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Marlinspike Hitch

Scouting Index Scouting Requirements

Alpine Butterfly Loop Back Splice Barrel Hitch Bowline Cleat Hitch (Halyard) Clove Hitch (End) Coil Unattached Rope Constrictor (Twisting) Double Fisherman's Double O'hand Stopper Eye Splice Figure 8 Half Hitch Lashing, Square Lashing, Diagonal Lashing, Round Lashing, Shear Lashing, Tripod Marlinspike Hitch Midshipman's Hitch Rolling Hitch Round Turn & Hitches Sailmaker's Whipping Sheet Bend Sheepshank Square (Reef) Timber Hitch Trucker's Hitch Whipping (Common)

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Marlinspike Hitch Tying

Make a loop and through it tuck a bight of the standing end. Place the loop over the pole and tighten it. With a second rope, tie the same knot at the other end of the pole. Repeat to make a step ladder.

Marlinspike Hitch Details

History: The Marlinspike Hitch is described by Ashley spelled "Marlingspike" (ABOK # 2030, p 330.) He described it as being created using a marling-spike to heave on a strand or line when splicing, seizing, or serving a rope. "Marling" itself refers to the practice of making a series of half hitches around a rope to protect it. With modern ropes, such use is rare.

Making a Ladder: The Marlinspike Hitch is a wonderful way of quickly gripping a pole or a bar to take weight. The ladder shown in the animation is an excellent example. However, if used as a ladder, several cautions must be observed:

  • Correct End: Each Marlinspike Hitch must be made correctly. For a ladder, always make the final bight in the "top" end (the standing end) and tuck it through the loop. The result will then function as a Noose: the greater the force, the tighter the grip. If the wrong end is used, the reverse is true. A Slip Knot: is formed and increasing force loosens the grip.
  • Keep Level: Each rung should be horizontal. The ropes at the top of the ladder should be secured so that the rungs remain level to minimize the risk of a hitch sliding off its rung.
  • Inspect: If one of these rope ladders has been stored, the hitches will have loosened and may have slipped. Make certain the correct end is used as the top and inspect each rung to be sure it is level and gripped.

Disclaimer: Any activity that involves ropes is potentially hazardous. Lives may be at risk - possibly your own. Considerable attention and effort have been made to ensure that these descriptions are accurate. However, many critical factors cannot be controlled, including: the choice of materials; the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this material.

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Version 4.0.1. Nov 24, 2014

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