Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery

Third Instruction


Q. Describe the use of the following splices : Long-splice, short-splice, and eye-splice, and the mode of making them ?

A. A splice is considered to weaken a rope one-eighth. A long splice is used in joining any running gear together that has been carried away, such as braces, clew-lines, &c., or any gear required to reeve through a block : when well done it does not enlarge the rope.

To make a Long-splice

Unlay the ends of the two ropes to the length of five and a half times the circumference of the rope, crutch them together in a similar manner to a short-splice,

unlay one strand, and fill up the vacant space which it leaves with the opposite strand next to it, then turn the, rope round and lay hold of the two next strands that will come opposite the respective lays, unlay one, filling up the vacant space, as before with the other.

Take one-third out of each strand and knot the opposite strands together, and heave them well in place, stick all six ends once under one strand ; having stretched the splice well, cut the ends off.

A Short-splice

A short-splice is used for joining standing rigging, or any gear not required to travel through a block, strops of blocks, &c.

To form a Short-Splice.

Unlay the rope to the required length, which is twice the circumference of the rope for the long ends, and once and a half the circumference of the rope for the short ends ;

when this is done, whip all the ends with a yarn, then crutch them together, put a stop round the crutch, the long ends are put in twice, and the short ends once, pass the left hand strand over the first strand next to it, stick it underneath the second strand, and haul it taut in the lay of the rope, then enter right hand strand, and lastly the middle strand,

in a similar manner to the first or left-hand strand, haul them taut along the lay of the rope, being the long ends, put them in again as before, cut the stop of the crutch, and put the short ends in once in a similar way, stretch the splice, whip the ends, and cut them off. If it is intended to serve over the splice, the strands in once and a half each way, take a few of underneath yarns from each strand to fill up the lay of the rope for worming, scrape the ends, and marl them down ready for serving.

An Eye Splice

An eye-splice is used in forming an eye for any common purpose, lower lifts, &c., and made by opening the end of a rope, and laying the strands, at any distance upon the standing part of the rope, according, to the length of the eye it is intended to make.

Divide the strand by putting one strand on the top, and one underneath the standing part, enter the middle strand, having opened the lay with a marline-spike, and stick it under its respective strand, take the next end over the first strand and under the second ; the third and last end is taken through the third strand on the other side. With a four-stranded rope, put the left-hand strand under two strands or two lays of the rope and cover it with the next strand.

Q. How do you make a grommet?

A. Cut a strand three times the length of the grommet required, allowing end enough also in addition for finishing it of. Middle the strand, lay the right-hand end over the left, and lay the strand-up again until the rope is re-formed, then tuck the ends and finish off, as in a long-splice.

Q. How do you make the following knots, and what are their use: Matthew Walker, Stopper-knot, English shroud-knot, French shroud-knot ?

A. Matthew Walker knot is used for the standing part of the lanyards of lower rigging, and many other purposes

To make a Matthew Walker Knot

Unlay the ends of a rope, and take the first strand round the rope and through its own bight, and the second end round the rope underneath through the bight of the first, and through its own bight, take the third end round the same way underneath, and through the bight of all three, haul the ends well taut.


Stopper-knot is used in the end of stoppers, it is usually formed by double walling, in some cases crowned ; there is however, no necessity for this ; heave the ends together, seize and cut them off to within three ins. of the knot. But the best method of making a stopper-knot is to wall and half-wall it, put a good whipping on about two or three inches from the knot, and cut the ends off. A stopper-knot made this way will never capsize. A stopper-knot made with a double wall will capsize when a great strain is brought on it.

English Shroud-Knot

Shroud-knots are used when a shroud is shot or carried away.

To make an English Shroud-Knot

Unlay the ends of the shroud you are going to splice, and commence in a similar way to a short-splice, then single wall the ends of one rope round the standing part of the other, and wall the other three ends in the same manner ; open the ends of the strands and take out a few yarns from each, and lay them in for worming ; taper the remainder down, and serve over them with spunyarn.

French Shroud-Knot

You place the ends of the two part similar way of the shroud, in a similar way to forming an English shroud-knot, drawing them close together, then lay the first three ends upon their own part,

and single-wall the other three ends round the bights of the first three ends and the standing part, taper the ends, marl them down, and serve over them. This knot is much neater than the English shroud-knot.

Q. How do you make a Turk's head, and what is it used for ?

A. It is used for the foot ropes of jib and flying jib-booms and spanker-booms, being much neater than overhand knots, also for man ropes and Jacob's ladders; it is generally made of white line or nettle-stuff.

To make it.

Take a round turn round the rope you intend to make the Turk's head on, cross the bights on each side of the round turn, and put one end under the cross on one side, and the other end under the cross on the other side, after which follow the lead until it shows three parts all round, and finish it off.

A Point, its Use, and how it is Made.

For reefing sails : make the point by taking five foxes and middling them, working them down sufficiently to form the eye, viz., 3 ins., place the two parts together, which will give the eye 1 ins. ; after having formed the eye, work down 6 ins., then leave out the short end, and work the point to the length required.

Q. How do you make a sea-gasket, or English sennit ?

A. Take three or four foxes (if intended for tyers it is made of yarns) according to the size you intend to make the gasket, middle them over a belaying-pin and plait three or four of them together, the length you intend to make the eye, then work both parts together to form an eye, and plait them by bringing the outside foxes on each side alternately over to the middle ; the outside one is laid with the right hand, and the remainder held firmly with the left hand ; work the whole together, adding a fox when necessary ; after the eye is properly formed, and you have worked three or four inches down, drop a fox or yarn, and continue to the end with an odd number. When it is a sufficient length, lessen it by dropping a fox at regular intervals. To finish it, lay one end up, leaving its bight down, plait the others through this bight, until they are all worked through it, then haul on the end, till the bight is taut ; to secure all parts, cut the ends off, and whip it.

Q. How do you make a harbour-gasket, or French sennit ?

A. With foxes something similar to the common sea-gasket, but instead of taking the outside fox over all the rest and bringing it into the middle, you interweave it between them by taking the outside fox of both sides, and taking it over one and under the other, working it towards the middle, the same as common sennit.

Harbour-gaskets, for lower and topsail-yards, are made of sword matting, and cut off to the required length, leaving enough end to form a Flemish eye each end of the gaskets. Gaskets made of French sennit are only used for topgallant and royal yards, and are always finished off the same as a sea-gasket, by working the ends with English sennit.

Worm and parcel with the lay,
And serve the rope the other way.

Q. What do you mean by worming a rope, and what use is it ?

A. To fill up the vacant space between the strands of the rope with spunyarn or small rope to render the surface smooth and round for parcelling and serving, to give it a neat appearance. The strops of gun-tackle blocks are wormed.

Q. What do you mean by parcelling a rope ?

A. Parcelling a rope is laying round it with the lay of the rope strips of old canvas dipped in tar, from two to three inches wide, according to the size of the rope, before serving it ; each turn of the parcelling should overtop the other, in fact, like tiles on the roof of a house.

Q. What do you mean by serving a rope ?

A. The service is of spunyarn, put or hove on by an instrument called a serving mallet, it has a score in the under part, according to the size of the rope, so as to lay on the rope, and a handle about fifteen inches long. Service is always laid on against the lay of the rope ; a man passes the ball of spunyarn, taking the turns well out of it, at some distance from the man that is serving the rope. When the required length of service is put on, the end is put under the last two turns, hauled taut and cut off. All standing rope likely to be chafed, is always served.

Q. How do you strop a block ?

A. There are various ways of stropping a block, depending upon what they are required for. First. There is the common strop, used for all general purposes, which is formed by short-splicing the two ends of a rope together, forming a ring, in which the block and thimble, or hook and thimble is seized.

For this purpose the rope is got on a stretch. All above 3 ins. is wormed, parcelled, and served ; below that size is only served with two or three yarns, spunyarn : cut the rope for the strop off, the length depending on what the strop is required for. If it is intended to put the ends in twice one end, and once the other, put a chalk mark, or a stop, on the piece of rope already cut to length, at twice the round of the rope from one end, and once and a half the round of the rope from the other end ; then unlay the strands to the chalk marks or stops, heave the service back, crutch them together, close up to the chalk marks or stops, and enter your strands, as if making a short-splice, only taking great care to marry your splice slack, so as when you come to stretch the strop the strands will draw down in place and form a neat strop. If it is not intended to serve the strop over, put the chalk mark or stop at twice the round of the rope each end, and put the strands in twice each way. By putting the strands in once and a half each way, you make a neater strop, especially if it is intended to serve over it. After your strands are tucked, and the strop has been well stretched, cut the ends off, work the service up to the splice, and finish it off ; the strop is then ready for placing the block and thimble in place. When the block and thimble are in place, put a temporary seizing on, and with a couple of small wedges made for the purpose, set the block well in place, until the splice of the strop takes well in the score of the ass of the block ; take the temporary seizing off, and heave the strop between the block and thimble well together with a Spanish windlass, then pass the seizing for a full due.

To Strop a Single Block with a lashing Eye

You proceed exactly the same as if stropping a block with a thimble. The length to cut the strop depends upon what it is required for, the size of the eye is generally once or once and a half the round of the rope.

To strop a block with two lashing eyes is merely putting an eye-splice in each end of the strop after it is cut to length and before the block is seized in place ; the length of the eyes are from once to once and a half the round of the rope.

To Strop a Double or Single Block with a Tail.

The strop is sometimes cut long enough to admit of the strop and tail being in one ; and it is also fitted separately, the tail being spliced in a thimble seized in the crown of the strop ; the latter is by far the better plan, as it can be replaced at pleasure, which is at times most convenient, as the tail invariably fags out before the strop is half worn.

To make a Grommet Strop

After the rope is cut to length, unlay the strands ; each strand will form a strop ; thus, one length of rope will make three strops ; lay each strand up, as if making a common grommet and worm them, the block and thimble is then seized in place, as in any other strop.

These strops are always used for gun-tackles.

To fit a Salvagee or Warped Strop.

Lash two hooks, or seize two bolts at the length the strop is required apart, then pass roundabout-turns sufficient with whatever you intend making your strop, until you have it to the required thickness, then pass marling-turns all round, taking care each part of the strop has equal strain, it is either grafted over or covered with leather, the block and thimble are then seized in place. These strops are frequently used for boom-sheet and reef-tackle blocks for boom-mainsails.

To form a Double-Strop for a Double-Scored Block.

According to the size of the rope, it is got on a stretch and wormed, parcelled, and served, or only served ; it is then cut to length, and the two ends short-spliced together, the block is placed, and the four parts of the strop seized together, the two bights forming two lashing eyes. These strops are used for quarter-blocks on lower yards for topsail sheets, lower yard brace-block, upper or masthead jeer-blocks.

To fit two Single Strops.

These strops are also used for double-scored blocks, such as lower jeer-blocks, or topsail brace-blocks. After the strops are cut to length, the ends are short-spliced together, each strop is placed on the block separately, and the four parts of the strop seized together. In the case of lower jeer-blocks, one strop is fitted longer than the other.

To make a Jumpsurgee Strop.

After the strop is cut to length, which will be three times the round of the block and once the round of the thimble and rope, put a mark on each end at once the round of the block, unlay the strands on each end to the mark, marry their together, and put a temporary seizing on to keep them in place, then unlay each strand and make them into nettles, divide the nettles when made equally, picking up every alternate nettle and graft both ways from where the strands are married, finishing off on the quarter, then seize the block, or block and thimble, in place. A strop thus made is considered to be three times the strength of a common strop.

To make a Jew Strop.

A jew strop is used when a single-scored block is required to be given a particular stand in the absence of a double-scored block ; for instance, it can be used with efficiency in the event of a lower jeer-block being carried away, and having no double-scored block to replace it. It is merely fitting a single block with a long lashing eye, working a grommet round the eye which rests round the strop between the lower yard and the crown of the block, the eye goes round the yard in a similar way to the long eye of a lower jeer-block, up before all, and is lashed to the grommet.



How to Measure for



Cutting the Strop.

Marrying the Strop.

What it is used for.


Seizing Strop.

Twice the round of block and rope.

Once the round of block and four times the round of rope.

Leech-lines, slab-lines, &c.

As a rule allow in cutting five times the round of a rope for splicing in addition to the measure for marrying

Long Seizing Strop.

Twice the round of block and four times the round of rope.

Once the round of block and six times the round of rope.

Jib-stay, purchase, topgallant royal halyards, &c.

Hook and Thimble Strop.

Once the round of block, hook, and thimble, and six times the round of rope.

Once the round of block, hook, thimble, and rope.

Leading blocks, &c.

Hook and Thimble Strop with two Seizings or double Seizing Strop.

Twice the round of block and six times the round of rope

Twice the round of block and once the round of rope.

Lower blocks of yards and stay-tackles.

Hook and Thimble Strop with two Seizings or double Seizing Strop.

Three times the round of block and once the round of rope.

Twice the round of block and three times the round of rope.

Lower blocks of burton's.

Quarter Blocks.

Once the round of block and yard, and six times the round of rope.

Once the round of block, yard, and rope.

Quarter blocks for topsail, topgallant, and royal yards.

Quarter Blocks.

Twice the round of yard and rope and three times the round of block.

Twice the round of yard and block and four times the round of rope.

Topsail sheet blocks on lower yards.

Hanging Jeer-Blocks.

Four times the round of masthead, twice the round of block; and seven times the round of rope.

Four times the round of the round masthead, twice of yard and block.

Upper jeer-blocks.

Jeer Blocks On the Yard.

Long leg, the same as for marrying, but six times the round of rope. Short leg as above.

Long leg, once and a third the round of yards, once and the round of block rope. Short leg, two-thirds the round of yard, once the round of block and rope.

Jeer-blocks on the yard.


Allow in cutting five times

the round of rope, in addition to the length given

for marrying.

Twice the round of block and thimble, and three times the round of rope. Dog Strop, once the round of yard-arm and thimble, and three times the round of rope.

Brace-block on lower yards.

Q. How do you turn a dead-eye in, and mark the shroud for cutter stay fashion ?

A. After all the shrouds are over the masthead, and steadied taut alike by means of strands round the shrouds, and rove through the lower dead-eyes with as much strain as they will bear, mark the rigging off for turning in as follows: Put a mark on the foremost and after shroud about 6ft. from the channels, fasten a line to the mark on the foremost shroud haul it taut aft, and secure it to the mark on the after shroud, then mark each shroud where the line cuts, which will be for the lower part of the dead-eye, then put another mark below it, at the distance of half the round of the dead-eye, and once the round of the rope, which will be the mark for the nip or crown of the dead-eye ; then bring the end round the standing part of the shroud so as to have the marks in their proper places, the ends of the shrouds in and aft, and heave the two parts together, as close as the standing part of the shroud will allow, by means of a Spanish windlass, put a rope-yarn strop to keep them in place, and then put the seizings on, place the dead-eye, and beat the nip of the shroud well down, this is done by putting a good strand over the nip and beating it down with a commander, until the shroud takes the score of the dead-eye in all parts.

N.B. In Portsmouth Yard a racking-seizing is now used, instead of a throat and quarter-seizing, as formerly.

Q. What should be most attended to in turning rigging in?

A. To keep the lay in the rope, to prevent the wet getting in.

Q. How do you reeve a lanyard for setting up lower or topmast rigging?

A. For lower rigging, the, standing part is either secured by a single wall-crowned or a new stopper-knot, or by being spliced round a thimble in an eye-bolt in the chains. A Matthew Walker is liable to capsize.

The standing part of a lanyard for the topmast rigging is secured by either a Matthew Walker knot in the end, or a running-eye round the lower dead-eye.

To reeve the Lanyard.

The end is first rove through the after hole in the upper dead-eye from in out, then through the after hole in the lower dead-eye from out in, and so on until it is rove in full.

When the rigging is hemp, the lanyard is half the size of the shroud ; when wire, the lanyard is the same size as the shroud.

Q. Describe the mode of rattling-down the rigging


A. The rope to be used for the ratlines should be well stretched. Before commencing; to rattle-down, put two swifters on each side, and slightly frap the shrouds together in a fore and aft line, mark the foremost shroud all the way up 15 ins. apart for the foremost eye of each rattling, then place spars about 5 ft. apart, parallel with the sheer pole, all the spare ends of spars should be aft; otherwise they will interfere with lower yards and sails going up ; the two lower ratlines are of larger rope than the others, and sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the number of men who crowd there at the order "man the rigging," waiting for orders to go aloft ; great care should be taken that the marline-spikes in use for rattling-down should be fitted with lanyards, and either worn round the neck of the man at work, or hitched round the shroud. In sparring and rattling the rigging, commence from below, thus insuring both being placed horizontally; ratlines are clove-hitched on the intervening shrouds, and seized to the foremost and after one but one. Every fifth ratline is taken to the after-shroud, which is called a catch ratline.

To Rattle-Down.

Splice a small eye in one end, hitch your rattling stuff round the third shroud from aft, then round each shroud in succession taking care the hitches are all formed the same way ; lower part of hitch aft, seize the eye to the foremost shroud with two-yarn, nettle-stuff, with about 3 in. drift, after the hitches are all hove taut round the shrouds, splice an eye in the other end, and seize it, in a similar way to the fore, to the after shroud but one ; if a catch ratline, to the after shroud ; every man should be furnished with a thin batten 14.5 ins. long, to measure between the ratlines, that they may be all square with the sheer pole ; the batten should be held perpendicularly between the ratlines, and not with a rake, the same as the after shroud, which are four or five feet longer than the foremost shrouds; when all the ratlines are in place, ease up the frapping.

Q. How do you point or graft a rope ?

A. Put a stop on at once the circumference of the rope from the end or eye, which will leave about the length for pointing or grafting, unlay the rope to the stop, then unlay the strands, split a number of the outside yarns and make a nettle out of each yarn ; when the nettles are made, stop them back on the standing part of the rope ; then form the point with the rest of the yarns, by scraping them down to a proper size with a knife, and marl them down together with twine ; divide the nettles, taking every other one up, and every other one down ; pass three turns with a piece of twine which is called the warp very taut round the part where the nettles separate, taking a hitch with the last turn, continue to repeat this process by placing every alternate nettle up and down, passing the warp, or filling, taking a hitch each time until the point is to its required length ; you can either form a bight with the last lay by passing the warp through the bights, haul them taut, and cut them off, or work a becket in the end, by taking a small piece of rope one fourth the size of the rope, form a bight, unlay the ends, and twist the six strands up again by twos, take some of the inside yarns and lay them up as rope, then short-splice that and the becket together and marl it down.

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