Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery

Sailmaker's Instruction

A Sailmaker's Splice

Is used for splicing the roping of sails together, or a larger to a smaller rope, such as a foot-rope of a topsail to the leech rope, clew ropes of jib to the leech and foot ropes ; the leech rope of a boom mainsail, spanker or trysail, to the head or foot-ropes, &c.

To Splice a Foot Rope of a Topsail to the Leech Rope.

To Form the Splice.

Put a whipping on the leech rope, leaving end enough to tuck the strands twice; then put another whipping on the foot rope to a certain distance, according to the number of times yon intend to tuck the strands, which must greatly depend on the relative disproportion of the ropes, and the degree of tapering you intend to give them ; unlay the strands of both ropes to their respective whippings, then heave the turns out of the small rope, on the other side of the whipping to the distance you intend tucking the strands of the large rope ; then heave two or three turns out of the large rope on the other side of the whipping, crutch the two ropes together, and put a stop at the crutch to keep them in place ; tuck the first strand of the foot rope through the corresponding strand of the leech rope left-handed ; reduce it by cutting off a few yarns, and pass it again back-handed round the same strand of the leech rope, and so proceed, working with the same strand of the foot rope round and round the same strand of the leech rope, reducing the strand gradually at each tuck until it is tapered down to nothing; take care in tapering the strand, always to cut the inside yarns ; follow the same process with the other two strands of the foot rope, then tuck the strands of the leech rope into the corresponding strands of the foot rope, twice left-handed ; cut the whippings off, taper the ends down, worm, parcel, and serve them over.

If it is not to be served over, the ends are whipped together with two yarns out of one of the strands.

To Lengthen a Rope of a Sail with a Single Strand.

It is sometimes necessary to enlarge a sail with one or more cloths ; to do this, the roping must be lengthened ; the best way of doing which is by introducing an additional strand, instead of putting in a piece of rope, which could only be done with two long splices, and thereby causing a much larger portion of the sail to be ripped than in the present instance.

There are several methods given of performing this operation, but as they come to the same thing in the end, there is very little difference in them, only in the mere wording. Some recommend the rope to be cut in the centre first, where you propose introducing the additional strand, while others prefer cutting the strands at the extremities first : however, it is a mere matter of taste which you do.

For example, it is required to give a sail one cloth more spread, it will therefore be necessary to lengthen the head and foot rope.


To do this, rip the rope off four cloths : that is, two cloths each side of the place you intend to lengthen the rope. The width of a cloth is 24 ins,, which will allow a drift of 8 ft. for inserting the new strand.

If a 3-in. rope, it will take 2 ft. for splicing, allowing 6 ins. to each strand; cut the strands at the distance of 2 ft. 6 ins. from each other, as in Plate 1.

Cut one of the strands at A, and unlay it to C ; then cut one of the strands remaining at C, and unlay it to B, laying the strand A up again as far as B ; then cut the only remaining strand at B, which will be the centre, when your rope will be in two parts ; by following this plan, the wrong strand cannot possibly be cut ; the rope will appear as represented in Plate 2.

Marry the long end A to the end B, then lay up the long strand C in the lays of the strand A, and marry it to the other strand B, which represents Plate 3.

Take a strand about 9 ft, or 10 ft, in length, of the same size rope, and marry one end to the short strand A, as shown in Plate 3 ; then fill up the space left from A to C, by laying in the new strand, and marry the other end to the short strand C ; you will then have four splices or knots, and it will appear as in Plate 4.

Then finish off, if a foot rope, as with an ordinary long splice, from which it will only differ in appearance by having to knot and tuck eight ends instead of six. Stretch the splice, put a west country whipping on the ends, and cut them off within 1 in. of the rope.

In laying the new strand in, care must be taken to exactly follow the lay correctly, or it will not come in the right position to knot the ends A and C.

The strands of a head rope are merely crossed, and both strands whipped together underneath by a couple of yarns out of one of the strands, not knotted and tucked, as in a long splice ; in sewing the sail to the head rope, the rope is cross-stitched over the ends where tacked.

This is one of the neatest operations that can be performed by a sailmaker ; but if not laid up right the first time, it becomes very troublesome, and generally ends in a failure.

A rope of a fore and aft sail can be shortened on the same plan, as low as 6 ins., where too much slack rope has been put on, and there is not enough rope to make a long splice.

Q. How do you work a cringle in the leech of a sail ?

A. Unlay a single strand from the size rope your cringle is required to be, whip both ends, reeve the strand through the left-hand eyelet-hole in the sail, having one end longer than the other nearly a third, keeping the roping of the sail towards you.

If a thimble is to be put in the cringle, lay up the two parts of the strand together, counting three or five lays, according to the size of the thimble, taking care you always have an odd number of lays ; commence with the short end of the strands towards you, then reeve the long strand from you, through the right-hand eyelet-hole, taking it through the cringle, and it will be in the right position to lay up in the vacant space left in the cringle ;

when done, the one end will hang down inside the right-hand eyelet-hole, and the other, end outside the left-hand one ; the ends are then hitched by being rove through their respective eyelet-holes, and passed over the leech rope; and under their own part, one hitch being towards you, and the other from you ; then tuck the ends under the first two strands nearest the hitch, heaving them well in place ; the cringle is then fiddled out, and the thimble is put in on the fore part of the sail.

The ends of the strands are then tucked back, left-handed, under one strand, and again under two, right-handed, as in the first place, heaving them taut in place at each tack, the ends are then whipped with two of their own yarns, and cut off:

To Finish a Cringle of on the Crown

Commence as before, but after laying up the strand together, instead of forming a hitch with each end, the ends are rove through their respective eyelet-holes, and tucked back under two strands of the cringles, and again laid up as far as the crown, forming a four-stranded cringle, and is finished off by tucking the ends under two strands, and crossing them under the crown of the cringle, and cut close off. Cringles in the clews of boom-mainsails, or spankers, also the reef-cringles of fore and aft sails, are made this way, as they are considered mach stronger than cringles made on the other method, and do not weaken the leech rope by being tucked under the strands of it. Cringles, when worked in the clew of topsails, are made in the same way.

Another plan of finishing a cringle on the crown is, instead of laying the strands up to make a four stranded cringle, it is made like the first, as far as the hitch. After forming the hitch, as in the first plan, instead of tucking the strand under the two nearest strands of the leech rope, it is backed and tucked left-handed under the nearest strand to it in the cringle, then right-handed under the strands towards the crown, both ends being served the same way, the cringle is fidded out, the thimble put in place, the ends whipped and cut off.

N. B.-Thimbles are always entered in the cringles on the canvas side of the leech rope ; if entered on the rope side they are liable to take the edge of the canvas, when being forced in place, and carry the stitches away.

In working a cringle in a piece of rope, such as the roping of an awning, the only difference is, there are. no eyelet-holes, therefore the strand is tucked under two strands of the rope it is to be worked in ; instead of being rove through an eyelet hole, it is worked and finished off exactly like the first, taking care, before entering the second end in the rope to form the cringle that at least two clear strands are left ; but if a bowline-cringle, more play is allowed, as it has no thimble ; but there are generally small metal thimbles fitted in the eyelet-holes of the sail.


Is made from the finest hemp. There are two descriptions of twine used in sailmaking - roping, and seaming twine ; the former for sewing the sail to the roping, and the latter for sewing seams.


Is made from flax or hemp, in widths of 18 ins. or 24 ins., and in lengths of about 40 yards, made up in rolls called bolts. The stoutest or coarsest used in the Navy is called No. 1 canvas, and the finest and thinnest No. 8 canvas.

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