Painter Line Strength

I am outfitting my canoe and need to put some painter lines on it. I read something about 1/4" poly so I grabbed some at the local hardware store which has a tensile/safe working load strength of about 90 pounds. Is that enough? Do I need to go find some heavier duty rope? I did a quick search on the site here and did not see any recommendations about it.

It should be plenty
as long as you don’t put more than 90 lbs of force on it…

I am using a 3/8 braided line with a I believe about a 350 lb limit. I’m no expert on it, but I picked a line that should be able to suspend my boat in the air, with the expected maximum load in it.

However, it does not take much to exceed even 350 lb/ft of energy. Tie off the rope, drop the canoe even just a couple feet and you rapidly push the rope to its limit. I know there are stronger ones out there (Spectra, etc) but I figured that was plenty strong. It just depends how crazy you get with it.

As long as it floats.
I prefer 1/2 inch, easier on the hands.

Climber’s static line
is what I use - I think mine is 8mm. Has a very high tensile strength. If you will ever need to use either of these 2 lines for some type of rescue, you’ll appreciate the additional strength.

A canoe filled with water is very heavy and if one of these lines is used in recovering the boat it will be under a huge load.

Got mine at REI - purchased by the foot. Any good boat (sailing)store will also carry comparable line.

Breaking strength
Breaking strength of a line will probably be a couple of times greater than the listed strength (factor of safety, and all that). It doesn’t have anything to do with energy, however.

I wonder though
I had heard that there are two different types of breaking points for rope, one associated with a static load, and one associated with kinetic energy.

I read it somewhere like on a climbers forum or something. Wouldn’t 90 lbs static weight be a lot easier on a rope than 90 ft/lbs? (or kg/m to you other people)

My painters are very strong, perhaps
dangerously strong, because I have not done anything to make a really strong tie point on the canoe. If the canoe were to be “wrapped” in whitewater, pulling on a painter might simply wrench the attachment point out of the boat.

Tugeyes mounted in bow and stern are a possible solution, more likely to work in Royalex boats. In composite boats, some reinforcing of the Tugeye eye holes might be advisable.

There is a slow movement away from painters in whitewater canoes. Some people believe painters just leave a risk for snagging and are no help to a paddler who is swimming with his boat through a rapid.

In my estimation any strength will do
I have mixed feelings on their necessity.

My wife and I have swam on several occassions during down river races, and it was a simple maneuver to just grab hold of the canoe and swim it over to shallow water or a bank.

On very fast moving water it is probably a good idea, so you can grab the rope and stay up stream of the boat.

We have one on some of our canoes and none on others.

Jack L

think I read somewhere on a …
… web site all about ropes , that knots used in the rope can reduce it’s rated breaking stregnth by 50% . Some type knots reduce that to lesser percentages , but all knots have a big influence on the lines breaking strength design . That’s about the best I remember it , putting into paraphrase .

Passed up a nice length (at least a couple hundred foot piece , probably more like 250’) of climbers rope today , I believe it was that Kermantle type , about 1/2" looking … and seemingly brand new .

Could of taken it off his hands for 100. bucks … although a very nice quality high tech. rope , I just don’t need something like that at this time , so I offered him 60. bucks … I might change my mind if I see him next week ??

I’m a firm believer in painters but I
use simple clothes line with a yellow float on the free end. I change the line every year and retie the loop frequently. I make sure it will unraval and practice using them in moving water.

Painter lines are general not used for rescue, so in that case, go with something like a 3/8 or 12 inch poly line that will stretch and float. In whitewater, the painters should be secured or even removed to reduce the risk of entanglement.

1/4 inch line can be tough on the hands and static line serves no purpose when you are leading a boat along or lining it downstream. It’s also way overkill to tie a rope with a 4000 lb breaking strength to an attachment point that might break at 500 lbs.

My general rule is to use the weakest rope that will get the job done.


Sort of
That sounds like it’s sort of on the way to being partly right. It’s true that a dynamic loading situation can yield momentarily much higher forces than a static situation, due to high accelerations imposed. But an energy approach would not be the way to analyze the problem (because energy methods don’t generally deal with processes, but with endpoints, yadda, yadda).

Whatever - you’re correct that dynamically trying to jerk a canoe quickly to a stop can generate forces in the line much higher than just the weight of the canoe itself, which I think was your point.

Have painter lines on a couple of boats

– Last Updated: Jun-07-10 6:55 AM EST –

Use them to tie down the bow and the stern when the boat is on the car, to pull the boat along in shallow flatwater, or to tie the boat to a tree when I stop for lunch. In the event of a swim, you can sometimes grab the painter, swim to shore, and then pull the boat in. As others have said, the line doesn't need to be particularly strong for any of those uses.

A kid got killed at a dam near me when he got sucked into a chute with his foot tangled up in the painter line. He didn’t have a knife, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Here’s the dam where it happened

After that, I took the painter lines off my whitewater boat. If you use painters, make sure they are well secured to the deckplate.

Yes, attachment point strength is
important. My canoe is royalex and I drilled 2 holes, both bow & stern, thru the upper part of the hull. Ran static line thru these holes to create a 8 inch or so diameter loop.

To these loops I attached my painters with a carabiner. The hull itself is the attachment point - that seemed to be about as sturdy a connection as I could make. The carabiner allows me to quickly disconnect the painter if I need a line for some other purpose. That came in handy one time during a boat recovery.

The painters stayed coiled under a bungee on the bow and stern plate to miminize entanglement issues.

My painters are used every time I paddle - they are the bow and stern line tie downs to my vehicle.

They have proved useful several times in lining the canoe thru a rapid.

Given a choice between a weaker and stronger line - my preference is to pick the stronger - it is useful in a wider range of situations.