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.
A yacht rope to moor the boat

Photo: Shutterstock

‘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:

Step one

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.

Step one of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

Step two

Form the eye shape. Then pull the middle strand through the standing rope. Pull it tight.

Step two of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

Step three

Take the lower strand and pass it under the first strand you pulled through. Pull it tight.

Step three of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

Step four

Pass the upper strand above the first strand you pulled through. Pull it tight.

Step four of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

Step five

Repeat the process, braiding the strands through the rope. Keep going until you run out of tail, or until the splice is long enough.

Step five of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

Step six

Once the splice is complete, remove the tape and cut the ends (if needed).

Step six of a guide to eye spicing

Photo: animatedknots.com

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. 

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