How to splice a rope
Splicing may be a simple skill, but it’s an important one you should put some time aside to practise. RNLI Crew Member Guy Addington explains why.
‘Splicing is the next step for anyone who goes to sea regularly,’ says Guy. ‘In some situations, it’s preferable to knots.’
This is partly due to the strength of a splice. Even the best knots will reduce the strength of rope – in some cases, by more than 50%. A properly formed splice, however, shouldn’t reduce the strength by more than 5–10%.
Guy adds: ‘Another benefit of splicing is that there’s no chance of the rope coming apart unintentionally. A splice will also run better through a lead, pulley block or fairlead, as it sits more neatly than a knotted rope.’
The key thing to practise, Guy stresses, is a neat splice: ‘The general principle is that if the splice looks smart, it’s better formed, stronger and more secure.’
Next time you’re practising, try an eye splice. It puts a permanent loop at the end of the rope. Guy says: ‘It has a huge range of applications. It’s also a nice way to finish the rope if you don’t need to run it through something.’
Here's our step-by-step guide to an eye splice:
Unravel your rope 25–35cm (depending on size) and tape it to prevent it from unravelling further. Unlay the strands so you have a lower, middle and upper strand.
Form the eye shape. Then pull the middle strand through the standing rope. Pull it tight.
Take the lower strand and pass it under the first strand you pulled through. Pull it tight.
Pass the upper strand above the first strand you pulled through. Pull it tight.
Repeat the process, braiding the strands through the rope. Keep going until you run out of tail, or until the splice is long enough.
Once the splice is complete, remove the tape and cut the ends (if needed).
Excited for your next nautical adventure? Before you set sail, take a few minutes to check our yachting and motorboating safety tips to make sure you reach your destination safely.