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13 April 2016

K Is For Knot | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.     

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When we last left you, Nancy and her friends had anchored in Moonstone Castle Cove to see if they could help the crew of Double Jinx. Bess also offered to tie the dinghy to the jetty. For some reason, no one seemed to think this was a bad idea, especially given her track record with all things sailing.

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“Bess, wait until you hear this,” said Nancy as Bess came towards them. “This is Mark and Judy from Double Jinx. They saw the guy who stole their dinghy. He had a scraggly beard and was wearing a red baseball hat with Xebec written on the front. Sound familiar?”

“Golly, Nancy. That sounds just like the same guy we had that nasty run-in with at the boat yard and who forced us into shallow waters where we grounded!” Bess looked at Nancy with wide eyes. “What will he do next? Maybe we should return to River Heights. It would be so much safer being at home than out here on the water!”

“Don’t worry Bess. The Coast Guard has already been alerted about what happened and they’ll be on the lookout for him. In the meantime, Don and Sandra are going to give them a lift back to their boat. They’re all participating in the regatta as well. Isn’t that swell?”

“Before we head back to our boats, tell me, how you girls got mixed up in all of this,” said Mark.

“Didn’t you hear about all of the stuff that was stolen from the marina, including Marvin and Shelley’s anchor?” George pointed over to their boat, The Scarlet Slipper. “It happened just the other day and they had to get a replacement anchor at last minute.”

“We were lucky that they had a Rocna anchor in the size we needed,” said Shelley with a smile.

“A Rocna. That’s the kind of anchor we have. Wouldn’t be without it for the world,” said Don.

Judy piped up, “That’s what we have as well! I sleep so much better with our Rocna. I was even thinking of writing an article about it for the yacht club’s newsletter. Maybe they would give us a free anchor to raffle off in exchange for the publicity.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” said Mark. “That’s wishful thinking. Companies that sell anchors and marine products never give anything away for free. You would be lucky to even get a discount. Although, it would be nice considering how expensive they are.”

“We picked ours up for a great price. It was a real steal, wasn’t it, dear?” asked Sandra. “What was the name of that guy who sold it to us?”

“His name was Pete. Nice enough young chap. We met him when we went out on a fishing trip with Xebec Charters. His uncle, Captain Gus, runs the charter business. Crotchety old guy, but he sure does know the waters around here.” Don stared off into the distance, daydreaming about catching snapper.

“That’s right. Pete was helping his uncle out that day. Anyway, he got us a super deal on our Rocna.” Sandra turned to Mark and Judy. “Why don’t I give you his contact details? He might be able to sort you out with a replacement dinghy.”

“Sure, that sounds great.” Mark looked over at the setting sun. “We should probably be heading back to the boat before the sun goes down.” He turned to Nancy and her friends. “Thanks again for stopping by to check on us. We’ll see you tomorrow at Grande Isle after the race.”

As they all made their way up to the jetty, Nancy whispered to Bess and George, “Did you hear that? They were talking about Pete. The guy whose name and number were written on the back of that Xebec Charters business card we found by that white catamaran in the boat yard.”

George nodded, “And that suspicious guy on the catamaran was wearing a Xebec Charters hat. It sounds like they’re all in it together.”

They came up to their dinghy and noticed Marvin staring down with a perplexed look at the painter which Bess had tied to the jetty. It consisted of a series of complex and intricate knots. “Um, Bess, what kind of knots did you say you had been learning? This doesn’t quite look like a clove hitch.”

Bess looked down at the knot uncomfortably. “Well, I couldn’t quite remember how to tie a clove hitch. So, I figured the more knots, the better.”

Nancy smiled and said, “Let’s just call this one the Bess Special knot. It’s one of a kind, just like you.”

Tune in on Monday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – L is for Lazy Jacks.

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Lots and lots of line. Try tying knots in these bad boys blindfolded with people yelling faster, faster at you.

I have a confession to make - I hate tying knots. I'm bad at it under pressure (and without pressure of any kind whatsoever, if I'm honest) and it's rather embarrassing.

Actually, let me rephrase that. I have an announcement to make - I hate tying knots and I'm proud of it.

There, now I feel like someone on the Jerry Springer Show. I've taken something that most people would be ashamed of and turned it into a virtue. Now, all I need is my own reality show.

Unfortunately, being able to tie knots quickly and under pressure is an important skill to have on a boat. The Bess Special knot didn't come out of thin air. It's based on a little episode we had on our old boat in New Zealand, where I handcrafted a truly unique knot, which Scott dubbed the Ellen Special.

I recently found a little knot tying kit on the free table at our marina. I guess whoever left it has already mastered all of the 50 need-to-know knots for boaters. More power to them. Maybe they've moved on to diesel engine repair, another skill set I need to acquire. The kit comes with a little length of line and illustrated cards of various knots. It even has challenge cards - you can gain points for each knot you tie correctly.

So, now I spend my nights practicing knots and watching old episodes of Monarch of the Glen, while wearing sweatpants. Glamorous and riveting stuff. Totally has the makings of a reality show, don't you think?

By the way, if the nice folks from Rocna Anchors are reading this (and, if you are - wow! why?), feel free to send me all sorts of lovely swag for the mention. We really do love our Rocna.

What's something you need to learn to do and how are you going to go about doing it?

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46 comments:

  1. I would learn to play the piano--but I fear it's probably too late in life at this point!

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    1. Stephanie, it's never too late to learn something new. I teach piano, and I just started a student who is 60. Find a local teacher!
      Mary at Play off the Page

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    2. I definitely agree with Mary - never to late to learn playing the piano. Go for it!

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  2. Tweet and tag Rochna. You never know. One blogger tweeted about a particular kind of alcohol, and they sent him a bottle. My boys are scouts. It's all about the knots, right? We'll test it this summer when we do some camping. It's never too late to learn something new. I'd like to learn to tap dance.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. I'm not a tweeter, but maybe I'll flag this post up to them :-) You never know, do you?

      Scouting teaches kids such great skills. I wish I had been a Girl Scout, then I might know how to tie knots now.

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  3. Wow, what a relief the knots held! I really thought today was going to be a "the dinghy's drifted off disaster".
    I'd really like to learn Spanish. I do spend a little time on Duolingo (a free language website), but I hope to dedicate more time to that endeavor. - Lucy

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    1. I tried Duolingo for Spanish. It was a fun way to learn a little bit of the language. I really should up my game and start studying Spanish seriously. It would be so handy to know some in our travels.

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  4. After chatting with a lovely lady who was sketching the scene in front of her on a west coast beach a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to learn. I could just picture myself sitting on deck with a pad in hand, creating masterpieces. Well, come to find out, sketching live is really, really hard. But I am teaching myself to draw from photos. I bought a book, followed the lessons, and have fallen in love with it.

    http://www.svcambria.com/2016/04/k-is-for-kayak-and-other-things-that.html

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    1. That's great! I enjoyed painting when I was in New Zealand, but didn't spend too much time sketching. That would probably be a good hobby to get into on a boat as the supplies don't take up much room and you can do it anywhere.

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  5. I think I couldn't do it (tie the knots) and to do it fast... I guess you wear some sort of gloves while doing it to protect your hands? I admire professional dancers and watch every tv show about it, sadly only know the steps to waltz (and not doing it gracefully, according to my husband). I'd like to learn basic dances so I can enjoy it with my husband once in a while, not sure I'll have an opportunity though...

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    1. I wish I could do ballroom dancing too! My hubby and I took a class once. I think he had a lot of bruises on his feet from me stepping on them so much.

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  6. Xebec seems to be the key here. I picked up on that right away. Very interesting turn here. I can't wait to hear more.

    I do a cleat hitch when I tie up a boat. I've done it for so many years I can do it in my sleep. Easy to do and it stays nice and secure.

    Have a fabulous day Ellen. ☺

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    1. You are one smart lady, Sandee! I'm not sure everyone else has figured out that Xebec Charters is involved :-)

      I actually can do a cleat hitch too. I use it for the lines on our boat too. Plus, I can do a clove hitch, which I use for tying our fenders onto the lifelines. But, tying a bowline still gives me problems.

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  7. Loving your story. Great way to do the challenge. So... what ARE the 50 knots a sailor should know?

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    1. I think I should do a separate post on that at some point :-)

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  8. I keep saying that I will learn a heap of things whenever I am retired! As it is, I am always busy, never bored and I doubt that will ever change. I think if you know the five most important knots or so, you're pretty safe on a sailboat... I never knew any more and didn't feel like I was missing out.

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

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    1. The chances of me ever learning all 50 of the knots that the kit promises to teach me are pretty slim. I know a few, but need to learn a few more, especially the bowline.

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  9. I was a Girl Scout for quite a few years so learned a lot about knots then. Back in my hippie days I made macrame stuff for awhile including a hammock. The knots held--the fiber didn't!

    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge http://www.kathleenvalentineblog.com/

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    1. Now, making a hammock would be a great idea! That's a clever use of knots!

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  10. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. I like the titles of your Nancy Drew story, incorporating sailing terms. My husband and I sail a small 15 ft Montgomery (well, not lately, but we still have it). I'm not good at tying knots either and also have a kit to practice with.

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    1. That sounds like that would have been a fun boat to sail on.

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  11. I need to learn how to ride a bike.
    I wonder how long it would take me to learn? I also wonder if I'll be able to balance...?
    Writer In Transit

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    1. I remember learning to ride a bike as a kid with training wheels. I wonder if they still do that and if you can get them for big people sized bikes? You should definitely learn - it's so much fun to go biking.

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  12. I was the worst knot tying boy scout of all time. I feel this particular pain. I need to learn how to finger pick on the guitar. I've learned chords, flat picking, but for some reason, putting forth the effort to finger pick is beyond me. I need to do better.

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    1. I'm not sure what the difference is between flat and finger picking. I think I'll ask Wikipedia about that today :-) Good luck with working on your finger picking.

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    2. I'm a much better finger picker than flat - let's meet somewhere warm and give each other lessons, Ryan!

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  13. Oh, man... I'd be clueless about any sort of knot (except, maybe, shoelaces :D ). Cool story, though!
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs (and member of co-host Damyanti's team, D's Company )

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    1. Thanks for mentioning shoelaces - that's another knot I can do which I forgot about!

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  14. I'm convinced you only need 7 knots: reef, figure 8, bowline, clove hitch, half hitch, cleat hitch, rolling hitch. The rest are fluff.
    Me, I'd really like to learn celestial navigation. If I can just find someone to teach me...

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    1. Celestial navigation would be so interesting and so practical. I'm fascinated that the Naval Academy has started teaching that again.

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  15. I remember learning to tie knots for a girl scout badge ... I failed miserably :(
    I would love to learn to quilt. I adore the different fabrics, vibrant colors and playful patterns. But I struggle to sew a straight line.

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    1. I've never quilted, but I love looking at all of the pretty quilting fabrics at the fabric store. It seems like a really rewarding hobby.

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  16. Well, I thought it was a bad idea letting Bess tie the knots and I am very relieved that there were no evil consequences! Still enjoying your story.

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  17. 50 knots? I'm pretty good with knots, but think that one only needs to know a half-dozen.

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    1. I think you're right, plus my brain gets distracted easily and wouldn't put up with having to remember 50 of them.

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  18. We've got a Rocna anchor too! Love it. Never lets us down And who needs 50 knots? No one!

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    1. They are great aren't they. Pricey, but great. It was one of the first things we prioritized for our current boat.

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    2. All this talk of Rockna anchors has me feeling GTE (ground tackle envy)! But for now the 35# CQR on chain will wave to do the job...

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  19. LOL - I'm very glad the knot was at least stable :) I was never any good with knots when we learned them as Brownies - the only one I can remember is the granny knot and the reef knot!
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. The granny knot sounds like it's right up my alley. Don't know what it is (but Wikipedia will solve that for me), but if a granny can do it, so can I.

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    2. It's just a square knot with the second half tied backwards. It won't hold a dead chicken to the floor.

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    3. But, what do I do with my dead chickens? They keep trying to get up and wander around. I'm constantly finding them hiding in the v-berth.

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  20. Oh dear, 50 knots? Here I was feeling accomplished that I know how to tie a slip knot and a weaver's knot. Loving your series, and learning quite a bit about sailing as well.

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    1. Thanks Deborah - I'm glad you're enjoying it!

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  21. I thought the Bess Special was a cute touch, but I like it even more now that I know it was inspired by your rl story. :)

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