Hemp Ropes and Sails
Why? Ageless Uses
Hemp rope has been used and documented extensively throughout history. It dates all the way back to ~3500 BC when the Egyptians used it to move the stone in construction of the pyramids. Vikings used it for sails and rope, and that usage carried throughout history to rigging on the last eras of tall ships. Talking about hemp products would not be complete without discussing hemp rope. It is quite possibly the most used hemp based product of all time taking into account the longevity of use. Throughout history hemp rope has been used because of many of the benefits associated with hemp.
The benefits of hemp rope are a culmination of a few of the hemp benefits previously mentioned for other products. The natural strength for hemp is what led it to being used to help construct the pyramids and all of it’s other uses. It’s ability to grow in harsh conditions also aided with the ability for the Egyptians to use it. The quick growing, annual crop provided by hemp made it a excellent resource for continual use in production. The antimicrobial effects was especially important on ships as it prevented mildew from growing on them, a problem with non hemp based sails and ropes.
Hemp rope is a product that benefits from many factors associated with hemp. That’s why it has been used for over 5,000 years. The discovery of manila “hemp” (not actual hemp!), moved shipping use from hemp to manila. Hemp, like most natural fibers, is hallow. This causes water to stay inside it, which causes rot. Manila is not hallow so the discovery of this made it a more suitable fiber for water based applications, like ropes and sails on ships. During World War Two, the invention of nylon and nylon parachute cord moved the demand for hemp rope to nylon. Nylon stretches better than hemp, so it provided a strong parachute cord than hemp, which had a slight tendency to snap when under the force of a free falling human being from 10,000 feet. Hemp rope can still be found on various sites online, as well as in coastal shipping supplies stores.