Marlin spikes

The Maritime Museum of BC

Despite what you might think, the marlin spike was not named after the long-billed fish, but instead gets its name from the small cord called marlin, which is typically tarred and used for the serving of rope. In fact, the fish is actually named after the marlin spike. A whole trade of seamanship is named after the marlin spike, aptly named “marlin spike seamanship”, which is the art of maintaining and splicing rope and knowing how to tie many, many knots. The marlin spike is used to tighten and separate strands of rope and cable, and is a huge help in the process of splicing. You can also tie a line around the marlin spike, in a knot called the “marlin spike hitch”, and you can use the marlin spike as a handle for hauling heavy material. Also, during conflict at sea, the marlin spike has been used as an improvised weapon–Ouch!