April 2011

Mastering marlinespike

Carrick bend

Praised by some as the nearest thing to a perfect bend, the carrick bend will not slip wet or dry, unties easily and can’t jam. However, it can be tricky to tie. The carrick bend is especially useful when bending large lines or hawsers together.

Cast this knot on a table or other flat surface.

Carrick bend ABCD

A. Begin by placing an underhand loop in the end of line 1 on the table.

B. Lay the bitter end of line 2 under the loop with the two working parts on opposite sides.

C. Cross the bitter end of line 2 over the working part of line 1 and under the bitter end of line 1.

D. Next, cross the bitter end of line 2 over the near side of the loop, under the working part of line 2, and finally over the loop’s far side. The result is an underhand loop in line 2 that’s woven into the underhand loop in line 1. Before tightening the knot, ensure that the knot’s two bitter ends are diagonally opposite as are the two working parts and that every crossing follows an over-under-over-under path. No part of line in the knot crosses two adjacent other parts.

Carrick bend front and back

E. After pulling the knot tight, you won’t recognize the result. So it’s imperative to get the crossings right before tightening the knot.

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

Stay cool while looking it with a palm tree jacquard Hawaiian 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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