General Characteristics of Ropes


Ropes stretch under load, and natural fibre ropes do not recover fully.


Strands of rope tend to unlay unless the end of the rope is secured.


Older and more worn-out ropes have less elasticity and are weaker.


Ropes tend to unlay themselves under load.


The life of a rope is reduced when subjected to hot and damp conditions continuously.

Warning signs

Synthetic ropes do not give any warning when stretched to limit and part suddenly with recoil.

Care and Maintenance of Ropes

General wear

Don’t subject ropes to abrasions, excessive stress, sharp nips or bends, sunlight or chemicals exposure, inadequate ventilation, petrochemical exposure.

Wet ropes

Avoid stowing wet ropes; should be dried before stowing.


Stow ropes on a grating platform to allow air to circulate freely.


Protect ropes from exposure to sunlight. Some synthetic fibre ropes now are treated for protection against exposure but should be kept covered if they will not be used for some time.


Ropes used in sea water or oil-contaminated water should be washed with fresh water before stowing.

During use

Avoid kinks and sudden jerks on ropes.


Ropes should be regularly inspected for rot and fatigue. A reduction in diameter indicated fatigue. Rot can be detected by smell or inspecting the inner surfaces of the strands.


Avoid chafing of ropes and freshen the rope frequently. This would change the place where rope is chafing and prevent localised damage to the rope.

Handling Rope

Precautions While Handling Rope

The bight of rope

Never stand in the bight of the rope.

Rope under tension

Never stand in the way of rope under tension. When a synthetic rope parts under tension, it recoils with force. This can injure or kill.

Wet ropes

Ropes are slippery when wet - handle with care.


Synthetic ropes under tension, sometimes get fused and stuck with the bitt or the cleat, around which they are wrapped. While being eased under tension, they may not slacken initially and then surge suddenly - which can be dangerous. The fusion (melting of rope) causes permanent damage to synthetic rope,

Nips and bends

Avoid bad nips and bends or sharp edges.

Don’t mix ropes

Don’t mix synthetic fibre ropes or natural fibre ropes with wire ropes.

Advantages Of Coiled Rope

What advantages does a coiled rope have over one that’s uncoiled?

Compared to an uncoiled rope, a coiled rope:

   (a) is easier to use
           (b) occupies less space
(c) looks neater
  (d) doesn’t kink.

Coiling On Deck


Other information

Lay rope straight.

Lay rope straight on deck - as long as possible.

Build up loops.

Coil the rope by laying a loop flat on deck and then building up loops on top of it until the end is reached. Remove twists or kinks by untwisting rope while coiling.

Right lay/left lay rope.

Always coil right lay rope clockwise and left lay rope anti-clockwise.

Coiling In Hand


Other information

Form layers of loop

Hold the end of rope in hand and form layers of loop.

Coiling in right hand.

For coiling in the right hand, hold the rope with the right thumb pointing towards the end.

Coiling in left hand.

For coiling in the left hand, hold the rope with the left thumb pointing towards the bight.

Flaking out the Rope

Flaking out the rope is a means of laying the rope so that it can be paid out quickly.
Long, parallel loops are used which allow the rope to run freely, when paying out.

Cheesing Down a Rope

Cheesing down provides a neat stow to the end of the rope. The right-hand lay rope is cheesed in a clockwise direction.
Cheesing should not be used when the rope is paid out quickly.


Marine knots and hitches can be easily untied after use.

Knot - Knots are a combination of loops which interlock and are commonly used to fasten the ropes together or to an object.

bowline figure eight knot
Bowline Figure eight knot

Hitch - In a hitch, the loops jam under strain but can still be separated once the strain is removed.

clove hitch round turn with two half hitches
Clove Hitch Round turn and two half hitches


Bend - A bend is a type of knot used for joining two ropes or for fastening the rope to an eye or ring.

reef knot
Reef knot

Splice - A splice is used to join or finish off the end of the rope or create a permanent loop.

straight splice
Straight splice
splice crown knot
Eye Splice Crown knot to begin back splice


You can only learn to tie knots through practice.


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