Sailors did not have broomcorn readily available (unless they were shipping some broomcorn, but then breaking into a consigned load was probably bad form), but they did have rope. Lots and lot of rope! Using what they had, they created a small, pretty, soft and functional whisk.
A three-foot length of rope is folded, tied into a knot, and the tails are untwisted and brushed out.
The broom goes by a lot of names. Here in the landlocked Ozark mountains, we call them Riverboat Whisks as that is the main method they came to to this region. Folks with no imagination and no sense of history call them rope whisks… ’cause they’re made out of rope. There is a fourth name, but you’ll have to guess… It’s easy… the fourth name is the most descriptive name imaginable. Just look at the whisk and spit out the first thing that comes to mind.
Did you guess a horsetail?
Say it slowly and out loud.
A frayed knot.
And, here’s the part where I apologize for a truly terrible joke.