remove the sheets, cut off the frayed ends and re-whip the ends. This will protect the bitter ends from unlaying further. Some sailors prefer to burn the bitter ends of sheets and halyards, but the hardened synthetic tends to catch on the core of the line and can cause abrasion. Make a whipping for better protection and less wear.

5. End for End Your Rope Anchor Rode

Add 50% more life to your expensive rope anchor rode. At the end of each season, give your rope rode a gentle bath to remove dirt, mud, and salt. Drape it in long loops over the lifelines or ashore. Make sure it dries all the way. Clean and air out your anchor locker. Get rid of any mildew or mold.

Attach the old “anchor chain end” of your rope rode to the anchor locker ring bolt. Attach the old “ring bolt end” to your anchor chain. This end-for-end method has been used for hundreds of years to double the life of anchor and docking line. Make this a habit once a sailing season to increase the life-span of your anchor line and save lots of money in repair costs.


Keep your costly sailing line strong and fit for another sailing season with these five simple sailing tips. Save money on repair and replacement costs and add new life to your sheets, halyards, docking and rope anchor rode–wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!

Courtesy of Captain John at

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