Tuesday, October 13, 2015

If you can't tie a knot, tie a lot; or what to do when you have plenty of time on your hands:)

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

Partially due to crime and partially due to risk of getting bitten by an malaria(or chikungunya) infected mosquito, it is Peace Corps' policy for me not to be out past dark. Which means 6pm. Which means I have plenty of time on my hands. Having internet does slow down my progress towards doing things that are actually productive but I have a list of things that I want to accomplish while here. Learn Portuguese(well enough to read it when I go to Brazil), read the 20 books I've brought with me that I was putting off at home, learn a little bit about everything with Khan Academy(right now I'm learning about the empires leading up to the first world war), and tie knots. 

Okay quick side-bar: Did you know that the Chinese town of Tsingtao was German colony? Well did you also know that the beer, Tsingtao, was created by German settlers there? I didn't. Pretty interesting to think that the best selling Chinese beer actually had its roots with German beer makers.

Okay one more side-bar: I am currently reading Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund which is pretty darn amazing. I've never read Moby Dick but now I definitely want to. It's tragic, and hilarious at the same time. Here's a quick excerpt: 

[she]seated herself in the windowsill, hundreds of pounds of her silken backside hanging over the edge into the out-of-doors. What a sight, should a passerby look up! It would seem that someone was trying to stuff a feather bed out the window. A woman who used a house as her chair! 
Alas, she so completely filled the sole window that very little of the hot air could escape and none of the cool breeze bypassed the mighty cork of her being.

Hilarious. And then a few chapters later(spoiler alert!), a sperm whale destroys a whaling fleet and makes the surviving crew resort to cannibalism to stay alive. And I'm not even half-way done the book!

Okay back to my goals and knots. I did the most camping this summer that I have in quite some time and while it was fun, it made me realize how limited my knot tying capabilities were. I'm pretty much limited to the overhand and figure 8 knots. So I've decided to learn hone my knot tying skills. 

First thing to know. Anytime you tie a knot in a rope, you weaken the rope's strength. When doing strength and drop testing, the rope will break at the knot. The strongest knots you can use are the figure-eight follow-through, fisherman's bend or clove hitch all of which, when pull-tested, breaks at around 75 to 80 percent of the rope’s full strength. However clover hitches have been known to both slip and bind and usually requires an extra half hitch for safety. The bowline, timber hitch and two half hitches are all slightly weaker knots, at 60-70%. Now to put this in perspective, the normal overhand knot breaks at 40% of the strength of the rope.  In reality most modern climbing ropes have a tensile strength of upwards of 6,000 pounds, so even an overhand knot would fail at something like 2,400 pounds. That type of force is arguably difficult to produce in real-life situations, but why risk it? Why not just learn these knots and have an array of good knots at your disposable if you go climbing or just want to tie your hammock without if falling down. 

Figure-8 Follow Through

Fisherman's Bend
Round Turn and Two Half Hitches(a good alternative to the clove hitch with similar holding power)


Timber Hitch

Two Half Hitches
Or if you don't want to watch each of these videos separately. This video(below) incorporates bowline, 2 half hitches, clove hitch and figure 8. As well as the square knot, taut line and sheet bend.

Or better still just watch this video:

Okay, so I haven't perfected these knots yet but I'm working on it. I've still got plenty of time:)

I have perfected this joke though(ready for it?):
A rope walks into a bar and orders and drink. The bartender says,"We don't serve ropes here." So the rope goes outside, frays his ends, and ties himself into a knot. 

He comes back in and once again orders a drink. The bartender says,"Aren't you that rope I kicked out?" The rope replies, "Nope, I'm a' frayed knot."
haha and that is how I will end this blog:) Good night! I will be here all week!


  1. These evenings are a gift that may never come again, and I love hearing how you are using your time. Good joke, too!

    1. Thanks Nan! I definitely love all the time I have to read:)

  2. I so look forward to reading your blogs Dan .Thanks for sharing ! Great info as well ...Will I practice some of those knots? Frayed Knot lol ..Be safe!

    1. haha! Hilarious! Will maybe if you are REALLY bored???