In sailing, the terminology used to name and describe its type is completely different. The word “Rope” is used as a general term for raw material. In sailing, whenever a rope has a purpose or use, it is referred to as “Line” and every single line that has a job to perform will have its own name. Some of the examples of sailing ropes or lines are:
Running Rigging: This term is implied to all movable lines that are used to pull and adjust the sails. The rope that accumulates the mass to pull up the mainsail is known as the Halyard and one which brings down the line is known as the Downhaul. The lines used while sailing is called sheets and each sheet will allude to the sail that it controls. So when you trim the mainsail you use the mainsheet, if you are trimming the jib, then you will fine-tune the jib sheet. Cunningham and kicker are other lines that are used for sail trimming.
Standing Rigging: The Standing rigging denotes all those lines that support the fixed objects on a sailing yacht, for instance, the mast. These are normally steel cables and are termed either ‘shrouds’ or ‘stays’. Let’s say, the line (cable) that goes from the mast to the bow of the boat is known as the ‘forestay’, for lines that extend to the stern of the boat are frequently named as ‘backstays’.
Mooring Up: The lines that are used when you are binding to a jetty or pontoon are often known as ‘docklines’ or ‘warps’. There only a few instances of lines that are essentially known as ropes on a yacht. A ‘bolt rope’ is a line that can be tied to a ‘bell rope’ used to ring a ship’s bell or even to the edge of a sail.
Sailing ropes are manufactured using different materials – synthetic fibres. It will prove useful and worthwhile to have some information on the most commonly used fibres for sailing and their characteristics.
Polypropylene: Polypropylene floats on water and that’s why they are used for mooring. It is strong and appears similar to natural materials. These are mainly found as tow and rescue ropes.
HMPE – High Molecular Weight Polyethylene): It is solid, tough, and not at all affected by water. It is 8 times stronger than steel ropes regardless of being up to eight times lighter. HMPE is resistant to chemicals and float.
Polyester: Though Polyester ropes (PES) do not float in water, but they are robust and not too flexible. Their production is also cheaper as compared to others. These ropes are therefore used in several places from lifting to sheets and as mooring lines.
Polyamide: Polyamide ropes are not suitable to use in water as there is greatly reduced in water. They are used almost exclusively for mooring and anchoring, where they must be significantly oversized. Oppositely, they are extraordinarily elastic. They get tough with age and need protection from ultraviolet radiation.