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Old 19-11-2012, 19:02   #1
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Best dock lines?

My three strand nylon dock lines are really starting to stiffen up after four years. Very little chafe or sign of wear but I assume the stiffness is a warning sign.

Should I replace them -- and if so, with what? Is there a best brand of three strand? Should I try a double braid or single braid? Favorite brands?

Thanks
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Old 19-11-2012, 19:20   #2
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Re: Best dock lines?

Carl,

The megabraid is really nice, but doesn't come in smaller sizes, and really needs to be spliced by an expert. However it is my favorite for larger boats.

Next best option is pretty much any double braid nylon. Easy to splice, and easy on the hands.


Either of the braided lines will far outlast three strand. Which in my eyes doesn't belong on a boat anywhere except for floor mats.
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Old 19-11-2012, 19:23   #3
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Re: Best dock lines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by West Marine Advisor
Dock lines should be made from nylon, which has a superior combination of strength and stretch. Both three-strand and braided construction are common. Three-strand stretches more, is very abrasion- and snag-resistant and less expensive. Braided nylon is stronger, comes in colors, and has a nice feel or "hand".
I totally agree with this and prefer paying the extra due to the ease in use of the braided lines, that are 30' long. I'm a bit of a cowboy and like to lasso my cleats. The soft braided lines also hang on the safety lines very well when coming into port.
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Old 19-11-2012, 21:34   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF
My three strand nylon dock lines are really starting to stiffen up after four years. Very little chafe or sign of wear but I assume the stiffness is a warning sign.

Should I replace them -- and if so, with what? Is there a best brand of three strand? Should I try a double braid or single braid? Favorite brands?

Thanks
The quote above from West Marine, is top notch advice, it would seem, but other alternatives are available.

None of the posts so far, seem to address your first concern, the lines you are using now.

I would wash them in your washing machine. Braid the lines with slip braids so the lines do not tangle up. Use a gentle detergent and a fabric softener for the rinse cycle. Then since it again to be sure they rinsed well. They should feel better than new.

I like Atwood rope. Not nylon, but a high grade UV resistant double braid poly. Many here dislike my choice in dock lines, but the 4 foot waves that came through in two storms this year, did them no harm.
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Old 19-11-2012, 21:44   #5
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Re: Best dock lines?

Ha! I await the day until they get a little stiff, hate them when they are super soft and fray easily... to each his own. When soft the seem to sanag on the slightest thing... not too stiff though. It seems some grades are more of a hard finish even when new than much of the super soft stuff.er
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Old 19-11-2012, 22:11   #6
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Hate the 15 minute time out to edit posts. Who came up with that, and why? At 56, I need longer than 15 minutes to revise and extend my remarks.

I was going to add, nylon may be needed because of the loads placed on your line.

Try washing what you have.
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Old 19-11-2012, 22:37   #7
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Re: Best dock lines?

I also agree to washing and rinsing with a fabric softener, then a 2nd rinse. Hang to dry.
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Old 20-11-2012, 01:36   #8
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Re: Best dock lines?

Good quality three strand does not feel soft or mushy, it's firm and difficult to unlay.
Major line manufacturers, such as Samson and New England, treat their ropes to firm them up after twisting the fibers together. Smaller manufactures usually don't do this.

When checking a line for chafe, twist it open and look inside for chafe as well as outside.
Look for glossy or glazed areas on the rope that indicates melting of the fibers.
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Old 20-11-2012, 05:19   #9
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Re: Best dock lines?

3 strand nylon will stretch 15%, more than braided lines and good for storms to ease the shock loads.

My buest guess is that 10 years in the sun will wekaen the lines to the point they are useless.

6 years ago I dragged hard aground in the Bahamas and helpful boaters tried to pull me off: I handed them my 3/4" three strand nylon lines and they snapped one after another..

The lines looked good, no chafe, no mold, but the strengt was gone.
The breaking strenght should have been around 12,000 to 15,000 lbs, but they snapped with a 1000 or 2000 lbs pull. (Boston Whaler with a 200 hp Mercury outboard.)

Got off at high tide instead and when back home in Florida I bought 240 feet on new 3-strand 3/4" New England line, cut to six 40' lenght dock lines and threw away my old stuff.
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Old 20-11-2012, 08:23   #10
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Re: Best dock lines?

CarlF, I would hesitate to recommend dock lines because I don't know what size or type of boat you own. I prefer 12-strand single-braid lines for my boat because they are a delight to handle/flake/coil. New England Ropes makes this type of dock line under the name "mega braid." Unfortunately, the smallest mega braids are 5/8", which would be overkill on some boats.
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Old 20-11-2012, 08:49   #11
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Re: Best dock lines?

CarlF,you might all so want to consider the temps in your area...ever had to get out the crowbar to free up the lines...? we use somthing with a little poly in it ,our stern line is striaght poly.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:19   #12
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Re: Best dock lines?

As noted 3 strand nylon has the strength and stretch desirable in dock lines as does braided nylon. For small boats and recreational docks where cleats are more likely to rip out the stretch is very desirable.

One 165' research ship I've been on uses 2" Dyneema dock lines. But then again its winch has a 4' diameter and the cleats are 2' across.

The maker of the line can weave 3 strand with differing amounts of tension. You can buy a soft weave which makes a very limp rope and requires less yarn per foot (read cheaper) or a stiffer line with more tension for boating use. There is a weave that had lots of tension and was very stiff. This was used for mountain climbing in the pre dacron/perlon, kernmantel (core and sheath) days.

There may have been stiffeners added but I don't recall that.

In regards to the OP stiff lines. Lines can become stiff due to dirt and such that gets between the fibers or the actual fibers can become chemically altered (by UV or exposure to acid rain for example).

Cleaning will take care of dirt but nothing will restore chemically altered fibers.

I wash my climbing ropes in a washing machine on gentle. No need for soap or fabric softeners. Climbers are a bit picky about their ropes (please don't step on my climbing rope!)

In regards to ropes breaking strength - Take a line with 100% rated strength and subtract 10% for being wet, another 10% for dirt and your 12000 pound line is now 10000 pound line. Then depending on the knot used subtract up to 50%, now 5000 pound.

We have a saying in climbing - ropes don't break they are cut. THis means that the rope fails one strand at a time. Any sharp or rough edge or even sand crystals in the weave will do the cutting. (and the place where the line was stepped on and the strands compressed!) The more force through the rope the more the cutting and breaking of individual strands.

But I ramble on....

Back to the OP. Replace the lines if you worry about them. The cost is minimal vs the peace of mind that you will get and is good insurance. Name brand 3 strand or braided. The choice is yours.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:28   #13
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Re: Best dock lines?

My experience with braided lines found they squeak. Not important if you're not sleeping or trying to sleep. Gave up on braided years ago.

Nylon--- IMHO that is another matter entirely. Sure, nylon stretches and develops internal heat that can lead to failure. This is especially true at stress points such as at cleats. Overall, I have had great positive experience with nylon.

This year I changed all my dock lines to polyester which has much less internal heating. OK, that is encouraging. But I also found at the season's end that several lines started to fail where they passed though my SS cleats. I like the polyester stuff even though it seems to have a greater risk of chafing , more so than did the nylon I previously used. My cleats are smooth and well rounded but I have not used chafe guards. Next season I intend to install chafe protection and see how the polyester holds up.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:34   #14
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Re: Best dock lines?

Another issue to (maybe) consider is performance in a serious storm / hurricane. The 3 stranded stuff does not retain heat as well as double-braid, and overheating with subsequent melting is the usual failure mode in hurricane-type conditions.

So I use 3 strand for the lines that stay connected to the dock, and have some fancy double braid that travel with me for casual docking. They ARE nice to handle.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:38   #15
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Re: Best dock lines?

UV radiation doesn't cause a huge degradation in strength compared to polyethylene. This study shows that accelerated UV aging may reduce strength of nylon by about 20% over time whereas poly loses most of its strength (90%) in a relatively short period of time.

http://www.barry.ca/publication/Effe...s-24-10-08.pdf
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