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Needles and marlinespikes

Mending needles and tuna net needles

When a fishing net rots or gets damaged, it needs to be repaired and the torn mesh restored. This is called mending or grafting and requires the use of mending needles.

There is a wide variety of mending needles for the different diameters of fabric making up the net.

A very fine sardine net will require small mending needles while sailors will use bigger needles to mend a large trawl net or a purse seine net.
Mending needles were previously made of wood, often by sailors themselves. Nowadays they are made from plastic and come in a variety of colours.

The first step in mending a net is to thread the needle and load it with several metres of suitable fabric, the one the net is made from, of course. Next, the sailor must “push” the needle and repair the damage, link by link, sometimes for hours. There is another accessory essential to net repair: the knife, often the famous Opinel.


Needles and marlinespikes

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Wire rope and synthetic rope marlinespike

In order to splice rope or wire rope, a marlinespike is required.

Creating a loop at the end of a length of wire rope or rope can be done by inserting the end into the wire rope or rope and combining the threads and strands together. This delicate operation can be difficult and not all sailors are up to it! It requires a certain level of expertise to create a good sound splice, especially in technical rope like Noblecor or some wider materials like steel wire rope.

In order to prick the wire rope and separate the strands to be combined, a marlinespike is needed, one with quite a long spike. Handle with care! For ropes, a wooden marlinespike and a steel sheet will be needed and for Noblecor, a very specific splice tube. For steel wire ropes, very sharp marlinespikes are used, and these can reach up to 50cm in length.


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