January 2020

Product Review

Vintage 3-Strand from New England Ropes

by Kent and Audrey Lewis

Photographs by Kent and Audrey Lewis

The Vintage 3-Strand has a soft feel and doesn’t tend to kink while coiling.

The Penobscot 14, with its glued-lapstrake hull and small sprit rig, resembles a traditional workboat, so when we rigged ST. JACQUES we wanted rope that matched the vintage look and had a soft feel with the strength and performance of the newest technology. We tested several samples of P.O.S.H., Hempex, Vintage Sta-Set, and Vintage 3-Strand in different diameters acquired from R&W Ropes.

The product we chose for ST. JACQUES was New England Ropes’ Vintage 3-Strand. It is a 100% polyester blend of spun and filament yarn that is UV stable. The spun yarn is made of softer, shorter lengths that are blended with the longer and stronger filament yarns. Vintage 3-Strand is available in nine different diameters ranging from 5/32″ up to 1″. Tensile strength of the line runs from 730 lbs for 5/32″ line up to 20,200 lbs for 1″, well in excess of the performance required by our small sprit rig. The line has low stretch properties, which make it acceptable for use in both running and standing rigging. The two colors available are Natural, a convincing hemp lookalike, and Noir, which looks like tarred line.

The Vintage 3-Strand here is being used for the snotter, the mast lacing, and the slender brail line.

The look of the 3-Strand is exactly what we want on our small sailing dinghy. It has a nice feel and is easy on the hands, being neither stiff nor scratchy. All of the other samples were stiffer; the 3-Strand is very flexible, running easily through the snotter and sheet blocks, and it coils nicely without any tendency to kink. It has a secure grip when wet and it dries quickly.

The ends of the line are easy to cut and whip—the line can be unlaid and twisted back together without excessive fraying. New England Ropes has excellent splicing instructions for 3-Strand on their website.

We have been using the line for two years now in a saltwater environment, and it has retained its clean new look, with no mildew or mold in outdoor storage. There have been no indications of wear, and the line has not abraded any of the paint or varnish on our boat.

We liked the 3-Strand so much that we also used it on our gaff-rigged Drascombe Dabber for the painter, halyards, downhaul, and sheets. We have been very happy with Vintage 3-Strand for its look and feel and its performance.

Audrey and Kent Lewis mess about in the shoal waters of Northwest Florida in their armada of vintage small boats.

Vintage 3-Strand is manufactured by New England Ropes and available from a wide array of retailers. It comes in nine diameters ranging from ¼”, at $0.46 per foot, to 1”, at $4.83 per foot.

Is there a product that might be useful for boatbuilding, cruising, or shore-side camping that you’d like us to review? Please email your suggestions.

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2 Comments

  • Ben Fuller says:

    I’ve used some of the New England Ropes 3-strand on my vintage iceboat where the line is generally loaded a little higher than in most traditional applications. While its softness is welcome, some of the other brands that I have (don’t remember which) which has a tighter lay seems to hold up a bit better. Worth trying some samples and see what you like. R&W will send you some as I recall, good outfit.

  • Bill Stirling says:

    I use R & W’s POSH line for all the rigging on our 20′ replica of a Crosby catboat and peapods. Works and looks great and has stood up well so far.
    [See our review of POSH line. Ed.]

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