Whenever possible, a right-laid line should be
put on a winch drum or capstan right-handed, or in
clockwise turns. Heaving on a right-laid line with
left-handed turns eventually creates kinks in the
A line with a kink in it, or a tackle that is twisted
from having a dip in it, should never be heaved hard
while that condition exists. A strong strain on a
kinked or twisted line puts a permanent distortion in
Figure 3-10 shows what frequently happens when a
line with a kink in it is heaved hard. Now the original
kink has been forced into each strand. It is impossible to
work out the kink; hence, the line is ruined.
Deterioration of natural fiber line through age or
exposure is indicated by the gradual change in its color
from a yellowish white to a gray.
Deterioration from use or abuse is shown by the
bristling of the ends of broken yarns. An overstrained
line also shows a decrease in diameter. An individual
should never be sent aloft or over the side on such a
If the identification marker tape indicates the
natural fiber rope is 5 years old, it should not be used for
critical operations or those involving the lives of
Figure 3-11.Best type of knife for a Seaman.
Figure 3-11 shows the best type of knife for
working with line. This knife is available almost
anywhere ashore. Its blade has a straight cutting edge
rather than a curved one. The small spike on the knife is
convenient for opening shackles, and it is indispensable
for drawing up close knots like monkey fists, manrope
knots, and Turk's heads.
The wooden fid is a long, tapered tool used for
opening strands in line for splicing. Never use it for
anything else, and never hammer the butt end of a fid to
drive it through. It splits or splinters very easily. To open
heavy line, set the butt of the fid on deck and hammer
the line onto the point. Never call a fid a marlinespike.
The marlinespike, a tapered steel tool, serves the
same purpose with wire that the fid does with line. A
good spike should never be used as a crowbar or a pin
to open shackles, and care must be taken to avoid
bending or blunting its point. Unlike the fid, you can
hammer the butt of a marlinespike.
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize and
describe the most common tools used by
There are many tools used by a deck Seaman. We
only discuss a few of them in this chapter. To find out
more about the tools used in painting, you should refer
to Boatswain's Mate, Volume 1, NAVEDTRA 10101.
We discuss the Seaman's knife, marlinespikes, and fids
first. We address the sail needles and the sail palms in
the canvas section of this chapter.
Figure 3-10.Result of a strong strain on a line with a
kink in it.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Define the types of
knots used in a line. Identify the knots used to
form a loop or an eye. Explain bending to a
hook, ring, or spar.
Learning the proper methods of handling and
applying knots and splices, and practicing them, are an
essential part of your job as a Seaman apprentice.
Among Seamen the term knot must give way to its
more specific meanings: bend and hitch. In addition,
Seamen must know which knot, bend, or hitch will
serve best in a particular circumstance.
First and foremost, a good knot must hold fast
without slipping. Next, if it is a knot in general use and
not an ornament, it should be easy to tie. The best knot
is one that possesses all these advantages and is easy to
untie as well.