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Old 01-05-2016, 17:42   #1
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Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

The climbers I know routinely butterfly their coils. After having had the techniques explained to me, it's how I've always handled rope, and even long extension cords.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_coil

It has the great advantage over standard coils in that it doesn't require a half-twist on each loop, so the line runs out free, without kinks.

It's simple enough to do:


Though with longer lines, climbers have fancier techniques:


But I've never seen anybody use, or teach, or recommend a butterfly coil in a sailing context. Is there some reason for this? I'd think that avoiding kinks would be just as important on a boat as on a crag,

Is it that lines on a boat are short enough that kinking isn't an issue? Is there some other reason it's not generally used? Or Is it that it's used all the time, and I've simply have not been sailing long enough to encounter it?
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Old 01-05-2016, 17:59   #2
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

Very interesting. I like it.
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Old 01-05-2016, 18:14   #3
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

With me it just depends on the length of line, and sometimes what I'm going to do with it. If I've got some halyard to cleat off on the mast when the sail's down, I may just use a single coil for simplicity's sake.
If the sail is hoisted and I've got a lot of halyard I'll butterfly it then to make sure it stays secure.
I only wrap it with the standing part of the line and hook the loop over a cleat on the mast.
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Old 01-05-2016, 18:18   #4
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

That's how I've been coiling lines for years on a winch instead of my head.....just didn't know it had a name or was a method!!


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Old 01-05-2016, 18:24   #5
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

There were links to some podcasts posted here a couple of months ago that recommended that as an improvement over the traditional approach. I'm certainly going to give it a try and see how it compares.

Search on line handling or something like that and you'll probably find them.
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Old 01-05-2016, 18:55   #6
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

I had learned to climb before I sailed, so always thought the butterfly coil was the way to go with rope, but then I was taught in a sailing class how to make a natural butterfly loop happen when you coil the sheets and halyards from one hand to another. To do this, instead of introducing a kink when you flip the rope over to make a round loop, just bring your fingers together and it coils naturally into a nice butterfly loop. For longer sheets and lines, you can use the winch. This really helps to keep the kinks out of the stiffer, low stretch rope that I use for my halyards, but I do it with everything. I wonder, then, if the reason for the difference is that sailing is an older sport and lines were often made of much stiffer material that resisted a butterfly shape rather than a loop.

Now....who uses the over/under method for coiling their hoses to keep the kinks out?
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Old 01-05-2016, 19:23   #7
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdege View Post
...
But I've never seen anybody use, or teach, or recommend a butterfly coil in a sailing context. Is there some reason for this? I'd think that avoiding kinks would be just as important on a boat as on a crag,...
Just about every book or instruction on handling braided lines on a boat recommends using a figure-8 type coil, which is the same thing as butterfly as far as I understand. I have to say that the premise of your question is false, as sailors do "butterfly their coils", at least for braided lines. Three-strand line is another matter however.

Or I guess the answer to your questions could be: "Because they are using three-stand rope which should be coiled clockwise so as not to kink".
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Old 01-05-2016, 19:38   #8
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
That's how I've been coiling lines for years on a winch instead of my head.....just didn't know it had a name or was a method!!


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+ 1

Me too. But I never knew that last move to separate the two "directions" of the coil. Learned something here.

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Old 01-05-2016, 19:54   #9
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

Yep, figure 8 / 'fake' braided lines, , coil twisted ones (worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way for those who served on training ships ;-) )


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Old 01-05-2016, 20:06   #10
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
.

Now....who uses the over/under method for coiling their hoses to keep the kinks out?

I do this all the time too with hoses. I've had several people look at me like I was nuts while I flop it back and forth......I'm not sure these people "get" what I'm doing!!


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Old 01-05-2016, 20:36   #11
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

A properly belayed, coiled, and hung line will run free when taken off its pin or cleat and dropped on its face to the deck. A line which is coiled from the belayed working end to its free end will let any twist work its way out.

Sometimes a line must be coiled from its free end back to its belay, as with halyards, especially on gaffers. For these we will deck coil, then ballantine. Again, this is to allow the line to run freely off the top of the coil without kinks, snarls, or tangles.

The butterfly shown is similar to a figure-8 flaking/faking on deck which is used with dock lines, gantlines, and others where precious deck space is available. Most times, and especially during heavy seas, it is not.

What this butterfly should be useful for is for carrying line aloft, then dropping to the deck, as when reeving a line through a block. I could have used this yesterday for a t'gallant sheet that had to be run from aloft through a yardarm shiv to a quartering block, and then down through the lubber hole to the fife rail.

During normal operations, regular coiling and hanging will be much quicker and tidier.
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Old 01-05-2016, 20:42   #12
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

The method of alternating half-hitches to avoid imparting twist and causing kinks when uncoiling is called the French coil.
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Old 01-05-2016, 21:02   #13
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

How would a butterflied coiled line
be tossed?

With a regular coil done without the
twist (hence making a figure 8 coil),
then taking half of the coil in each
hand, half is thrown while the other hand
pays. Not so sure how a butterfly would
toss freely.

I'm willing to be enlightened...
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Old 01-05-2016, 21:23   #14
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

I just don't know what many sailors do, despite being among them for many years. I guess I only know what I do and that's not consistent.

Sometimes I keep a twist developed in my coils. sometimes I alternate half twists in opposing directions and sometimes I lay up a coil with no twists where each loop forma and "8".

When my son comes to my boat he coils the ends of my dock lines in neat disks, but I leave the ends scrambled. When I eat crackers I arrange them in evenly numbered stacks and my wife comes by and shakes my plate. I eat M 'n M's in a specific color sequence and I eat the broken potato chips before the whole ones.

I'll stick to my plan,- it must be right!
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Old 01-05-2016, 21:27   #15
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Re: Why do sailors not butterfly their coils?

What you are calling a butterfly coil is the ONLY acceptable way to coil double braid lines. What people think of as the 'normal' way is used on three strand to ensure the line doesn't unlay, but it will damage double braids.
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