Marlinspike, and Deck Seamanship
Sailors who become proficient at line handling, knot tying, and splicing a line (rope) are said to have mastered marlinspike seamanship; earning them the right to be known as marlin spikes or marlinspike seamen. A great deal of practice is required to become proficient in this skill. Knowledge of knot tying, splicing, line handling, and its associated terminology is critical for safe boat operations.
Bowline: The Bowline is one of most useful knots on the sea. It is used anytime when a temporary eye is needed at the end of a line. Frequent uses range from tying up to a dock to taking a boat in tow.
Two Half Hitches: Two Half Hitches are a reliable knot that can be used to make the ends of a line fast around a boat’s rail. A round turn, secured with a pair of Half Hitches, is a quick way to secure a fender while docking, or when rafting-up with friends who are anchored or moored in a bay or cove.
Becket Bend: Two lines can be lengthened by connecting one to another using a Becket Bend. It is also used for connecting a line to an eye in another line. It can be readily taken apart even after being under a load. Single Becket Bends are used to join lines, of the same size or nearly the same size. For two lines of unequal size a double Becket Bend (crossing the tan line shown under itself twice) is used. Both knots are intended to be temporary.
Clove Hitch: A Clove Hitch is preferred for securing a heaving line to a towline. It is the best all-around knot for securing a line to a ring, rail or spar. Correctly tied, a Clove Hitch will not jam or loosen. However, if it is not tied tight enough, it may work itself out. Reinforcing it with a Half Hitch or two will prevent this from happening.
Deck seamanship concerns the general work that goes on about the deck of the boat. Docking, anchoring, mooring, cargo handling, towing, mechanical maintenance and a host of other skilled activities are a part of deck seamanship. A variety of cleats are used for securing lines to the boat, moorings, and docks.
Dipping the line on a Bollard