Author Topic: A Gaffer's Guide - knot!  (Read 1156 times)

Jo Bannister

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A Gaffer's Guide - knot!
« on: March 13, 2017, 10:30:08 AM »
I wrote this for the forthcoming magazine of the Northern Ireland Old Gaffers' Association.  (An Old Gaffer is someone who admires and promotes traditional sailing boats, otherwise known as a Pauper.)  I thought it might give you a chuckle.

                                                                 A Gaffer’s Guide – knot!

While we can all agree that gaff rig is aesthetically superior to any of these fancy modern – albeit faster – lash-ups, it does involve an inordinate amount of cordage.  And where you have cordage you will, sooner or later, need knots.  The following is intended as an introduction to the world of knotting for New Gaffers, and a gentle reminder to Old Gaffers who’ve let themselves slip.

Bowline:  So universally useful that it’s known as the king of knots.  The way to remember it is this:  There’s this eel, and this cave.  The eel goes into the cave, goes round the stalagmite it finds in there, comes out of the cave, finds somebody pulling hard on its tail, gives up in disgust and heads for the Sargasso Sea.  You can use a bowline for attaching anything to anything else, except eels.

Sheet bend:  Find a sheet.  Bend it.  It won’t stop your boat from drifting away, but it will make it easier to fit your bedding in the washing machine.

One-way knot:  There’s one way to tie this knot, and one way only.  Start with a figure-of-eight knot in one rope and, entering at the blunt end, follow it round with the sharp end of another rope.  When one rope heads off in one direction and the other rope plus the two ends head off in the opposite direction, pull it tight.  It will now pass through a knot-passing pulley – unless you’ve tied it back to front, in which case you’ve got a no-way knot.

Sansome bend:  Now the eel’s found a mate.  As she turns to avoid him, he slips through the bend in her body; he makes one turn round her upper body and one turn round both parts of her body before heading back the way he came through the loops formed by his own body.  The Sansome bend was invented by weavers in Leicestershire in the nineteenth century, when there was nothing to do of an evening except get drunk and play with bits of string.
  
Bugaboo bend:  An even more complicated version of the Sansome bend.  So complicated, in fact, it’s likely to drive you round the bugaboo bend.

Farmer’s loop:  Most ropes have ends.  If you have a rope with no ends, you can still tie a good knot in this manner:  Make three loops over your hand.  Pass the middle loop over the right-hand loop so it’s the new right-hand loop.  Pass the old right-hand loop, now the middle loop, over the left-hand loop so it’s the new left-hand loop.  Pass the old left-hand loop, now the middle loop, over the original middle loop, now the right-hand loop.  Pull up on the new middle loop, which was also the original middle loop.  Pull your hand out the way.  You’re going to need it to pour yourself a stiff drink.
                           Jo Bannister



« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 10:33:40 AM by Jo Bannister »

Offline Gyppo

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Re: A Gaffer's Guide - knot!
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 05:20:55 PM »
Thoroughly enjoyed this, Jo.

I am now looking pensively at my ancient hippy plaited leather bracelet, which is fastened in place with a thong.  I have no truck with those modern press stud versions.  They create an ugly double thickness lump which catches on things.  The thong allows for adjustment when wrists thicken with muscle or thin out with the frailty of advancing years.

The ends of the macrame string thong are sealed off to stop them fraying with neat and solid cylindrical bullion knots, which are a simpler version of a monkey's paw.  They haven't come undone in nearly thirty years, and I can't for the life of me remember how they were done.  I will have to break out the old book or go online.

When I used to sell these bracelets I secured then with a length of elastic, so they could be slipped over the customer's hand.  This also made them more or less uni-size, although I'd make extra small for children and dainty little damsels, and extra long for those with wrists like a 4 x 2.

I wonder how many of them are still out there, marked up with my little maker's acorn stamp, worn thin but still going strong.

Thanks for triggering some happy nostalgia, Jo.

Gyppo  
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 07:41:28 AM by Gyppo »
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Jo Bannister

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Re: A Gaffer's Guide - knot!
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 05:00:45 PM »
Glad you enjoyed it, Gyppo.  Yes, I remember the bullion knot - I don't know how to tie one, though.  Is it something like a turk's head?

I love a leather bracelet.  Nothing moulds to you as well.  And it should definitely be tied with a thong.  I think you should go into business again.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: A Gaffer's Guide - knot!
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 05:16:21 PM »
Similar purpose to a turk's head, but I'm sure it's easier to do.  Though even complicated knots are easy once your fingers start to recall the pattern. [1]  Turk's heads can be worked round, as a stopper or decorative knot, like the end of a lanyard for pulling a bell.  Or they can be worked flat and followed through several times to make a rope mat.

[1]  When i first needed glasses in my early forties the optician asked what made me think I needed them, because I could read most of the rows on the eye chart.

It was because I was having trouble doing some of my standard fishing knots.  The funny thing was I could shut my eyes and do them from memory as if knotting in the dark.  But with my eyes open things got confusing  Turned out my eyes worked fine individually, but didn't always co-operate to produce a clear image.  
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 04:58:23 AM by Gyppo »
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1