Author Topic: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?  (Read 35671 times)

J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
In the Budworth's Quibble thread a ripple was made about ABOK being representative for sailor knotting. Personally I do not think that is correct. Indeed, Clifford Ashley initiates his monograph by claiming that much of knotting owes its origin to the sailor, but on the other hand he admits that he is describing a past world. He also added items which have nothing to do with the sailor way of life. There is no doubt, however, thumbing through ABOK, that there is a strong mariner influence to his knot-angle. This has had its impact in getting the world to believe that knots belong to the sailor(s). Admittedly the sealubbers have an impressive track record of writing about knot snippets in their respected authoritarian seamanship manuals and not to forget Graumont and Hensel's Enclyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Ropework (EKFR). Whether all of that is a justifiable approach, we shall leave to the Budworth Quibble thread. What left me wondering is the question: what if Clifford Ashley had not been such an excellent marine artist and had approached the subject from a non-mariner, but say a rural aspect?

I assert that we then would have witnessed a less negative approach to rural knotting, i.e. encounter less hautain presentations of mariner knotting. After all farmers are blessed with less than perfect technology (sticks and string) than sailors (hawser-laid cordage, thimbles and such). However, farmers are less competitive than, say, scouts, who issue badges for expertise in the knotty subject.  This display of excellence is something scouts have in common with sailors, who take pride in their professional identity too. 

Would the knot world have exhibited different attitudes towards knotting today if Clifford Ashley would have been a scout instead of a whalerman? I think it would have been for the better with respect to the general perception of what knots are about. I also feel that we would have witnessed the emergence of a scouting biass and claim to knotting, as people typically tend to behave that way. This leads to the question whether IGKT promotes all aspects of knotting on equal footing? Better stop here, for now...


geminijim

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 12
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2009, 05:07:17 PM »
Interesting thought. Scouting, like recreational climbing (but not mountaineering), was pretty new in Ashley's time, and might have been below his radar. That's also probably why the Zeppelin bend is not in ABOK; it was a relatively recent invention and happened in the military rather than civilian world.

Scouting was derived from the outdoor survival skill sets found in many occupations, both military and civilian. As such it is a bit of an artificial contrivance, a bit like Ashley's book itself, which is not to take away from the merits of either!

I do take issue with the idea that farmers (and other land-based workers) had inferior technology to sailors. Indeed access to better hardware on land probably led to decreased reliance on knots. There are advantages to having dedicated hardware, being able to grab a hook, buckle, or harness manufactured for a particular job, or to manufacture one on the spot, rather than to contrive a device out of cordage and knots. As metallurgy, tools, and manufacturing increased, cordage became more and more relegated to simple point A to point B connections.

On the high seas, OTOH, there were serious weight and space constraints, and isolation from raw materials, so cordage was king: relatively light, compact, flexible, adaptable. You can take the same piece of rope and reuse it for several very different purposes.

Now the skills that go into scouting, from military campaigns to exploration/expedition to wilderness rescue, have something in common with sailing, i.e. space/weight constraints and isolation from civilization. OTOH, there is usually more access to raw materials, and there are fewer situations where the failure of a knot can lead to multiple casualties. And historically, the number of times a land-based army or expedition has gone months without any contact with civilization of some kind is probably much smaller than the same situation at sea. Of course both are very small compared to the whole of human activity!

J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 07:07:06 AM »
GeminiJim,

I appreciate your idea of scout-knotting as being a blend of outdoor life and military knotting (we'll leave that undefiend for the time being, as a Navy is "military"). In any case scout-knotting would be artificial and relatively new; although there are many knotting sources predating 1900 on recreational climbing and the military showing knots. So, Clifford Ashley could equally well have run his study across these sources instead of seamanship manuals and presented his findings from a totally different angle.

You continue into scouting sharing aspects with life at sea, relative isolation being one, space/weight constraints another. All of this implies that one must be thrifty with the available resources out at sea. On land this is less the case, but access to quality and amount of materials is not every thing. There is always the costprice of the material, if materials are sufficiently expensive, people start thinking about the cost of using cordage and knots. On land the costprice for some specific type of cordage is the same as the costprice charged to the sealubbers. Once the anchor is weighed, things change; whereas the landlubber retains his/her access to the materials, the sealubber loses his/hers. (I propose to keep sailors masculine in order to avoid the him/her stuff  - sorry lady sailors!). From a costprice alone this means that craftmen using cordage on land are faced with the same issues as their collegues at sea. Their boss will scold them for wasting expensive (non-replenishable) cordage.

Your next point is loss of life due to knot failure. I doubt whether the impact of knots would lead to all that much more loss of life at sea than an "equivalent" knot failure on land. There are accounts of climbers and patients losing their lives due to knot-failure, but I have yet to hear/read about a ship lost due to a failing knot. Yes, a bust Bowline on a spinaker sheet will cause some drama (flapping sail and screetching panic at the helm), it may even maim some-body, possibly even kill a foredecker, but that is about the same as an alpinist accident. I can imagine pyramid builders, of which I know nothing!, losing 100 tones of granite killing several men. Or a makeshift bridge across a canyon collapsing and having any reasonable number of men experience gravitational pull in a lethal manner. I guess too little is known about knot failure(s) impact to make true general statements.

I am not sure what you mean by "both are very small to the whole of human activity" . The fact that there have been few armies/expeditions that have gone for months with replenishments and the scenarios/events they may face, compared to life at sea, which has happened more often on a global scale? As I tried to argue above, even sea-life is a peripheral activity on a global human scale. (Perhaps I have understood you correct there, but I am not sure). The problem is that knots occur across an exteremly wide range of activities, and moreover are inextricably compounded into more complex techniques, that it is impossible for any specific usergroup to unambiguously claim them.
 


squarerigger

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 729
  • IGKTPAB Immediate Past President
    • The Knot Guy
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2009, 03:52:17 AM »
Maybe what Ashley had in mind was the recordation of knots wherever they were used and he just picked on the mariners as being the group that wrote frequently about them.  If Ashley had been into scouting, we would probably not be talking about him, because his book would have been tiny in comparison.  Scouts do not use knots today, nor did the scouts when Lord Baden-Powell invented scouting (Gilcraft has only a few knots in it and is a relatively unknown publication when compared to ABOK or EKFR or Sailors Knots or Lever or Nares or Luce or the Admiralty).  Any other singular group, other than mariners, would have provided less fodder for his book, so he went with the greatest number.  Whaddya say? ;)

SR

Sweeney

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 975
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2009, 07:42:29 AM »
I tend to agree with Squarerigger. Scouts have treated knotting in a rather academic way - you achieve a badge for achievement but in practice use few knots and probably nowadays use more modern plastic devices.  I recall about 10 years ago being a bit taken aback when a member of my staff showed me his son's plastic woggle - a tube with a cartoon head and the arm standing proud doing a Scout salute! I gave him a leather turk's head to replace it and the Scout leader was impressed having never seen the like! Probably an exception.......?  The big advantage sailors have is you always know where to find some - ships have limited places where they berth whereas other knot users are thin on the ground and it would require a lot more effort to find experts.  We have the Internet today, what would Ashley have done with that I wonder?

Barry

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3766
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2009, 08:02:07 AM »
Perhaps the more interesting quesiton is What would Ashley's book look like
if he were doing it in the past decade?
(in "the 0s").  Which is partly a link
to that wonderful other thread, dropped at a waiting point, isn't it?!   ;)

He might instead of whaling (partly for their scarcity) be finding his mounds
or cordage as have I, out with lobstermen (who have changed cordage in
order to protect right whales); and have more to find in his neighborhood
arborists -- much more than the mere Tautline hitch for that function!

And what if Day, Ohrvall, Ashley, & Bushby could e-mail their findings back'n'forth?

His Bivalve oystering venture would surely be different (there is some sort
of revival there, but largely of a harvesting nature), and find more crabbing.
(attached)

--dl*
====


J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2009, 08:27:42 AM »
Clifford Ashley certainly had a goal: record all "knots" he met in life. To meet that purpose he went to considerable lengths in both collecting and devising.

Yes, Squarerigger, it is also true that mariners have put in a lot of effort to record knots. So, if you are matching fieldwork with recorded knowledge, it seems obvious that you will run into seamanship manuals. However, if you are somewhat critical of what you encounter in these sources, then errors, contradictions and inconsistencies soon show up (unless you are blind to them - for whatever reason). Now, squarerigger states"

[
Quote
Ashley] just picked on the mariners as being the group that wrote frequently about them.

That is the whole point, thank you. If Clifford Ashley merely had that as a reason to chose his mariner-related presentation, then that is somewhat thin. He certainly was not seeking objectivity. After all, numerically, knot-usage at sea vanishes compared to the collective land-based knot-usage.  The question then arises, what exactly was Clifford Ashley's subsiduary goal? Promotion of a superior sailor/whaler way of dealing with our subject of knots and ropework?

I do not agree with squarerigger downplaying Clifford Ashley's zealousness, had he been a scout. To the contrary. Had good old Clifford been a scout, then he would have been knighted by Baden-Powel for his achievement and contribution to scouting. Moreover, scouts would have faster, and with greater impact, promoted his book than sailors.  In fact most of the seafaring brethrens have never heard of ABOK, whereas many scouts have. I also do not agree that scouts do not use knots (good try reversing the argument  :)  ). Pay a visit to any scoutbase and you will find neatly coiled rope.  Contemporary scouts seem to better appreciate the virues of rope than most contemporary yachts(wo)men, as a visit to any marina/harbour will quickly reveal.  Few ships nowadays can equal such an inspection.  Indeed, Gilcraft had a few utilitarian knots, the bare bone minimum, because knots are/were being superceded by other technologies, but why should that have stopped Clifford Ashley from proceeding as he had done and added some more to the scouting knot-heap (including some his whaled contributions)?

Squarerigger concludes:

Quote
Any other singular group, other than mariners, would have provided less fodder for his book, so he went with the greatest number.

I think that statement does not hold for the following reasons. Clifford Ashley was biassed in his readings and researches. His bibliography lists seamanship-related knot-sources, as if no others existed. It is fair to say that the subject of knots prior to 1900, was thinly spread across many sources, also fair to say that overall these sources are mariner-related, but the whole argument breaks down when it comes to the realization that (1) ABOK and EKFR are less than objective than one could hope for and (2) that their views distort the perception of knot-usage created in general and by the public at large. In the thread on the Lineman Rider Henry North Grant Bushby (HNGB) entered the scene.  Much like journalist/newspaperman/writer Joseph Burgess, HNGB had no nautical inclination to his knot collecting activity. Burgess got published heavily supporting mariner knotting.  Bushby's efforts did not make it past the manuscript stage. Had HNGB's work been published, would ABOK and EFKR then have encountered a different audience? I think they would have, but, like Clifford Ashley being a scout, that too is hypothetical.

Barry feels that scouts have treated knotting in an "academic way". Well, so have sailors. They recorded "elements of seamanship", which implies an axiomatic approach to our subject.  Sailors too have official and less officially recognized ranks when it comes to the mastering of rope-working techniques. A boatswain must know the types and names of knots, be able to pose as a rigger and put in a splice, in order not to lose face among his team members.  A master/mate must be able to point to Falconer, Nares and/or Lever in order to hide his incompetence in the knotting field.

So, after all of this, I am still to find the arguments as to why knotters allow their subject to be hi-jacked by sailors.

Joop Knoop.

J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2009, 09:03:02 AM »
Congratulations to Dan Lehman on his 700th post today! He writes:

Quote
Perhaps the more interesting quesiton is What would Ashley's book look like
if he were doing it in the past decade? (in "the 0s").  Which is partly a link
to that wonderful other thread, dropped at a waiting point, isn't it?!

Yes, we are still awaiting the killing argument from the knots-belong-to-the-sailors club. I wonder what they will come up with!

Dan Lehman dragged in HNGB while I was responding to the squarerigger and sweeney posts above. Had Clifford Ashley been a lobster man, not unthinkable in the Boston area, rather than an outspoken whalerman, he would have described commercial fisherman knots in a less superficial manner to begin with. Sadly he did not deem fishermen worthy of "proper" treatment. Take the next step too; had good old Clifford lived today and exploited the internet, then MedLine would have landed him the  largest knot-type catch. Effectively making surgeons the forefront runners in the field of knotting.

Dan Lehman's thought on electronic collaboration between Day, Ohrvall, Ashley, & Bushby  (and Joseph Burgess, I venture to say!) is fascinating and not at all farfetched. Starting with Burgess a trend in knotbooks away from sailors started. Joe Burgess described aspects of knotting, which did not make it into ABOK, e.g. the blind's asylum knot alphabet, historical aspects of knots. It appears that Joe Burgess was the trigger for the likes of Day and Ohrvall to conduct their studies. Sadly Cyrus Day and Hjalmar Ohrvall opted for continuation of a mariner approach, because "they both enjoyed sailing" (talking about peculiar behaviour). In the preface to Sailor's Knots, Cyrus Lawrence Day (CLD) had Master Mariner Felix Riesenberg state:

Quote
[CLD] covered the field thoroughly and in a seamanshiplike way, and on the whole with more skill than I have ever encountered in my study of this subject.

Wonder why "seamanshiplike ways" and thoroughness are introduced? What CLD rightfully introduced are bibliographies, in a thorough manner - yet copycatting Hjalmar Ohrvall. And what turns out? Lots of non-mariner sources start to appear. But what is so "seamanshippishly" about the CLD treatment? How come a mind like Cyrus Day's allows sailors hi-jack our field?

Joop.




Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3766
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2009, 05:39:08 PM »
Quote
why knotters allow their subject to be hi-jacked by sailors.

Or by publishers?  I recall Geoffrey noting that publishers have an angle and
choose a title (such as "Complete..." !) -- well, not only he but other authors
have told as much (non-knots authors).  Although in the past few decades
the focus-on-knots-in-general books have been that; and within application
fields come knots-for-climbers, knots-for-sailors, and so on.  Anglers maybe
had the most need, once the fiddly nylon monofilament came out and
refused to behave in usual ways.  And now the gel-spun HMPE stuff, and other.
(And thinking of the fiddly, I'm not so sure Ashley'd today care so much
for surgical tangles.  OTOH, he does have all that decorative stuff which
I like to keep well clear of!)

Maybe the most important aspect of modernity that an Ashley'd have to contend
with more than I feel he did is materials -- nylon, polyester, PP, hi-mods,
in hard/med/soft lays, this/that/other braids, and then tape/webbing, also of
many dimensions.

--dl*
====

squarerigger

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 729
  • IGKTPAB Immediate Past President
    • The Knot Guy
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2009, 05:46:45 PM »
Hi Joop,

I cannot say that I want to respond to your argumentation because it seems futile for me to do so - you have it apparently fixed in your mind that sailors are not responsible for most of the knots, which you appear to feel is contrary to your view (with no proffered proof that I have read from you so far) of the knotting world where perhaps the landsman is chiefly responsible for knotting development.  Sailors are landsmen too, so there seems no point in defining people in that manner.  This question was raised by you as a hypothetical situation and, as such, is hypothetically going to lead to hypothesis - it has no practical value.   ::)  I sought to enlighten by pointing out that Ashley was taking what he saw as an artist and recording the mass of information available to him.  As it was it took him 11 years to complete, so it was by no means a lack of present information but rather a plethora of information about what he saw - seamanship records and usage.  Sailors are, and ever have been, recorders of what they observe about weather, progress, shore-lines and animal encounters, together with some scant information concerning the crew behavior.  He does record, as you point out, many other sources of knots, but does that negate the purpose of the book just because he had a defined slant towards sailors knots?  I think not.  If Ashley had been a scouter he may have placed more focus on scouting, but he evidently did not see such enormous use made by scouts of knots and so recorded only where scouts used knots.  Where is the evidence today that scouts ever used more than twenty or so knots?  Certainly not in the memories of older scouters I have met and who form part of my family - they have told me that it was more important for a scouter to be helpful in as many ways as he or she could, not simply to restrict their activitie to having a piece of string to tie things with.  :P  The same applies to the other professions and occupations where knots are used (over 75 occupations I think, although I stand to be corrected as to the proper number) and recorded specifically to those occupations by Ashley.  Ninety or more fisherman's knots, two scouters knots and eight cowboy knots - inequitable?  Yes, but that is merely one author's view, not the view of all mankind, nor even an historian's view.  That was one system and it is now history, so we can neither change it nor devise anything other than our own view of what he wrote.  I shall refrain from discussing this further, not from a sense of persuasion in what I have read here, but from a sense of futility - I wish to stop beating my head against a brick wall.  Thank you for taking your valuable time to read this and I wish you joy of your further discussions. 8)

SR

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3766
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2009, 03:53:37 AM »
In the preface to Sailor's Knots, Cyrus Lawrence Day (CLD) had Master Mariner Felix Riesenberg state:
Quote
[CLD] covered the field thoroughly and in a seamanshiplike way,
and on the whole with more skill than I have ever encountered in my study of this subject.
Wonder why "seamanshiplike ways" and thoroughness are introduced?

Well, wonder what market the Naval Institute Press had in mind?
One can aspire; the (my italics) latter clause of the sentence makes a point to consider
-- things had not been so well done elsewhere.  (Esp. not by Hansel&Gretel.)

Dana's work, just linked to by DFred (it's a slow dial-up download, but it came), makes for
interesting reading -- esp. the bits about things no longer done (such as "crossing turns"
on seizings).  His presented seaman's set of knots is not so long on the things one might
do with braided rope, whereas there are several multi-strand knots (as Ashley'd call 'em).
Similarly, the set of mountain climber's knots treated by Wright & Magowan is not all so
great, and --hmmm-- did it exclude the Clove Hitch?!  That one I can more easily see as
different in current practice.  Although admittedly I'm more familiar with a quite technical
aspect of the sport known as "rockclimbing" whereas W&M's world I think was more of
an alpinist adventure, and I'm not so sure about current practice there -- but have
never otherwise heard of the waist loop.

But even >>20<< knots for a user set sounds rather large, these days; one can hear
assertions of needing/knowing but 5 or so!

--dl*
====

[Inkanyezi] gone

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • Pro three strand splice
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2009, 09:41:44 AM »
/.../ things no longer done (such as "crossing turns"
on seizings). /.../

I guess being a rigger makes me a bit different from the mass then. I still use seizings with crossing turns, even as the only way to for example hitch to a shackle. The seized shackle in the picture has been in use for about twenty years.

Quote
But even >>20<< knots for a user set sounds rather large, these days; one can hear
assertions of needing/knowing but 5 or so!

--dl*
====

Aye! I cannot but agree. Five or so should be enough. Those I use regularly are
  • bowline
  • two half hitches (on SP with extra round turn)
  • bollard hitch (on winches, for tying up)
  • cleat hitch
  • sheet bend to a loop, mostly butterfly (becket hitch)
  • butterfly loop

Those I use less frequently are
  • anchor bend
  • figure eight stopper
  • figure eight binding knot
  • square knot (for binding)
  • carrick bend
  • double sheet bend
  • clove hitch
  • midshipman's hitch
  • trucker's hitch

Then of course I am familiar with a few more, like the marlingspike hitch, constrictor (also double), zeppelin and Hunter's, as well as timber hitch and some more, but as a rule, I don't use them with any considerable frequency, except for the rigging-related ones when I work on some rigging project. (Oh yes, I can splice, beautifully!)

So, five or so should be enough for the usual chores, the rest are for specialists, and even a specialist might not use more than about a total of twenty, but for daily chores about five. And my usage of the butterfly loop is uncommon and due to my particular way of tying up, which requires spring lines attached to the middle of my docklines. I have done off with any kind of elasticity (mooring springs) and tie up in a way that does not cause any jerks in my mooring lines. That usage has so far not been copied a lot, but it is very nice to sleep in the boat without the jerks that the more usual ways of tying up induce when other boats pass by. (BTW it's in the Baltic, we aint got no tides.)

It is indeed very seldom that I need a bend, and my preferred bend is the carrick bend, as it is quicker to tie than a double sheet bend and more easily untied. But for John Doe, the sheet bend is all that is needed. Caveat; of course from a sailor's point of view...

Note on post-edit; English is not my mother tongue, and here in Sweden, we do not distinguish the term for sheet bend from the becket hitch.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 10:42:45 AM by Inkanyezi »
All images and text of mine published on the IGKT site is licensed according to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2009, 01:26:54 PM »
CLD Sailor's Knots (1936-1937) was by Sidgwick & Jackson in London.The Art of Knotting And Splicing was published by the Naval Institue in the next decade. As for Felix Reisenberg, he's like any other sailor knotter, but with a merchant naval background.

J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2009, 02:20:27 PM »
Squarerigger wrote:

Quote
I cannot say that I want to respond to your argumentation because it seems futile for me to do so - you have it apparently fixed in your mind that sailors are not responsible for most of the knots, which you appear to feel is contrary to your view (with no proffered proof that I have read from you so far) of the knotting world where perhaps the landsman is chiefly responsible for knotting development.

Well, whaddya say? SR does not want to respond, but does so anyway and continues:

Quote
I shall refrain from discussing this further, not from a sense of persuasion in what I have read here, but from a sense of futility - I wish to stop beating my head against a brick wall.  Thank you for taking your valuable time to read this and I wish you joy of your further discussions.


The word, which comes to mind while reading such prose, and when wrongly spelt, is:  arorgance, dear squarerigger! Sorry I got you dismasted, but somehow your toes got under my boot while you were beating your head against that brick wall. Indeed, I am like all men: I believe my ideas are the best, but I recognize and appreciate quality thoughts when I meet them. Alas, you did not carry them to this discussion, in fact you limp away under jury rig to the nearest port crying out that this thread is all hypothetical and futile. May I remind you that the hypothesis that the earth does not revolve around the sun was once unthinkable? Your writing, in defense of the knots-belong-to-the-sailors club strongly suggests that you would be a person to reject the forementioned hypothesis as "futile".

Your next heroic statement :

Quote
with no proffered proof that I have read from you so far

Well, let's have a crack, then, eeh. Although I do not reckon you will read this nor participate in this thread any further, it will be helpful here and in the Budworth Quibble thread, where we are still awaiting the killing argument from the knots-belong-to-sailors club versus the-rest-of-the-world team. Recorded history is what counts, I should say.

Oreibasius, a greek doctor with no  known sailing aspirations, wrote extensively about knots from his professional point of view. We have to wait till Smith (1626), Manwayring (1644) before the first English sailor knotsounds make it into print. Oreibasius was more complete and detailed in his professional knotting than neither of these sources. Sailors pick up illustrations of knots with Raalamb (1691), followed by Aubin (1702), Blankley (1750), and more extensively by Falconer (1770). So, the landlubbers win; they have described knot usage well over a thousand years before the sealubbers.

Bowling, the landlubber all sailors despise, having had an influence beyond his merit (unquote CLD and CWA). But well before boater Biddle (1876) and Burgess (1884). Joe Burgess, an American journalist,  was so interested in knots, but knew nothing about sailors that he even bungles the Bowline. Well, he introduces a mutant, a "true Bowline" . Something many mariner sources after him start propagating and selling as part of the sailor knot repertoire. A neat example, which goes to show how desperate sailors are willing to claim anything about knots as their turf.

I shall not ask Squarerigger to throw up some evidence for his fanciful thought that sailors are responsible for "most" (?!?!) knots, but I hope it is clear that I do have the gutts to put in proof for my statements and that I certainly do not take nonsense laying down.

Let's take the discussion a step further.

CLD and CWA have bibliographies which smack of nautical influence. However, in 1935 CLD comes with folkore and histories. In 1944 CWA comes with Parts III and IV in his bibliography on knotmonographs and "practices allied to knotting". Ever realized that some of Clifford Ashley's sources did not make it into Part IV? What to make of Emerson's Mechanics (1794) (#473) or Hutton's Mechanics (1815) (#1147), rather non-mariner sources, but glossed over, out of sight. So, what picture do we have now? That knot respositories present themselves with an inclination towards sailors, but in fact pulling in the structures from any nook and or cranny.

What is this sailor thing when it comes to knots? As a usergroup, they have a considerable set of sources, but numerically less than say knot theorists, whose publications run into the  tens of thousands. Or surgeons, who have thousands. What in fact have sailors contributed to knots in the past millenium, other than spit out some fragmentary snippets, culminating in ABOK and EFKR? Lot of repetive matter, same old set of sailor knots hits your face every mariner book you chance to open. Ofcourse boats are not rocket science and one is quickly done with the knotting subject from a mariner point of view. However, knots have been investigated in more serious manner from other angles. Weavers, engineers, construction workers. Actually during a visit to Taipeh I seen so much urban knotting, and even picked up a book on the subject, which failed to show a boat! What is it that keeps the knots-belong-to-the-sailors meme alive?

Sailors have a benefit, they practice a craft in extinction. That makes for a perfect marketing gadget. Poor sailors, so the story goes, were illiterate and only had their hands to tie knots. Therefore they took to knotting. Could be true, but where then are all these artefacts they would have made? Yeah sure, natural fibres, they have all degraded. Even in Clifford Ashley's time they were scarce. He writes about how he managed to collect some chests and their beckets. Erh, shouldn't there have been millions? You know what I think? Knots belong to the sailor for a marketing reason. You pose as a rigger, put on a sad face, tell your audience that sorry story of dumb sailors combatting boredom out at sea, tie some knots and cash. I guess I have herewith just nihilated the futility-level of my hypothesis. Well, whaddya say?



J.Knoop

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 80
Re: What if Clifford Ashley had been into Scouting instead of Whaling?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2009, 02:26:10 PM »
A correction on the revolving earth and sun hypothesis:

Quote
hypothesis that the earth does not revolve around the sun was once unthinkable

Should ofcourse read:

Quote
hypothesis that the earth revolves around the sun was once unthinkable

Apologies for the confusion, but that's what you occasionally get when you get carried away by a great debate  :)

Joop Knoop.