Monday, January 16, 2012

My Favorite Sail Ties

Drew over at Sail Delmarva  makes some proper sail ties:
In the West Marine catalog--or any supplier for that matter--they sell prefabricated sail ties for ridiculous prices. My boat came with 2 sets of 2 types. I tried some webbing with Fastex buckles--something I had. They all stink. We used some for other things and cut some up to use the materials for other things. All rubbish.

Having completed my Practical Sailor article on washing rope, I was faced with piles of clean ropes in various states of disrepair. Some was ancient crap, destroyed in the testing. A few bits tie Jessica's kayak to the car or the railing of the boat. Some remains in a basket, waiting some future purpose. Most puzzling was the new dock lines that were herniated and ruined in the washing process. I had 100 feet of new, soft 1/2-inch nylon dockline that simply had a tangled core. I pulled the core out--it slipped out in seconds--and played with both parts,  the core and the cover, while watching a DVD; something to keep the hands busy. Separately, they are so loose and and easy to splice, it became a game to see what could be done. Toys for sailors.

The core was pitched. Other than recyclable fiber, I couldn't dream a purpose. To loose and snag prone.

The cover is another matter. It's a sort of webbing, or a very hollow single braid rope, super-easy to splice. Just screwing around, sitting on the boat one evening while watching "Cast Away" for the 10th time, I found myself making sail ties from this, a sort of strop. It  felt old school and relaxing... and they are the best ties I have found.
  • The material is soft and easy on the sails. 
  • A brommel splice is fast and  few stitches lock it. 
  • The eye is just large enough to pass a double over hand knot, which is nice and square and never slips out. 
  • The flattened profile of the hollow braid grips the stopper knot better than round rope, without need for an overly tight eye. 
  • The pointed tail makes threading them simple; I can take put them on or take them off in the dark with gloves on, in moments.
  • There is no hard buckle or bozo ball to step on.
  • There is no knot to seize-up after wet dry cycling.
  • They are not adjustable (you can move the knot, of course), but if made to fit there is no need.

Try it. It seems wasteful, just using the cover, but short bits of used rope should do. Normally old rope cannot be spliced, but I think you'll find the cover alone is different.

I swear, I'm not that cheap. These real work best for me! Well, maybe I am.


  1. YAY!!!! Since I CANNOT throw away a piece of line that is over 12" long (I've tried but I just can't do it), I now have something new and useful to make from these scraps. I hear you about how easy it is to work with just the outer braid. I accidentally found that out on some scraps when the core slid out. I used the remaining pieces to tie dock lines to the lifelines. Soft and pliable. Thanks again for the idea.

  2. The same sort of strope I described for sail ties is described in this post:

    I think it posted on this sight, but I don't know where. I use them all over the boat for tying on covers and holding lines in place, as you describe:

    Very handy.


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