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itsme6582 04-05-2010 09:03 AM

Climbing Rope
I have a connection to a rock gym and may be able to get my hands on some free climbing rope. The gym replaces their lines every 3 months and simply throws the old ones away. Would recycled climbing rope be practical on a cruiser?

Faster 04-05-2010 09:15 AM

Climbing rope in general is too stretchy for running rigging tasks, but might do well for mooring lines and anchor rodes if it will tolerate the conditions.

Architeuthis 04-05-2010 09:34 AM

Handy for climbing the mast, I have some just for that use.

scottyt 04-05-2010 11:25 AM

i think it would do well for jib or genny sheets, but not for halyards. but its a good just in case line too, keep 150 feet or so on board, extra anchor rode, spare sheets, emergency tow line, etc etc

jackdale 04-05-2010 11:31 AM

If it floats, it might make a good stern line.

If stretches it is useless as a sheet or halyard.

PalmettoSailor 04-05-2010 12:15 PM


Originally Posted by jackdale (Post 589292)
If it floats, it might make a good stern line.

If stretches it is useless as a sheet or halyard.

Climbing rope is all designed to stretch in order to absorb dynamic loads that would otherwise be trasferred to the body.

If you use ascenders to climb your mast, you could haul a climbing rope up on your halyard and climb that rather than impose the wear and tear on the halyard itself, though with 3 months use in a climbing gym, much of the ropes intial strength will be gone. Most climbing ropes are intended to be retired after 10 or so falls.

As others have said it could be handy for backup mooring lines or a long emergency tow line, but it really wouldn't be much good for running rigging, except maybe for a preventer or boom brake system, where its properties would help absorb the energy of an accidental gybe.

puddinlegs 04-05-2010 12:52 PM


Originally Posted by itsme6582 (Post 589245)
I have a connection to a rock gym and may be able to get my hands on some free climbing rope. The gym replaces their lines every 3 months and simply throws the old ones away. Would recycled climbing rope be practical on a cruiser?

Like others have said, no.

There are a couple of exceptions, but one's related to going up the mast using jumars or a similar climbing aid to save you halyards from wear and tear. (We've got an old 10mm climbing rope just for this purpose, but I know it's use history.)

The other I've read about is use as an anchor snubber. There's a photo and explanation in Beth Leonard's book.

the only other use I've wondered about for a smaller boat would be as a preventer.

Sheets, halyards, no. Tow line or dock lines for anything larger than a small light boat or dingy, No.

pdqaltair 04-05-2010 01:18 PM

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.

klem 04-05-2010 01:57 PM

I would agree with the statements made by pdqaltair. It can be used aboard but you need to be smart about where to use it. Since it is coming from a gym, we are talking about dynamic line which is very different than static line.

I have seen anchor snubber on small vessels made of it which appeared to work quite well. Dock lines also seem like a potential use for a smaller vessel.

itsme6582 04-05-2010 03:04 PM

Thanks for the good info everyone. It looks like we found a new anchor line. Although, if that's all we're gonna get out of it it might not be worth the effort as it's a few hours away.

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