Marlinspike ( // ; sometimes marlin spike, marlinespike, or the archaic marlingspike/marling-spike) is a tool used in marine ropework. Shaped in the form of a polished metal cone tapered to a rounded or flattened point, it is used in such tasks as unlaying rope for splicing, untying knots, drawing marline tight using a marlinspike hitch, and as a toggle joining ropes under tension in a belaying pin splice.
Ropework or marlinespike seamanship are traditional umbrella terms for a skillset spanning the use, maintenance, and repair of rope. Included are tying knots, splicing, making lashings, whippings, and proper use and storage of rope.
Rope splicing in ropework is the forming of a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope by partly untwisting and then interweaving their strands. Splices can be used to form a stopper at the end of a line, to form a loop or an eye in a rope, or for joining two ropes together. Splices are preferred to knotted rope, since while a knot typically reduces the strength by 20–40%, a splice is capable of attaining a rope's full strength. However, splicing usually results in a thickening of the line and, if subsequently removed, leaves a distortion of the rope. Most types of splices are used on 3-strand rope, but some can be done on 12-strand or greater single-braided rope, as well as most double braids.
While a spliced 3-strand rope's strands are interwoven to create the splice, a braided rope's splice is constructed by simply pulling the rope into its jacket.
A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be useful or decorative. Practical knots may be classified as hitches, bends, splices, or knots. A hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend unites two rope ends; a splice is a multi-strand bend or loop. A knot in the strictest sense serves as a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.
Most marlinspikes are 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) long, but may reach 2 feet (61 cm) and more for working heavy cables and ropes. They are usually made from iron or steel, whereas fids, similar in shape and function, are formed from wood or bone. The marlinspike may be a separate tool or one item on a pocket knife.
A fid is a conical tool traditionally made of wood or bone. It is used to work with rope and canvas in marlinespike seamanship. A fid differs from a marlinspike in material and purposes. A marlinspike is used in working with wire rope, natural & synthetic lines, may be used to open shackles, and is made of metal. A fid is used to hold open knots and holes in canvas, and to separate the "lays" of synthetic or natural rope for splicing. A variation of the fid, the gripfid, is used for ply-split braiding. It adds a jamming cleat to pull a cord back through the cord split by the fid's point.
Sailors who become proficient at knot tying, splicing, and sewing using the marlinspike are said to have mastered marlinespike seamanship, earning them the right to be known as marlin spikes or marlinspike seamen.
A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who works aboard a watercraft as part of its crew, and may work in any one of a number of different fields that are related to the operation and maintenance of a ship.
Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread. Sewing is one of the oldest of the textile arts, arising in the Paleolithic era. Before the invention of spinning yarn or weaving fabric, archaeologists believe Stone Age people across Europe and Asia sewed fur and skin clothing using bone, antler or ivory needles and "thread" made of various animal body parts including sinew, catgut, and veins.
Marlinspikes are used:
The marlinespike hitch is a temporary knot used to attach a rod to a rope in order to form a handle. This allows more tension than could be produced comfortably by gripping the rope with the hands alone. It is useful when tightening knots and for other purposes in ropework.
Marlinspike derives from the practice of "marling", winding small diameter twine called marline around larger ropes to form protective whippings.The long-billed fish marlin is named after the marlinspike.
A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray. The whipping can be made neat and permanent by tying it off or sewing the ends of the twine through the rope. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, "The purpose of a whipping is to prevent the end of a rope from fraying...A whipping should be, in width, about equal to the diameter of the rope on which it is put...[Two sailmaker's whippings], a short distance apart, are put in the ends of every reef point, where the constant "whipping" against the sail makes the wear excessive; this is said to be the source of the name whipping." The other type of stopping knot is a seizing knot.
The constrictor knot is one of the most effective binding knots. Simple and secure, it is a harsh knot that can be difficult or impossible to untie once tightened. It is made similarly to a clove hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an overhand knot under a riding turn. The double constrictor knot is an even more robust variation that features two riding turns.
A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.
The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the knot can be traced back to the days when carters and hawkers used horse-drawn conveyances to move their wares from place to place.
The taut-line hitch is an adjustable loop knot for use on lines under tension. It is useful when the length of a line will need to be periodically adjusted in order to maintain tension. It is made by tying a rolling hitch around the standing part after passing around an anchor object. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust size of the loop, thus changing the effective length of the standing part without retying the knot.
The timber hitch is a knot used to attach a single length of rope to a cylindrical object. Secure while tension is maintained, it is easily untied even after heavy loading.
The common whipping is the simplest type of whipping knot, a series of knots intended to stop a rope from unravelling. As it can slip off the rope easily, the common whipping should not be used for rope ends that will be handled. This whipping knot is also called 'wolf' whipping in some parts of the world. The 'Hangman's knot' is a variation of this whipping knot.
The buntline hitch is a knot used for attaching a rope to an object. It is formed by passing the working end around an object, then making a clove hitch around the rope's standing part, taking care that the turns of the clove hitch progress towards the object rather than away from it. Secure and easily tied, the buntline hitch will jam when subjected to extreme loads. Given the knot's propensity to jam, it is often made in slipped form.
The buntline hitch, when bent to a yard, makes a more secure knot than two half hitches, but is more liable to jam. It differs from two half hitches in that the second half hitch is inside instead of outside the first one.
A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord and the hitch, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. The word is often misspelled as Prussik, Prussick or Prussic, as it is a homophone with the term prussic acid.
The eye splice is a method of creating a permanent loop in the end of a rope by means of rope splicing.
Marling may refer to:
The harness knot is a general purpose bend knot used to join two ropes together. The knot can be tied under tension and will not capsize.