ON land or on water every boy should know how to knot a rope, splice two pieces of rope together, or make the sort of hitch which will best serve his purpose.
The first thing to be sure of is the right way to fasten together two pieces of string or rope. That is a thing that some of us have to do twenty times a day; and it is quite probable that twenty times a day we do it wrong. Suppose that you wish to lengthen your fish-line, or add another ball to a kite-string: how will you do it? Shall you lay the two ends side by side, and then twist them to gether into a knot, just as your sister would make one in the end of her thread?
If you do, you may fairly expect that your fish will get away with the main part of your line, or that presently your kite will go skurrying off far out of your sight. Such a knot is at least as likely to slip as to hold, and, if tied in a rope, is liable sooner or later to cut the rope, because the strain is at right angles. What is really wanted is a Square-knot (Fig. 3, a).
Take the two ends, and tie them together exactly as you would tie a "hard-knot" in your shoe-string.
A Square or Reef-Knot. Fig. 3.
Fig. 4. A Becket-Hitch.
Only you must be careful and not tie a Granny (Fig. 3, b). One may slip; the other won't.
Fig. 4 is a Becket-hitch, the proper knot for joining a large and a smaller rope. It will be useful, for example, when the keleg-line of your boat is too short, and the only line at hand to bend on to it is a stout piece of hemp twine.
A loop at the end of a rope - that is, a loop that will not draw up - is another knot that has frequently to be made. And yet few people know how to make it. What is wanted in such a case is a Bowline.
Make a bight near the end of your rope, as in the first cut of Fig. 5. Seize this with the left hand at a, and then with the right hand pass the end b up through the bight, around behind the main part of the rope at c, and down in front of it through the bight again as in d. Draw this tight and you have the much-talked-of Bowline. It is a very simple matter, as you see.
Fig. 5. The Bowline.
While speaking still of the ends of ropes, let us stop and learn to "fasten them off" properly to prevent their untwisting or fraying out. The painter or main-sheet of your boat may need such treatment. The simplest method is to "serve" or wind the end with small twine. A Single-wall (Fig. 6), or a Double-wall (Fig. 7), is better. But better still is the Boatswain's-whipping, formed by making an inverted single-wall and then splicing the ends back over the rope itself (Fig. 8 and Fig. 9).
The most elegant of all such, however, is the Stopper-knot, seen in the four figures below. Place the end a as in Fig. 10, holding it with the thumb at d; pass b around under it, c around under b and through the bight of a, and pull tight; this forms a Single-wall (Fig. 11). Now lay a over d, b over e, c over b and through the bight of a, and draw tight (Fig. 12).
The Four Steps of The Stopper-Knot.
Next pass b down around f and up through the bight g, and do the same with a and c, forming Fig. 13.
Finally pass each strand by the side of the strands in the crown down through the walling to form the " double-crown," and cut close the ends a, b (and c), and you have produced the Stopper-knot.
Fig. 15. A Sheepshank before it is drawn Tight.
Fig. 16. The True-Lover's Knot.
A Sheepshank (Fig. 15) is a knot by which a rope may be made shorter, or (as a young yacht-woman of my acquaintance recently expressed it) "a tuck taken in it." If the tide has come in and you wish to shorten the mooring-line of your boat, the Sheepshank will gather up the slack for you and hold it firmly.
When one wants to make an artificial handle for an old jug or some other vessel, the True-Lover's knot is used, as seen in Fig. 16.
Tie two loose knots, a, b, as in the first cut of Fig. 17; pass the bight a through the opening f, the bight b through g, pull the loops equal, and, to complete the knot as in second cut of Fig. 17, join the ends c, d, by a long splice at e.