Double Braid Eye Splice

December 2, 2011

I got back to the boat a few weeks ago to tune up the rigging, chase down some leaks and do some maintenance.   This trip I had plenty of “sit-and-stare” time, which worked out well for tuning the rigging, but not so well for the other project.

The foreguy is a line that controls the height of the spinnaker pole.  If you’re lost already, don’t worry.  It’s just a rope with a steel shackle at the end.  Mine was ratty and gross.  I had time to kill before heading back to Spokane so I resolved to replace it.  That meant learning the tricky double braid eye splice, which leaves an eye at the end of a line.  There are a number of reasons you’d want an eye at the end of a line; in this case the eye holds the shackle, which is used to attach the foreguy to other hardware.  How hard could that be for a guy with time to sit and stare?  After all, the rig tuning had gone smoothly.

I cozied up in the cabin with my Samson Ropes splicing kit, some new 1/4 inch double braid, and a how-to video queued up on my iPhone.  Double braid is a rope that has a braided core covered by a separate, braided cover.  The splice requires joining the core to the cover, the cover to the core, and burying the whole thing back inside the rope while leaving an eye at the end.  If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is.  Real riggers do this all day long, so it won’t seem like anything to them, but to regular folks who’ve never done it, it’s tough even to visualize.

Finally!

It turns out 1/4 inch double braid is already tough to splice because it’s so small, but I finally got it.  The pause button on the video really got a workout, though, and it took me about half an hour.  I was turning the splice around in my hand, admiring my work, when I realized I’d neglected to insert the shackle before closing the eye.  Unbelievable!  No amount of vexation, cussing or stink-eye was going to get that shackle into that splice, so with mounting frustration I cut it off and began again.

The second splice still took some time, and I kept having to rewind the video, but I finally got it.  Once again I sat back to admire my work, and once again I noticed I’d forgotten to insert the shackle.  Aarghh!  I sat there for probably five minutes just staring at it in disbelief.  Neither of the splices had looked pretty, but they were done correctly and I’m sure they’d have been fine.  By then it was time to head home, though.  Defeated by the double braid eye splice, I closed up the boat and left.

Later, in the comfort and ample light of my home office, I finally tamed the beast.  It turns out it’s much easier with 3/8 and larger lines.  I still needed the YouTube video, but at least the double braid eye splice no longer seems like witchcraft.  I worked through it a few more times.  The photo is of my best effort to date.  It’s still not as pretty as what you’d get from a pro rigger, but I’m happy with it.  Now I just have to do it again for the new foreguy, and remember to add the shackle before I close the eye.

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