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Ropes and stern gland

As a mainly solo boater I recently had the experience of my centre ropr snapping in a lock.On inspecting the rope I noticed other weak points so have decided to change all three ropes.The boatbuilder fitted 41,36,41ft 24mm ropes(Sept 2004).What would be your recommended lengths and how does one seal rope ends? (hot iron, naked flame?)

I know the term stern gland/packing and that one needs to tighten and re-pack but don't know how. Would you say some words of wisdom about what it's all about and how to check when to tighted and repack and how to do it.

Thanks and regards Tony Bakinowski

Asked by: Tony Bakinowski  | 3.16pm, Wednesday 20 August


WW says:

The optimum length of rope depends partly on the length of your boat. Assuming it is in the 50ft to 55ft bracket, the lengths of your old ropes sound about right.

The reason they have failed so quickly could be because you are using them for mooring over the winter. It is always better to use an old (but basically sound) set of ropes for mooring and keep your better ones for cruising.

The free end should really be finished with a proper back splice as described in 'The Fender Book' by Colin R Jones. However, you can seal the ends of the strands together over a gas flame - known in the trade as a Butane back splice. It is better if you can also bind the ends with some whipping twine (or insulating tape) in case the melted ends become separated.

The stern gland packing usually consists of two lengths of square section 'rope' which are formed into rings and pushed into the recess around the propeller shaft.

The recess is accessed by undoing the two nuts on either side of the stern gland and gently pulling the oval casting forward, over the bolts. The joins in the two rings should be on opposite sides of the shaft.

Once reassembled, the rings are compressed by tightening the two nuts on either side of the stern tube. They should not be over tightened or they may wear away the shaft. If there is a small drip into the bilge every now and again, it is usually reckoned that the compression is about right.

If the gland starts to leak more than this, try tightening the nuts slightly. If that does not cure it, the packing may need replacing but, unless you are sure what you are doing, it is better to get it done by a professional.

Graham Booth  | 10.19AM, Wednesday 27 August


Readers say:

I've noticed a typo; for 24mm read 14mm rope size

Tony Bakinowski  | 10.32AM, Tuesday 26 August

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