Quite a few of my friends were surprised when I first bought Elizmor and showed them a photo, as there’s something obviously missing… sails! Having lived aboard my 37ft sailing ketch for the past five years, and done a lot of sailing since I was a teenager, it is a bit weird not having sails and all the rope that goes with them.

However, I have found that I’ve been doing most of my sailing on other people’s boats – I still volunteer each year with sail training charities who take groups of young people on residential voyages, which is how I learnt to sail, as one of those eager youngsters. So it made sense to have the comfiest boat possible to spend most of my time on, and still enjoy sailing on other boats.

But… of course I miss sails and ropework.

So I was very much looking forward to splicing some smart new lines for my very smart new fenders. Greg at Boat Fenders Direct kindly sponsored ‘Project Elizmor’ by sending me six very large Polyform fenders, black ones, which remind me a little of the tyres she would have used to protect her topsides as a working boat – but these are much smarter and more practical!

5D3_7553I ordered some 14mm black nylon rope from Marine Super Store online. I measured up and estimated 3m for each fender, to give me enough rope to tie each fender on and also leave a bit spare for the splice. So I ordered 18 metres but they ended up sending about 25 – probably what they had left on a reel. The leftover bit has been very handy – I’ve attached it to a bucket to use to lower stuff down onto the boat from the quayside at low tide!

I have done quite a bit of splicing before (only three-strand so far) but am by no means an expert, and because I don’t do it very often, I usually have to remind myself how to start it off and then I’m fine again. I used this image from a quick google search to help me:

three strand splice


You have to remember to turn the splice over before the third step though – it doesn’t make that clear.

5D3_7564I set up a little work station which comprised:

  • A sharp knife for cutting the rope to size
  • A block of wood for cutting on
  • Electrical tape so the ends don’t fray as you’re working on them
  • Fids – Swedish are my favourite
  • Whipping twine
  • Pliers to pull whipping twine through
  • iPhone to look at the graphic above

I find splicing really satisfying once you’ve got into a good groove with it; the first one always takes me a while if I’m a bit out of practice, and then I’m off.

I whipped the other ends of the lines with a simple whipping, but three of these seem a bit loose (also perhaps because the nylon rope is so slippery) so I think I’ll have to re-do those at some point. That’s OK though – it’s nice to have some ropework to do on a boat with no running rigging!

One nicely spliced fender

One nicely spliced fender

Hanging the fenders out and tying on mooring lines ready for her launch

Hanging the fenders out and tying on mooring lines ready for her launch


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