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» » The Marlinspike Sailor
The Marlinspike Sailor


Hervey Garrett Smith


The Marlinspike Sailor


Engineering & Transportation

PDF ebook size:

1784 kb

ePub ebook size:

1167 kb

Fb2 ebook size:

1732 kb

Other book formats:

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Intl Marine Pub (September 1993)







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The Marlinspike Sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith

Hervey Garrett Smith was the foremost marine illustrator of the 1950s and 1960s, and his wonderful drawings of traditional ropework quickly propelled The Marlinspike Sailor to cult classic status when it was published in 1956. With the addition of a section on modern, synthetic rope in the 1970s, its popularity has continued undiminished to this day. It teaches a few basic knots--the bowline, sheet bend, and rolling hitch, among others--and splices in three-strand and braided rope. But its real business is decorative rope and canvaswork--the traditional arts of the sailor--and here it has no equal. For a rope mat, a rope ladder, a sea chest, a ditty bag, a canvas bucket, a mast boot, and the best-looking rope fenders or heaving line in the marina, this is the book of choice.
I keep a half-dozen books on knots and fancy rope work on my boat but this little book is the one I always pick up first when looking for a solution to a knotty (sorry) problem. It's not an encyclopedic reference but that turns out to be its main advantage—it's very accessible. The writing is clear and often even witty and the illustrations are clear and aesthetically pleasing. While anyone serious about marlinspike seamanship should have the Ashley Book of Knots, if you could only have one book, I would recommend The Marlinspike Sailor without reservation if for no other reason that it's the one that finally taught me how to make a proper turk's head.
Excellent book, not only is it a great resource for knot tying for any skill level from noob to professional, it is entertaining, humorous, and just interesting because of some of the things it relates. The author includes some interesting and funny anecdotes from his experiences being a mariner, and these stories really give a sense of how things were for mariners in a different time (although not THAt long ago). The illustrations are quite honestly amazing, the author truly knows how to draw knots and rope, which is a very difficult thing to do. I have a good few books on knot tying, but this is by far my favorite, and is the one I alwaysgo right to and open up when I have a me ory lapse on how to tie something. It would be nice for the book to include more simple knots and patterns that have become more popular recently, but you can't have everything, and it wasn't written recently. Also, the author assumes the audience has some basic knowledge of working with rope, so that is likely why there isn't more space given to the most basic of knots and techniques. There is sill enough basic stuff included for someone completely new to tying to pick up this book and use it as a sole resource for developing a fairly strong grasp of tying different decorative knots and patterns. Also includes instructions on how to make quite a few cool little things like buouy wraps and bell ringers.
Smith is a master illustrator as well as in the Arts of the Sailor (another title of his)which makes this book a perfect primer for "learning the ropes"! From the three basic knots to know aboard to some pretty fancy decorative work and utility items, Smith's illustrations are key to understanding the processes of setting up these knots and their finish. Many start with Ashley's and can't follow the details and complexities and put the book on the shelf. Start with Smith's and from there...... you can work any knot.
It is not for beginners, as a how-to so much of basic sailor knots, for that you need a basic to advanced knotbook, but it shows complex knots, a very easy way to learn to the Turks Heads and a myriad of sea/sailor related projects, both inventive and traditional. The illustrations are very good and the text is very interesting reading. It is like Herman Melville in tone, to me, reminding me of the age-old uses of rope, though it fits nicely in the modern realm, of a knot-work book, and can greatly add to your skills as you learn and improvise on the various projects mentioned. Some go beyond knot-work in sailing and other practical things. So if increasing your knowledge (it has nice descriptions of the Star Knot, Matthew Walker, and various others) and gaining some insight into the days of old, and ways to make projects that still have use and beauty in the modern time this is ONE great book to own. I was very pleased for the price. Hervey Garrett Smith did a great job and the illustrations as he points out he put them in his book because others he found were not clear, and they are a beauty too look at too. If you are just getting into Marlinspike Seasmanship/Ropework Crafts, this is a great book. I take about three with me or keep them close at hand, along with my ropeowork kit, and this is one of them.
I sail, I macramé, I can't see how sailors did this on a boat! Given lots of Stable space, I can do everything in this book with the nice, clear instructions and illustrations. I don't have a different book on decorative knots to compare this to, so I can't say if this book is the best of the decorative knot books... or knot! I can say I used it to add a few knots to my repertoire and have turned out some nice items with knots, like a chair back and seat. Unless you already have other books of this type, it will probably work well for you too.
The Marlinspike Sailor is a classic in every sense of the word. Written by a life-long sailor and nautical illustrator, it not only gives the history of each item described, but presents each knot, bend and hitch in such a clear fashion. The chapter on the star knot is an excellent example This book was the ONLY one to describe the knot step-by-step. I was able to tie a serviceable star knot after 2 tries, and after 3 it was perfect. The chapters on the short and long splice are mostly for historical interest (as three strand laid line is seldom used in sailing now) but it is interesting to read about. Finally the non-decorative knots that Mr. Smith felt were essential for every sailor I heartily agree with; the ones he chose are indeed the ones I find myself using over and over.

A word must be said about the writing style. Clear and easy to follow, but written in a puckish, engaging manner. It comes across quite clearly that Mr. Smith was a true sailor. We shall not see his like again.
Although the Ashley Book of Knots is the "go-to" reference for marlinspike work (alternate spelling of "marlingspike" or "marlinespike"), "The Marlinspike Sailor's" instructions are easier to follow for the beginner. As a companion piece to Hervey Garrett Smith's "The Arts of the Sailor," I would recommend it for anyone wishing to get started in this dying art. You will learn all you need to know to effect the most basic ropework, and will find instruction for some of the more complex skills such as creating an ornamental bell rope. If you already do macramé, this book will expand the functionality of the craft well beyond plant hangers!

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