Skip Links

Whipping Line

Want to show off your rope-work skills while preventing your lines from becoming unraveled? The common whipping does both.

Well-executed whipping lends a neat and professional look to docklines.

Sure, you can use plastic shrinkwrap or melt the ends to keep synthetic lines in check. But for a classier look, how about trying your hand at whipping? You don't need many tools, and there are different ways to do it, but it's a useful skill to master. Here's how.

1. Carefully melt the end of the line using a lighter to stop it from unraveling. Then the twine comes into play. Starting from about a two-rope-diameter length from the end of the line, make a loop, or bight, in the whipping twine as shown. Leave about a 6-inch tail on the twine; you'll need this later when you finish off the whip. Unwind the twine from the spool as you go; don't cut it yet.

2. Grasp the line with one hand several inches from the end and place your thumb on the free end of the whipping twine so that neither line nor twine is able to move. With your other hand,tightly wrap the twine neatly around the rope from your thumb toward the end of the rope. Make sure there are no gaps between each wrap.

3. Keep wrapping until you've covered approximately one-and-a-half times the diameter of the rope with the twine. Cut the twine, leaving about 3 inches, then pass this cut end through the loop you made in Step 1. TIP: The tighter the whipping, the better the finished result. Wear gloves if you feel the twine cuts into your fingers.

4. Keeping tension on the twine so it will not come unraveled, pull on the free end of the twine to bury the end under the wraps and secure the whipping. Do not pull it all the way through; aim for about midway. If you watch carefully, you should be able to see the loop move under the whipping as you tug the free end.

5. As a final step, use a sharp pair of scissors to trim both ends of the whipping twine.

Mark Corke

A marine surveyor, and holder of RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certification, Mark has built five boats himself — power and sail. He was senior editor of Sail magazine's hands-on "Boatworks" publication, worked for the BBC, written four DIY books, skippered two round-the-world yachts, and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest there-and-back crossing of the English Channel, in a kayak! He and his wife have a Grand Banks 32.