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Old 05-28-2014   #1
Yukon, Alabama
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 92
Dock Line - tie-up line

What type and size rope do you folks generally use to tie-off your large and heavily loaded rafts to shore/beach. I recently got some 1/2 inch 3 strand nylon rope - pretty heavy stuff - way overkill?

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Old 05-28-2014   #2
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 993
Old piece of climbing rope or old throw bag rope.

"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 05-28-2014   #3
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
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That three strand stuff will untavel over time. You want solid core nylon, or any rope with a sheath, like LSB said.
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Old 05-28-2014   #4
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
My bow line is a 50' section of 1/2" dia. braided nylon. Not overkill in my opinion.

I have been on trips where a boat (mine!) decided to leave by itself. Kind of hard to forget the feeling of watching your food, cloths and water floating away without you. Fortunately a group downstream caught it left it tied up in an eddie for me. Never again.

I carry a second 100' static line intended for Z-drags, but it often serves double duty as a redundant tie point to the stern. On some of the desert trips the beach might be a long way from any anchor point. I also carry two 24" long sand stakes for use on bid sand bars.
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Old 05-28-2014   #5
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Sandy, Utah
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Mine is a blue & white line I got from Home Depot ages ago. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it's still going strong. Not frayed or unraveled. 50 ft. Like Kengore above, I also have a 100 ft. static line in my Z-drag kit, and a throw bag as well. Sand stake & hammer also.
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Old 05-28-2014   #6
Yukon, Alabama
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 92
Thanks folks. My intended trip is very long and very remote - so losing the boat at some point in time is my number one concern. I envision camping on the down river side of sand bars and islands predominately, primarily to protect the boat from floating debris during the flood stage and current. I envision the raft "not" being completely unloaded every evening and dragged well on shore - probably just dragged up part way onto shore on a tarp and tied off at two anchor points. Bad weather situations will be handled differently. Boulders/trees large/secure enough for a definite anchor may be some distance so I'm taking a lot more cordage that most would consider practical - and of course long sand stakes and perhaps a buried anchor.

I've always been big on having lots of cordage, but its application to rafting is fairly new to me. I got the 250 foot spool of new 1/2" 3 strand Nylon cord for $42 dollars at a going out of business sale and couldn't pass it up. It inexpensive enough I won't mind cutting it up for different purposes. I was "envisioning" it would make a suitable anchor line since it doesn't float and has stretch - and is actually called anchor line. I also read that a tie off bow line should not be a static line -so thought I might work for that also.

So, my needs are rope for an anchor, "lots" of rope for tying off to shore, and rope for running around the parameter of the boat through the many 2 inch D-rings.

Here is a list of the cordage I currently have.

250 feet of 1/2 inch 3 strand nylon rope ( I would also prefer it be braided but I'm good at splicing stranded rope and am not afraid of it unraveling.)

200 feet of 3/8th inch 3 strand nylon rope (current inventory).

400 feet of 1/2 inch "Blue Steel" 3 strand rope that was specifically purchased to work with my rope come-a-long. Spending stuff, but recommended for the rope come-a-long. This is a static rope and water weight neutral. Light stuff for its strength and I really love the stuff.

200 feet of Blue Water 1/2 inch (11mm) static rappelling rope. Brand new and spendy.

200 feet of (9mm) dynamic climbing rope. Brand new, "not" water proof coated and of course pretty spendy.

60 feet of 1/4 inch gray "winch rope". Can't remember what they call it, but it is insanely strong and expensive and is a static rope.

Two throw bags (both 75') but I am reserving these ropes for their intended purposes only to be used in an emergency situation.

Part of my issue is where to use stretch nylon and where to use static rope. The rope come-a-long requires the static - so all 400 feet (250 & 150) sections will definitely be coming with me. I was also planning on using it for tying off to shore when a really long rope is needed. I'm "assuming" that is my bow line is 1/2 inch nylon, that it will provide the stretch that is rommended?

I was originally intending to use the 60 feet of 1/4 inch static cable rope for the anchor because it is so strong and relatively light, but am hearing now that anchor rope should be nylon which by nature stretches - and I can see the advantage of that.

I have no idea what type of "grab" rope to put around the parameter of the boat. It would seem like something that is pretty thick, doesn't absorb water, and I fairly light would do the trick.

My climbing and repelling ropes are brand new/heavy and I'd prefer to not use them unless there is good reason - but I won't hesitate to use them if needed. I'm also becoming increasingly aware and concerned about all the weight of all the rope. My favorite rope by far is the 1/2 inch blue steel 3 strand which is light, very strong, doesn't hold water, and something I need for the rope come-a-long.

I'm sure that many people use different types of rope and do just fine - but I'd appreciate opinions on what is best. Many thanks.
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Old 05-28-2014   #7
Yukon, Alabama
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 92
Ran out of editing time. I should add that the river is "big" with an average current of 5-8 knots with spots as high at 10 knots - but only one very short section of up to Class III. I believe the risk of flipping the 18 foot Sotar SB is rather remote, but the chance of needing to get "unstuck" off a sand bar is a reality.
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Old 05-28-2014   #8
montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 326
I personally have never heard of a boat getting loose from a rope failure.
it is probably more important that you tie off to a good anchor with a proper knot, and stern lines are your friend in fast current. I look for rope that will stay supple in silty river conditions. I carry several ropes. Generally, my favorate is a 50' piece of bluewater static line that got retired from my pin kit after a few heavy uses made me question its integrity as a haul system line.
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Old 05-28-2014   #9
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Niwot, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 750
So, the size of the rope is one factor but more importantly is how you tie off and to what. If you have significant constant pull on your boat then that factors into things. Even in an eddy I have tie off overnight to at least two points. In some cases it would be three (two to shore and one to another boat. The anchors should be independent and the other boats should have additional anchors.

So, if you have 3 boats tying up at night, that would mean you would have 3 shore anchors one boat for each boat. For everything to get swept away all 3 shore anchors would have to pull.

In most of these cases they are sand stakes but if available you can back it up to a tree or big bush. I also carry rock pro (cams) which are pretty versatile as an additional anchor point.

So - to your point of rope. I use 3/8" solid braid multifilament polypropylene rope. I have 75' front and rear. I'll use either some cordage (spectra) or a cam strap in order to tie myself up to another boat.

What's a bit confusing is the river you mention - is the water moving that fast in ALL spots including where you will be camping? I've been on big water but big water makes big eddys.

All my rope is static. The only reason I use dynamic is because I /happen/ to have it but I have since phased out any use of dynamic climbing rope on the boat.

As mentioned earlier the knot is the other part of the equation. For quick tie offs I use a clove. If I'm really concerned I use a bowline on a bight with a biner to lock off the loop. I like the clove as it's easily adjustable and since I have two other anchor points the likelihood of it pulling is very low.
"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."
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Old 05-29-2014   #10
Yukon, Alabama
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 92
Thanks for the reply folks. Using lighter poly rope is appealing for the weight savings if nothing else. I notice that the 3 strand blue steel rope I use with the rope come-a-long is a special form of polypropelene rope with the following qualities:

Constructed from high-strength, co-extruded, high-tenacity yarns
Low stretch and approximately 35-40% stronger than regular polypropylene
Superior resistance to UV, rot, mildew and most common chemicals
Very strong, easy to handle and offers twice the wear life compared to regular polypropylene
Specific Gravity: 0.91 (floats on water)
Melting Point: 165

Since it floats, probably not a good anchor rope, but it may well provide a good all purpose rope for tying off to shore and for the rope come-a-long for extraction. I will probably use a 25 foot length of the 1/2 inch nylon off the bow for a bit of stretch for some cushion then use the static blue steel for the long reach. I've used the blue steel quite a bit and have no problem with it's handling compared to braided rope and of course the 3 strand is required for the rope come-a-long. I've pulled a mid sized Kabota tractor across a soft gravel driveway with the 1/2 inch blue steel rope with the rope come-a-long and have total confidence its is strength. I does not stretch and I would consider it a static rope.

From everything I've read, a floating static rope is not appropriate for anchor rope - so I may use either the 3/8th or 1/2 inch nylon rope for that purpose.

Still not sure what rope to use for the parameter of the raft - but leaning toward a nice thick (easy to grab) poly rope simply because it doesn't retain water and is light.

In response to IronManBldr, as I mentioned in the OP, the "average" current is 5 to 8 knots with all the variance including eddies you would expect from a very big and long river. My intent is to tie off at night "behind" (downriver) of sand bars and islands to help avoid the very real chance of floating debris (trees) destroying the raft during the night. Trees generally float around the downriver side of sand bars and island but do get moved around in the eddies.

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