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Knot List: Monkey's Fist ‐ Step-by-Step

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Monkey's Fist, Animated Knots
Monkey's Fist, Step-by-Step Animation

Monkey's Fist Tying

Wrap three turns around your fingers (metal here). Pass the end through the middle. Make three more turns around the first ones. Pass the end through the middle. Make three more turns locking the previous turns and remove fingers. Tie a knot in the end and tuck it into the center. Then tighten every turn.
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Monkey's Fist Details

Uses: The Monkey's Fist (ABOK # 2200 - 3, p 354) is used both as a decorative knot and to weight the end of a heaving line (see caution below).

Tying it: The Monkey's Fist is usually tied around separated fingers. For the demonstration, a U-shaped piece of metal strip was used instead and three turns of rope were used in each direction. After each set of complete turns, change direction by passing the end through the middle. For each direction count carefully: it is very easy to miscount and have more strands on one side than the other.

Finishing it: The animation shows an overhand knot being inserted into the center. This makes a slightly fuller knot. After the overhand knot is in place the whole knot is tightened starting near the buried overhand knot and finishing with the other end of the rope.

Pictures of Alternative Monkey
Alternative Monkey's Fist Finish

Alternative Monkey's Fist Finish

Alternative Finish: Ashley describes a version shown here where both ends remain outside the fist and are spliced together so that the Fist becomes part of an eye splice. The other end terminates in another eye splice. This allows the weighted Monkey's Fist to be reused: it can be attached to any heaving line just by interlocking the second eye splice into the heaving line's eye splice.

Pictures of Split heaving line into two coils
Split heaving line into two coils

Split heaving line into two coils

Heaving a Line: Before throwing a heaving line, Split the Coil into two parts. Throw the smaller half as a neat coil so that it carries the distance. The rope pays out partly from the coil you throw and partly from the coil in your hand.

Pictures of Preparing to heave the line
Preparing to heave the line

Preparing to heave the line

Danger with Weights: The Monkey's Fist is commonly described as being tied around a small weight to make the heaving line easier to throw a long way. In these pictures the crew had used a small rubber ball. Heavier weights can be a danger. Dock hands have been known to cut heavily weighted Monkey's Fists off the end of heaving lines - and I sympathize with them. (Grog's father, E.B. Grogono, served as a ship's doctor on a submarine depot ship in World War II. He watched professional dock hands cut off Monkey's Fists and his account remains in my mind). Imagine looking up against a bright sky to and catch a rope coil and being hit instead by a heavy missile.

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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