Anti-Chafe Gear

The Problem. Every year yachts suffer significant damage when a mooring line wears through. It can happen in days and often owners leave their boats unattended for 6 months at a time. Often several boats in a row are damaged and the insurance claims are a mess. Often, much of the cost is out-of-pocket.

After 4 years, only a little fading. Without protection, the previous line was cut 50% though in one winter storm by a sharp stanchion edge.

Proper chafing gear is a yacht saver, but the traditional offerings are flawed:
  • Leather. Hardens, rots, and the stitching is very vulnerable to chafe. Generally the leather wrapping falls open long before the leather is worn through. Looks very traditional, though. It wears through in tough application because it is fixed to the line and saws back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth.... Eventually, the concrete wins.
  • Rubber hose. Hard and not very kind to the rope. I have seen lines seriously damaged due to chafe inside the hose due to high friction. Water cannot cool the rope during hard work. Stiff and awkward in use. Often difficult to squeeze into chocks.
  • Webbing with Velcro closures. The stitching is vulnerable to sun and chafe. Only as reliable as the weakest link--the stitching. Too stiff to float with the sharp spots.
  • And the price: many times what it needs to be, at $15-$28 per line. Silly.

The Solution. The line must float inside the anti-chafe gear, while the anti-chafe gear must stick to the roughs areas. When the gear sticks to the rough spots, there is no motion so there is no wear. When the line slide inside the slick nylon webbing there is little friction and thus no wear. Typically the greatest loads occur in wet weather--hurricanes come to mind today--and wet nylon on wet nylon or polyester is very low friction and low wear. Instead of fighting abrasion--and you can't win in the long run--we have designed a simple low friction bearing.

Here we see 1-inch climbspec webbing allowing a snubber to pump in and out with the gusts, without chafe or friction.

After 4 seasons, the dock is worn, not the gear.
Tested for over 15 years in marine, industrial, and mountaineering applications, the design is ridiculously simple, and thus, absolutely reliable.
  • Boat testing. The first set of four lasted 14 years, until the test boat was sold. The lines remained unworn and are still in use. Other chafe guards have been in service for over 10 years with no failures or replacements.
  • Industrial testing. Waste water treatment plants have large surface aerator, something like dock ice melters, that run 24/7/365 days per year, vibrating with the propeller action, and rocking with waves. Typically, steel cable is used, and even that is rapidly chewed up where it passes over granite rip-rap and rough concrete. Using these webbing chafe guards we have been able to switch to nylon mooring cables and life spans have increased to over 10 years in this very tough application.

Alternate Solutions

Too much bulk? Although this coating won't stop sharp edges, it will slow abrasion from wood and relatively smooth surfaces from 5-10 times. I thought this was snake oil until I used it on a mooring line for 5 years. Now it is on many of my splices and on the furler line, where it has dramatically increased life. I recommend using clear, since other colors can transfer to the white deck.

Yale Maxijacket Coating


Really severe chafe problems? I visited Lahaina Harbor on the western shore of Maui a number of times; most of the boats there use chain as chafing gear. The harbor is prone to continuous surge, sometimes severe and the bulkheads are concrete and steel. This picture is from somewhere else, a far less sever case, but it's the same idea. If you are tying to very rough docks and have surge, this is what works. At the boat end they mostly use webbing, but some have chain at both ends.