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An easy retainer to stow warps and lines and have them ready to hand

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What is the issue?
Line stowage is important on any type of vessel, but especially so on sailboats. So many lines are needed to operate the boat they can easily find themselves fallen in heaps just where they were last used.

Why address this?
Renowned Welsh yachtsman Roy Williams often noted that, "A tidy boat is a happy boat". But it is also a safer boat as well, as lines strewn about the vessel tend to kink, tangle or jam when you need them and are likely to trip up crew and hinder boat operations. So neatness also pays dividends.

How to address this?
A simple line holder rack can be made up at negligible cost as illustrated below which will keep the lines to hand and off the floor of a deep locker.

For years I put up with a mess of ropes in the bottom of my cockpit locker and every time we needed to moor there was the hassle of picking the right warp for the job. Wouldn’t it be handy to have the ropes hanging on a hook along the sides of the locker? But hooks have their problems! I would need a different-sized hook for each size of rope and hooks have a nasty tendency of catching on everything in sight.

One day, playing around with a piece of rope with a knot in the end, I got the idea for the “Skerries Rope Rack”. As you can see from the illustrations the idea is delightfully simple and easy to produce at home. A short piece of thin rope is used to hold coils of mooring warps and other lines. The holding action is supplied by a 15 mm wide slot cut in a piece of wood into which fits the knotted end of the thin rope.

Simple line rack - Photo 1
Photo: Brian Lennon

Simple line rack - Photo 2
Photo: Brian Lennon

Simple line rack - Photo 3
Photo: Brian Lennon

Simple line rack - Photo 4
Photo: Brian Lennon

This system has several advantages:
  • (1) the materials used are simple and can be adjusted to suit different situations

  • (2) warps can be stored or released using one hand

  • (3) warps need not be trussed up before storing

  • (4) the system helps crew find warps fast

I used a length of 25x35 mm wood to create separators and a length of 15x90 mm timber for the front panel, both readily available in a DIY shop. To create each slot I drilled a series of 15mm diameter holes and then cut down to each with a saw. When mounting the slotted wood, it needs at least 25 mm clearance behind for the knots with at least 25 mm on either side of the slot for the same reason. To achieve this I fitted the separating wooden pieces between each of the slots to hold the slotted wood to the boat.

Skerries Rope Rack
Drawing: Brian Lennon

In my own boat, “Blue Air”, a Moody 29, I fitted the unit just inside the lip of the port cockpit locker. Holding strength is vital so it was important to remove the gelcoat skin beforehand. I then carefully located and attached the separators using a powerful glue and ran pieces of resin-saturated fibre-glass matting over the lot. Once set, I attached the front piece using screws. The photos above are taken inside the locker.

Rope threaded through two slots
Drawing: Brian Lennon
Using 10mm rope I cut 800mm pieces, heat-sealed the ends and used one piece of rope to thread through each two slots as below. Then I put a simple knot on the ends. You can vary the length of this rope according to your needs.

The warps are now very easy to reach and do not get in the way. A very good solution for line storage is to have a line holder built into a designated line locker where they can all be identified by a label and, preferably also, by the individual colours of the specific lines. My rack with six slots (100 mm apart) makes it easy to store the essential warps in the right sequence from stern to bow: 1. stern (dock) line, 2. stern breast line, 3. aft spring, 4. forward spring, 5. bow breast line, and 6. bow (dock) line. Keeping lines in a locker and out of the sun when not in use, clean, unfrayed, dry and coiled neatly, will also add years to their lifespan.

Skerries Rope Rack installed
Photo: Brian Lennon

The line stowing rack also requires some people and process. Before a rack can work effectively all crewmembers should know how to coil the lines and it should become habitual that lines are coiled immediately after use. Once coiled each line should then have a specific place where it is easily stowed and retrieved. The rope does not need to be trussed in any way with this system, just coiled loosely which is part of the beauty of this approach. It's also great for novice crew as they grasp very quickly which line is required for which purpose.

With thanks to:
Brian Lennon SY Blue Air
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