What is an eye splice and when do I use it?
An eye splice is a method of creating a permanent loop, or ‘eye’, at the end of a line by means of splicing. On sailboats, this eye is used to attach a piece of hardware, such as a shackle to the line; or to terminate a line to a fixed point, such as a pad eye. It may also be used to create a constricting loop at the end of a line, as is the case with most dock lines.
The best way to terminate a line and retain its strength is to splice an eye in the end. A properly spliced eye in braided line will retain 90 – 95% of the line’s strength, while by comparison, a knotted eye can reduce the strength by 50%. We will show you the proper types of eye splices used for different line construction types and materials. You may be surprised to learn helpful variations and restrictions of the following:
- 12 Strand Eye Splice – High Tech Single Braids (hollow braid)
- Polyester Double Braid Eye Splice – Cover & Core Dependent
- High Tech Double Braid Eye Splice – Core Dependent
Single Braid Eye Splices
Twelve strand single braid lines are a braid of 12 individual strands and no cover. These are most commonly made of Dyneema, but may sometimes be Technora, Vectran, or other aramid fibers. Eye splicing these lines is fast and easy, but there are variations:
- Simple Bury. This version is where the bitter end is doubled over to form an eye, and the tail is then inserted into itself. The tail is tapered and remains buried in the line. A whip at the buried point serves to keep the splice from slipping (undoing itself) when not under load (no-load-slip).
- Lock Stitch. This is the same as the burry, except that the line is woven (passed) back through itself three times prior to the burry. This weave helps to prevent the line, and splice, from coming apart when not under load. A whip at the buried point further serves to keep the splice from slipping (undoing itself) when not under load (no-load-slip).
- Brummel. This eye is similar to the Lock Stich, but there is an important variation. After the working end is passed through the line, the bitter end (the other end of the line) is then passed through the working end, and the tail is buried into the line. This cross weave keeps the splice together, even when not under load. You would literally need to completely unbraid the line to get the eye to open. For this reason, at APS, Brummel splices are our default eye splice for all 12 strand high tech single braids, when possible.
Polyester Double Braid Eye Splice
It is important to understand that double braid polyester lines carry the line load equally between both the cover and the core and may be referred to as ‘cover & core dependent’. This requires an eye splice that buries the cover and the core back into the line in such a way that each retains its share of the line load throughout the entire eye termination. This is accomplished by burying the cover tail into the core of the line, and the core tail into the cover of the line; all in one neat eye splice.
High Tech Double Braid Eye Splice
High tech Double braid lines carry 100% of loads in the core, and are referred to as ‘core dependent’. Covers are braided over the cores to allow the line to be handled, cleated, clutched, and winched. They also protect the core from UV degradation and abrasion. In terms of the line holding a load, the cover is optional. Due to this, there are many variations on how to eye splice these lines, and many people misunderstand the working core and protective cover, and may, therefore, be confused on the options.
Ultimately, this type of eye splice is just a version of a single braid eye splice first, with a cover then added over top (or over a portion of the core).
If the cover is a part of the eye loop, then a simple bury type splice is used. If the cover is stripped back and not part of the eye loop, then a Brummel eye is possible and recommended.
There are many variations as to how the cover may be stripped, buried, and/or terminated. The key to the success of a high tech double braid eye splice is a proper eye spliced core, not how the cover is finished.
Types of High Tech Double Braid Eye Splices:
- Traditional. This is a fully covered eye splice with the cover tail buried back into the cover at the throat of the eye.
- Tight Cover Traditional. This is a fully covered eye splice with the cover tail laid along, and outside of the other cover, and whipped down in place. This is used when the jacket of the line is extremely tight and does not allow enough room to bury the tail cover back into the line. It is just as strong and effective as the Traditional style.
- Coverless Eye. These leave the eye completely uncovered, with the cover cut, and whipped in place at the throat of the splice. It is used: When you need a very exact eye/line length, as the cover can be milked back and the splice adjusted to the right length (or easily re-Brummel). 2. When an eye must be reeved through a very small opening, such as a small mast sheave box, or through sailboat deck lead or block.
- Stripped Cover. This is most common on sailboat halyards and sheets, on racing boats, to save weight. The cover is stripped back in the area where the line is not handled, cleated, clutch or winched. It is then buried into the high tech core and held in place with a whip. The eye splice is actually a Single Braid Eye Splice and would be a Brummel type.
If you have questions or would like to order running rigging, contact the team at APS. Our rigging shop offers day-definite shipping dates, and we have the largest selection of sailboat line in the world.