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Old 30-06-2014, 00:04   #1
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Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

In some regards sailors are quick to take on new technology (new materials, electronics, even eventually new anchor design ). In some areas though, we seem to be traditionalists, following methods a little blindly because "it is the way it has always been done". Tying some knots seems to fall firmly in the latter category (as does calculating Course to Steer ).

The knots we are currently tying have been in use at least a couple of hundred years and were design for lines of natural fibres that do not slip easily.

The better "new" knots that were first in use nearly a century ago have been largely ignored.

Why are we so slow to take on change?
It is not as if some of the currently taught knots are the best.

We seem reasonably OK with loops - the bowline is rightly beloved by most sailors. Hitches too are well covered - the classic ones such as the rolling, 'round turn and two half hitches', cleat and buntline are in widespread use and work well if used in the right circumstances (even the clove is handy for temporary light attachment). Stoppers too are good (figure 8, double overhand, or Ashley if an even bulkier one is needed).

Where I think we are currently poorly served with "traditional knots" is when it comes to bends (knots that join two lines together).

The Sheet bend slips under high load and can be shaken loose frightfully quickly.

The Double Sheet bend performs much better (almost as well as the Double Fisherman, particularly if the correct version of the two is used and it is dressed well). It too can shake loose quite easily though, so is a poor choice where load is applied and release and applied again, particularly in water. Also in older stiffer line it is difficult to dress and if there is any substantial time between tying the bend and load being applied, it can loosen up enough that it simply slips under load. Disconcertingly, reports that it can occasionally slip completely (for no apparent reason) keep cropping up.

The Double Fisherman faces the problem that it cannot be undone when significant load has been applied.

The Carrick is a reasonable choice, but is slow to dress (can slip substantially undressed) and is not widely taught. It us also very easy to get wrong unless you practise it frequently.

There is not really a decent "traditional" one at all if the lines are of moderately different diameter.

So, if you had to pick just one versatile bend to ingrain in your muscle memory, what is the best bend to use?

A few criteria:
- Very secure
- Reasonably easy to tie and remember
- Can be tied in the dark
- Can be dressed super quickly (ie hand tightened snugly before load is applied)
- Will not shake loose easily before load is applied (or between loads)
- Can be undone
- Can be used for line of different diameter with no or little modification
- Added bonus: can be used to make a more secure end loop than the beloved bowline

From all the reading I have done recently in a knot tying forum and climbers' forums and generally on the internet, I think the Zeppelin bend fits the bill beautifully.

StuM's constant plugging has not been misplaced .

Up until just recently I had been put off by comments such as "risk of confusion and mistakes" (well, hey, you can say that about any knot you have not learned to tie and practised!). Reading the above, I chose to use the Alpine Butterfly bend instead. The Zeppelin, however, is better again and there is no reason not to learn this valuable bend.

Later today I will post photos of the easy method I use. I'll give those of you who are interested a little time to learn it, then I will show you the minor variation that can be used to make it suitable for joining lines of different diameter.

For those who are keen on knots, final photos will be an alternative way of tying this bend, that also allows a strong end loop to be formed (superior to the bowline). I think it helps if you have good familiarity with the standard method first before attempting this.

I am currently playing with modifying the Zeppelin (to start with, apart from the already known double loops and tucks, a bend I have named the Water Zeppelin) to see if it may be suitable for unsheathed Dyneema. Estarzinger found that the ordinary Zeppelin slipped:

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
In my testing the sheet bend slips (very roughly) 50% of the time in brand new dacron line and breaks at about 59% of the rated line strength (which is low among the various good dacron knots).

I just tested the Zeppelin bend, an equally easy knot to tie, and it did not slip and breaks at 69% of rated line strength. It seems a better choice for 'everyday' use. Note: it does slip in bare dyneema.
To wet your appetite, unveiling the near perfect bend any sailor worth his salt should consider learning to tie, the 'Zeppelin'. If you only learn to tie one bend, this should be it:
.
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Old 30-06-2014, 00:14   #2
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Anything named after Zeppelin would suggest a high risk of failure. But apparently not/knot.

Coops.
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Old 30-06-2014, 02:23   #3
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coops View Post
Anything named after Zeppelin would suggest a high risk of failure. But apparently not/knot.

Coops.
Call it the Rosendahl Bend then. That's its other common name:

"An article by Lee and Bob Payne called “The Forgotten Zeppelin Knot” in Boating Magazine (March 1976) revealed how this knot was used until 1962 by the US Navy to tether its lighter-than-air ships. Able seaman Joe Collins, a marlinespike seamanship instructor in the 1930s, told the Paynes that he had served under the American aeronaut hero Lieutenant Commander Charles Rosendahl, skipper of the dirigible Los Angeles, and: “There was only one knot he allowed... either for bending lines together on the airship or for use on the mooring lines. I called it the Rosendahl bend.”"


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Old 30-06-2014, 03:49   #4
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
..........

Later today I will post photos of the easy method I use. I'll give those of you who are interested a little time to learn it, then I will show you the minor variation that can be used to make it suitable for joining lines of different diameter.
..........
Waiting... perhaps not patiently
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Old 30-06-2014, 03:59   #5
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

An old-timer taught me that one even before I read that article calling it a zeppelin bend. I use it all the time. Easy to tie, easy to untie even after loading, and neat-looking.

I look forward to seeing the modifications and improvements.
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:01   #6
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Instructions for tying a Zeppelin bend

INSTRUCTIONS FOR TYING A ZEPPELIN BEND

There are just 4 very easy steps.

STEP 1:
Remember '69' .


This isn't quite enough though. As you would expect, technique is important as well .

There are 4 different combinations possible of passing the tail over or under the standing parts.

Simply remember "Up and Under" for your right hand ie for the '9': the tail goes Up to form the loop and passes Under the standing part.

The left tail ie the '6' does the opposite, therefore it goes down and over. This is no harder to remember than rabbits coming out of burrows and going around trees. Eventually it will just become engrained in your muscle memory.

Your thumbs and forefingers hold the 6 and 9 in place at the junctions.
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:07   #7
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Instructions for tying a Zeppelin bend

STEP 2:
Place the circular portion the '6' on top of the '9' (ie left on right), so in sequence it reads '69'.


In time this becomes habit, but initially just make sure the tails end up on the outside (not both sandwiched on the inside as they would if you put the 9 on top of the 6).
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:16   #8
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Instructions for tying a Zeppelin bend

STEP 3:
Feed the tails through the resulting single hole in opposite directions.


There is only one way in which this can occur: the top tail has to go away from you and through the hole towards you; the bottom tail comes towards you and through the hole away from you. If you try it the other way everything absolutely collapses, you just end up with two loose ends. So it is impossible to get this bit wrong.

Make sure you leave the tails poking out a decent amount (for security).
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:18   #9
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pirate Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

"final photos will be an alternative way of tying this bend, that also allows a strong end loop to be formed (superior to the bowline)"

Bring it on you knotty gal!
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:19   #10
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Instructions for tying a Zeppelin bend

STEP 4:
Yank on the two standing parts (the bits the load will be applied to).


Unless you are using extremely stiff line that needs to be coaxed a little, this yank just somehow miraculously dresses (ie tightens up) the knot beautifully without any fussing.
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Old 30-06-2014, 08:51   #11
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Must say it is a cool looking knot. I will give it a try when I am bored on watch....
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Old 30-06-2014, 08:59   #12
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

I use this knot...I think I picked it up from "The Rigger's Apprentice". It's a good 'un.
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Old 30-06-2014, 12:04   #13
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
An old-timer taught me that one even before I read that article calling it a zeppelin bend. I use it all the time. Easy to tie, easy to untie even after loading, and neat-looking.
Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I use this knot...I think I picked it up from "The Rigger's Apprentice". It's a good 'un.
Good to get some feedback .

Has anyone tried tying this knot using my instructions? Is anything unclear?
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Old 30-06-2014, 12:19   #14
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

Nifty, thanks.

Although from the thread title, I wondered if this was going to be about tying two Zeppelins together.

-Chris
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Old 30-06-2014, 13:18   #15
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Re: Zeppelin Bend - next best thing to sliced bread

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Nifty, thanks.

Although from the thread title, I wondered if this was going to be about tying two Zeppelins together.

-Chris
A 'bend' just describes a knot that ties two lines together. I stuck this in the title to differentiate this knot from the Zeppelin Loop .
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