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Old 28-07-2020, 06:42   #1
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Mixed rode rope choices

Along the lines of some of the other detailed anchoring analysis that's been going on, I'd like to start one on analyzing what type of rope to use in a mixed rode for the best balance of performance, durability, good storage when being fed into a locker by a windlass, cost, ability to splice to chain and feed through a rope/chain windlass without manual handling, etc.

Currently, I'm using 8 plait nylon (5/8" to fit my windlass). This provides lots of stretch, so no snubber needed as long as I've got at least 30 feet of the stuff deployed. It feeds nicely through the windlass and lays nicely in the locker and causes no issues when I dump 90 feet of chain on top of it. However, chafe resistance is a serious concern. I'm figuring I'll get maybe 2 seasons out of it before the windlass, roller assembly, etc. all causes enough chafe that it warrants replacement.

Some potentially better alternatives I've found while staying at the same size are Regatta Braid (12 strand polyester) and the more interesting option of Samson Tenex (coated 12 strand polyester).

Strength wise, the 8 plait nylon comes in at anywhere from 10,400 to 12,200 lb breaking strength depending on brand. That puts working load (5:1 SF) at 2080 - 2440 lbs. And at max working load, it'll stretch just about 10%. Depending on brand, cost is anywhere from $1.10 to $1.50 / foot.

The Regatta braid is good for 12,400 lbs in 5/8, so 2480 lbs working load. And stretch at working load is 3.3%, so it would need a snubber unless there's a ton of it deployed.

The Samson Tenex is an interesting one. In 5/8, it's rated for 18,500 lbs average spliced strength, 16,700 lbs minimum. So depending on which number you go by, working load is either 3700 or 3340 lbs working load (much stronger than the other choices and far closer in working load to the 5/16" G43 chain it would mate with). There's also a version called Tenex-TEC that has split strands and is slightly stronger (breaking strength is about 300 lbs higher). Both variants are coated for additional chafe / wear protection. But they're very low stretch (2.3% at working load), so when the higher working load is factored in, they'd always need a snubber. The stuff is also fairly cheap at around $1.09 / foot.

The Tenex does have a couple of points of concern, however. I'm not sure how well the coating will hold up to use in a windlass, and I'm not sure how flexible it is. I might be a guinea pig and buy a few feet of it to find out if it's too stiff to lay nicely in a locker. I'm also not sure if my usual fabric paint/dye markings will work on the coated line.

So let's see what other line types we can come up with that would be usable for those wanting a mixed rode and then let's try to narrow down what characteristics can determine what the best choices are. It seems like there are a lot of potential choices out there beyond the things sold for use as anchor line.
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Old 28-07-2020, 07:26   #2
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

"However, chafe resistance is a serious concern. I'm figuring I'll get maybe 2 seasons out of it before the windlass, roller assembly, etc. all causes enough chafe that it warrants replacement."

Can you elaborate on these concerns?

I'm using recycled 5/8 8 plait rode as docking lines and planning on new 8 plait rode.
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Old 28-07-2020, 07:49   #3
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

Two comments:
1) Breaking or working strength numbers above are irrelevant since the splice is going to be a weak link.
2) Once, I chartered a boat with mixed rode and a windlass. The rope was severely chewed by the windlass close to the splice. Not such a concern on your own boat, but still a concern.
Therefore, I would not use a mixed rode with a primary anchor on a windlass equipped boat. The biggest advantage of the rope tail is aiding in a manual anchor retrieval, as far as I am concerned.
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Old 28-07-2020, 07:49   #4
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

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Originally Posted by Rucksta View Post
"However, chafe resistance is a serious concern. I'm figuring I'll get maybe 2 seasons out of it before the windlass, roller assembly, etc. all causes enough chafe that it warrants replacement."

Can you elaborate on these concerns?

I'm using recycled 5/8 8 plait rode as docking lines and planning on new 8 plait rode.

Because of the design of my roller assembly, it's hard to avoid the line running across a rounded metal edge of the roller when pulling it up in any kind of wind where it can't be kept slack and pointed to the wind perfectly. So it causes some wear to the line. Nothing major, but between that and the line feeding through the windlass gypsy, I'm starting to see slight wear in some spots. I need to do a more thorough inspection to see what I'm really experiencing, but I don't expect to get more than a few years between replacing the rope portion of the rode. And in general, wet nylon sucks at chafe resistance.

However, the overall thread isn't meant to be specific to my application (although it will likely drive my future replacement cycles). I'd like to see some real analysis of what would be most suitable for various reasons.
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Old 28-07-2020, 07:53   #5
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lost Horizons View Post
Two comments:
1) Breaking or working strength numbers above are irrelevant since the splice is going to be a weak link.
2) Once, I chartered a boat with mixed rode and a windlass. The rope was severely chewed by the windlass close to the splice. Not such a concern on your own boat, but still a concern.
Therefore, I would not use a mixed rode with a primary anchor on a windlass equipped boat. The biggest advantage of the rope tail is aiding in a manual anchor retrieval, as far as I am concerned.
I'm not sure on the strength specs for the Regatta braid and the 8 plait nylon, but for the Tenex, the strength is specifically listed as spliced breaking strength, so it should meet those numbers in the real world.

As far as reasons to use a mixed rode in areas that don't have rocky or coral bottoms, not every boat can gracefully carry the weight of 300+ feet of chain in the bow. So a decent length of chain plus rope after that starts to become appealing. In my case, I'm using 90 feet of chain + 300 of rope. If I were traveling to places with less friendly bottoms, I'd likely change it to 150 and 250 (knowing that many of the non-friendly bottoms are also shallow, so 150 feet would be enough to keep the rope in the locker in those places).
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Old 28-07-2020, 07:56   #6
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

I don't know of anything better than 8-plait for rope rode. Yes, it can catch more easily than other fiber construction methods, but if you're only getting two seasons out of it I'd look at why it's wearing so much in use. Does your bow roller have sharp edges along the guides? (Maybe it needs to be re-worked?) Are you leaving long lengths to lay on a rough bottom where you anchor? (You mentioned you have 90 feet of chain, so I'd expect you could minimize that to a great extent.) Sorry if I'm not helpful, but I think 8-plait nylon is generally the best option.
PS - Whatever you choose, it should sink. I've read that some people like to use floating rode, and IMHO that is likely to snag on passing boats.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:08   #7
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

The 8 plait construction is nice, it's more the nylon that I question. I know 8 plait polyester is common in Europe, but as far as I can tell, it basically doesn't exist in the US. And I absolutely agree that anything that floats should be automatically excluded from the list of possible good rode materials.

I do end up with line on the bottom at times when the wind dies. One of my most common weekend anchorages is almost 50 feet deep, so depending on weather and how long I'm staying, I typically have somewhere in the range of 200 - 275 feet out. The bottom is just thick mud though and I've never seen a localized chafe spot on the line even when it comes up dirty like it's been on the bottom.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:16   #8
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

3 strand nylon braided into the chain. Always worked for me. I don't remember any chafe.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:18   #9
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

8-Plait is soft to the hands, piles in small spaces well and has great stretch performance IMHO. However, it seems much more susceptible to abrasion. 3 strand seems to be the least susceptible to abrasion, with double-braid somewhere in between.

I use about 130 feet of chain backed by 3 strand, however in my area, I never anchor so deep as to ever have the 3 strand leave the anchor locker. I use 8-plait for snubbers, and double braid for dock lines, as double-braid seems to be less stiff (than 3 strand) after sitting for lengths of time in the sun, and less likely to catch on dock boards as compared to 8-plait.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:22   #10
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
I do end up with line on the bottom at times when the wind dies.
Try clipping a float to the chain at the splice.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:27   #11
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

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Try clipping a float to the chain at the splice.
Is he intention to have the float above the water? Anchor markers are pretty obnoxious in a tight anchorage. It's like parking sideways across the spaces in a parking lot. You also risk having someone,or even yourself foul your anchor marker in the running gear.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:39   #12
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

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Is he intention to have the float above the water? Anchor markers are pretty obnoxious in a tight anchorage. It's like parking sideways across the spaces in a parking lot. You also risk having someone,or even yourself foul your anchor marker in the running gear.
No - just enough to lift 4-5 meters of chain off the bottom.
Float stays submerged.
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Old 28-07-2020, 09:06   #13
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

8 Strand Dan-Strong Rope | Tidal Enterprises Ltd. - MARINE INDUSTRIAL HARDWARE – PACKAGED MOORING SYSTEMS
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Old 28-07-2020, 15:43   #14
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

All good advice. However, many years ago I assisted a cruiser who was concerned about his very long anchor rode rope section. What I recall was that it was a three strand rope, white, about 2 cm diameter. The problem they had was that the rope had become really stiff. We laid it out on the jetty and tried to soften it. We tried washing and sought advice from interested marina users, local chandlers plus the internet, without any luck. We eventually gave up and they replaced the rope as it was really unmanageable.
My question is: does anyone have a suggestion as to what rope this was so that others can avoid its use? Or what may have caused the rope to remain in this state?
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Old 28-07-2020, 19:47   #15
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Re: Mixed rode rope choices

Double braid is the worst for wear. Once you wear through the outer braid you've greatly weakened the rode. Wearing through the braid can happen in almost no time. Three strand is the best for abrasion but becomes stiff and hard to store with use, some worse than others, but all seem to get stiff with age. I'd stick with the 8 plait and try and find a way to ease the abrasion on the windlass.
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