In this beginner guide we will give you the basics to be able to identify the best type of anchor rope for your type of boat. There are quite a few manufacturers of marine ropes around the world, so it would be quite a challenge to test and identify the best anchor rope brands. We have 40 years of experience in buying, using and selling rope and over that prolonged period, LIROS have consistently proved to the best. However, all anchor ropes have some common qualities to watch out for.
Rope suppliers and chandlers will usually offer Nylon or Polyester rope from several different manufacturers, depending on their circumstances. Understanding the properties of rope will make it easier for you to identify the best anchor rope for your needs.
Nylon is commonly recommended for the main anchor warp but polyester may be offered as an alternative. Nylon and polyester are both synthetic fibres that share many of the same properties e.g. relatively heavy in weight and durable.
The below table easily explains the main differences between Nylon and Polyester ropes.
|Stronger||✔||Only just behind|
|Heavy in weight, so they sink||✔||✔|
|Resistant to salt water and chemicals||✔||✔|
|Stretchy||✔||Only just behind|
|Resistant to abrasion||✔||✔|
|Resistant to sunlight||Not far behind||✔|
Polyester rope is very similar to nylon in strength once they have been wetted in a marine environment.
Polyester has a bit less stretch capability than nylon and therefore cannot absorb shock loads quite as well.
Polyester is equally resistant to moisture and chemicals as nylon.
Polyester is superior in resistance to sunlight to nylon, but nylon isn't bad.
Polyester and nylon are equally resistant to abrasion.
Rope and Chain
The combination of rope and chain is called a rode. The reason for using chain is for its weight. It will lay flat on the seabed and help set the anchor by making the pull more horizontal rather than pulling upward which will cause the anchor to break out and drag.
All rope comes in a range of sizes and the size is described by its diameter.
For larger, heavier boats and yachts, it is generally safer to use more chain than rope as it will help the anchor set and hold.
For smaller vessels and shorter trips, more rope and less chain will suffice. Rope alone may be OK for a small dayboat or dinghy connected to a small anchor.
The larger the boat, the greater size (diameter) of rope and chain is required because each increase in diameter improves the breaking strain.
Anchoring using a Windlass
Anchor rope and chain must be spliced together for the join to run smoothly through a windlass.
A connecting shackle will get jammed or even break a windlass. It is also important to select the correct size and calibration of chain and the correct diameter and construction of the rope for your windlass gypsy. Your windlass manual will provide this information.
There are 3 main types of construction used for anchor ropes:
- 3 Strand
- Anchorplait / Octoplait (8 strand)
- Braid on Braid
3 Strand, Anchorplait and Octoplait can be easily spliced to run through a windlass gypsy which are commonplace on large boats and yachts.
Braid on Braid ropes can be used for anchor lines on small dinghies and day boats. They are also available with lead integrated into the last few metres to provide extra weight and obviate the need for chain.
Difference in price
In many cases Nylon ropes comes in a little cheaper than Polyester ropes.
Our Anchor Ropes
Here at Jimmy Green Marine, we have a range of ropes suitable for yachts and boats from 3 metres up to 30 metres length overall.
We have been promoting and selling LIROS Ropes for nearly 40 years. They are a world-renowned rope manufacturer based in Germany and many UK Chandlers will stock LIROS Ropes.
As a retailer we can not recommend other branded ropes, but the basic qualities will still apply. Below we go into more detail about the individual ropes we stock and splice for our customers.
100% Nylon (Polyamide) manufactured exclusively by LIROS Ropes for Jimmy Green Marine.
Sizes: 10mm up to 20mm in LIROS Anchorplait - LIROS Octoplait in 24mm and 28mm, Gleinstein Geo-Square in 32mm
Anchorplait is exclusively designed and manufactured with Easy Splice Markers – Octoplait and Geo-Square have only the manufacturer marker yarn for identification - UV stabilised, excellent weathering and wear resistance properties - The 8 strand construction (2 pairs left hand, 2 pairs right hand) gives a balanced performance and no twist under tension.
Anchorplait is the rope that will not cockle. In fact, it flakes like chain.
Ideal for use as anchor warp as it will stay supple for the duration of its working life.
Sizes: 6mm up to 24mm
100% Nylon (Polyamide) manufactured to DIN EN ISO 1140 Standard (previously DIN EN 696, DIN 83330)
The heat set twisted lay construction offers the same strength and stretch properties as the 8 strand, Octoplait version, is less expensive but suffers a little from stiffness once used in water, especially in the bigger sizes - good UV stability, excellent wear and abrasion resistance.
Overall, a good anchor warp that will run smoothly over a rope/chain gypsy.
Sizes: 10mm up to 24mm
8 Strand, Balanced, Square Braid Construction, 100% Polyester - super pliable, spliceable to chain, Reliable load capacity and abrasion resilience combined with excellent constructional shock absorption >15% working load stretch.
Sizes: 8 – 24mm
Heat set twisted lay construction, dependable strength, excellent durability, UV weathering and abrasion resistance >15% working load stretch.
Overall, a more supple but slightly less stretchy alternative to 3 Strand Nylon that will run smoothly over a rope/chain gypsy.
Braid on Braid Polyester
Sizes: 10mm up to 16mm
Especially easy to handle and extremely convenient to stow.
Anchor line with lead weight built into the last 10 metres.
Can be used without chain, making it very user-friendly.
Hopefully, this gives you the basics for selecting the best anchor ropes for your requirements.
Our Knowledge Centre has more in-depth information and guidance articles for all your anchoring needs.