We use lines to control almost everything on a sailboat. These lines are often under a lot of stress and if not kept in good shape, can break when you least expect it. A bad line can ruin a day of sailing, so know what to look for before hitting the water! It’s always important to check the lines on a boat before rigging it up. Simple things to check for are:
- Visible fraying or cuts that begin on the outside but could eventually cause a break over time.
- All rope fades over time with exposure to sunlight. This can be an easy way to identify how old a line is and how often it’s left out in the sun. The majority of UV damage can happen in the first twelve months of use. You can avoid UV damage by regularly covering your boat or at minimum storing lines out of the sunlight.
- Knots that are left in overtime can become nearly impossible to untie as they become hardened through repeated use. It’s a good habit to untie things like stopper knots at the end of the day, relaxing the stress on the line before the next use.
- Good line should be flexible and easily fit through blocks and around sheaves. If the line is stiff or won’t easily flex, this may be due to grime, salt, or just age. You can help loosen up line by soaking it in a bucket of fresh water.
The Right Size
- In desperate times, sailors will grab whatever rope is available to use as a line, but do you ever ask if it’s right for that specific application? Line that is too thick can damage equipment and be too difficult to hold, and too thin will not give you enough power and will be equally difficult to hold. Research which line size is right for each system on your boat.
Remember, lines are what connect you to the boats controls, so make it easy on yourself. Keep them in top shape!