Strength in Numbers

John M. Bollinger of Bellevue, Ohio, asks:

"I’m planning to replace my halyards this summer and I would like to learn how to splice them to the shackles myself. Where can I find this information?"

Win Fowler replies:

Splicing techniques vary depending on the type of cordage you plan to use. Most manufacturers provide detailed splicing instructions for their products on their websites. For example, New England Ropes (, Samson (, and Yale Cordage ( all have excellent instructional material on their websites. Be aware that the strength of a splice varies enormously depending on how well it’s done.

It may be satisfying to splice your own halyards, but it can also be a frustrating and occasionally expensive undertaking if you screw up a few of them. Like most things, becoming proficient takes practice. Splicing modern cordage is a lot more demanding than splicing traditional three-strand rope. Most modern cordage requires specialized fids or other splicing tools, and there’s a good chance they might not be available at your neighborhood chandlery.

You may well find it worthwhile to have an experienced rigger splice your halyards, because he or she will have the right tools and the necessary experience to do it quickly while making sure the rope retains as much working strength as possible. If you do decide to splice your halyards yourself, be sure to make at least two test splices with the cordage in question before working on the real items.

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