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Everyone can appreciate the look of a cruising sailboat with nicely coiled sheets and halyards. However, coiled ropes can cause frustration and possibly even dangerous situations, resulting in kinks like the image to the left. Such kinks appear out of thin air and can instantly seize in clutches and cleats. You can imagine what might happen next.

Many racing boats don't coil the lines but their cockpits wind up looking like bowls of multicoloured spaghetti. What's the solution? How about changing your coiling technique!

Try each of the techniques below, then test. Simply uncoil, throw the line into the cockpit and trace the line using your hand as a "fairlead", seeing if any kinks occur. You will probably find the Figure-Eight and Octopus coils do not create any kinks whereas the Traditional method creates several.

Traditional rope coil
Figure-Eight rope coil

This is how many sailors coil their ropes. By adding a little half-twist to the rope, it allows the line to be gathered in a very nice-looking coil. However, when the line is uncoiled, each twist remains in the line and is a potential kinky situation! Also, twisting the rope may encourage the rope's core and jacket to wander.

By gathering your rope in figures of eight, you will effectively prevent kinks from occuring. The trick is to allow the rope to fall naturally into place and prevent twisting your wrist as you dispense the rope into the coil. The only drawback of this coil is it can be agonizingly slow to create, especially with certain types of rope.

Octopus (aka variation of the Butterfly) rope coil:

Try out this variation to the Butterfly coil used by rock climbers! Instead of collecting your rope at the HEAD of your coil, try grasping the coil by its "WAIST" - dispensing the rope away from you, then towards you, then away from you... and so on - as though the coil is lying on its side, bent limply over your hand. Keep in mind the first 2 photos don't show the rope in your hand, but in reality, it would be easier to hold the rope as you dispense it.

Complete the coil as usual by winding the bitter end around the coil (step 3 & 4). Doing so, you are essentially folding the coil in half. Complete the coil by locking it in place with a loop over the head. There are many variations of this step.

This coil is virtually as free from kinks as the Figure Eight coil, but is much faster to coil. The only drawback is that you are holding twice as much rope in your hands - and can get a little awkward when coiling 200 feet of anchor rode!


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