International Guild of Knot Tyers Forum

General => Practical Knots => Topic started by: Dan_Lehman on June 29, 2009, 04:14:27 AM

Title: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on June 29, 2009, 04:14:27 AM
Enjoying the short moniker "Budworth's Quibble", Geoffrey's article of km102:16
(in unwanted longhand, 'Knotting Matters issue #102, page 16') has raised some
discussion in the current issue, at km103:06-8!  It might as well gain some forum
contribution, and I'll begin that here.

In short, Budworth's Quibble is that Ashley's Book of Knots was somewhat of
an anachronistic repository of knots even upon its publication; and that in today's world,
there is little such evidence of much knotting afloat.  He further piqued the Ashley fans
by quoting Pieter van de Griend's admonishment to move towards active, scientific research
of knotting, and not to "continue bashing out all that (mostly silly) sailor lore."  One might
think that the Quibble wasn't such a provocative assertion, but PvdG's urging likely adds
some spite to it, and Geoffrey closed his article by inviting challenge to it, and --by golly--
he got some in #103.

Four responses have been published in the Letters section [km103:06ff]; one and a half
of these seem to concur in the Quibble, and two take strong (and not so graceful) objection
to it.  I think that I shall send in my own concurrence and challenge to the Quibble quibblers.
Here is my take on what has so far been written.

1) Robert Jackson reports taking a sort of informal inventory of knotting as he was able
to find in Venice, while on vacation.  His conclusion is pretty blunt:  he saw "nothing more
than the odd half-hitch and I doubt seeing a bowline."  (Actually, sometimes this can be
tricky to discern -- they can capsize, i.e.!)  So, he continues, "it's clear that one needs no
proper knotting to get on with life, ... folk get along fine with no fancy theory and nothing
elaborate."  Okay, next ... .

2) Louie Bartos Ketchikan seems to concede that ABOK is largely historical rather
than current information; but he says that at least some cadets will need to know such
things on (fully rigged, I presume) training ships.  Moving on ... .

3) John Jamieson, who claims nearly five decades as a seaman  --with "five years in
various types of fishing vessels" [!]--, also concedes that ABOK "saves the knot-craft
of a bygone way of life ...," but yet thinks that "seamen should be responsible for
nine tenths of all recorded knots [!!], as Ashley claims."  (I must wonder if he counts
decorative knots in this tally, and how one can obtain all these records; and should we
include surgical, angling, & arborist knots -- the latter two applications having a good
many non-Ashley knots and things specific to their materials and uses!?)
Mr. Jamieson asserts that there was considerable rope work in the Refrigerated Cargo
liners, that one needs a secure knot when "going aloft" (where?), that current seamen
receive extensive training in knotting & splicing, and most of the "irrelevances" asserted
in the Quibble are in fact relevant today.  However, he is completely devoid of counter
examples:  we are left at "is so" v. "is not" -- score zero for enlightenment.

4) Finally, Forrest McDougall, of Wires Ropes & Rigging NZ, writes to "take [GB] to task
over his quibble."  Mr. McD. claims 46 years at sea, prior to his current rigging business.
All that going for him, he, too, has little to offer in the way of counter examples, and
we are left with his assertion that if one would simply "take a stroll around any busy
port, ... [one will/can] observe the art and skills of the seafarer."  --which brings to
mind our first correspondent's Venetian activity, which had a markedly different
assessment vis-a-vis Budworth's Quibble.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Well, what of others?  Have you looked not (only) to books and on-line documentation
of knotting, but "in the wild" (as one forum thread calls it)?  What can others report of
knotting knowledge in today's world?

I have done more than a casual glance at commercial-fishing (and other dockside) knotting
on a parts of the eastern seaboard of the States.  Notice of yet again the west coast's annual
Fishermen's Festival raises the urge for gaining insight of actual knotting engaged there, at
last, in 2009.  I can't say that I can other than concur in Budworth's Quibble.  Much of what
I have found is not what Ashley describes or would've recommended, even, though some
age-old structures are present (clove hitch & sheet bend & bowline).  At times, I almost
gave up hope of finding either of the two competing "proper" ways to make a cleat hitch,
among docks of small craft; I then found surprising adherence (mostly) in pricey yachts'
moorings!?  But "nine tenths of all recorded knots" ... ?!  -- rather, some things that I've
yet to find recorded (e.g.:  what I'll call a Reverse Groundline Hitch, as a mid-line binder;
it is recorded I think by van de Griend, but elsewhere ... ?).

Messrs. Jamieson & McDougall need to articulate exactly what knotting IS currently done
aboard, so that we can attempt to understand the activity (or to challenge the assertion
by observations on our own "strolls" around ports).  It's not clear to me even to what
extent on any modern commercial ship that a sailor goes aloft, as Mr. J asserted.  (And,
in the days about which Ashley wrote --esp. those trips documented by R. Dana(!)--,
there was hardly any knotting involved for personal security (there were no OSHA/HSE
rules to follow on the high seas) -- even under harsh conditions, Force 9 & freezing!!
Moreover, consider that Ashley wrote prior to the advent of synthetic cordage,
with newly developed materials and constructions; and largely the cordage with
which he was concerned is now infrequently used.

Furthermore, we cannot let stand John J.'s remark that "going to sea is one of the
few professions where knot-tying is a requirement," for we have only to look back
(a decade plus) to km58:21 (Winter - January 1998) and Paul Evans's letter in which
he cites his then near 3-decades of British Merchant Navy seamanship and position
-- to wit:
Quote
Part of my job is to help and train younger seamen to get their qualifcations
in seamanship.  The governing body who sets the exams and who actually examine
seamen is the Board of Trade.  Their manual stipulates that to join two ropes of
equal thickness you must use a Reef knot
and to join ropes of unequal thickness
you must use a Sheet Bend.
How can the Budworth's Quibble quibblers square this official seamanship stipulation
with Ashley, who famously wrote "... under no circumstances should it be used as a
bend
[ends-joining knot]"!?  This admonition did not go away but if anything became
more urgent with synthetic cordage (though I've seen rockclimbers join nylon tubular
tape with a Reef)!  Yes, we can question the exam's stipulation.  Paul as much does
so himself, reporting that they are "taught three types of whipping:  West Country,
Palm & Needle, and Sailmaker's.  While I have been to sea I have never put a West
Country whipping on anything except for my exam."
Sounds like useful instruction?

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 01, 2009, 11:06:11 AM
Clearly knots existed long before boats were invented. Most of the world's population will need a knot before they need a boat.

Why then is there such a strong and emotional claim to knot-expertise pulling in the boat-world?

The argument usually runs: "sailors had many miles of cordage on their ships and hence needed many knots, therefore they have become the experts" . Ofcourse that is a non-argument. Shorebased cordage-consumption has always been higher than sea-based cordage consumption. At sea natural cordage production is quite limited indeed; putting in an effective upper bound. Also knots, as tools, can be applied to a wide range of pliable materials.  Far more than you will be likely to find on board of any boat.

What can be said in support of the sailors knot-claim is that they had a strong tradition surrounding cordage and its care. The first books discussing knots were written by sailors. Curiously they were riddled with obvious mistakes in both statements and illustrations. Also official Naval Repositors, prior to 1800, claim merely 5% of the sailors could splice.

It appears sailors got a claim to knots they do not deserve. Why is that the case? I feel the answer is marketting. Publishers publish the books they think will sell. ABOK is a unique landmark, which dominates the knot world (for good reasons mostly as well as less good reasons), but out of scope for most people who want to learn to tie a knot. In fact from a sailor knot-perspective ABOK covers topics which have nothing to do with sailors. Had he studied knots with a less biassed view, sailor contributions to knots would have gotten their correct appreciation. Alas, that did not happen...... and the rest as they say is history.

Leaves the question: why are knots held to belong to the sailor domain?

I feel that what we witness nowadays is a nautical world which (1) has an interest in knots, from both a practical as well as culture-historical perspective and (2) has means to educate its members.  There are numerous other sources to learn about knots, but they are less accessible and harder to find for novices. This results in people tying knots as they have been taught on the one hand and devising them, as need arises, on the other. To me that offers a more realistic picture of knotting (in the wild) than what is presented in most knotbooks (knot-zoos).

Before going down history's path as an Ashley-basher I would like to point out that my opinion does not impact Clifford Ashley's achievement. He recorded his experiences with knots, which cannot be other than subjective. He took a sailor stance, like he took a whalerman stance in " The Yankee Whaler" , and tried to illustrate the practical aspects of rope and knots (and whaling). In that process he got overtaken by his own enthusiasm and came to discuss much more than Sailor Knots (lucky for us!). Like EKFR, ABOK was a great contribution to the knotscene of the middle of last century, ABOK clearly more progressive than Graumont and Hensel's knot-compilation, but, like any publication, lagging with the actuality of the world it is describing.

Thanks to Dan Lehman for raising this interesting topic.

Joop Knoop.
 

Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: TheTreeSpyder on July 01, 2009, 01:00:16 PM
i've looked for knots on circus and fair tent stakes, awnings, tree work, beach trash etc.  Though (aside from my own work) i didn't see all the classic bowlines, cloves etc. (except for lifeline in tree work where guys try to stick with the 'approved' lacings) besdies Half Hitches; but did see the 'classic' formations that come to about the same mechanics, and could understand how they work.  Then see if i would be able to L-earn from them, or if i would be the one teaching the maker (if we met).

i believe it is logical many knots, including ornamental came from, or where spread by the sea. Brion Toss also gives images of men out at sea with no power but wind, and no way to harness it except for weave of sail and lace of line, and the anchoring spars etc.  This was a world where if they didn't get it right the horse came unhitched, but rather where 100 men died etc.  Quiet a hefty proving ground.

i don't think there is a better than ABoK referance, and though i like the gloss and show; something about the line drawings (compaired to the glossy color variety) that has more real grit, giving more substance and feel for the more grass roots subject; kinda like hoisting the heavy ABoK volume to read about controlling power.  There are also mechanical referances and like the way hitches to spar and rail are broken down into weperate mechanics that i don't see elsewheres.  These subtle hints and groupings are very powerful for seeing deeper into the forces at play IMLHO (is that what they mean by  peer-a-mid power, to see deeply into?) ;D.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on July 01, 2009, 09:26:22 PM
i've looked for knots on circus and fair tent stakes, ...

So have I, recently, with camera.  I wonder how many of IGKT would tie the Clove
in this orientation in this situation?   Someone did.

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 02, 2009, 06:59:10 AM
TreeSpyder writes:

Quote
i believe it is logical many knots, including ornamental came from, or where spread by the sea. Brion Toss also gives images of men out at sea with no power but wind, and no way to harness it except for weave of sail and lace of line, and the anchoring spars etc.  This was a world where if they didn't get it right the horse came unhitched, but rather where 100 men died etc.  Quiet a hefty proving ground.

Belief cannot be disputed, people are willing to believe anything. Facts, however, can be established to provide counterexamples for any proper theory. No doubt the sea played a role in the history of knots, but whether it therefore is logical that they came from the sea has no grounding. Just because a few knot books show maritime knotting, is no evidence that knots, or even specific knotted structures, have a nautical origin. Most people who tie one or more knots do not bother about recording them.  So the lack of recording/evidencing, in this case, is not a proof that knots belong to sailors.

That the loss of life due to failing knot-technology at sea may be more severe, and hence an incentive to conduct a root-cause analysis, is very plausible. These analyses, however, have never been published. Or in the best of cases fragmentarily recorded as irrelevant casuistics. On the other hand there exist case-reportings from the mountaineering and surgical world on knot-failure and its (lethal) effects.

Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: knudeNoggin on July 03, 2009, 06:23:54 AM
Belief cannot be disputed, people are willing to believe anything.

I'm willing to believe that.  Also, that "J." stands for "just July" -- but time will tell.   :D

Quote
Most of the world's population will need a knot before they need a boat.

What stories can be told, of knots along the Silk Road -- such an exchange among
geographies, cultures, tradesmen, who might have wanted a boat, before such watery
trade routes were established.  Tents might be put up and taken down in a frequency
not so unlike that of sails, and maybe in some difficult conditions, too!

*knudeNoggin*
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 03, 2009, 09:08:49 AM
Right Knudenoggin,

Quote
What stories can be told, of knots along the Silk Road -- such an exchange among geographies, cultures, tradesmen, who might have wanted a boat, before such watery trade routes were established.  Tents might be put up and taken down in a frequency not so unlike that of sails, and maybe in some difficult conditions, too!

Your point is clear. Along the Silk Road you cannot get further from water but will still need knots. Riding the ship of the desert, needing a Camel Hitch, and tying complex ceremonial Brahma Knots has nothing to do with Decorative Marlinespike Seamanship, which is promoted by some as the highest game level any humble knotter can hope to achieve.

Also along the Silk Road  ropes and knots were put to solving practical technical issues. The numerical volumes of knots actually tied and the types used along the Silk Road may only be surmized, but in any case will exceed those tied at sea measured at any point in time. Otherwise the 1% of the global population who spend time doing their seafaring thing, in a boat with rope, must produce more knots across a smaller range of problems than the 99% landlubber part with far greater access to cordage and confronted with a broader array of occasions on which rope is employed. Quite unlikely, I am inclined to say, but hard evidence does not exist. There are very few recordings of nomadic knot repertoires, but those which do exist witness of both a diversity of knot types, i.e the occasional Empirically Less Frequent Encountered Knotstructure (ELFEK) pops up, and sharing of a common set of golden oldies, i.e. Reef, Sheet, Overhand, Bowline, Fisherman are to be encountered.

Knots are found everywhere and in unexpected formats. This thread is in part about whether or not ABOK is representative for the 1944 knot scene. The first question should be what is "representative" (for what)? Dan Lehman's summary runs:

Quote
Budworth's Quibble is that Ashley's Book of Knots was somewhat of an anachronistic repository of knots even upon its publication; and that in today's world, there is little such evidence of much knotting afloat.


ABOK certainly is a knot repository, one of the largest the Western world has seen. In Japan there is a similar document, but let's remain focussed on the Anglo-Saxon speaking part of the world. Most, if not all, publications are anachronistic upon their publication. If they describe a world, which once was, they are anachronistic by default. What is evidence for knotting afloat?  Although a combustion engine-powered ship may cross an ocean without the use of a single knot.  It is hard to imagine a boat without a knot. After all ropes, instead of paperclips, are used for mooring. You can state that knots are likely to occur whenever cordage occurs. A higher cordage-usage incidence increases the likelihood of finding knots. Cordage is not proprietary to sailors and they are not the largest consumers of that product. What kind of floating evidence are we then seeking? What is a knot? Steel wires in dredging? Multibraid spliced towropes? Ofcourse there are knots, such as Half Hitches, on ships. And in certain industries their numbers have not been decreasing over the past 2 centuries. Perhaps the role of knots was changing already before Clifford Ashley made his snapshot.

I think the first question should be what is a knot and then whether there is evidence of much knotting about anywhere at anytime? Clifford Ashley recorded lots of knot-things, which many respected knotters would disqualify as being a "proper" knot.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: deckhandiana on July 04, 2009, 11:29:54 AM
This is an interesting dicussion, and I'd like to make a tiny contribution.  I understand that the doubt is whether there are many knots used at sea nowadays.  :-\ As a Tall Ship sailor, along with thousands of others world-wide, I can assure doubters that very many of the knots in ABOK are still in use, and invaluable.  I'll count them on my next trip and let you know how many different ones will be in use during my weeks' sail.

Fair winds!

Diana.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 04, 2009, 01:48:50 PM
@Deckhanddiana

Thanks for contributing to this debate with your promised fieldwork. I am looking forth to your results.

As for the statement:

Quote
I can assure doubters that very many of the knots in ABOK are still in use, and invaluable.

What do you mean by doubtersvery many, still in use and invaluable?

There is no doubt in my mind that ABOK represents the results of Clifford Ashley's lifelong field work and personal research. It is erroneous, however, to think that his collected set is representative for Tall Ship Knotting, whatever that may be, as it is not. Subsets of knots and ropeworking techniques in ABOK were found on any tub afloat at any point in time and other subsets existed purely in the imagination of Clifford Ashley, before he recorded them. Yes, sail boaters take pride in associating knots with their lifestyle, but their claim to knots is grossly overdone. They do not have the monopoly to knots, across the domains of usage, discovery nor invention. Most of the ropeworking and cordage manufacturing techniques existed on land very long before they went to sea. Additionally sailors are no more ropeworking experts, they would like to see themselves as such, as the people on shore, who produce(d) much of the materials employed at sea. Artefacts, which are produced on any industrial scale, typically converge to perfection. For knots- and ropeworking technologies this occurs at sea as well as on land. However, to claim that all experts on knots live(d) at sea is quite silly.

As for your interpretation of the doubt of whether there are many knots used at sea nowadays, please note that there are trillions (for the US-knotters: 10^12) of knots out on the oceans, right now. Most of them manufactured .... on shore.

Joop Knoop.


Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Sweeney on July 04, 2009, 05:56:47 PM
I support Joop in his contributions on this. There is always a tendency for concentration to be confused with overall number so that as ships were (rather than are) a very obvious place where ropes (and by inference knots) abounded they must be the primary users/developers. Unfortunately the thousands of land based users do not exist in such a high profile concentration - we don't see climbers, cavers or arborists very often (unless we happen to be one) and so they fail to be as noticed.  Inevitably Ashley, given his location and background, focused on maritime knotting and his book is none the worse for that - it's still a great book. But it s far from a modern authority on knots and knotting and to follow his example of including non-knot fastenings should the book include velcro and nylon cable ties for example? My guess is that Ashley would have embraced these new advances in technology. And let's not forget that there were many knots around in Ashley's time which he did not record nor that his book is rife with duplication.

So I am in Geoffrey Budworth's camp - value ABOK for what it is but recognise that whilst it is a marvellous combination of knotting, social history and practical advice it belongs alongside the venerable Mrs Beeton's Book of Hopusehold Management as a book everyone interested in the subject will find of value but not at the expense of more up to date works - some things never change but I'll bet Mrs Beeton never had a microwave oven!

Barry
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 04, 2009, 08:55:49 PM
Barry,

Even from a "concentration point of view" the sailor knotclaim does not hold. In Clifford Ashley's youth knots were used equally much (if not more) by the non-sailing fraternity as by the sealubbers. Several aspects come to mind.

A butcher, for example, would probably use more (and different) knots, e.g. to tie up roasts, any given day, than an average sailor on some tall ship. In knotting respects, life at sea is very much like life on land; there are specialists for most tasks. Able-bodied sailors might be required for furling sails, mopping a deck, painting a spar, rather than doing ropework (which they couldn't).

There are book(let)s on knots used by painters, bricklayers and carpenters predating ABOK. They did not manage to build a reputation like the seamanship manuals with sections on knotting, on which most experts, already way back then, agreed were full of mistakes. So, the sailors who wrote these books didn't get their own thing right?

Another example can be found in the skillsets of the employees in shore-based netting lofts. They were mostly women and it is only fair to say that they produced better quality nets than the guys out at sea, who seldom even knew how to mend them. Women, by the way, were not only better at making (and mending) nets. Geoffrey Budworth makes mention of a lady's wartime activity: wire rope splices.

Take an arbitrary crew and investigate their knotting skills; very few will know which specific knot will serve which purpose. There are numerous accounts of sailors not being able to splice or display other ropeworking skills. If knots and knotting were so important for saillorday life, one would expect to find mention of them in their diaries. Very few sailors wrote/write about knots. Furthermore they have left very few artefacts to substantiate the knot-claim being made in their name.

So far, it is all about recording, the reasons for writing things down, combined with effective marketting. Sailors were among the first to publish knots, because they needed them, but to most sailors the knots, their names, their types and properties are like nails to a carpenter. They all look alike and do the same thing - just bang in many and it will hold.
 
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on July 04, 2009, 09:51:56 PM
Quote
I support Joop in his contributions on this. There is always a tendency for concentration to be confused with overall number so that as ships were (rather than are) a very obvious place where ropes (and by inference knots) abounded they must be the primary users/developers. Unfortunately the thousands of land based users do not exist in such a high profile concentration - we don't see climbers, cavers or arborists very often (unless we happen to be one) and so they fail to be as noticed.

Notice that this line of discussion is a bit beside the point re Budworth's Quibble;
his point was simply that even at the time of issue/publication Ashley wasn't
accurately representing then-modern usage so much as of a time recently passed.
One can read an account by Eric Newby entitled The Last Grain Race, Picador (1990) ISBN 978-0-330-31885-3
of his adventure as a young sailor aboard the 4-masted barque Moshulu (or see
some great photos by him in Learning the Ropes, John Murray, also Times Books (1999, of Random House);
this occurred near the end of the careers of such grand fully rigged ships, 1938.
One can imagine that Ashley was working on, writing his book for some time
prior to the publication date; also, that even with the large shippers putting
sailing boats to rest (as I see Moshulu rests --actually, *restaurants*-- apparently
not far from a niece's Philadelphia 'burbs abode, I should try to see it), there
must have been sailing boats continued in use here & there.

But the BQuibble quibblers boast of about a four-decades of experience in which
they claim full relevance of ABOK, and subtracting five decades from 2010
(for easy arithmetic) puts their oldest time still 2 decades post Ashley, and forward.
As I say, they have left out any helpful details to believe their assertions.

Quote
As a Tall Ship sailor, along with thousands of others world-wide, I can assure doubters
 that very many of the knots in ABOK are still in use, and invaluable.  I'll count them on my
 next trip and let you know how many different ones will be in use during my weeks' sail.
And this is just the sort of detail that can enlighten us.  (There is some tempering of
all this by consideration of what [/i]tall-ships sailing[/i] represents:  this is I think the
preservation of a way of life for the sake of preservation, not practicality.)

A year or so ago, someone posted a URLink to a knots-tally for an old ship -- to wit:
www.morethanknots.com/SM/Ashley_Table.html (http://www.morethanknots.com/SM/Ashley_Table.html)
The count there is approximately 30, maybe less.  This is well shy of "nine tenths of
all recorded" knots, even by my more right-sized counting of ABOK ; but, then,
the charge wasn't to use them all (at any one time), but just to know them (why?).
(NB:  there's at least one double listing (Palm&Needle Whipping), and other listings
of things not usually counted as "knots".)

Quote
note that there are trillions (for the US-knotters: 10^12) of knots out on the oceans, right now. Most of them manufactured .... on shore.
Wow, that Joop Knoop can sure count fast!  (We need him for our deficits.)  But here is
that issue about what "knot" means:  the above link's tally counts knots as types of tangles,
not as the tangles themselves.  I'm sensing a guesstimate from Joop based on commercial
fisher's netting, each "knot" both the same and repeated.  It's aa good thing we don't have
to be responsible for "nine tenths" of that number of types of knots!   -- I can invent
only so many per day, needing to eat, drink, & sleep, too.   :D

As for knot origins, I'm continually impressed by how --even with today's enhanced
communications (though maybe lower attention spans)-- little of knotting in one
application area penetrates to another -- the lack of awareness can be surprising
(and very confusing, when it comes to knots naming & nomenclature).
So, I'm happy to believe that chronology isn't a determiner of origin -- i.e., that
for one set of users, a knot might have originated circa <NN00>, but elsewhere,
coming without communication, it originated a century or so later.  Both of such
cases should count as origins, and the latter shouldn't be considered borrowing,
without clear indication that in fact that was the case.  (E.g., I take it from Wright
& Magowan's Alpine Journal article of 1928 that they originated the Butterfly knot
for themselves; yet Cyrus Day points to an early occurrence of the knot in the
States, in some school setting.  (And someone is pursuing further documentation
regarding that.)  I believe that I can point to three origins of SmitHunter's Bend,
where seemingly the 2nd origin (Hunter's) had the greatest influence.)

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: lcurious on July 05, 2009, 03:06:16 AM
I have worked on a three masted topsail schooner (LOA 200ft., 30beam, displacement 740 tons) for the past ten years and can tell you some of the knots we have used and are using.
   Bowline ABOK 71 very common, the standard for making loops at the end of a line..  Is used for gangway lifts etc.  Some of our hawsers eye?s are done with bowlines rather that a splice (lazy..)
   Figure Eight ABOK 520 at the ends of all our running lines
   Clove hitch ABOK 1178 most common on the boat - because all the ratlines are tied with them.  Used to tie heaving line to hawser.  Little used elsewhere unless with two half hitches to the standing part as a native Clove hitch will loosen
   Constrictor ABOK 1249 used in conjunction with whippings.  Fore topmast ratlines use a constrictor to the shrouds with the ends sized
   Overhand knot tied in a double end.  ABOK 518 Used for tying down cargo.  Used only with surplus small rope that will be thrown away.
   Loop knot ABOK 532 Used when a loop is required in a bight of good rope
   Heaving line knot ABOK 538 On our standard heaving lines.
   Monkey Chain Lanyard Knot ABOK 596 Used to shorten the staysail lashings when the staysail is hoisted, so they will not whack the passengers...
   Double Footrope Knot ABOK 868.  Made for a lanyard we use to tie off the gangway when we restrict visitors.  Both ends have the knob and they secured to  Cut Splices in the standing part.  Same arrangement is used on the launch?s davits (jack stays)
   Baggy wrinkles ABOK 3485 - Ours need replacing...
   Prolonged Knot ABOK 2242 - and ABOK 2272 We have these mats on deck
   Turk ?s Head(s) Lots of these in various forms
   Belaying pin ABOK 1614 - Three wraps and a lock is what we use - constant
   Timber hitch ABOK 1733 general use
   Rolling hitch ABOK 1735 Used to tie off a line under tension.  We have used this when moving hawsers off bits to the capstan
   Backhanded Mooring Hitch ABOK 1795 I used this when I worked on a tug boat...
   Carrick Bend ABOK 1439 Have used this to tie two hawsers together - bulky
   Sheet Bend ABOK 1434 I had the loop end of a hawser start to slip through the nip.  Fortunately I was right there and was able to hold the loop end until it set up.
   Zeppelin Bend I use for joining ropes, lines etc                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
We also have Thump Mats, Bell Ropes, grommets, heavy weighted monkey fists for heaving lines in bad weather etc etc.  We are also doing some fancy stuff for lanyards decoration etc.

Most of these are taught from one sailor to another as needed, there is no formal training.  New knots do not often appear as the ?tried and true? are part of the continuity of the ship, and who is going to tell the Capt his knots are out of date???

New rope is closely watched as some if is very slippery and we take extra care when using anything new. - Old fashioned I guess but who wants a spar dropped on their head???
There are probably many ?knots? that I have missed, but that is a good first memory...
                     
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 05, 2009, 09:42:09 AM
Thank you lcurious for sharing your recollections. I note your list runs short of ABOK's declared "over 3800 knots". Also you do not mention knots which were not in ABOK. Does that imply Clifford Ashley was complete (from your perspective)? Also a quick count brings me to about 20 items, remarkably close to the number Hjalmar Ohrvall reports in 1922. A Chilean sailor had tied 21 knots, which were brought to Ohrvall for study.

Before losing his bearings on this thread, moving to knot-tallies on tallships and knot-origins, Dan Lehman writes:

Quote
Notice that this line of discussion is a bit beside the point re Budworth's Quibble;  his point was simply that even at the time of issue/publication Ashley wasn't accurately representing then-modern usage so much as of a time recently passed.
Let's get back to the core of this discussion then, Dan:

Representing contemporary knot-usage was not Clifford Ashley's professed goal, as he ferreted historical origins to knots out of a significant number of seamanship manuals, c.f. pp593-594. Humorously noting all mistakes and omissions by the authorities while doing so. Admiralty clerks, officers, sailmakers, riggers all writing about a subject he felt belonged to the sailor [ABOK, p10]:

Quote
".. almost everybody has written about knots except the sailor himself."

Accurate (objective?) representation was not Clifford Ashley's goal either. On the one hand  he lived in a world of which he spoke as if square riggers still sailed the seas. He frankly admitted that [ABOK, p3]

Quote
"I for one wish that this was so."


On the other hand he also devised several constructs, which went on to become landmark contributions, while charting the universe of knots. He also missed out a considerable set of structures and, ofcourse, could not possibly have imagined what was to come.

Hopefully having sufficiently established that Geoffrey Budworth's quibble is essentially settled by now, let's move on. Otherwise Dan should explain his motive(s) for raising this thread. Rocking the boat in order to make waves?

To me the point of departure beyond Geoffrey Budworth's quibble is that ABOK (and EKFR by Graumont and Hensel) are snapshots of knot-usage, compiled for whatever reasons. From en ethnological point of view both these impressive collections are useless. In Quipus and Witches' Knots, Cyrus Day aptly points out that ethnologists tend to leave essential questions about their collected knot-sets unanswered. Better to ask why ABOK and EKFR emerged when they did? What goal were they to strike? If they were to erect a monument to preserve the way of life, which Dan refers to above, then why should the knotting world accept their subject being hi-jacked by Tall Ship sailors? Square riggers contribution to knots- and cordage technology merely represents a historical footnote.

That brings us to Dan Lehman's musing on the lacking cross-fertilization by the different domains across which knotting stretches itself. Indeed, the wheel is perpetually being re-invented by knotters. A solution known at some point in time by some group, may well be "rediscovered" by another group located elsewhere and later in time. This happens in any technological context. With respect to knots an example is readliy given by the decorative knots known as Turk's Heads.  Gauchos in South America created covering knots in their leatherwork. Independently (?) followed by Australian and US cowboys. These knots are of a complexity which is beyond anything described in ABOK (or EKFR). Ofcourse it all depends on whether the solution was required earlier (or not at all) and whether it became recorded to evidence its usage, or its being known. Sailors will seldom need elements from the leather craft, but that does not stop them from discussing this class of knots - with self-appointed authority.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: geminijim on July 05, 2009, 04:56:30 PM

Notice that this line of discussion is a bit beside the point re Budworth's Quibble;
his point was simply that even at the time of issue/publication Ashley wasn't
accurately representing then-modern usage so much as of a time recently passed.

So what's so controversial about this? I only checked the book out of the library once, several months ago, but I remember it positively dripping with nostalgia for the days of the wind-powered whaling fleet. I think Ashley would be the first to agree that he wasn't representing then-modern usage. He was trying to preserve a valuable body of knowledge that was in danger of fading away.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: deckhandiana on July 05, 2009, 07:22:22 PM
" i](There is some tempering of
all this by consideration of what
tall-ships sailing[/i] represents:  this is I think the
preservation of a way of life for the sake of preservation, not practicality.)"[/i][/i]

I know this slightly strays off the subject but, Dan, I really cannot let you get away with that!  I defend to the hilt the concept of Tall Ships sailing - it is unique and invaluable in teaching seamanship, leadership, team-work, communication and self-confidence - to name but a few of the skills learned during a trip, however short.  It stretches the comfort zone for able-bodied, disabled and the elderly in ways unlike any other experience, and covers all ages and abilities.  I think that's pretty practical.

Thank you, Icurious, you've done my work for me! 

Diana.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 05, 2009, 07:37:35 PM
@deckhandiana

Quote
Thank you, Icurious, you've done my work for me! 


This means you are not going to share any field work results? Wonder why?

Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: deckhandiana on July 05, 2009, 08:52:12 PM
Well, I don't think I shall be able to better Icurous' list, which seems pretty comprehensive.    However, I'll take it with me and check it out, if I have time. It's not till October, anyway, but looking for the knots'll give the crew something to do ... and hopefully capture a couple of new knotters.

Diana.
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on July 05, 2009, 11:26:58 PM
Quote
So what's so controversial about this?
GeminiJim, please read the first msg. here (the "OP"); it states what controversy there is,
which is a matter of fact .  Beyond that, though, this thread ventures into broader seas
of thought and insight.

Quote
(There is some tempering of all this by consideration of what tall-ships sailing represents:
 this is I think the preservation of a way of life for the sake of preservation, not practicality.)
I defend to the hilt the concept of Tall Ships sailing -- it is unique and invaluable in teaching seamanship, leadership, team-work, communication and self-confidence , to name but a few of the skills learned during a trip, however short.  It stretches the comfort zone for able-bodied, disabled, and the elderly in ways unlike any other experience, and covers all ages and abilities.  I think that's pretty practical.
Well, I'm all happy for that aspect of it, but it remains beside the point of regular use
of the mechanism as it was originally intended -- sailors of old were drafted (often in less
than meritorious methods) into service more for the purpose of providing cheap labor than
of bettering their physical & moral constitutions; and the boats themselves served the purpose
of transport of goods, not of individuals to a higher Goodness.  Today, one can count the
old-fashioned boats on one hand, maybe (using digits qua binary digits => 2^^10 - 1 = 1023?).
GREAT to see it done, preserved (are these boats paying for themselves by the fee-for-betterment,
or only w/other funding?), but it's like having cycling machines for the purpose of fitness in
a gym/rec-center vs. actual bicycles out & about.
There is also the serious question about where those who instruct on what knots to use
on these currently operated vestiges of the past get their information.  It can be shown
easily enough that there are, as J.Knoop remarked, glaring errors in much documentation
-- and errors that, although obvious (ly impossible, say), are nevertheless copied in
some later publications (!!?).

Quote
Thank you, Icurious, you've done my work for me! 
---
Well, I don't think I shall be able to better Icurious'{s} list, which seems pretty comprehensive.
Whoa, you're t/asked with making one particular observation of knots/cordage usage; unless
another person's on your boat w/you, s/he can't replicate that.  And, yes, thanks to LCurious's
good memory, we have enriched our data by a ship.  I'll have something to say about the list,
though.  And it goes again to the point about these boats being put to good commercial
transportation/hauling use vs. being preserved for that sake.  (Re this data collection, I should
be able to learn something about what is used aboard The Pride of Baltimore -- a boat on
which I've had opportunity yet unrealized to work, and is an hour distant if in the named port
(by the USS Constellation, on which I've put up a few ratlines).

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on July 06, 2009, 12:00:12 AM
Thank you lcurious for sharing your recollections. I note your list runs short of ABOK's declared "over 3800 knots".
Oh, that number !!  Elsewhere on this forum I've put the spike in that marketer's
hype, though I don't expect it to so much stop the ghost from reappearing, as hope
that there are more who can point out the error.  We might spare attributing the number
to ABOK , noting that it comes only on the book's wrapper/cover, over which good
Clifford has now no control.  But even 30 is well less than, say, 500 -- a safer count.

Quote
On the one hand he lived in a world of which he spoke as if square riggers still sailed the seas.
He frankly admitted that [ABOK, p3]
Ah, good:  this really begs the question to the BQ quibblers!

Quote
Otherwise Dan should explain his motive(s) for raising this thread. Rocking the boat in order to make waves?
Keeps the barnacles from forming?  And, so far, might raise some field reports,
and other interesting comments.  We still have the two published quibblers to hear from.

Quote
ABOK (and EKFR by Graumont and Hensel) are snapshots of knot-usage
The latter is some kind of snapshot, but it's not so clear, what.  It makes for a good
laugh at times, and a motivation to hurl the book -- which could have some of those
beneficial fitness aspects mentioned above, but ... .   ::)

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: Dan_Lehman on July 06, 2009, 12:50:24 AM
...some of the knots we have used and are using.
   Bowline ABOK 71 very common, the standard for making loops at the end of a line..  Is used for gangway lifts etc.  Some of our hawsers eye?s are done with bowlines rather that a splice (lazy..)
-- or flexible (re size of the eye!).  Ever seen a bowline capsized?  Because I've seen such
in trawler mooring hawsers so often as to wonder if it's intended (by forming the knot with a
loose/large collar)!?  --attached image
And your hawsers, are they laid, or a braid of some sort?

Quote
   Figure Eight ABOK 520 at the ends of all our running lines
   Clove hitch ...  Used to tie heaving line to hawser.  Little used elsewhere unless with two half hitches to the standing part as a native Clove hitch will loosen

And for the messenger-line hitch, is the Clove unguarded -- i.e., no precaution against loosening?
And, re that, how about a simple stopper (the Fig.8, or the more-easily-tied-snug-to-object Overhand)?

Quote
   Constrictor ABOK 1249 used in conjunction with whippings.  Fore topmast ratlines use a constrictor to the shrouds with the ends sized
Interesting, this.  -- someone's notion of improved security; I think that comes from
the seizing, beyond which anything else is redundant/unnoticed.  Frankly, I have long wondered
why the ends of ratlines are spliced to the shrouds, which is a bit of pain to do, rather
than simply tied (and seized).  Brion Toss said that this was to avoid some abrasion on sails
hitting the knots; to me, it seems that hitting the (sometimes steel) shrouds alone would
be a problem to avoid, nevermind the knots that might lie along it!?

Quote
   Overhand knot tied in a double end.  ABOK 518 Used for tying down cargo.  Used only with surplus small rope that will be thrown away.
And is it reliably so tied; or quickly, w/o much regard for dressing, and maybe with
what Ashley shows (there & #1009) as the tail end being loaded?  It is a common
knot in commercial fishing bridles, and as a mid-line eyeknot.

Quote
   Loop knot ABOK 532 Used when a loop is required in a bight of good rope
Ah, I'd bet better than even odds that this was an educated (vs. naturally arising invention) import.
Did you take note of this forum's Alpiner's nice contribution of a quick tying method for it? !!

   
Quote
   ...  Timber hitch ABOK 1733 general use
   Rolling hitch ABOK 1735 Used to tie off a line under tension.  We have used this when moving hawsers off bits to the capstan
Is the Timber h. like this, with the HHitch guards (often mistakenly (IMO) called "Killeg/K..." h.)) ?
-- or w/o, plain.  Here it will take less load, being guarded, and so be easily untied.
In some other uses, I'd think that Ashley's recommendation of #1669 would work well.

Quote
   Backhanded Mooring Hitch ABOK 1795 I used this when I worked on a tug boat...
"... when working on a tug boat":  as well (also)?  (We don't want to contaminate the data.  ;D  )
Did you make that first bight-cast as Ashley shows?  -- for Brion Toss, in Rigger's Apprentice ,
gives the alternative orientation, where the immediate continuation really is "backhanded",
wrapping in the opposite direction.  Frankly, in using the knot to tie off rope that I put into a
pulley hook for stress-testing something, I find Ashley's way maybe a bit kinder on the hitched
rope.  -- could be a flip-of-the-coin variance; the multiple wraps work either way.

Quote
   Carrick Bend ABOK 1439 Have used this to tie two hawsers together - bulky
Funny how even the simplest knots seem so monstrous in big rope, eh?!  -- and how much
rope that they consume (to me, who might find a scrap of maybe 12-25' of such rope) !
I think that Rosendahl's Zeppelin bend would make a good alternative.

Quote
   Sheet Bend ABOK 1434 I had the loop end of a hawser start to slip through the nip.  Fortunately I was right there and was able to hold the loop end until it set up.
!! Wow, good catch!  Dave Richards did testing in kernmantle ropes and found it to
slip in sometimes both ends, but at rather high loads.

Quote
   Zeppelin Bend I use for joining ropes, lines etc 
Tyer's perogative, here?  Did you ever have cause to try some other bends,
such as #1408, #1452, #1425?                                                                                                                                                                                        

Quote
Most of these are taught from one sailor to another as needed, there is no formal training.  New knots do not often appear as the "tried and true" are part of the continuity of the ship, and who is going to tell the Capt his knots are out of date???
Oh, did the Capt. pass along Rosendahl's knot, then?

Quote
New rope is closely watched as some if is very slippery and we take extra care when using anything new. - Old fashioned I guess but who wants a spar dropped on their head???
Indeed.  But this sounds like just watching w/special attention, but not, say,
putting in some extra knotting such as a stopper knot, or extra turn?

Quote
There are probably many ?knots? that I have missed, but that is a good first memory...
Excellent recall, thanks much!
I guess two knots that might be missed in the above list are the Fisherman's Bend / Anchor
Bend/hitch, and Two Half-hitches.  Yes, you mentioned the latter, as a securing to the Clove,
but not as a main knot for hitching directly.  No Reef knot, either -- but you bind sails ?

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 06, 2009, 11:16:41 AM
Some posts back, moderator Dan attempted to bring this discussion back on course and I declared the quibble braindead and proposed to move on by asking why ABOK and EKFR emerged when they did?. GeminiJim agreed with the lacking substance of the controversy and wrote about Clifford Ashley:

Quote
He was trying to preserve a valuable body of knowledge that was in danger of fading away.

Positively dripping with nostalgia into the bargain and that good old Clifford was probably (?) the first to agree that he wasn't representing then-modern usage of cordage and knots. That is exactly what he did admit and furthermore pleaded guilty,  which caused Dan Lehman to write:

Quote
Ah, good:  this really begs the question to the BQ quibblers!

So, where do we stand now? The quibble-quibblers have just been abandoned by their deity; the quibble is obvious. The verdict is that knots do not belong to the sailor, although Clifford Ashley tries to logically infer that they actually do, but by means of bogus argumentation [ABOK, p1]. In the mean time some Tall Ship knotters stood up and stated things pertaining to "doubters", "very many", "still in use" and "invaluable". We can continue the quibble by wondering what this means, as deckhandiana is not telling us. Let's breathe some fresh dragon breath onto this quibble - as I think Dan Lehman would say: to burn off the barnacles.

Doubters: in doubt of what? That to this day Tall Ship knots live on in the same way as Clifford Ashley described in 1944? Complete and utter nonsense. The knots and ropework techniques afloat described in ABOK were not specific to neither The Sunbeam nor any other ship under sail. They were quite generic and occurred on land too, in fact where most (if not all) of them originated. Prior to ABOK there are many individual sources recording these techniques. Were these techniques actually performed on Tall Ships? Well, if you have spent in excess of 5 minutes at sea, you will know that reality out there differs from the romantized accounts in the books. This is particularly true for knots. I do not see any reason why Tall Ship Knotters would be any different from the average Joe Knot. Naval repositors agree (with me). The word doubt used here by  a Tall Ship sailor, seeking confirmation for that way of life, must be in a quite special way. In any case, yes, I doubt that knots were used on Tall Ships like Clifford Ashley described. For one, most sailors could not then (and still cannot) knot - actually they do not need knotting skills beyond a Reef Knot, an occasional Bowline and an assortment of Half Hitches. Secondly relatively complex techniques, such as splicing and netmending, are beyond most able-bodies at sea. Thirdly ABOK represents a knotting range well beyond that of a boat.

Very many and still in use. Let me bundle these two as they relate. ABOK shows hundreds of knotting and cordage processing techniques. My claim is that very few of them can be found on any given boat. In a sense Clifford Ashley collected knots in the wild and presented them in his book. What does that mean? Well, that on a global scale you will likely encounter any of his structures at some point in time. Somewhere along the arrow of time, somebody, somewhere actually used most of the structures which are recorded in ABOK. By recording them he gave them a formal status as a solution (of some sort), but most of his readership  read that differently - in a localized manner to so to speak. They interpret ABOK's batch of squiggles as "all knots used at sea - and hence good quality stuff". So, "very many" is dubious and "still in use" even worse. As Icurious indicated and Dan Lehman extrapolated, the "still in use" set may be about 500.

Invaluable invaluable for what? For the solving of every day practical tasks: coil or flake a rope, bend a heaving-line to a messenger-line, attach a flag to a line to run it up a post? I am not sure what deckhandiana meant with this word/concept. Having available the (impressive) collection in ABOK, not having to reinvent the wheel over and over again, or something else? Come on deckhandiana, enlighten us/me. Thanks. 

After this long post I was left wondering: what if good old Clifford had promoted Scouting instead of Sailing? Well, moderator Dan, should we go there......
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: knudeNoggin on July 06, 2009, 08:00:04 PM
The issue as raised here is that two men responding to Budworth's Quibble
assert that in their many decades at sea well beyond the publication of
Ashley's work one would and still can find considerable knotting in play.
This is what Budworth denied and which denial irked them.  They, however,
must answer the denial in understandable detail in order to be believed, or
better understood; it is not for others to answer on their behalf, though others
can provide confirming or counter examples.  That answer is wanting, and it
might take a published Letter to ask it of them, and then a follow-on reply.

It is not a matter of whether ships have sails still, and so on, which seems
to be what some others here want to argue.  Irrespective of that, these two
fellows maintain that some kind of good knotting such as Ashley presented
can be yet found at your local busy port.  As a continued practice beyond
the Age of Sail.  And that all those good terms used in the sail-rich environment
are still used (or useful, somehow).  I would like to see them put detail to this.

Of course, other topics can be discussed, preferably under threads appropriately
titled, at the press of a e-button.  Or some old one revived, such as that What
is a Knot ? thread from many years ago.

*knudeNoggin*
Title: Re: Budworth's Quibble (w/Ashley) [km102:16]
Post by: J.Knoop on July 07, 2009, 06:37:54 AM
Thanks knudeNoggin,

So, this thread is dead till the "believers"  start providing evidence to substantiate their claim.

Thanks for the discussion so far.