Here's a salty secret of mariners of yore. Master this art, and command the respect of leathery sea-farers the oceans over, without even smelling of spinach.
You will need a stout rope about half a chain in length. Run it out, straight along the deck, taking care not to start within half a chain of the water. Now take hold of the rope about a third of the way along. Don't worry, with practice you will learn to be decisive about the choice of end.
Carefully straighten your back and legs. You should find that part of the rope has risen from the deck. If this has not happened, it may be because you forgot to keep hold of the rope, or perhaps you have abnormally long arms. In either case, please do it again, properly.
Next, we are going to form a bend in this raised section. To do this, you must maintain your grip with the first hand and grasp a nearby point on the rope with the other hand. Adjust the separation of your hands until approximately the same as the separation of your shoulders. (If it proves impossible to do this, try loosening your grip a little).
Now bring your hands together, quite slowly, or you will hurt your wrists or thumbs or something. The bend should now be complete. If you have a circular loop instead, it's because you started with one palm up and the other palm down. This is advantageous, since you have anticipated the next step, but it also means that you have a sick mind and are probably useless at everything.
If you now have a bend, like normal people, you now need to rotate one hand so that its thumb points in the opposite direction to its original orientation. It should now be possible to grasp the two adjacent sections of rope in a single hand. Provided that you've learned to be a little more decisive, you now have a circular loop.
We're about half-way through at this point; a good time for a breather if you need one. Don't take too long, though, or it may get dark.
Somewhere in your vicinity, and most probably down rather than up, there should be the free end of a length of rope. Take a couple of steps towards it (this is the leg-move we learned last week, remember?) Pick it up using your now-spare hand, and thread it through your loop.
The next sequence of actions is critical. First, let go of the threaded end. Now withdraw your arm from the loop, taking care not to bring the rope-end with it. Next, reach round the outside of the loop and take hold of the rope-end once more, using the extricated hand.
Pull gently. I said gently. Now you've cut off the circulation in the fingers of your other hand. Let's try that step again a little more carefully, shall we?
Pull gently, and as the loop begins to close, transfer the grip of your loop hand to a length of rope just outside the loop. Continue to pull. If nothing happens, make sure that you have positioned your hands on opposite sides of the loop. Do I have to spell everything out? Sheesh.
If you've followed all the instructions correctly, you'll eventually reach a point where the loop won't get any smaller. You should now notice that a knobbly, twisty thing has appeared in the rope. Congratulations! You have tied your first knot. The mystical crafts of the sea are accessible to the diligent layman after all. We'll be on to shoe-laces and neckties in no time.
Next Week : Preparing a Glass of Water