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post #1 of 27 Old 07-13-2014 Thread Starter
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Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

So, I made a special trip into the city on Thursday to outfit my MacGregor 26D with all new lines, sheets, etc. I've had the boat 4 weeks, and been out daysailing twice. My only other experience with sailboats was when I was a teen, I had my own Laser.

I chose the store I went to based on online reviews, and that they seemed to be a company that would not only have everything I could need for my current marine needs, but also because I expected them to have knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced staff. They have several stores in the Greater Vancouver area.

In order to ensure that I was getting what I needed, I cut pieces off the end of each rope I needed and brought them with me, each labelled as to which line it was, and the length needed. I also brought my laptop with tons of photos, and even brought my jib sheet and genoa sheet with me.

After spending a couple hours going through it with the employee, I walked out the door with over $500.00 in lines. I get home, and have run only two lines, now. Not a single line is the same size and/or material as what I had before.

Now, look, I'm new to all this. So I was relying on the store to make appropriate decisions for me, and to get me what was most appropriate for my boat.

Well, they talked me into going for smaller diameter lines for my jib and main halyards. Being so confused and overwhelmed by it all, and thinking they knew best, I agreed. What I didn't agree to, was going to smaller diameter lines on every other part.

The daggerboard lift lines, smaller. The main outhaul, smaller. The topping lift, smaller. The Jib and Genoa sheets, smaller. Everything is smaller.

At least FOUR times I asked the employee to either come out to my vehicle to look at the lines on my jib and genoa, or suggested I bring them in for the person to view, and was told there was no need. Four times I pointed to rope of a different material which was softer, which I believed to be the same as used on my jib and genoa.

Well, here I am now with smaller diameter lines, and in some cases stiffer lines (ie.: not as soft in the hand) and -and this is a big one- the one line that I stated was the most important one I get (my main sheet), as mine was damaged (inner strands sticking out the outer weave and jamming the sheet) was forgotten altogether.

Now, let me say first of that the rope STRENGTH for the intended application is not in question. But what is in question is things like chafing, wear on the boat, greater friction in the system, and just as important - comfort in my hands.

Ok, so I agreed to go smaller on the halyards, I figured those aren't things I'm constantly using, so no real burden on the hands. But the jib/genoa sheets, the daggerboard sheet, the outhaul, all being smaller, are going to be harder on the hands.

The daggerboard line, being smaller diameter, is going to wear on the deck of the boat (mine doesn't have a block turning 90 down' to the daggerboard so it's rubbing on the deck. Something I was going to change LATER when I had more funds.

The smaller diameter on the outhaul on the boom, well, it goes through a HOLE drilled at the clew end of the boom, with a stopper knot. Now, it's going to have an undersized rope in there which, sure I could double up the line inside, to make a bigger knot; but it's really going to chafe on the sharp edge of the hole.

But all these sheets and lines, now being smaller, are going to take a greater toll on my hands, aren't they? Yes, I intend to wear gloves, but that's not the point. Simply put, a larger diameter line is easier on the hands.

Smaller lines are also going to wear more quickly, aren't they? What is the recommended life on our lines, anyway? Will the wear factor as much as their 'best before date'?

Now, as for the jib/genoa sheets, the main sheet, and the boom vang sheet, they were all of a softer material. But now I've got this line (polyester, I guess, as I believe every line I purchased is) that is just super stiff, and super abrasive.

So, have I got lines that are just going to be too hard on the hands, wear out too quickly, wear out parts on my boat too quickly, and/or create too much friction in the system (causing more effort on my part). Or did I get what was most appropriate for my boat?

Did I get bad advice?
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post #2 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

Did I get bad advice?
Impossible to answer based on your post..
You don't size rope for chafe.
If you have chafe points you remove it.
Smaller rope is less friction but harder on the hands.
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post #3 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

There are imitation ropes that are made who-knows-where, probably in some Asian country. Online rope is often equivalent to that Rolex watch sold on street corners. I once bought a length of "Sta-Set" online that was advertised as the real thing. Suspecting it was fake, I contacted New England Ropes and attached close-up pix of the rope. They replied that it was certainly not theirs. Buying in a brick and mortar store probably means that they have the real stuff but be aware that there are imitations out there. Sales people who actually know about rope for sailboats are few and far between.

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post #4 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

With today's materials, you can get lines that are much smaller in diameter which are rated for the job, but as you point out, there is a tradeoff between the hand and the diameter. If whoever is helping you just looks at the specifications, they may not consider this factor. I've had small diameter lines recommended to me by well meaning riggers, so I'm not sure you got advice that's any worse than advice I've received in the past

The good news about smaller/lighter lines is that in light air say for your jib, sometimes just the weight of the line is a factor in sail shape, but, if you cannot hand the line, it's not worth it IMHO.

Without doing the details, it's possible that you got lines that are likely not to break, but aren't user friendly. I'd consider particularly the diameter of the sheets, as you'll handle them the most. Consider swapping out the jib and main sheets, and maybe keep the rest?
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post #5 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

Your halyards need to be sized for the turning blocks at the top of your mast. Too small and they could run off the block and jam.

In my view you make a mistake any time you allow the sales people at ANY storefront to make decisions (your responsibility) for your purchases. They are sales people...not technical experts nor do you know their operational background. Take their advice but the decisions are yours.

Hope you find the line suits your needs.
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post #6 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

happens all the time...salesman who go by "common" practices and rules giving a crap about you really want.

example you took a laptop with PHOTOS
you took in your sized line

and you still came out with full blown what its seems like "racing rope"

this is because new line has gone to stronger, smaller, lighter wieght, stiffer and different braids for general running rigging


especially when YOU are shopping around and searching for replacement stuff...

only(until) when you have a question should you ask, and even then avoid making decisions based on what one "salesman" pro says...the best way to shop, especially online these days is go by reviews by users with your same boat or equipment etc...

here is the are stuck with the rope you either get used to wearing gloves all the time and new line materials and how they feel compared to old

oooooooooooooooooor sell off that line and again buy or try getting line you feel is a better fit.

Only one comment for the place you bought this line is yes it is true that most go 1 size down in size for a given halyard or sheet because 1 you "save" some money, and 2 you save weight but mostly because materials today have much less stretch and are stronger for the same size.

that has been a standard for some years now.


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Last edited by christian.hess; 07-13-2014 at 10:05 AM.
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post #7 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

Originally Posted by Lomcevak View Post
Did I get bad advice?
Not anymore, you got great advice here.

There are a lot of factors involved in running rigging, lines, hardware, and all things involved in boating. There are specialists that make over $100/hour to help you with this. I'd suggest getting some books on boat maintenance and asking questions here before making your purchases. Part of the problem is asking the right question at the store to get the right answer. The next problem in getting good service is finding the right person to ask it to. The chandlery may have a bunch of knowledgable sailors or one or none. Taking purchasing advice from a powerboater that overheard the stores sailor sell a halyard are probably going to get bad advice. Find the sailors in the shop and seek them out when you need help.

As long as it fits the sheaves you should be good, but for future reference there is no need to pay a premium for high tech lines for a low tech day sailor. I personally prefer a stouter line that is easier to handle, especially on the main and jib sheets where you will be handling them all day.
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post #8 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

Try an answer of 6 and one half dozen or another!

The smaller lines may be stronger, may even chaff less than what you had. Smaller lines may actually last longer. Then again, they may be opposite.

I go for smaller high tech lines, as they stretch less, giving me better sail shape in puffs, which makes me heel less, and puts more power into going forward. Cost is very little difference, as the smaller is about the same as bigger diam lesser quality line per say.

A size smaller line say from 7/16 to 3/8 is not enough issue on my hands any how to worry about. A 3/4 to 1/4 might, if it is a sheet line. Then again, maybe not depending upon which sheet, sail, wind to be used in etc. I use 3/16" sheets on my drifter and spin, 3/8 on the jibs for heavier air. Smaller lines can be better at times than larger diam lines.

Again, with out what type of line you bought, hard to say if you got the right or wrong stuff etc.

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post #9 of 27 Old 07-13-2014
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

As has been mentioned there really isn't enough information here to tell if you got good advice or not. Going smaller on halyards is pretty standard good advice, the same for outhauls, topping lifts, ect. Sheets really depends on what you had and what you went to.

Basically my initial thought is that you probably didn't get bad advice, but may have been talked into higher tech lines (though not necessarily at a higher price) than you really needed. The upside is that most modern lines actually last longer and have better abrasion resistance than older stuff.
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post #10 of 27 Old 07-14-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Bad Rope (Line/Sheet) Advice?

From my receipt I got:


Although, the letters after the 'StaSet' may be colours. I'm not sure.

I'll try and get more information on them later.
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