Saturday, April 12, 2008

Splice of Life

Last night I attended a line splicing clinic at the local boating
store conducted by Steve, who has been splicing for a quarter century.
You could tell right away that Steve loved rope of all sorts. He was
wistful about hemp and sparkling about new high-tech fiber. He showed
us a bit of steel cable next to some high-tech line and claimed the
line was stronger. His eyes twinkled when he told us.

The group of men (one woman appeared later) were eager to learn more
about line and, especially, how to weave line together to form strong
loops for attaching shackles, messengers, and dock cleats. A good
splice is nearly as strong as the line itself whereas a knot degrades
the lines strength by as much as half.

While working with our own lines, the table began to look like the
gimp table at scout camp with bits of tape, fids, knives, loops,
whipping, and sheets of instructions strewn about. It occurred to me
that this was the future as well as the past. Old and older men
sitting around a table asking each other what the leader had just said
or which instruction number we were on. Except for the three cops, who
came to learn about new high-tech line in their department, we were a
pretty tentative crew. The man on my left shook a bit. The one on my
right had trouble marking his line. Another man had difficulty paying
attention. Once we were finished, regardless of how much help we
needed from Steve, there were a dozen proud men with a spliced line to
take home.

Speakeasy goes in the water May 1.

Mark Gillingham
In 1828, Noah Webster copyrighted the first edition of his dictionary.

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