This little project came about because of a trip to Lake Powell with our boat. This is our third boat in two summer seasons. Boating is a recent thing for my wife and myself. No, I didn't sink any of them, and yes, it's a long story but I'll spare you. We started at the Wahweap Marina and headed for Rainbow Bridge which is about 50 miles up the lake. The day was perfect. There was a slight breeze, 90 degrees air temperature with the water being just above 70 degrees. Our boat toys include knee boards, wake board, several tubes, and a set of skies (We now know skies are virtually a thing of the past and they are collecting dust).
We played with the toys as we went thru different bays along the way towards Rainbow Bridge. With all the playing we were not making good time toward our destination but we were using a lot of gas having fun. Our 26-foot Bayliner will make it to Rainbow Bridge and back on a tank of fuel. I could tell we had played away too much fuel to get to our destination and then back again. I've ran out of gas on Lake Powell before and its more than just a little embarrassing. I've been towed and have towed, neither is great (other than helping someone out).
Dangling Rope Marina is about half way up the lake and before you get to Rainbow Bridge. Everything there is brought in on a barge. $5.06 gas is a bargain if you want to finish your trip and get back to your starting point. We stopped at Dangling Rope, fueled the boat and got some ice cream.
I tied a dock line and buoy to the front of the boat. My daughter tied only a buoy to the back of the boat. My wife pulled us in next to the dock where we could fuel. I jumped off the front of the boat and secured the front dock line. It was then I realized that the dock helper could not tie a dock line to the same place the rear buoy had been tied and my dock line had been left off. There was not enough room for the rope he had, so he secured us from the middle of the boat. It was a nice day and we didn't need to be secured better. The buoy rope needed to be attached after the dock line to make them work together well. I wanted to be able to attach them in either order. I still like the dock line tied or placed first, but I wanted to be able to put a dock line on after the buoy rope if the order got reversed.
The DYNA X paracord we tested on another boat trip is amazingly strong for its size. It's the size of 550 paracord which has a diameter of just over 1/8 inch. 550 paracord has a break strength of 550 lbs. whereas DYNA X is 1,250 lbs. I used pieces of the DYNA X test cord to make smaller buoy lines. My thought was if the buoy ropes were smaller it wouldn't matter so much the order the ropes went on.
Once I used a single strand of 550 cord on a buoy. After several tugs and rubs of the boat against the buoy and the buoy against the dock, the paracord pulled right thru the top of the buoy. I knew with this small cord I would have to apply the pull of the rope over a larger surface area than a single strand of cord. I achieved this a couple of different ways.
I started making my buoy lines (ropes) with a simple twist rope braid. As you can see I did this little project without a lot of forethought one day. I used a very large flat mouthed pair of vice grips setting in a drawer to hold the cord. It's simple. You twist one line tight and place the other line over it. Then you twist the line you just put over the first until tight and place the other line over it. Always twist in the same direction and keep repeating.
550 Paracord is what I used to attach the first line I made. I opened the loop end of the line, doubled up a piece of paracord and wrapped round and round securing the DYNA X line to the top of the buoy. This would allow the pull of the line to be distributed across the whole area of the buoy attachment hole. I finish the paracord with a knot and melted the ends together. I also took another piece of cord melted more material on top of the ends. I finished the other end with heat shrink tubing. I used three different sizes. It's a single piece of cord at the end and then goes to double. I sealed the end against a hot knife.Next, I started another line. This time using the twisted rope braid again but only going about a third of the way. I then made a loop and braided the loose ends up thru the twisted rope braid towards where I started. Once I got to the small loop that had been held by the vice grips I continued with the twisted rope braid again. I also finished the end with heat shrink wrap. I shrank the first piece of heat shrink wrap around both ends of the cord and then put on a second piece and shrank it to the first. I cut and finished this end with a hot knife also. I liked the way this one looked better. I wrapped the loop end thru the attachment hole twice and then pulled the front of the line thru. There was plenty of cord surface touching the buoy to distribute the pull from the line.
I liked the second line with the braided loop better. There are 2 cords all the way thru the line. The first has a single loop under the paracord. Double is stronger than single.
The red, white and blue 3/8-inch rope I was using on the buoys had a break strength of 1,200 lbs. My new buoy lines take up about half the space of the 3/8-inch rope when tying them off. I stayed at the same strength rating on one and doubled it on the other. If someone, including me, ties the buoy on first I can still get the dock line hooked on as well. At 1,200 lbs. break strength a single strand of DYNA X paracord would have enough strength by itself. It would have to be attached like I did the first one to distribute the pull of the cord on the buoy over a larger surface than just the single cord itself. Being the king of overkill, I still like the first two the best.
I also finished a couple of the rope ends with other types of paracord. Using the small inner strands of the 425 cord I wrapped the end. Then I wrapped that with the flat 650 coreless cord. I melted another piece of cord to glue the ends. I also wrapped one with the hollowed 425 cord and melted the ends. The DYNA X cord is much slicker than nylon or polyester and those materials don't stick well to it. For this project I liked the heat shrink wrap better.
Some of you must think I am very bored, but we had a good day at the lake.
M. Shane Sullivan, Owner/Manager of Paracordgalaxy.com