Here’s a sweet picture to linger on to for a while. Awesome capture of some fabulous work.
Here’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, five tiny, tiny mariners in the process of making an eye splice on a 4″ inch rope. They seem quite jolly even though under the watchful eyes of a well dressed officer who has his smooth hands conveniently tucked behind his back.
Ok. The real capture is like this:
The year is 1941 and workers in HMC Dockyard is splicing a 20″ hemp cable.
(Library and Archives Canada)
Yes, hemp, this wonderful natural fiber that sailed the seas, clothed(ships and people), nourished and lightened as well as enlightened people and their homes for thousands of years, before being recklessly banned by the US government in 1937 and by the UN who was forced to follow in 1961.
This plant is enormously versatile and can be used to produce over thousand of products, many of which today are petroleum based. Which is also a big reason why it was banned, of course.
Hemp is real nice to sail and to work with. There ain’t nothing like it, actually. To feel the tension of the smooth, tarred rigging stretching and living while you’re running up there to take a reef is a spectacular feeling of being a part of a big living creature, that surges over the wild sea, which is indeed living too.
Right now you might be thinking that this sounds a lot like what you have felt on a ship with petroleum-based rigging, which is probably true…. I kind of got of on a tangent there.
But hemp is amazing. To work with a running and standing rigging in hemp has a special feeling and you have to learn how it acts and reacts and when you do you get the feeling that it is indeed working with you to tackle every situation the best way.
And when you think about the craftmanship being put into the making of the rope, and even try some rope making yourself, every strand and every single yarn is needed in that special place and in that precise condition for this one purpose, it is pretty stupendous.