An exercise in Topology and Faith
In the past few years I have done a half dozen or so double braid eye splices. I finished a splice a few days ago and the sense of absolute amazement, when in the end it works, is no less than the first success. In spite of following the meticulous directions to the letter, I had little faith in my first double braid attempt. I inspected the line, a snake swallowing itself, and wondered if I somehow got it wrong. I didn’t give up, did not second guess, didn’t really believe it would work. But, it did.
The beginning steps; marking the eye, measuring the line, trimming the taper, seemed logical, easy to follow and straight forward, but when the core of the line was pulled to lay over the cover, literally turning the rope inside out, it suddenly looked soooo wrong. Still, when I see my handiwork after this disemboweled stage, the words, “This can’t be right.” leap from my mouth every time. I imagine, now that I have completed a few successful splices, that cosmic mysteries such as worm holes are akin to the mechanics of a double braid eye splice. And further more, who ever figured out how to make a double braid eye splice in the first place was every bit as brainy as an astrophysicist who dreams of dark matter, black holes and time warps.
YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING
double braid line (cut a bit longer than you need, in case you lose faith and start over)
fid the right size to work with your line (You will have to shove the core into the open end of the fid tightly enough that it does not fall out when pulling through the cover, so you want a fid big enough to accommodate the core. Conversely, you will also have to force the fid through the cover and past a length of the tapered core, so you want a fid small enough for this very tight squeeze.)
five different colored fine tip markers (red, green, blue, orange and black are used in these directions but you can choose your own contrasting colors as long as there is no a confusion about which is which)
sharp knife and manicure scissors if you have them
The first step in my directions is simple yet the hardest to follow. If you think to yourself, this is wrong, refer to step one.
- Trust the directions. It works.
- Tape the end of the line with one wrap of masking tape to keep the end from fraying. From this end measure one fid length down the line. Mark the spot with an X on the line. From the X form a loop the size you want. Pinch the rope together at the X and mark the junction of the loop with a green marker all the way around the line. If using a thimble pull the line to fit around the thimble. If using a block, pull the block between the X and green mark.
- Measure five fid lengths down the line from the green mark. Tie a snug slip knot. This is to keep the core and the cover stable down the line.
- Extract the core. At the green mark bend the line sharply, spread the weave, and with a blunted probe (marlinspike) first pry, then pull the core out of the cover all the way from the taped end. Tape the newly exposed core end with a single, snug layer of masking tape.
- Gripping the end of the newly exposed core, slide the cover bunching it towards the knot as far as possible. Starting at the slip knot, smooth the cover back towards the bitter end (taped end). Repeat the smoothing process until all slack is removed.
- Make a blue mark all the way around the core where it emerges from the cover.
- Slide the cover back towards the slip knot to expose more of the core. From the blue mark lay the fid along the core, pointed side toward the “Y”. Make an orange mark around the core at the notches on the fid.
- On the core, from the orange mark towards the “Y,” measure one full fid length plus the short section, to the notches. Mark this all the way around the core with a black mark.This is a good place to take a break.
- Marking the cover for tapering is necessary because the tail of the cover will have to be swallowed inside the splice. A taper is essential for stuffing both the cover and core back inside the splice. To make a good taper, starting at the X and working towards the end, count eight consecutive strands and mark completely around the cover with a red mark. Starting at the red mark and working toward the taped cover end, count and mark the fifth (5th) right and left strand. From that red mark count to the fourth (4th) right and left strand. Proceed in this manner, marking the fifth (5th) right and left strand and then marking the fourth (4th) right and left strand, until you reach the end of the taped cover. Now the interesting part begins as you insert the cover into the core, turning a section inside out.
- Insert the fid into the core at the orange mark and out at the black mark. Add extra tape to the cover’s end then jam it as tightly as you can into the hollow end of the fid. Smoothly roll one layer of tape around the end of the fid and line to form a strong connection. Then milk the cover braid over fid while pulling fid and cover through to the black mark. Take the fid off the cover; continue pulling cover tail through the core until the on the cover emerges from the black mark. Remove the tape from the end of the cover.
- Now you will trim the strands and make the cover taper. Remove the tape from the cover end. Start with the last marked pair of cover strands toward the end, clip and pull them completely out. Cut and remove next marked strands continuing with each right and left marked strands until you reach the red mark. Do not cut beyond this point. The result will be a nice taper. Very carefully pull the cover back through the core just until the red mark emerges.