February 2011

Mastering marlinespike

True lover’s knot

Also called the clover or cross knot, this knot has three loops at right angles to one another. It’s stable only if the load is equally distributed on all three loops with the working part and bitter end leading away in the fourth direction.

This knot has little to offer other than its intrinsic beauty.

True lover's knot

A. Start with an overhand knot.

B. Following the arrow in A. start a second overhand knot, linked to the first, and complete it following the arrow.

True lover's knot

C. Before proceeding, make sure the knot looks like this.

D. Following the arrows in C. and D., carefully pull out the three loops from inside the knot while holding the working part and bitter end together. Adjust the knot by pulling each of the three loops and the working part/bitter end out from the center of the knot.

E. The final result

Continue building your marlinespike skills by taking the Knots, Bends and Hitches seminar. Find a seminar near you or purchase the USPS guide Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners. Call 888-367-8777 ext. 0 for more information.

Original materials used with thanks to Irene Rodriguez and John Bennett

Roughing it is easy in a breathable, durable explorer shirt from the USPS Ship's Store

Mastering Marlinespike


Cleat hitch

Round turn with two half hitches

Clove hitch

Sheet bend

Figure eight

Anchor bend

Rolling hitch

Double sheet bend

Eye splice

Becket bend

Reef knot

Blood knot

True lover’s knot

Monkey’s fist

Carrick bend

Angler’s loop

Strangle knot

Jar sling

Japanese success knot

Spanish bowline

Stevedore knot

Heaving line knot

Three-part crown knot

Sack knot

Short splice

Constrictor knot

Slip knot

Japanese bowline

Hawser bend

Slipped bowline

Bowline on a bight

Lark’s head

Buntline hitch

Jury mast knot

Slipped buntline hitch

Painter’s bowline

Binder’s loop

Wall and crown knot

Inside cow hitch

Toggled reef knot

Long splice

Tugboat hitch

Crown sennit

Toggled lark’s head

Matthew Walker knot


Back splice


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