Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery

Third Instruction


Q. How is a reef-becket and toggle fitted ?

A. The becket is a piece of 2-inch rope with a long eye in one end, the other end being well whipped, in the bight of the eye a toggle is seized, the becket is then rove round the jackstay of the yard to which it belongs, and is seized with the toggle uppermost ; in reefing, the other end of the becket is rove through the reef-line, and hauled up, until the eye is high enough to go over the toggle. Toggles are fitted to the jackstay in pairs, one being for the first and third-reefs, and the other being for the second and fourth reefs. In taking in the third and fourth reefs the first reef-beckets must be untoggled when taking in the third reef, and the second reef-beckets when taking in the fourth reef. When the first and second reef-beckets are let go in taking the third or fourth reefs in, care should be taken to haul the slacksail taut up by the slab-points. Slab-points are now usually fitted to all topsails, about four of a side, or more if necessary, according to the size of a topsail. This precaution is very necessary; if the slacksail was allowed to hang down abaft the yard in a gale, and beat about, it would chafe the sail through. A preventer jackstay is generally fitted for the second and fourth reefs, so as all the strain should not be on one jackstay.

To make a Reef-Becket and Toggle, as done in Portsmouth Dockyard.

Form the eye with five parts of spunyarn, then work down with nine ends, work 1-ft. 2-ins., then form an eye with five parts one side, and four parts the other, make the eye 7-ins., then marry and work down with the nine ends 1-ft. 2-ins. more, put on a good whipping at the end and the lower part of the eye.

N.B.-For small ships form your eye with four parts, and work down with 7, as above.

To Rig a Spanish Windlass

A good strand, well greased in the centre, is generally used for this purpose ; place the strand over the two parts of the rope that are to be hove together, and bring the ends of the strand up again, place a bolt close to the strand, take the ends of the strand and lay them up with their own parts (so as to form a bight), take a round turn with this round the bolt, put a bolt or marline-spike through each bight, and heave round. A bolt is the best, as a marline-spike is apt to slip.

To make a Knettle

It is made of two or three yarns laid up together by a jack ; it is also made by hand, by twisting them between the thumb and finger, and laying them up against the twist of the yarn. They are used for clews of hammocks, for making harbour-gaskets, and other purposes.

To make a Fox.

Make two or three yarns fast to a belaying pin, or some other convenient place, stretch them out taut, and twist them together, then rub it down smooth with yarns, or a piece of old canvas; it is used for making gaskets, mats, plaits, and temporary seizings, &c., and many other purposes.

To make a Spanish Fox.

This is made by taking a single rope-yarn, making one end fast to a belaying pin, untwisting and twisting it up again the reverse way, and rubbing it smooth with a few yarns or a piece of canvas. It is generally used for small seizings.

A Salvagee Strop.

Drive a couple of bolts or large nails into a piece of plank, or any convenient place; or else seize a couple of hooks which will answer the same purpose ; put the nails or hooks at the required distance apart, according to the length of strop you want, take the ends of the ball of ropeyarns and make it fast to one of the spikes or hooks, then take it round the other one, keep passing roundabout-turns, taking care to have every turn well taut until the strop is to the required thickness. If it is to be a very large strop, marl it down with spunyarn, if a small strop two-rope yarn.

A Single Diamond Knot

To make the knot.- Unlay the end of a rope to the required distance for making the knot, with the strands, form three bights down the side of the rope, holding them fast with the left hand.

Take the end of one strand, and pass it with the lay of the rope over the strand next to it, and up through the bight of the third. Take the end of the second strand over the third, and up through the bight of the first. Take the end of the third strand over the first, and up through the bight of the second. Haul taut, and lay the ends up together.

This knot is used by men-of-wars'-men to form the eye in their knife lanyards, for going over their heads.

A Double Diamond Knot

To make the knot.- Make a single diamond, as before described, laying the ends up. Follow the lead of the single knot through two single bights, and the ends will come out at the top of the knot. Point the last strand through two double bights, and steady them, and lay the ends up.

This knot is used for lanyards of fire buckets.

A Spritsail Sheet Knot

To make the knot.- Unlay two ends of a rope to a sufficient length to form the knot, and place them together, making a bight with one strand, walling the six strands together, similar to a single-walling made with three strands, by putting the second over the first, and the third over the second, the fourth over the third, the fifth over the fourth, and the sixth over the fifth, and through the bight of the first. Then haul taut. You can crown it by taking two strands, and laying them over the top of the knot, and passing the other strands alternately over and under those two, hauling them taut. You may also double-wall it, by next passing the strands under the wallings on the left of them, and through the small bights, when the ends will come up for the second crowning. This is done by following the lead of the single-crowning, and putting the ends through the single-walling, as with three strands.

It is sometimes used for a stopper-knot, and other purposes.

A Single-wall Knot

To make the knot.- Unlay the end of a rope to a sufficient length for making the knot, then form a bight with one strand, holding its end down to the standing part in your left hand. Pass the end of the next strand round the strand so formed. Pass the remaining strand round the end of the second strand, and up through the bight you formed with the strand. Haul the ends taut with care, one by one. I is used on the end of a rope, rove through a hole to prevent it unreeving, such as the standing part of the throat halyards.

A Single Wall Crown

To make the knot.- Make the single-wall as described and then lay one end over the top of the knot, lay the second end over the first, and then the third over the second and through the bight of the first. It is used on the end of a rope, rove through a hole, in a similar way that a single-wall knot is.

A Double Wall

To make the knot.- Make a single-wall slack, and crown it, then take one end, bring it underneath the part of the first walling next to it, and put it up through the same bight. Repeat the same with the other strands, putting them up through two bights. When made it forms a double-wall and a single-crown. It is used on the end of a rope, rove through a hole, such as throat halyards.

A Double-wall, Double-Crowned

To make the knot.-Form a double-wall, single-crowned, then lay the strands by the sides of those, in the single-crown putting them through the same bight in the single-crown, and down through the double-walling.

It is used for man-ropes, stopper-knots, &c., also called man-rope knot, tack or topsail-sheet-knot.

A Buoy-rope Knot

To make the knot.- Unlay the three large strands of a cablelaid rope, and then the three small strands forming the large strand, which will be nine in all. Lay the large ones up again as before, leaving the small ones out.

Single and double-wall the small strands (as for a stopper knot)

round the rope, worm them along the divisions, and stop their ends with spunyarn.

This knot is used for a buoy, to prevent the buoy-rope slipping through the seizing.

A Cut Splice

This splice is formed by cutting a piece of rope in two and laying the ends over the opposite standing parts of the two pieces of rope, at the distance you intend your eye to be in length;

unlay the strands of the ends, and enter them under the strands of the standing parts, in a similar way to making an eye-splice, forming an oblong eye or collar in the bight of a rope. It is generally used for pendants for guys, breast back-stays, &c.

A Flemish Eye

Having put a whipping on at the distance from the end of three and a half times the round of the rope, unlay the end to the whipping, then lash a piece of wood at least twice the size of the eye you are going to make, securely, in a convenient place for working, by some yarns on top of it, so as to stop the eye down after it is formed. With a four-stranded rope, unlay and divide the heart in two, then put the rope underneath the piece of wood with two strands, and halve the heart each side, pass the two parts of the heart over, and half-knot it on the top, heaving the rope close up to the piece of wood by means of a bolt on each side. The proper width for the eye is one-third the round of the rope. Take from each strand two yarns for every inch the rope is in circumference. Suppose it to be a 12-in. rope, take twenty-four yarns, which twist up and half-knot them on the top of the wood, heaving them taut and passing them down the lay of the rope for worming ; clap a seizing of spunyarn over it, close to the toggle, and another 9-ins. below it ; make a yarn fast round the ends, to keep them in the lay of the rope, then take two thirds as many-yarns from each strand as you did for worming, haul them taut up from the bosom, and half-knot them on top, haul them taut, and so continue till they are all expended.

Care should be taken to haul the yarns taut up from the bosom, to ensure them bearing an equal strain. Smooth the yarns down, and put a stop round all, close underneath the wood, then half-knot the stops that are laid on the wood, heave them taut with a bolt each side of the eye ; form the other half-knot, and heave it taut.

The eye is then marled with two or three-yarn spunyarn, the hitches almost 1-in. apart, commencing at the centre of the eye and working both ways, cut the stops as you come to them ; when the marling of the eye is finished, pass a strand round all, close underneath the wood, and heave it taut by means of bolts ; take a part of the strand off, and put on a seizing of spunyarn, beating the strand down as you marl the yarns down,

If it is for a stay when the collar is spliced and served, the eye is finished by parcelling it, and serving it with spunyarn, when fidded out it is completed.

An Artificial Eye

Is formed by unlaying one strand to the required distance, depending on the size of the eye you are about to form. The eye is formed by placing the two strands along the standing part of the rope, and crossing the odd strand over the standing part, and laying it in the vacant place you first took it from, filling up the vacancy until the strand comes out at the crutch again, and lies under the other two strands. Take a few yarns out of each strand for worming, and taper the remainder down.

A Grecian Splice.

Put a whipping at twice the round of the rope from the ends of the two pieces of rope you are going to form the splice with, then unlay the ropes to the whippings, twist the outside yarns up into foxes, the number of yarns in each fox will depend upon the size of the rope being used for the splice, for example, about two yarns to every inch the rope is in circumference, leaving about one-fourth of each strand of the inside yarns to be laid up as rope, long enough to tuck the strands once each way, after which take out of each strand a sufficient number of yarns for laying them in the lay of the rope for worming, and cut the remainder off, then form a cross point with the foxes, by bringing the upper fox down, and the lower fox up, and crossing each other all round the rope ; then put the last lower fox under the bight of the first upper one that was brought down ; and is thus secured. Commence again by putting the end over one fox, and under the bight of the other, and so on until you have worked close up to the whipping, the foxes are then scraped and marled down, and served over with small spunyarn.

When properly made, the splice will be but very little larger than any other part of the rope, but strong enough to break the rope.

This splice, being much neater than a shroud-knot, is sometimes made in standing rigging instead of a shroud-knot.

There is also another way to make a Grecian splice, by making all the yarns into foxes, leaving no heart, but the first way is the strongest and best.

This splice is also used for tailing a smaller to a larger size rope, when it has to travel through a block such as lower lifts, when the lifts and falls are in one.

A Mariner's Splice (or To Long-splice A Cable Laid Rope)

To form the splice.- Heave the turns out of the two ends of the warps you are going to use for this purpose, stretch it well, then beat it with a mallet to make it supple, unlay the strands of both ends to six times the round of the warp, which will be the required length to form the splice ; they are then crutched together in a similar way to forming a short-splice, but married much tauter ; put a stop round them, to keep them in place, taking care to leave out the strand to be unlaid ;

you now commence to form the long-splice, by unlaying one strand, and filling up the space it leaves with the opposite strand next to it, to about three times the round of the rope; these strands being composed of three small strands, which are called readies, they are then unlaid and crutched together, a good stop being put round them, leaving out the ready to be unlaid, then unlay one ready, fill up the space it leaves with the opposite ready, the distance of twice the round of the rope, half-knot them together, and stick the end under one strand ; or, instead of half-knotting them, lay them across each other, and stick their ends under the next strand to them ; then put the end underneath two strands or readies, and the end will come out under the strand, and when cut off will be out of sight.

Then take hold of the next two readies that will come opposite their respective lays, unlay the ready, and fill up the space it leaves with the other, the same distance as before, and splice them the same ; then the two readies in the place where they were first married, half-knot them, and stick them the same as with the first readies, after which turn the work round, and take the stop off from the place the strands were first crutched together, leave out the two next strands that will come opposite their respective lays, and put the stop on again, to secure the two strands that remain, then repeat the process, by unlaying one strand, and filling up the space it leaves with the other, the same distance as before from the place they were married, then unlay the strands, marry the readies together, and long-splice them as before, then turn the work round to the two strands where they were first crutched together, and long-splice the six readies the same as before directed. Well stretch the splice, cut the ends off.

To put a Strand in a Rope.

It is frequently done when the part of a strand is chafed, and the other strands are good ; cut the strands at the place where it is chafed, unlay it about two feet each way, then take a strand of a rope of the same size, and lay it in the vacancy of the rope, half-knot, and tuck the ends the same as a long-splice.

Snaking a Seizing.

Take the end under and over the outer turns of the seizing alternately, passing over the whole. There should be a marline-hitch at each turn.

A Rope-Maker's Eye

Is generally made in the end of a jibstay when fitted with a slip at the jib-boom end, and has a thimble in it to receive the slip ; it is also used for the collars of topmasts and jibstays, for forming the lashing eyes, being quicker made, and quite equal in strength to a Flemish eye, it forms a ropemaker's eye, with two strands round the thimble.

To form a Rope-Maker's Eye with a Four-Stranded Rope.

Unlay the rope eight times the round of the rope, from the end which will be the required length; marl two strands together to the distance of the round of the thimble ; form the eye with these strands, to the size of allowing the thimble to go in after it is parcelled ; put the thimble in, well-tarring the eye first, then unlay the other two strands, one at a time, and fill up the vacancy with the opposite strand that formed the eye, about two feet from the thimble ; unlay the other strand one foot from the thimble, and lay in the other strand that formed the eye, then cross, and stick the ends in once, the same as a long-splice ; after which, well stretch the splice, and serve it over with spunyarn.

A Lashing Eye.

Put a whipping on at about twice and a half the round of the rope from the end, then enter the marline-spike at the eleventh lay from the whipping, bend the rope up, and form the eye, thus leaving nine clear lays from the strand ; the marline-spike is under to the first strand to be entered. Enter the strands once and a half and serve them over with spunyarn.

The above will be found the right length for a lashing eye for bowsprit-shroud and bobstay-collars, strops for clew garnet-blocks, topsail clew-line, and topgallant sheet-blocks, the inner ends of foot-ropes, &c.

How do you Long-Splice a Three and Four-Strand Rope together ?

To form a long-splice with a piece of three and four-strand-rope, such as tailing a royal backstay when used for a fall for the topgallant breast backstays. Unlay the ends of the two ropes to the required distance, and crutch them together, then unlay one strand of the three-strand rope, and fill up the vacancy with a strand of the four-strand rope, turn the rope round, and unlay a strand of the four-strand rope and fill up the vacancy with a strand of the three-strand rope, as far as required; there will 'then remain two strands from the four-strand rope, and one from the three ; lessen the latter, by taking one-third out of it, and knot it to one of the strands of the four-strand rope; then unlay the other strand, and fill up the vacancy with the reduced strand of the three-strand rope ; then knot them together, and tuck them once under one strand with all eight strands ; the splice should be well-stretched before cutting the ends off.

Another plan is, instead of dividing the strand of the three-strand rope, knot the whole of the strands, and tuck the remaining strand of the four-strand rope under the strands of the rope. This is called sinking a strand.

NOTE:- The first plan is the neatest.

How do you Short-Splice a Three and Four-Strand Rope together ?

You unlay the ends of the two ropes to a sufficient distance, make four strands out of the three by dividing one strand in two, and lay the four strands up a sufficient length for the ends of the other rope to be put in once, then crutch them together, and splice them as two four-strand ropes.

Another method for splicing a three and four-stranded rope together for a short-splice is, divide the fourth strand into three parts, and lay one part in with each of the three-strands, arid splice it as a three-stranded rope.

For a long-splice, work three strands in in the usual way, and when finished tuck the fourth strand in, as convenient, under the nearest strands to it.

N.B.- This is called sinking a strand.

To make a paunch Mat.

This mat is used to take the chafe of the lower yards off the lower rigging in bracing up, and is seized to the lower rigging in the wake of the yards.

To make the Mat

Stretch a piece of rope, according to the size of the mat required, in any convenient place, in a horizontal position and the foxes which are used for making the mat are middled and hung over it, close together, from end to end, or as far as the width required for the mat. Then take the fox nearest the left hand and twist a turn in the two parts; one part give to the man opposite. The next fox has a turn twisted in its two parts, and one part given back to your party, the remainder is twisted round the first, which is given back and then again round its own part ; and so on with the remainder of the foxes until you get it the breadth required. The bottom of the mat is selvaged, by taking a piece of rope the same size as used for the top. The two parts of the foxes which are twisted together at the bottom are divided, and the piece of rope put between them ; the foxes are hitched round it, and the ends put through its own lay with a marline-spike.

Q. How do you make a nipper?

A. Nippers are made in a similar way to a salvagee strop. According to the size of the nipper required, either yarns or foxes are marled together; they are from four to five fathoms in length.

To make a Nipper.

Get the yarns or foxes on a stretch, make a grommet the size of the nipper required, and fill it up until it fits quite taut round the end of the yarns or foxes, then secure one end of them to any convenient place, put a small tackle on the other end, and steady them well taut ; as you pass your marling turns you fleet the grommet along, which presses the yarns or foxes into place, so an equal strain will come on each when the marling turns are passed. Two-yarn spunyarn or a fox, is generally used for marling. Rumble makes very good nippers, and is always used when it can be obtained by the captains of foretops.

A Pudding Fender

Pudding Fenders are used in the Navy for large boats such as cutters, pinnaces, &c., &c. and sometimes on lower yards, to take the chafe on the inside part of the quarter-yard

When fitted as Fenders for Boats.

A piece of rope the required length is cut, and an eye spliced in each end, by which it is, set up to small eye-bolts on the stern ; the rope is then marked where the pudding or fenders are to be worked, one to fit the stem, and two others to fit, one on each quarter, so as to save the sharp edge of the quarters and the stem when lying alongside a ship or boats, or a landing-place ; a number at proper intervals are also worked along each side of the boat, projecting far enough to save her sides also from chafing.

To make a Pudding Fender.

Get your rope, already marked on a stretch, and worm it ; the marks where the puddings are to be formed are filled up with any old stuff, such as old strands, spunyarn, &c. ; in forming it take care the sides intended to be next the boat are flat, and the outer sides a half-round, the largest part is in the middle, tapering gradually off at both ends. When it is formed to the required shape, parcel it with strips of canvas and mark it down, beginning in the middle and marling both ways to the ends. It is then either grafted over or covered with leather ; the latter is the neatest. When fitted as a single fender, for a yard or any other purpose, an eye is worked in each end.

A Horse-Shoe Splice

It is so named from resembling a horse-shoe in shape, and is used for joining topmast shrouds or backstays when there is an odd one of a side, and it is desired to form an eye on the bight ; it is also used sometimes for gib-guys. It is formed by splicing the two ends of a piece of rope into the topmast shroud or backstay, one end on either side of the bight; where the eye is to be formed, the strands are-entered once and a half, marled down, and served over. The length of the piece of rope to be used for this purpose is one-third the length of the eye required, allowing twice the round of the rope on each end in addition for splicing. The ends are tucked under the strands in splicing, exactly the same as when forming an eye-splice.

A Fork Splice

Is made like an eye-splice ; it is used in fitting lower and topmast stays. A piece of the rope intended for the stay is cut off according to the length of eye required, allowing sufficient length on both ends, one end to be tucked once and a half in the rope where you intend to form the fork ; the strands are scraped and marled down ready for serving over. A Flemish eye is formed in the other end, and a corresponding Flemish eye is also formed in the end of the stay for lashing abaft the mast, as shown in the plate. It is wormed, parcelled, and served over. The shoulders of the Flemish eyes, and of the fork are cavilled or shouldered over, which is to pass layers of spunyarn down each side of the crutch of the fork and eyes, to preserve the rope and prevent the wet from entering.

Q. How do you splice wire rope ?

A. Precisely the same as splicing hemp rope, only taking the precaution when the marline-spike is entered under the strands you wish to put your first tuck into, to beat the strands on either side of the marline-spike with a hammer, so as to keep them open, or else, as soon as you withdraw the marlinespike, before you could possibly enter the end of your strands, the opening made by the spike would close ; when the strand is entered, a hemp strand, kept ready for the purpose, is dogged round it, brought to the windlass bolt, and set well taut, heaving the strand close in place, taking great care your strand, being hove in, is kept quite straight : once kinked it could never be straightened again. The ends are generally put in once, two-thirds, and one-third, as it cannot be tapered down like hemp. The windlass-bolt is a bar of iron, stuck in the stool, used by riggers for splicing. It is worked in a similar way to hemp rigging, and with equal ease. Non-riggers are getting familiar with it.

In splicing an eye with more than three strands, the second left-hand strand is tucked from right to left under the first convenient strand.

A Coach-Whipping Plait

Is used for tails of jiggers or stoppers for fore or main-tacks or sheets, &c. &c.

To make it

Put a whipping on a piece of rope, leaving the required length for the stopper-knot, unlay each strand, if a three, stranded rope, then divide the three into four parts, work these parts into four foxes, then take the two centre foxes in your left hand, and work the two outside foxes from left to right, and right to left, under one and over one, each fox in turn becoming an outside fox. It is finished off. by either whipping the end or working the foxes into nettles and pointing it.


Man-ropes are sometimes made of cross-pointing.

To make them

Take a piece of 2 in., or any other size rope, and cut it to the required length, then get it on a stretch ; take sufficient parts of white line to cover the rope, taking care you have an even number, then put a good whipping round all parts where you intend the upper part of your man-rope to be, leaving outside the whipping sufficient length of all parts of the white line to form a man-rope knot when they are worked up into strands.

To Cross-Point the Rope

Divide the parts, taking every alternate part up, and working round and round continually,. taking each part under and over, forming a cross each time. So continue to the end ; it is finished off by unlaying the white line, twisting it into nettles, and pointing it.

Four-Square Plait.

A four-square plait is made of white line ; sixteen parts are generally used, or any other number that will form a square according to the size required; never less than twelve parts ought to be used to form the square properly; it is used for making man-ropes.

To make it

Put a good whipping on, and secure the ends to any convenient place, and commence by keeping four parts in the middle to form a centre. When made of sixteen parts, keep four parts for the centre working, the remaining parts from left to right, and right to left, passing each part under four and over four, thus in turn each centre part becomes an outside part, and forms a complete square. When it is worked to its required length, the ends are worked into nettles, and it is finished off by pointing it; before commencing it, it must be decided whether you intend working a Flemish eye in the upper end or a man-rope knot, so as to know what length of ends to leave ; if a knot is to be worked, the parts are laid up together to form the required number of strands. It is sometimes finished off at the upper end by driving two copper nails through the whipping, so as to form a cross; cut the nails off to the length required, then wold the parts of the nails round with yarns, until the points are covered, then work a Turk's head over it.

Elliot's Eye

To make the Eye

Put a whipping on, allowing 6-ins. for every inch of the size of the rope, that is for an 18-in. rope put a whipping on at 9-ft. from the end, unlay all three strands to the whipping, well stretch them, take the lay out, and beat them well with a commander.

1st. Take the first strand round the thimble, and long-splice it to the second strand.

2nd. In the third strand form an eye-splice rather larger in size than the thimble (as shown in plate 1), taking care that the ends of the strand forming the eye-splice come out in the lay of the rope for worming.

3rd. Take the whipping off, put a capstan-bar or handspike through the eye-splice and long-splice, and heave all these strands up together to the size of the eye-splice (as shown in plate 2), withdraw the capstan-bar or handspike, and hitch the two parts of the eye together with small rope ; the eye formed by the first and second strands being long-spliced together, and the third strand having an eye-splice in it, the thimble is then put in place, and the seizing put on, which is a common throat or round seizing (as shown in plate 3), the cable is then served, or, as is termed, kackled with 2 in. rounding, for the distance of 9-ft. from the eye. The eye is now finished and ready to receive the shackles.

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