Phil Sampson takes a look at 10 of the best boat rope options on the market, including twisted and braided versions suitable for docking
‘Give ’em enough rope…’ You know the rest; it’s an expression that’s been around for more than 350 years. But there’s one place this time-honoured truism doesn’t hold true, and that’s on a boat, where not only do you need enough rope but also rope of the correct type and size to match the purpose for which it is intended.
So where to start? Broadly speaking, there’s four main types of ropes for boats, the most common of which are nylon and polyester. Both are super strong and salt water resistant, with nylon being the more elastic of the two. Polyester, on the other hand, has better UV resistance, so is likely to last a little longer.
Next comes polypropylene, which as a floating rope has specific uses, such as water-skiing or as a safety line marking the direction of current for swimmers. Then there’s the natural fibre ropes such as coir, cotton, hemp, sisal or jute often seen on classic yachts – although synthetic lookalikes are available too.
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Next, there’s the question of twisted or braided. Twisted rope is generally less expensive and relatively easy to splice. While stiffer and less bendable than braided rope, it is actually the more stretchy of the two. It’s also worth remembering that twisted rope has a tendency to hockle, (twist against the lay), and/or kink. In addition to arguably being more attractive, braided ropes are the more pleasant to handle due to their being more flexible than twisted ropes
The third consideration is rope diameter. The strength of modern boat ropes means that tales of mooring lines snapping are few and far between in our experience. As a general guide, 10 mm rope is recommended for craft of 8 metres or less. Thereafter, increase the diameter by 2 mm for every 2 metres of boat length – so 16 mm rope would be the choice for a 14 metre boat.
Here’s our selection of the best boat ropes:
Best boat rope on the market right now
OROOTL premium nylon braided mooring line
While fishermen may associate OROOTL brand with spinners and lures, a range of premium quality boat ropes are also marketed under the name. These are high strength nylon lines which are double braided to prevent fraying and chafing.
Resistant to oils, moisture and abrasion, a choice of three lines are on offer, each of which comes with a 12″ eye spliced into one end. The 3/8″ diameter line is offered in lengths of 16.5 or 25 feet for 20 feet boats.
Middle of the range is the 1/2″ line, which is sold in 25 or 50 feet lengths for 20-30 feet boats. The thickest line, 5/8″, also comes in 25 or 50 feet lengths and is recommended for 20-40 feet boats.
Price: £14.99 – £33.99
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Direct 2 Boater reflective line
A product especially useful after dark is this high quality, double braided nylon line which reflects light from nearby sources thereby enhancing its visibility and safety.
Available in four colours – black, gold/white, blue and white – this boat rope is offered in three diameters – 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ – and lengths from 15 to 25 feet.
Its nylon construction is oil- and marine growth-repellent, offers a high level of UV protection and, the maker says, it won’t stain decks. Suitable for boats from 25-45 feet in length, each line comes complete with a professionally pre-spliced 12″ eye.
Price: 19.00 – £44.06
Neptune’s Locker nylon mooring rope
This 1/2″ (12 mm) diameter nylon dock or mooring line is offered in a choice of five colours: white, red, blue, green or black. Each line is 20 feet (6.1 metres) long and has a 12″ (30 cm) eye professionally spliced at one end.
The double braid construction employed in these ropes is strong, flexible and easy on the hand. Being made of nylon means these lines will stretch to provide protection against sudden loads or wash from passing vessels, making them a good all round choice for use in a wide variety of situations.
Hi-vis polyester braid on braid
There’s no question that boat ropes can present a significant trip hazard, so why not consider opting for high visibility lines such as this double braided offer from eBay seller, Lion Trading Limited?
Prices begin at just £1.00 per metre for a 6 mm rope, rising to £2.00 per metre for the 12 mm version. Eight and 10 mm options are also available.
Made of 100 percent polyester, these ropes are low stretch, UV protected, abrasion and friction resistant and offers resistance to many common chemicals.
In terms of breaking strain, they’re tough too – the 6 mm option can take 770 kg and the 12 mm, 1,350 kg.
Price: From £1.00/metre
Double braid polyester mooring rope
This product from London-based Rota Marine, a well-known name in the boat rope world, is a 100 percent polyester rope with a 24 strand outer cover over a 12 strand inner core.
Sold in three diameters – 14 mm, 16 mm and 18 mm – these lines have a break load strength of 4,370 kg, 5,630 kg and 6,510 kg respectively.
Available in either navy blue or black and lengths of 6, 10, 15 and 20 metres, each line comes ready-to-go with one end spliced with a 35 cm (approx) eye and the other end hot sealed.
All splicing is carried out in the firm’s own warehouse and custom splicing is available on request.
Rota Marine polyester braid on braid
Our second boat rope from Rota Marine, this 10 mm braid on braid line, is typical of the company’s products. Made from 100 percent polyester and supplied in lengths from 5 to 25 metres, this is a rope designed not only to perform well but also to look good by virtue of its flecked pattern.
The options available are white with blue, green, red or yellow fleck, so should colour-coordinate with most boats. Featuring a high tensile strength, these ropes are designed to be long lasting and non-kinking.
Price: £9.36 – £44.88
Pindex twisted docking rope
With a breaking strength of 5,850 pounds, this 3/4″ (19 mm) docking line from Pindex is a mighty beast indeed. That said, the 30 metre length on offer here weighs just 3.4 kg, or about 7.5 lbs in old money.
Made of nylon for high strength and impact resistance, this boat rope comes complete with a stainless steel thimble held in position by a splice at the end of the rope. The other end of the line, (aka the bitter end), is heat sealed to provide a good grip.
In addition to its mooring uses this boat rope is well suited to a number of other applications, including hauling and lifting.
Tribord floating tow line/rope
Sports retail giant Decathlon offers this brightly coloured floating rope under its Tribord brand name. Designed primarily for towing lifebuoys or small boats, it’s a highly visible and stretchy line – its elongation rate under tension is 7%, which equates to 7 cm for every metre, meaning it has excellent shock absorbing properties.
The line is 8 mm (0.31″) in diameter and comes in 10 metre (33 feet) lengths. Weighing in at just 23 grammes per metre, and with a tensile strength of 550 kg, this rope is a keenly-priced option well worth considering.
Floating safety rope
Regular Southampton Boat Show visitors are sure to know the name of bespoke rope specialist, Jimmy Green Marine. The rope we have selected here is one of the many floating rope options offered by the Devon-based firm.
Sold in a 50 metre cut length for the bulk buyer, or by the metre for retail customers, this LIROS 8 plait line is made from spin-dyed, UV stabilised, flexible multi-filament polypropylene.
Manufactured specially for Jimmy Green Marine, this flexible, lightweight boat rope comes in yellow with a red fleck, making it highly visible and therefore ideal for throw lines and safety rope applications.
Price: £43.00 for 50m of 5 mm line.
vidaXL jute rope
Made of 100 percent jute, this is very much a line for classic yachts and the purists among us. In addition to its fabulous look, touch and feel, this rope has excellent environmental credentials; it’s a completely natural material and is fully recyclable.
Although listed as being unsuitable for lifting or climbing, vidaXL’s jute rope does offer good tear and abrasion resistance and is accordingly very durable.
There’s no question it would also look great when attached to any craft which justifies the investment in a traditional line such as this. The price quoted here is for 100 metres of 20 mm marine sailing rope.