Learn How To Worm, Parcel, and Serve! (20 Min. Video)

The winter crew of the US Brig Niagara is busy right now making the new standing rigging (shrouds and stays) for the new foremast we are installing this winter! We’ll be booking trainee berths for next summer very soon, so stay tuned for updates!

 Here is a 20 minute video on how a shroud is served with hemp marline. We are using a 4-strand, shroud-laid Kevlar cable. Yes, that’s right, we’re using Kevlar instead of Hemp or Wire Rope. Kevlar has superior strength, has stretch properties that are similar to the finest grade hemp, is of the same construction as hemp shroud laid rope, and is much lighter than wire rope. Many thanks to John Baker (our ship’s photographer) for producing this film. It shows as much detail on the topic as I could pack into a 20 minute instructional video.

I have seen many different ways to apply marline service to a cable. Many riggers have tried to speed up the process through the use of modern tools and techniques. I have seen riggers use pipe threading machines or drill motors to rotate the cable, while the rigger holds the serving mallet…WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! The mallet should be spun around the cable. 

Modern methods are not really very much faster (if at all), but most importantly…why apply traditional service, if you don’t know how to do it in a traditional way? If you take the time to learn to do it right, and practice, practice, practice, you’ll get good enough to do it manually as fast or even faster than a home-made machine.

Finally, spool your marline onto the spool my hand, not with a drill or other machine. You’ll need the 5 minute break to rest. Don’t rush the process, and STAY FOCUSED ON THE TASK! Making a sailing ship’s rig with your bare hands, involves skills that (once honed) make evident the grace in a trade so efficient in its technical simplicity, repitition, and precision.

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8 Responses to Learn How To Worm, Parcel, and Serve! (20 Min. Video)

  1. Great video ! Thanks Wes. If you have some of this to be done in April and May, I will be glad for the chance to try my hand at learning and then producing more of the same. I would like to see more closely the use of the small serving paddle. That can happen when I join you on the 3rd. of April to volunteer for the season rig-up. [That is assuming that I would be welcome joining the crew for the 2 months of preseason work].

    Also, I agree it is appropriate to keep a coffee mug handy. I enjoy the hot brew as much as you do. (just don’t grab it while double serving with all the tar; The mug will slip as fast as the small mallet).

    Jeff Hicks. Milw., WI.

  2. Hopefully, we will be long done with building the rig. There will most likely be patch service to do though. That never seems to end. Are you planning on bringing the land yacht down again?

  3. mjspringett says:

    wonderful film, i really enjoyed your video, i had no idea how much work went into making rigging for the tall ships

  4. To learn how to do this craft would be a challenge for most of us. Amazing that it is best done by hand instead of a modern technique. This is really impressive to see this process and I love this video. Please make one about how the sails are made for this great ship



  6. Rick says:

    I have tried to view you movie “Learn How To Worm, Parcel, and Serve! (20 Min. Video)” several times and have been unable.

    • marineops says:


      Unfortunately, it appears that the Google service we used in 2008 to upload and post this video no longer exists. I have also been unable to locate the original video file from 6 years ago. If I am able to find it, I will certainly repair this post, but in the mean time I apologize for any inconvenience.

      Thanks for viewing our blog!

  7. Robert Baker says:

    Nov.22,2014. As per Rick, your video on “Learn How To Worm ,Parcel and Serve” doesn’t seem to work. Your site U.S. Brig Niagra – The Ship’s Log, shows a spot where the 20 minute video should be, but no matter where one taps on this area the video doesn’t run. I thought you might like to know.
    Robert Baker

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