Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
Thanked 86 Times in 85 Posts
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Wow. Lots of theories from non-climbers.
I have used climbing rope around a boat for 20 years (2 catamarans, one 1500 pounds, the other 8,000 pounds). The thing is, climbing rope is cadalac rope... for it's intended purpose. A few thoughts.
* Not great for climbing the mast; too much stretch. Big wall climbers (those that use rope grabs to climb lines) often carry a separate static line (like yacht braid) for accending and hauling - I always did. Good for a mast safety line, because of the shock absorption, though generally you just use a spare halyard.
* Running rigging. Way too stretchy for any application.
* Splicing. Some can be spliced, but with a very different method than double braid. It's tricky because the cover is MUCH tighter than typical double braid. Figure on knots. Fortunatly it features high knot strength and easy knotability.
* Anchoring. Works great for this, but, it is not compatable with a windlass. Fair abrasion resistance if the run is clean. Superior shock absorption and edurance. No surprise. The easiest handling and coiling line available.
* Dock lines. The lack of splicing is a minor issue. Abrasion resistance is not as good as some other lines but it will last FOREVER if covered with 1" tubular climbing webbing as a chafe guard. I would certainly use free line for extras when cruising locally.
* Sea anchor rodes. Generally too small for boats large enough to need a drogue or sea anchor, but that would work.
I have old ropes lying about too. The only purpose I have found them serve well is as non-windlass anchor lines for boats under 3 tons. I have one that has been in that service for 20 years and is still in wonderful shape (primary rode on the small boat, and back-up on the larger boat).
FYI: the sort of "fall" that causes a climbing rope to be retired is about 10x more severe than a typical gym fall. It is what we call a double-back fall, going 90 feet on a 50-foot length of rope anchored to concrete, and is an incredible test of energy absorption. This cannot occur in a gym; only on the second pitch of a multi-pitch climb in the mountains or the local crag. No similarly rated high-tech, chain, or polyester yacht braid would survive even 1 drop. I doubt many nylon double braid anchor lines would, as I have seen them tested; the forces go through the roof and something breaks. The typical gym fall is about 10 feet with the rope anchored softly to another climber. If the force was anything over ~ 500 pounds , the knots wouldn't come out. This is well within their safe working load.
Typically climbing ropes are retired in gyms when they have lost about 1/3 of their stregth, according to the tests I have seen. Most climbing ropes are retired after a thousand falls, or so.
Floats? Not hardly. Polyester sheath, nylon core.
(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")
"Well, I just climb up to them."
by Joe Brown, English rock climber
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