There are many ben­e­fits to learn­ing the ropes

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

I HAVE BEEN A fan of ty­ing and learn­ing knots, hitches, loops and bends ever since I was a lit­tle kid. This spark was first lit when they taught me to tie my own shoelaces, but the flame was fully ig­nited when I re­al­ized that I could crawl up be­hind my friends and tie theirs to­gether, too.

Ever since then, I have been fas­ci­nated by knot craft. Ob­vi­ously, learn­ing to rec­og­nize and tie knots is im­por­tant to an out­doors­man. If you know knots, when the ca­noe flies off the roof racks of the car, you can look at your friend and say, “I guess I shouldn’t have re­lied on those granny knots.”

There was a time when I could name and tie some­where around 25 dif­fer­ent knots but that still did not help me when it come to suc­cess­fully ty­ing my shoelaces.

The thing is in the out­doors you rely on a few

tried-and-true knots and hardly ever use the oth­ers. But that doesn’t mean you should not be aware of the op­tions avail­able. So ev­ery now and then, you need to find your handy book of knots and take a bit of a re­fresher course. I typ­i­cally do this dur­ing the win­ter when watch­ing TV.

This is some­thing you should not do in the bed­room, how­ever. I have learned from ex­pe­ri­ence that when your bet­ter half walks into the bed­room and sees you prac­tic­ing a hand­cuff knot, they of­ten im­me­di­ately hide your book of knots and prac­tice rope for a good long time. If he or she walks in as you are prac­tic­ing this knot blind­folded, it’s even worse. I’m still not sure why.

This is a shame be­cause, and maybe this is the hot choco­late speak­ing, it seems to me that know­ing a few good knots makes you a far more in­ter­est­ing and well-rounded per­son. I mean, name one per­son who doesn’t love a good prusik knot.

I’m not ex­actly a so­cial but­ter­fly but even I know that when you are at a gath­er­ing and no one re­acts pos­i­tively to the fact that you just tied an alpine but­ter­fly knot out of the bride’s train, it’s time to slip out the back door.

Hav­ing said that, just be­cause you know a knot doesn’t mean you should use it. For in­stance, I would never use a fire­man’s chair knot un­less the el­e­va­tor was out and I was higher than the first floor – but only be­cause that knot has a ten­dency to pinch.

Also, it’s never OK to lasso a per­son or group of peo­ple. I know that now.

My point is any­one who owns a rope ought to know a va­ri­ety of knots – at least un­til the in­ter­na­tional Vel­cro con­glom­er­ates seize to­tal con­trol of the mar­ket. Ad­mit­tedly, some peo­ple do not get as ex­cited about a car­rick bend as I do. But, you know what? I’m OK with them pre­fer­ring the sheet bend. Af­ter all, that’s the beauty of hav­ing so many in­cred­i­ble rope con­nect­ing op­tions.

Hav­ing said that, I know sev­eral out­doors­man who have skipped right past learn­ing how to tie a va­ri­ety of use­ful bends, knots, loops and hitches. In­stead, they have de­cided to rely on a proven few. And that’s their loss, I sup­pose. But it sure says a lot about the tem­per­a­ment of some peo­ple.

As for my­self, I am knotty by na­ture.

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