How to Make a Boatswain Mate Lanyard


A boatswain's lanyard holds a small whistle used to call directions and signal the crew. The lanyard becomes a sentimental article and should reflect the team colors or the boatswain's tastes. The lanyard can have any color scheme and often has decorative beads. An aspiring boatswain can follow a basic formula to begin braiding a basic lanyard and add decorative touches to customize it.

Things You'll Need

  • 5mm nylon cord, three different colors of your choosing
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Lighter
  • Metal cord sleeves
  • Crimpers
  • Dental floss
  • Metal key clip
  • Decorative beads or decorations (optional)
  • Cut three length of 5mm nylon cord at least 24 inches long. Hold the cut tips above a lighter to melt the nylon and prevent fraying. Hammer the tip of a framing nail to a post or board and tie the ends of the three cords to the nail.

  • Hold the center cord and bring the right hand cord up and over both the center and left hand cord. Pick up the middle cord -- what was just the left hand cord -- and pull it over the right hand cord to make it the new right hand end. Continue this braiding process going down the cord lengths.

  • Slide beads onto the braid as you move down the cords to add custom decoration. Slide the bead through all three cords to ensure the bead stays in place. Slide the metal cord sleeve up onto the braided lanyard when you reach the end. Make a loop out of the braided lanyard and slide it through the metal sleeve so it forms an enclosed loop above the sleeve. Crimp down the sleeve to make the loop secure.

  • Wrap the open end of the lanyard with at least 12 wraps of the dental floss and slip the metal key clip into the floss so it is threaded through the small loop hole. Cut the floss and tie it off at the lanyard end using a square knot.

  • Clip the whistle to the key clip on the end of the lanyard and place the enclosed loop around your neck.


  • Photo Credit rowing image by Goran Bogicevic from
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