Paracord Bosun's Belt




I have been building paracord structures since 1977. It is the duct-tape of the cord and string business, and widely considered one of The Worlds Most Useful Things.
This instructable is for the almost extinct bosun’s belt, a traditional ladder-woven belt made for sailors to carry their knife, marlinspike and sailmakers pouch.
I made my first one of these as a sea cadet in 1977; since then it has gone AWOL, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge. A couple of years ago after finding some old Inglefield clips laying around, I made another one out of digicam paracord purchased from the Supply Captain in the U.S.  As I live in Alberta, in the foothills of the Rockies, I adapted it for land use, as a climbing gear sling, water bottle sling, or general duty hanger- upper, such as hanging a rucksack off a tree, a climbing gear sling on a cliff side belay stance or even a paintball gun sling.
[The boatswain works in a ship's deck department as the foreman of the  deck crew. Sometimes, the boatswain is also a third or fourth mate. A bosun must be highly skilled in all matters of marlinespike seamanship required for working on deck of a seagoing vessel. The bosun is distinguished from other able seamen by the supervisory roles of planning, scheduling, and assigning work.]

Step 1: Ingredients

You will need:
A pair of Inglefield clips [UFI: Rear Admiral Sir Edward Fitzmaurice Inglefield, KBE (1861–1945) was a Victorian Royal Navy officer and later secretary of Lloyd's of London. He gave his name to the Inglefield clip, a device he patented in 1890 for quickly attaching signal flags to halyards or each other. Made of brass or bronze they are corrosion resistant, light weight and very nautical-looking. They can be procured from marine supply shops.]
A knife or scissors
A lighter to fuse loose ends.

Step 2: Starting Out

Step 1
Forgive me for not knowing how much paracord is needed to make a waist-size ladder woven belt. It is a lot, so finding a good place to suspend your project from is a good way to prevent a huge snarl.
-Suspend one of your Inglefield clips from a stationary object, like a roof beam or ring bolt.
-Find the center of your long piece of paracord, and thread the second Inglefield clip to it.
- Check the length of your belt-to-be; take your waist measurement and add two inches; adjust the length of your loop  accordingly.

Step 3: Ladder Weaving

-Starting at the top Inglefield clip, start ladder weaving downwards to the bottom clip. Ladder weaving is simply opposite-side half hitches around two strands of paracord. Once you have the length of the belt figured out, make a bight on the left side;  bring the other cord under the running end of the bight, across the front of the two strands and through the bight...then tighten. Once you have this move down, the secret world of ladderweaving is fully revealed  to you.

Step 4: Weaving and Finishing

- Continue weaving, alternating the bights side to side, pushing the entire structure upwards to tighten the weave. Continue this until your ladder weave is snugged up to the bottom Inglefield clip.
-You can finish off the belt by trimming, and fusing the ends of the cords; for this sample, however, I used a square knot to finish, then fused the ends together.

Step 5: You Are Done!!

Now you are the proud owner of a piece of nautical history, worn by sailors, seafarers, buccaneers and pirates, a bosun’s belt. You can hang your interesting equipment from it, or sling it across a shoulder, where it rests nicely at your side. An interesting variant would be to construct it from alternating colours or use mini-carabiners instead of Inglefield clips.
I hope this turns out well for all of you; it will probably become indispensable and absolutely critical to your survival!

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    8 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love hanging stuff off my bosun's belts, especially when sailing. But I'm always afraid on a small keelboat that the belt might get caught in the lines or rigging, especially during races. But they're so darn practical, you have to have them. I prefer to wear mine as a baldric/shoulder sling.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    An easy rule of thumb for how much paracord you will use is about a foot per inch used. It all depends on how tight your weave is. If you want to make your weave tight you don't really pull on the ends to make it tight, you simply push it up the core into the preceding weave. The tighter it is the more cord you have, and the kinkier it is when you unweave it.

    Thank you for such an interesting idea. I have never seen this type of clip before.


    8 years ago on Step 5

    I like the belt. What are all the tools you have on it?

    aJackTarstretch mark

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I am a Chief Petty Officer Boatswain in the Australian Navy and I always use the spelling I have here but hey who cares, we know what he meant.