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Old 23-07-2022, 02:36   #1
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Chafe repair

Hi All,

Can I have your thoughts please on whether I can repair this area of chafe on my Genoa sheet? Happened prior to boat purchase but we have a similar area starting the other side, so we will look at preventative measures, and adjusting the lead. However, is it salvageable? The inner core looks undamaged but I'm not sure the best way to repair, if we can & would appreciate advice/ links to DIY repair if possible.
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Old 23-07-2022, 04:15   #2
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Re: Chafe repair

Wow. It's specific by location, so a chaff guard will help, but in the immediate it looks like cut and splice if you want to keep it. I'd be inclined to replace it and use the two good sections for something else on the boat. I keep a rope bucket for just such lengths of rope that are still good but retired from their original roles, and reach for it whenever I need a shorter length.

That very localized damage suggests that there is something sharp where it doesn't belong. Can you track down what caused the damage?
Never let anything mechanical know that you are in a hurry.
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Old 23-07-2022, 08:34   #3
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Re: Chafe repair

Since you asked for DIY solutions.
I have kept Genoa sheets going where I have damaged the outer by whipping very thin cord (less than 1mm) around them. (Maybe called serving lines)
It worked ok but they weren't as bad as yours.
Might be a good temporary option until you have figured out what's causing it so you don't wreck new ones.
This is only ok if your sheets are oversized (for handling) as the load in double braid is shared by the core and cover.

You might be able to splice in a new section of cover (take off another scrap of rope) but I don't know how you do this.
Try looking for splicing in chaff guards.
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Old 23-07-2022, 09:22   #4
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Re: Chafe repair

Well you can join two lines by stitching them. One would think that if you sewed it like a splice, with a bit of outer layer laid over the damaged bit it might work. Perhaps sacrifice a few inches on one end to get some spare covering and read up in how to join stitch lines. Practical Sailor had instructions.

The issues you have will be the line diameter will of necessity increase and the line will have a hard spot there. Might not want to go through your blocks. When you join lines by stitching you over lay them, side by side.

It is likely the line is far stronger than needed, sized to fit the hand not the load.
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Old 23-07-2022, 11:50   #5
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Re: Chafe repair

Pull a dyneema sleeve over the section, sew it tight and put heat shrinking over the ends and itís fine and better chafe resistance
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Old 23-07-2022, 12:47   #6
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Re: Chafe repair

Originally Posted by MikeFergie View Post
Pull a dyneema sleeve over the section, sew it tight and put heat shrinking over the ends and itís fine and better chafe resistance
Great idea!
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Old 23-07-2022, 15:10   #7
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Re: Chafe repair

Buy a new piece of rope. The cover carries half the load, so no matter how you mend it, the line is only half as strong as it should be. Do you want to think about that when you're rail-down in a sudden squall?
I know rope is expensive, and I'm sorry it's so, but rope is not the place to skimp on a sailboat.
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Old 23-07-2022, 16:34   #8
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Re: Chafe repair

I agree that this bit of line is toast and must be replaced. The cover shredding like that is a sure sign of UV damage (been there and done that myself), and the core likely has had some damage as well, for the cover is not 100% UV proof.

And the idea of stitching the line together after excising what you think is the damaged portion... well, that simply is not anywhere near full strength of the damaged line, let alone new line.

Having a genoa sheet part at an awkward moment can be pretty evil, so don't tempt the fates!

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II, back in Cygnet for the last days of summer.
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Old 24-07-2022, 22:00   #9
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Re: Chafe repair

The advice already given to simply retire the sheet, replace with new, and use the two pieces for other purposes is of course the best option with respect to absolute safety. Solving the cause of the chafe is also essential, or you will just end up back in the same spot again in short order.

However, if you'd like to give it a try, you could salvage it with an end to end splice. There are a couple of options that will require you to cut the core and then rejoin, and one you could try that will keep the core intact. This will shorten your sheet a bit, so if you have absolutely no length to spare then I suppose you're back to buying new line.

With a bit of practice and a few simple tools you can set yourself up with the skills to make repairs or replace old rope with new, splices and all. If you don't have, or want to invest in, a set of fids (although not a bad idea for to have aboard any boat) you can honestly just do this with a home made d-splicer made from a wire coat hanger. For the stitching you can use a strong polyester thread, sail repair thread, or even waxed whipping twine if you have some on board.

It is often more difficult to splice a used line because it is dirty and doesn't slide/milk easily, however you can improve your chances by giving it a soak before hand in clean fresh water, and letting it dry completely before attempting. There are special rope cleaning products available if you'd like to get it even cleaner. There is debate regarding the use of common soaps and detergents on rope, and using fabric softener to free things up and make it slide better when splicing. Satisfy yourself regarding this before proceeding. Personally, I have been able to make repairs to used ropes, including putting in a new eye splice, without too much difficulty as long as the rope isn't too old and dirty. Yours looks like a reasonable candidate to attempt, but in this case the thousand words a picture might be worth still canít tell me how dirty and stiff your sheet is, so youíll have to decide for yourself.

First, an end to end splice that gives you almost full strength of the undamaged portion of line (such as that is given the age and condition it is already in) but results in an increased diameter along the length of the splice. Youíll cut the line at the chafe point and proceed with the splice. There are many sources for instructions on how to make an end to end splice in double braid, so google away until you find something that makes sense for you if these donít.

This video from Premium Ropes is pretty good (although the amount of rearranging and pointing kind of drives me crazy, and I have to mute the horrible music):

If you prefer written instructions with pictures, Samson has a decent pdf with an equally good, although slightly different, method:

If you want the line to remain the same diameter then use this splice, but there will be a loss of strength because the core is no longer continuous. I would derate this line to 50% of expected strength for any further use (which, interestingly, means that it might perform equally, or close to, the strength you would expect from an undamaged line with a knot tied in the end, depending on the knot of course):

A final option if you are satisfied the core is undamaged and don't want to cut it, is to just apply the second part of an end to end splice by burying the two ends of the cover at the chafe point. The trick is to extract the core from cover on each side of the chafe so as to leave enough cover for the bury without cutting the core.

Tools needed: tape (electricianís tape, hockey tape, scotch tape, whatever), a pointy (but not sharp) tool such as a marlinspike or even a small cross head screwdriver, a D-splicer (a piece of wire coat hanger doubled back and ends taped together), some small diameter but strong and slippery messenger line such as mason's line or a nylon braid, stitching thread, a sturdy needle with a rounded point (not a chisel or sharp point). You can buy strong outdoor, uv resistant, polyester thread at any sewing supply store or even Walmart. Same with needles. You donít need fancy sailmakerís kit for this.

If the clew end of your sheet is terminated with an eye splice, or you cow hitch the bight of the middled sheet to the clew, then obviously you'll work from the cockpit end regardless of the length. If you just bend on with a bowline (meaning both ends are free and just whipped or heat sealed) then you could work from whatever end is shortest.

1. About 1" back from the chafe point, put some tape around each side of the cover so that when you extract the core it won't continue to splay, because you'll eventually cut the remaining strands of the cover at the chafe point (but NOT the core).

2. From whatever end you are going to pull the core out of, apply some tape firmly (but not so tight that you squeeze the core) about 1Ē back from the whipped or heat sealed end and make a nice clean cut through the tape. The core should now be free inside the cover and easy to pull through.

3. Measure from the newly cut end approximately 1 fid length (21 x the diameter of your line), pry open the cover carefully with the marlinspike (or whatever pointy tool you have chosen), careful not to snag the core, and pull the core throughÖ just like you see in the video.

4. Now to secure the messenger line to the end of the core. If itís masonís line you can tape it tightly to the side of the core. You could also stitch it back and forth through the core a few times, knot and then tape. If itís something like a 1/8Ē nylon braid then shove it through the core a few inches before taping so it doesnít create a bulge on the side that will be hard to pull through the cover, and then stitch it in place with some of your thread before taping. You donít want to lose this connection or it will be a lot of work to feed the core back through later.

5. Heading back to the chafe point, pull the core all the way out of the cover (yes, all 50í if thatís what it takes), with the messenger line following along inside, until it comes out at the chafe point. Keep pulling another foot or so of messenger line out and then cut it. Make sure you donít lose the end of the m-line back into the cover. Tie it off or tape it temporarily so it canít. When pulling the core through youíll find that the cover kind of bunches up on itself and opens up a bit, making it easier to slide the core through. Once all the way through, donít stretch out the cover again, which will constrict it, just leave it alone all nice and loose for now.

6. Cut the remaining strands connecting the cover at the chafe point to separate the pieces, but DONíT cut the core. You can now cut the cover cleanly at the tape you applied earlier on each side of the chafe point.

7. On the piece of line with the core still in the cover, measure back 1 fid length (21x the diameter of your line), again pry open the cover and pull the long section of core through like you did on the other piece, so that you have a short fid length of cover hanging free and the core coming out the side.

8. Back to the piece of cover with no core (hopefully still sitting there all nice and loose and undisturbed) and go to the end where you first extracted the core, leaving the 1 fid length section empty and the m-line entering from the side. Attach the end of the long exposed piece of core to the m-line firmly (as before).

9. Pull the core through the empty cover, gently milking and rubbing as needed to keep the cover supple and allowing the core to slide, until it pops out the other end. Line up the ends of the core and cover, milk a short section tight, tape and then put a quick overhand knot so it wonít slip. Youíll undo this later and finish it properly

And Voila! You now have reversed the empty cover so that it meets the other piece at the place where the chafe point was, with the core exiting each side of the cover 1 fid length back from the ends, nice and cleanly cut and taped and ready to bury into the core to complete the splice.

Now refer to the ĎStrong Spliceí video starting at about 8:00 minutes. Youíre basically just duplicating this part of the process.

Untie the knot you put in the end. Milk the whole line firmly the whole way down until the cover is seated well onto the core. At the bitter end, youíll likely end up with either cover or core too short by a little bit, so just find the point where they meet, cut cleanly, and finish as you desire. The quick and dirty is of course to tape, cut, and heat seal with a flame. More appealing is a clean cut with a hot knife, followed by some nice whipping.

Wow, that was a long explanation. Maybe it would have been easier to make a video. Hopefully not too confusing and helpful.

Is it worth all that trouble? I guess only you can decide. If you have no experience with rope work it will be a great learning experience no matter how it turns out, and if it goes well you can be proud of it and confident that, if you had to, you could probably repair a line at sea reasonably well if you didnít have another one to put into service. This includes anchor rode, halyard, reef lines, whatever. If you have more money than time, probably just best to go buy some new line.

Good luck.
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