Painter Rope

A painter rope is a rope that is attached to small boats or dinghies. It usually ties onto a loop on the bow of your boat and can act as a tow rope or can secure you to a launch trolley if needed.

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The Access Ropes Guide to:
Painter Rope


What is a painter rope?

A painter rope is a rope that is attached to small boats or dinghies. It usually ties onto a loop on the bow of your boat and can act as a tow rope or can secure you to a launch trolley if needed. These ropes are also often used to secure boats or kayaks to docks or moorings.

For lifeboats and rescue vessels, two painters are mandated for safety reasons. One has to be secured at the forward end of the lifeboat with easy to release knots or mechanism. The other line must be secured on the stem of the boat and both ropes are required to have minimal stretch and good grip properties.

We stock painter ropes, tow ropes and rescue ropes that can be used in various situations. Visit our products description pages, call or email us for more information.

Dinghy rope

A dinghy rope is another line that is used for a small sailing boat. However, this is a more generic term that refers to a wide range of different ropes that are used in sailing.

Dinghy ropes can include sheets, floating ropes, halyards and outhauls, whereas a painter rope has a more specific purpose – for towing or securing vessels in a specific location. Both will have similar properties to make them suitable for use in water.

We have a range of high-quality dinghy ropes available, all of which conform to European safety standards. Some are more suited for professional racing, and others are ideal for more leisurely sailing. Contact our rope experts today to discuss any of our dinghy products in more detail.

Painter rope properties

A painter rope will need to be lightweight and relatively small in terms of diameter but will need to be a sufficient length for your sailing or canoeing needs.

If you have a motorized boat then your painter line will be relatively short to keep it safe from the propeller and any moving parts. For kayaking or canoeing, the line may be a longer length, but not excessively so as you don’t want it to get tangled. Pulling boats along a shallow waterway with a painter line is a common way to guide a canoe along a shoreline. The painter rope support means that an individual is able to control the canoe or kayak’s position and direction through paddling, while it is being pulled forward. This is especially useful in stronger current that would normally overpower the boat.

Generally speaking, painters will be slightly stretchy and brightly coloured to maintain visibility. They must also float. In addition, the ropes ability to hold knots, fit through a boat loop and how easy it is to handle should also be considered. During a search and rescue operation, you don’t want to face the issue of the rope slipping from hands, or being too tough to hold. Similarly, you don’t want it to come undone from your bow while being towed to a location.

Our Floating Rope for water rescue works exceptionally well as a painter line or for use as a rescue rope. It is made from multi-filament polypropylene, easy to handle and comes in 6mm, 8mm and 10mm diameters. This is a lightweight rope that is highly visible and can be used in marine rescue operations, towing or attaching to buoys.

Polypropylene is used painter ropes because it has a specific gravity of less than 1.0, meaning it can float on water, so ideal for use in the sea.

Painter rope for rescue situations

As mentioned, rescue rope can be used as a painter rope, and vice versa. The most common construction is the ‘kernmantle’ which gives you a strong core and an easy to hold, abrasion-resistant sheath. Our rescue ropes are high strength, easy to handle and have low stretch properties. The sheathing also has a high level of abrasion resistance and is non-slip to ensure it can hold knots securely

On land, a rescue rope will commonly be made with a nylon or polyamide core and covered by a polyester sheath. While this is great for search and rescue at an onshore location, it doesn’t work so well for boat trips and sea rescues. A floating or painter rope made with polypropylene is best so be sure to bear this in mind if you are planning to minimise the number of ropes you purchase and use one for multiple purposes.

All of Access Ropes rescue and painter options are available in bright colours or with reflective strips for increased visibility and conform to the required safety standards.

We have a range of high-quality products in stock, and all rope can be cut to custom sizes and have free delivery within the United Kingdom. Visit our product information pages or email us today for advice or info on the right ropes for you.

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