Making a Traditional Leadline

Start with a length of 3/4 inch braided cotton twine. Attach a cast lead weight of 7 or 14 pounds. It's common for the weight to have a hollow at the bottom end. This hollow can be "armed" with tallow (Crisco makes an acceptable substitute) for picking up a sample of the sea bottom.

Mark the line as follows:
22 strips of leather
33 strips of leather
5white cotton calico
7red woolen bunting
10leather with a round hole in it
133 strips of leather
or blue woolen serge
15white calico
17red bunting
20light line with 2 knots
or leather with two round holes

The marks are designed to be read by feel at night. They should be inserted through the line and sewn into place. The line should be wet when measured for the marks.

Ocean Navigator magazine cover Ocean Navigator

A serious magazine for serious sailors. This magazine deals extensively with all sorts of navigation, from ded reckoning to radar and GPS. Also significant coverage of other issues of offshore (or other challenging) sailing.

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Last modified: Wednesday 05-Feb-2003