Rope Types

I need to purchase new ropes for my bow and stern tie downs and have the Walmart versions of the Thule Quickdraws ( I think that’s the nane). I know I need 3/8 inch but do not know what type of rope to buy.

Can someone recommend a very strong and durable one?



I’ve seen basically two types of rope

– Last Updated: Jun-08-04 12:04 AM EST –

There's three-strand, "twisted" rope, and braided rope. Three-strand rope has three obvious main members composed of lots of smaller, twisted fibers, and the main members twist around each other down the length of the rope. Braided rope has a fine, diamond-weave pattern on an outer sheath, with some kind of core enclosed within. For most stuff, braided rope is a lot nicer to work with, but it costs more. It goes through pulleys and other mechanical devices well, so I'm guessing it'll work better on "quick draws" then the three-strand stuff, though I haven't looked up what those things actually are. Braided rope is also very "knot-friendly" compared to the three-strand stuff - the knots grip better and are easier to untie (assuming you know some "proper" knots). I use braided nylon rope for all boating stuff, including all my tie-downs, and I'm happy with it. Some braided nylon ropes are very stiff, coarse and rough-feeling, and others are silky soft. I use soft ropes for tie-downs over the top of the boat, because they don't scuff the hull as much (or your car's paint). Look for good-quality braided rope at a "good" hardware store, or a boat shop (that includes power-boat shops). My two cents.

Oh! And I just found this article right on this site.

Go to a marine shop
Get some XLS Yacht braid. It is very strong, does not stretch, holds a knot well and is UV resistant.

There a myriad of rope types. It’s worth it to get a few feet of very good line for your boat. XLS stands for extra low stretch and it has a tremendously high breaking strength.

What Sloopsailor said
is good advice. The low-stretch ropes (polyester, and the more expensive exotic materials) will not droop excessively when wet. I am using Bluewater accessory line, as sold by Perception for perimeter rigging.


Hey Barb !!!
I’m gonna help you out cause I know ya got “potential”. For what? I don’t know yet, but you’re potentially something; even if it’s potentially dangerous! LOL!

Go to & check out the 3/8 inch rescue bag rope, item # 1830, at 35 cents per foot.

Or call em at 1-800-635-5202.

Tell em to send you a catalog; nice to get it on occasion.

You can get all you need for painters (30 feet) for about 12 bucks including shipping. It’s bright & easy to see (yellow), it has 1,900 lb. test (more than you need), it floats(easy to see when you just capsized), it’s kernmantle construction (the core/kern is covered/protected by the mantle/outer sheath). It’s fairly flexible, easy to handle & remove knots from, and it will last a long time too.

Will you have it on by October rendezvous?

A secret admirer of “potential”,


be carely of a third type
There is cordage that has a linear core and a braided cover. These are terrible to deal with. If you are getting braided line make sure it is solid braid.

Any of the dacron based lines will
be low stretch. (XLS as was posted previously)Polypropylene based lines float, but are slippery and take extra care tying knots. Nylon lines (3 strand or braid) will stretch.

If you intend to cartop in rain and make long hauls, low stretch line will give you peace of mind and cost a bit more, but you do not need much.

Plan to tie down to the left and right sides of the bumper if you can. Also have a bowline (loop) in one end of the rope. Keep the loop up near the handle of the boat. Pass the rest of the line down to the bumper and bring it back up to the loop. Pass the free end of the rope through the loop and pull down with your weight to cinch it tight. Secure it with a few half hitches. This technique is sometimes referred to a a blockless block and tackle by sailors because it gives you a two to one advantage when you tighten the rope up. Unless you think your kayak is going lift your car up in the air at 75 mph, you may want to scale the rope back to 5/16" from 3/8" That is plently strong enough and as long as you use dacron, it won’t stretch enough to cause you worry.

Thanks For The Help
I have noticed some fraying and need to really replace them.

And Mr Bob… Potential—let me tell you about potential. A couple of weeks ago Danny and I paddled a short run on the Neches River- really wanted to explore up in some sloughs due then being up from all the rain.

When we got up into my favorite one and I was going up a very narrow channel- about six feet to the right of by bow was this snake! I swear it was the MOTHER of all snakes I have ever seen in my life! That thing was as big around as the anacondas (sp?) you see on the Discovery channel. Needless to say I had the POTENTIAL to create a new channel by the way I was paddling to get away from it. After screaming a few choice words to get Danny to get from behind me ( you see Mr Nature Boy Danny just had to see what I was freaking out about) I then decided that I had had enough of Snakeville and headed out into the main river channel.

When we went to get my car from the new saltwater barrier’s parking lot ( mine was the only car there), there, laying right beside my car, was a very dead four foot snake. I really wanted to find whoever was in the Snakeville Conspiracy that decide to leave that wonderful present for me.


nylon line, braided or three strand
twisted is used for painters because it stretches a little and doesn’t jerk the boat as hard as dacron low stretch. i like 1/4" for painters. some people prefer polypropylene for painters because it floats. i don’t like polypro’s ‘plastic’ feel. i use dacron ‘yacht braid’ for tying boats to the roof, 5/16" or 3/8" preferred, because it doesn’t stretch much.

boaters use lines
cowboys use ropes

rope feel
This is the nicest-handling floating line I’ve used:

Rope Types
As an aside and so I don’t incur the wrath of my shipmates on this board, sailors do in fact have rope. A coil or spool of cordage is considered and called rope or cordage until it is removed from the coil or spool and put into use aboard ship. Once it is put into use, its “generic name” changes from rope or cordage to line with some exceptions such as “bell rope,” “man rope,” and others.

Regarding your choice of cordage to buy, I would suggest, if you can find it, a polyester (Dacron) and polypropylene blend. The polyester provides much the same strength characteristics (about 80%) as nylon (the strongest of the readily available synthetic fibers) with about 30% less stretch. The lower stretch factor makes it very suitable as a tie down. At the same time its strength and limited stretch factor makes it both a good bow or stern painter with the line (if properly sized) sure to hold without parting while stretching enough to gently snub your boat without jerking it. The polypropylene as you know provides flotation while the blend removes the “slipperyness” that is the main complaint about pure “polypro.”

I would also suggest a “spun polyester” in the blend if you can find it. The rougher surface of a spun polyester makes knots hold better than the slicker surface of the basic material.

Finally, I suggest a double braided construction for suppleness, strength and durability. The double braided construction allows the line to give more when one tries to bend it unlike the solid core stuff while at the same time doubling the line’s strength and allowing for more abrasion resistance. Since you essentially have “two lines” the core and the cover one can chafe, to some extent, without materially effecting the strength of the whole if you have properly sized the line. A handy feature while on a voyage.