West Country whipping

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West Country whipping
RelatedSailmaker's whipping
Typical useWhipping
West Country whipping

The West Country whipping is a quick practical whipping knot, a method of using twine to secure the end of a rope to prevent it fraying. It has several advantages: it can be tied without a needle; it is simple to understand and remember; if the whipping fails, the loose ends can usually be re-tied to temporarily prevent the rope's end from fraying.

West Country whipping was the name given by Biddlecombe in 1848 to this particular practice, but most subsequent seamanship books, including the British Admiralty Manual of Semanship, have modified the name to West County whipping...I have not seen this whipping used but it has this advantage: if any part breaks it will be a very long while before the whole whipping lets go. The break will be evident and the whipping can be replaced in time.


Half knots are tied alternately behind and in front of the rope until the width of the band of twine approaches the diameter of the rope. A reef (square) knot, or better a series of reef (square) knots, completes the whipping. If a needle is available this string of reef (square) knots can be pulled through the rope to bury the ends. Alternatively, a short bight of another rope can be laid first and used to pull the rope ends through. If the rope is a stranded rope, the ends can usually be pulled through without a needle.


Sailmaker's whipping

The sailmaker's whipping is the yardstick for comparison. It is more durable because the turns are wrapped with frapping turns which are threaded through the rope. One approach to whipping the ends of a rope with this method requires a needle. Another relies on raveling the strands to start the whipping and twisting them back before beginning the wraps.[2] Compared to the West Country whipping, both of these approaches are harder to understand and remember.

Burning the rope's end: The end of many synthetic ropes can be melted using heat, e.g., a flame. While this is simple and quick, it tends to fail in ropes subject to heavy use. Burning the end of a rope can also lead to sharp edged fractures over time and when the rope is pulled under pressure though one's hands, then this might result in a hand laceration. Also, the rope and knotting expert Geoffrey Budworth warns against this practice thus:[3]

Sealing rope ends this way is lazy and dangerous.[opinion] A tugboat operator once sliced the palm of his hand open down to the sinews after the hardened (and obviously sharp) end of a rope that had been heat-sealed pulled through his grasp.[citation needed] There is no substitute for a properly made whipping.[opinion]

So thought must be given to the rope's application before this alternative is considered.[a fact or an opinion?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashley, Clifford W. (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots, p.548. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-04025-3.
  2. ^ "Whipping". www.scoutpioneering.com. Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  3. ^ Budworth, Geoffrey (1985). The Knot Book. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. p. 37. ISBN 0-8069-7944-5.

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