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Old 03-03-2011, 19:13   #1
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Most Chafe-Resistant Rope ?

I have been told by a leading rope manufacturer that their 3-strand nylon rope is the most chafe resistant. Other folks I regard as being experienced say that double-braid is the most chafe resistant. I hear great things about the handling of brait and other braided nylon lines, but nothing about how they compare in chafe resistance. I'm primarily worried about chafe on the bottom, as I figure I can use chafing gear, etc. on deck. I've used both at various times, and frankly I'm not sure, but my guess would always be double-braid, though that is not what this manufacturer tells me. Yes, yes, I know that chain is the most chafe resistant, but in a combination rode which line resists bottom chafe the best?
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Old 03-03-2011, 21:37   #2
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

I can't comment on rode chafe due to a preference for chain, but I would ask the rope seller to quantify his assertion of chafe resistance in commonly agreed "units of chafe".

If there is such a measure, I don't know about it, rendering the assertion foolish. If there's a paper somewhere describing in painful detail the vigorous frotting of a 3/4 inch rope on a chunk of standardized coral until it parts, I retract my statement.
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Old 03-03-2011, 22:07   #3
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

3-strand tends to stretch more than multibraid so chafe issues are multiplied.

Polyester is substantially better than nylon at handling chafe, particularly when wet.

As you said, the answer is chain in terms of the bottom. You shouldn't be worried about chafe underwater at all. Is it really going to make a difference if the line, hung up on coral, fails after one hour or two?
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Old 03-03-2011, 22:08   #4
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

For anchor rode I think the most chafe resistant would be polyester braid, mainly sold in Europe but Liros brand is becoming available in the US lately. Less stretch than nylon, but still good for anchoring. If you want to know THE most chafe-resistant rope of all fibers that would probably be Dyneema (Samson Amsteel or NER Endura) but that's not ideal for anchor rode for many reasons (almost no stretch, slippery).
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Old 03-03-2011, 22:13   #5
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

Steel cable is pretty chafe resistant.
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Old 03-03-2011, 23:28   #6
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

My formula for anti bottom chaff is 60' of chain and the rest double braid. I try to anchor in 20' to 30' of water and let out all the chain until the rode hits the bottom then pull up just enough to lift the end off the bottom, with the chain stretched out (backing down against the anchor).

Of course, this is for fair weather. When the weather picks up then more scope is needed, but again the tension against the rode is going to keep it off the bottom.

Three strand tends to untwist under load, especially when it has been run thru the gypsy several times. In turn, causing the chain to twist on retrieval, binding up in the gypsy.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:51   #7
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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As you said, the answer is chain in terms of the bottom. You shouldn't be worried about chafe underwater at all. Is it really going to make a difference if the line, hung up on coral, fails after one hour or two?
Here on the East Coast 95% of the bottoms are mud or sand, or a combination, and generally shallow. There is no coral until you get to Florida and the Bahamas, and rocky bottoms are rare south of Maine. I'm talking about general chafe on the bottom as the boat drifts around at anchor, back and forth, day in and day out, or chafe on the secondary anchor rode, which is mostly line to make it easy to take out in the dink.

Frankly, I've never had an anchor line part, but I eventually do retire them due to age or when they start to get too fuzzy from chafe. All else being equal, it just would be nice to purchase the line that would last longer.

Frankly, I'm not sold on the polyester line idea yet. If you want less stretch in your nylon rode just go up a size or two and get better chafe resistance and more strength in the bargain, and still probably spend a lot less than going to polyester.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:15   #8
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

There are five separate factors making up 'chafe resistance'.

- First and by far the most powerful is the fiber, but you seem to want to use nylon and not another fiber so lets put that aside.
- Second is the size of the line. Larger line will be more chafe resistant than smaller line in all constructions. The easiest way to significantly increase chafe resistance is to go up a size.
- Third is the rope constructional protection of the fibers. Ideally you want some 'sacrificial' fibers on the outside of the rope construction protecting the load carrying fibers inside the construction. Double braid (usually) has half the fibers in the cover and half in the core. So you have half the strength (which is usually quite enough) well protected. On 3 strand and the various braits all the fibers are exposed at some point.
-Fourth is stretch, more stretch = more chafe. Double braid stretches least of the three constructions. Although I will note that this point seems to apply more on chafe at deck fittings that the sort of 'wear on the bottom' chafe you are talking about.
-Fifth are coatings outside the rope. For some reason I don't quite understand, there are some nice coatings put on three strand line to minimize chafe, but I am not aware of any put on the other constructions. However, the coatings will wear off and then you are back to the above three factors.

So, if you are looking for the simple answer I would say double braid.

The idea answer might be a cover made of spectra bunched up (eg much longer than the core it covers) with a nylon brait core.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:28   #9
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

Nice reply Evans. I'm not against going to polyester, it's just I haven't seen the convincing arguments for it yet. Maybe someone can come up with some. I think we previously had some back and forth on one of these anchor threads about nylon vs. polyester, and the main argument appears to be that polyester stretches less and therefore doesn't have as much movement at deck level and also doesn't build up heat that can cause failure. I've read of a few cases, notably the Dashews, who point out instances that they think were failures of nylon due to overloading and too much stretching. But, the major rope manufacturers in this country all seem to tout nylon as the best, thousands of people use it every day all over the world, and myself I have used it for anchoring for 30+ years in everything up to hurricane force winds and parachute sea anchors offshore in gales and never have experienced this extreme heating/melting problem. I'm not saying it can't happen, but it doesn't seem to me to be a big enough problem to switch from nylon with its other advantages.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:41   #10
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
polyester, it's just I haven't seen the convincing arguments for it yet.
I agree. Someone should do a good test. Unfortunately this sort of dynamic testing (as also with chafe) is more difficult to conduct than the static testing (like pull strength tests) that most people conduct.

I am still using nylon, because it's what I have. I don't know what I would or will do when I have to buy some new.

I don't have this sort of anchor rode chafe because I use all chain. I am careful about chafe on our snubber and I use a mountain climbing line there (its a special type of double braid). The mountain climbers are quite concerned/careful about chafe.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:04   #11
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

I have been rather amazed at the abuse a snubber line can take. For around a dozen years I used the same 3/8" 3-strand nylon snubber on my previous boat (a 32-foot catamaran that I lived aboard) with absolutely no chafing gear at all. It was left on deck the entire time, exposed to sun, etc. Used through a hurricane, and numerous gales at anchor. Never broke. Never melted. I became curious as to what this thing could take so I moved it to my present boat (38 feet, much heavier) and kept using it all over the Caribbean, in one gale up to 56 knots, etc., still with no chafing gear. A chain hook was held on the end of it using nothing but a stopper knot. One day in a sheltered anchorage but with some decent wind (maybe 20 knots) the very end of the snubber line broke where it went into the chain hook, so I retired the line to use as a general purpose lashing, etc. Still, it saw something like 14 years of continuous use and abuse without failure.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:25   #12
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I have been rather amazed at the abuse a snubber line can take.
Totally agree. I have been using a 10mm (3/8") climbing line snubber on our 47'er. The only time I had a problem was in hurricae Lenny when the cover chafed thru - but I had 2 backup snubbers on so it was no problem.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:40   #13
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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Totally agree. I have been using a 10mm (3/8") climbing line snubber on our 47'er. The only time I had a problem was in hurricae Lenny when the cover chafed thru - but I had 2 backup snubbers on so it was no problem.
That's interesting you use a climbing rope. Is it extra stretchy or something? What makes it better than ordinary nylon?
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:00   #14
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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That's interesting you use a climbing rope. Is it extra stretchy or something? What makes it better than ordinary nylon?
I going to have to punt a little, as I have not seen any sort of side by side test between climbing and sailing rope construction; and the climbing tests use different procedures and standards than the sailing tests so they can't be compared.

However, the climbing rope construction, while it's technically also a double braid, is quite different than sailing nylon double braid construction. Both the cover braid weave and the inner core are different. The climbers focus on two things - chafe/cutting and high load shock absorption. So, I have presumed they have optimized those two factors in this construction.
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Old 04-03-2011, 13:28   #15
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Re: Most chafe resistant rope?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Totally agree. I have been using a 10mm (3/8") climbing line snubber on our 47'er. The only time I had a problem was in hurricae Lenny when the cover chafed thru - but I had 2 backup snubbers on so it was no problem.
Interesting you should say this. I have a line (no pun intended) on the rope window washers use here in my city. By law, it has to be retired every two years, so the company in question has hundreds of metres of used, but frequently reasonable condition line.

I was thinking that for bridles and other similar jobs, this could be good stuff. It's called "climbing line" by the head of the company. I call it "free to me for asking".

I would have to look at it closely to judge if it's truly more chafe resistant than the usual "marine" stuff.

As a side comment, old fire hose makes great antichafe through fairleads.
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