Long Story Before we left for Vancouver Island, DrC researched some alternatives for a stern tie line. The problem with many solutions is chafe. As the tide goes out, your line often falls on incredibly sharp oyster bed and gets chewed up. He decided to try a 3” cargo strap advertised for its strong holding properties as well as durability in the face of sharp objects.
As a stern tie, this strap worked reasonably well. If you decide to use it for that purpose, make sure you set yourself up with a roller off the stern of the boat. It’s heavy, and it likes to twist. It also doesn’t float. You’ll want to make sure you can easily roll it off and on.
When I arrived in Santa Rosalia just hours before Jimena hit, I was greeted by my fellow cruisers with the most important phrase in hurricane preparation: What line do you have? I pulled out all my dock lines, the jib sheets we’d already planned to replace this fall, our primary and secondary anchor rodes, and the strap. At 300 feet, it made sense to use it to run a line over to the far-side breakwater.
ProsThe strap doesn’t break It has a breaking point of 10,000 lbs. Frankly, unless you plan to hang the boat from the strap, whatever you tie it to is likely to break apart long before the strap snaps. After watching dock lines and anchor rodes snap like threads all over the marina, it was reassuring to have this enormously powerful material holding Don Quixote off the dock. I also used a piece to bridle the boat to a dock piling. There was no question it would hold the boat as long as neither the starboard cleat, nor the bridle attachment point gave way. Consider using the strap around extremely well founded, back plated points such as the stays or even loop it around the mast.
The strap doesn’t chafe Though god knows it tried on the pier, our strap showed no sign of wear after 12 hours of attempting to beat itself to bits on the concrete and wood of the opposite shore.
The strap is relatively cheap We purchased 300 feet for about $125 at strapworks.com a year ago. It looks like it’s running roughly $USD.60/foot right now for the 2 inch. I would call to see if they have the wider widths. You also get a discount at longer lengths. The pricing is considerably less than anchor or dock line.
The strap stores well Once you get roller for it, you can roll this thing up into a neat, small roll and stuff it in an protective bag for dry storage. It certainly takes up a lot less space than a comparable length and strength piece of line or rode.
The strap doesn’t stretch You need stretch in lines during a hurricane for shock absorption as your boat jounces in the waves. The stretch reduces the jerk against your cleats or other attachment points. As a result, several captains here suggested adding shock absorbers to a strap line or using the strap only as a secondary line in case your standard dock line or rode gives way. When you lose a line, you’ll use anything to keep yourself attached to a pier, breakwater, tree, or other anchor point.
The strap doesn’t like knots The stuff is slippery. It likes to come undone. When you tie knots with it, add double, triple or even quadruple hitches.
My boat was saved during Jimena primarily because there were an incredible group of people on the docks throughout most of the storm attending the boats. You are only as safe during a storm as the weakest boat around you. Having said that, I credit our bridle strap and the long line to the off side breakwater for keeping my own boat precisely where I put her -- four feet off the docks and positioned precisely mid-way between two dock pilings.