What Makes A Good Strong Rope? Towing, Anchoring, Docking and More!
Rope is very likely the most essential member of your crew on the water. Any captain worth their salt knows that it takes a wide variety of different talents in order for a crew and thereby the boat to function properly and reliably. So what makes a good strong rope? What purpose do they serve best? Whether it's towing, anchoring, docking, or rigging we're got you covered on everything regarding the best boating ropes.
Synthetic vs. Natural
Natural materials simply can't keep up with the longevity and durability of synthetic boating ropes. They are arguably better for the environment but that singular advantage does little to sway the vast majority of boaters. Natural materials are more expensive, less durable, and degrade much quicker under the stresses that a good nautical rope is expected to endure. It should be noted that environmental boating is important!
What Is The Best Synthetic Rope?
In a word? Nylon. However, the answer is a lot more complicated than that. Polypropylene ropes have a fair number of advantages to nylon in certain situations. Polypropylene isn't as strong as nylon but it floats which makes it ideal for water sports or towing other boats or dinghies.
Overall nylon can't be beat for most practical purposes because it is strong, flexible, durable, and inexpensive. If you're looking for a chain/rope combo to hold anchor, nylon's impressive shock absorption is precisely what is needed!
Nylon is resistant to rot and UV damage which means it will serve your needs for a very long time. Nylon is great for fender lines and mooring lines because of its stretch and how easy it is to splice. You really can't go wrong with nylon when looking for the best boating rope.
Braided or Twisted?
Now that you've presumably made the extremely sensible decision to go with nylon, the next question you'll encounter is "should I buy braided or twisted?" The vast majority of boating ropes around the world are held together in one of these two configurations.
There are distinct advantages to either one so it's your decision at the end of the day. If you're splicing a thimble into the middle of your rope? That is made infinitely easier by choosing a twisted line. Braided lines are much easier on your hands and feel slightly easier to handle.
Then there's the question of aesthetics which always comes into play for me. You can find any color of braided or twisted rope, but what usually comes to mind when anyone says 'nautical rope' is a white twisted line. Of course, you can defy tradition and I often do when it comes to choosing the best rope for my boat.
Where Is It Going?
You should always consider what purpose a rope will be serving on your vessel before committing to anything. The same nylon rope that makes the greatest nautical line for anchoring might not do its job well when serving as a lifeline since it will spend so much time exposed to direct sunlight.
You can certainly use nylon as rigging or lifelines but you'll want to make sure that it is protected with an outer layer of polyethylene. There is also the question of gauge when it comes to things like winches and rope clutches. You'll need to take careful note before investing.
Your winch might still work with the wrong gauge of rope, but there will probably be some slippage and depending on the situation that can be very dangerous. Be careful of your boating lines and know what you require for the specific situation before dropping any sort of investment into it.
Dock Lines and Fender Lines
One of the best uses of nylon rope aside from being paired with an anchor chain is to utilize them as dock lines and fender lines. The stretch and strength of nylon means that your boat will be held where it needs to be for as long as you require it to be there with just enough give to avoid damaging your vessel.
I'm a big fan of our dock ropes and fender ropes and I know you will be too! Nylon has become the industry standard for good reason. Our products are made in the USA and we proudly back them up with a satisfaction guarantee. You can see all our ropes here If you aren't completely satisfied, we'll refund your purchase. No risk involved.