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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
More than a few sailors are (or used to be) climbers and have climbing rope in the garage looking for a use. Typically, climbing ropes are retired from service just barely broken in, and before they have seen more than a few months of full-time UV. Must be good for something.

Ropes are designed for purposes. For docklines we value abrasion resistance; climbing rope does not rate highly. For some applications spliceablity is important; while climbing rope can be spliced (tight cover for snag resistance and parallel core) it is a bastard. For some lines low stretch (halyards an sheets) is vital. Anchor rodes require compatibility with windlass gypsies (though for small boats climb rope works well--had one for 10 years on my Stiletto--much nicer than the 3-strand it came with).

Curiously, dynamic climbing ropes are lousy for climbing the mast; too stretchy. There are static climbing ropes, much like StaSet.

But are there applications were ease of hand and shock absorption are important? It does not seem rational that super low stretch is better for everything.

* Main traveler. The boat came with polyester. I came across some spectra double braid for free, the line needed replacement... and it was awful, like jibing against a brick wall, even when the main was well controlled. At the suggestion of a very experienced sailor I switched to 8mm climbing rope. Much nicer; in a normal jibe it provides 1-2 inches of cushion and has a wonderful hand. That was several years ago and I am very pleased.
* Tethers. Just the last few years, ISO standards have added a drop test requirement (formerly was only strength). Climbing ropes meet these easily, even when knotted (the rope is optimized to hold knots while losing little strength). Much easier on the ribs, if you are old like me (a soft catch).
* Anchor snubber. They absorb surge exceptionally well, but are vulnerable to chafe (climbing ropes have more core to absorb energy, at the expense of minimal cover). Of course, if you have an old 60M rope, you cut new bits as needed for many years.

Other ideas? Things you've actually tried?
 

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I think a lot of folks don't fully understand the differences between a static load test and a dynamic load test. The guys at Yale Cordage posted this a number of years ago. I have had a chance to see Yale's test equipment and their testing, splicing and braiding facilities in action. The family are members of our club and our mooring field serves as a good test bed for their mooring and sailing products. Yale is into more than just pleasure marine and are well ensconced into the arborist, military/mil-spec, power utilities, industrial, mining, oceanographic... etc...

This is one of the better demonstrations I've seen of the differences between a static and dynamic test.
 

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baDumbumbum
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My chief concern would be water absorbtion -- nylon being hydrophilic. Even 'dry core' climbing ropes will absorb substantial amounts of water (and associated salt), and tests of climbing ropes have shown them to lose up to half their dynamic load capacity when really soaked.

That said, people the world over have anchored with nylon cord for a very long time, and no one seems to fret much over strength loss. Which I've been wondering about....

There are also stretchy polyester constructions which should be more UV resistant than anything nylon, tho not nearly as strong for the weight. But ya, if your garage is full of old rock ropes, you can swap them out yearly. I have probably 500' of retired dynamic rope I wouldn't feel good about taking a 50' whipper on, but it's probably good enuf for the traveler.

Another thing I really like about climbing ropes is the neutrality of their construction. I see far fewer kinks, twists, or hockles in climbing line than in most marine ropes I've messed with. They are laid to prevent tangles. At least -- after you've rapped on 'em a dozen times or so.:D They can be a bit willful when new.
 

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Caving rope has much more in common with most sailing cordage than climbing rope does. Cavers use very low stretch rope because they actually climb the rope (rock in caves is generally "rotten") and nothing will make you seasick faster than climbing hundreds of feet of bouncy rope. Caving rope should also be very abrasion resistant as it will always be loaded while running over rock. Caving rope will often be in water so low absorption is good. In the USA, cavers use 11 mm rope whereas most Europeans use 9 mm (Europeans use diff techniques than in the USA). A 165' caving rope is considered to be a minimum with 500' being common and I have actually bought and used 1200'. Cavers also use special rope washers to clean muddy rope. New rope must be washed to remove the waxy coating, we once stuffed the 1200' of rope on two side by side washing machines, the look on peoples faces in the laundromat was priceless.
I still have 165' of "Goldline" I bought many years ago for rock climbing. If you use it for caving, you spin while climbing and it bounces like hell. I s'pose it would be good anchor line although a bit stiff.
Best caving rope is made by PMI although Bluewater now makes some good stuff.
 

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Other ideas? Things you've actually tried?
In addition to using climbing rope for my tethers, I also use it for part of my boom preventer line, which also doubles as the foreguy for a whisker or spinnaker pole... On boats with low aspect mains or long booms, I figure it could be nice to have some extra 'give' in the preventer in the event of dipping the boom, and certainly in the more likely event of an accidental jibe...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In addition to using climbing rope for my tethers, I also use it for part of my boom preventer line, which also doubles as the foreguy for a whisker or spinnaker pole... On boats with low aspect mains or long booms, I figure it could be nice to have some extra 'give' in the preventer in the event of dipping the boom, and certainly in the more likely event of an accidental jibe...
First, I'm sure this depends on the specific boat and preventer; for most, an accidental jibe is impossible with a preventer on. Most probably I misunderstand.

On one hand I can see some give might be useful. On the other hand, the preventer is intended to fix the position of the boom, and depending on the geometry, stretch might allow too much movement. Like many things, boat and rigging specific.

An interesting example of gray areas. I was thinking of re-rigging my preventer and twings anyway. Might try this. But with a cat I have beam and very good leverage.
 

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First, I'm sure this depends on the specific boat and preventer; for most, an accidental jibe is impossible with a preventer on. Most probably I misunderstand.
Well, ANYTHING is possible... At least, on a monohull... :)

By "accidental jibe", in this case I'm simply referring to the main becoming backwinded... Not all that far-fetched sailing DDW on a boat with deeply swept spreaders, for instance... Or, should an autopilot or windvane be too slow to react, or go haywire... Or, if a singlehander is caught napping by a sudden windshift or squall, and so on...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)

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Good on ya! My bloods a bit thin these days to be climbing on ice. Makes me shiver just to think about it. Darn, we need a sheet at night if it drops much below 75 F.
 

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Fun stuff:

Wet and Icy ropes may be dangerous - SingingRock.cz

Granted, this is testing dynamic falls over a small radius corresponding to a carabiner, but it is consistent with other tests showing 50-70% reduction in dynamic strength for nylon kernmantle rope when wet -- and substantial weakening even when merely splashed with water. I would really like to know how docklines and anchor rodes are strength tested, and how much if any of their dryland strength or elasticity is lost when wet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Fun stuff:

Wet and Icy ropes may be dangerous - SingingRock.cz

Granted, this is testing dynamic falls over a small radius corresponding to a carabiner, but it is consistent with other tests showing 50-70% reduction in dynamic strength for nylon kernmantle rope when wet -- and substantial weakening even when merely splashed with water. I would really like to know how docklines and anchor rodes are strength tested, and how much if any of their dryland strength or elasticity is lost when wet.
Pretty funny to rate anchor ropes dry!

The difference is less from what I understand. I did some chafe testing for Practical Sailor (out in a month or 2), and the reduction in wear time for wet nylon was about 50%. The difference was much less for polyester and Dyneema, though all have some negative effect.

On the other hand, much sizing is by rule of thumb and experience, and experience certainly takes this into account. Breaking an anchor rode is almost never a strength issue (cutting and chafe).
 
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