Saturday, 14 January 2012

Tying Myself in Knots.

Most boaters will have two or three knots that they use for securing their boat. In fact most people will actually have knots that they use everyday, even if it is only for tying their shoe laces. (I will come back to shoe laces later) I was a boy scout many years ago and I became reasonably good at doing about ten different scout troop knots. Then for many years, I had no use for knots other than tying up the odd parcel.

So like a lot of other knowledge, it went into some dark recess at the back of my mind. The only real knot that I remember was called the lorry drivers hitch. I was shown this particular knot by a family friend when I was about ten years old. It was used for holding loads and sheets in place on the back of a lorry.

Fast forward to today and my interest has been stirred once more by a free gratis gift from a fellow boater of a well made woven rope button. Plus my recent purchase of several rope fenders for the boat. I'm knot not very dexterous of fingers when it comes to this sort of thing. I may know what I want to do, but getting the various bits of rope to do my will is another matter altogether. Part of my lack of dexterity is due to some surgery on my left hand ring finger many years ago. At the time I asked the surgeon if I would be able to play the piano after my hands had healed. He assured me that it would not be a problem. I said that's good because I was unable to play the piano before. He was an old grump, a bit like me and did not see the humour in my comment.

So I decided that as a personal challenge I should increase my knowledge of knots once again. But things have moved on from the days when I used my boy scout lanyard to demonstrate a knot. Now we have many different types of rope. With different types of ply and a whole raft of different materials which now add to the confusion.

There are websites which demonstrate many of  the knots. There are websites that discuss the whole science of tying knots. Wikipedia has a list of knot names and links to information about their history and uses. Some sites have animations. Some web sites have instructional videos. There are mobile phone applications that you can download. Some sites provide a few hints and tips for beginners on tying knots.

The best tip for me so far has been

Get yourself some nice, thick rope, don't learn with string! String is extremely hard to control, and your knots will be so small that you won't be able to see what is going on. About 4 feet of 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick nylon rope will do nicely for learning purposes.

One tip I can offer is to get two different coloured lengths of rope to practise with. It helps to understand whats happening with knots used for joining ropes together.

If you want to have fun with friends, for a small wager, say 50p, entice them into letting you tie this knot into their shoe laces. Tell them to win the challenge they have to untie the knot in less than thirty seconds withour removing their shoes. They will fail. Then say that for a further bet of 50p if they remove their shoes you will give them one hour to untie the knot. They will fail again. It might be kind to have a spare pair of laces in your pocket, which you are prepared to sell for a further 50p

The trick is known as The impossible knot!

Talking of impossible knots, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia. The knot came to symbolise a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve. So if you come across someone hogtied on the towpath entangled in a Gordian knot of their own making, its me - HELP!

Previous Get Knotted

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