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Old 29-06-2015, 14:59   #1
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Knot Dyslexia

Anybody else have problems tying knots backwards or from the opposite way then you're used too?

A little back story:

Recently, another forum member (Roy M. Thanks brother!) was kind enough to help us out of a sticky situation. We had lost power and Roy came over to side tie his dinghy to my boat and motor us around to side tie onto his trimaran till we could figure out what to do...

Roy tied his stern line onto one of my deck cleats and threw me his bow line and said to make it fast and my brain short circuited! I literally could not reason out how to tie a knot from that angle. If I had been standing in the dingy facing my boat, I could have tied off several different ways but from the other side, I just drew a blank.

At the time I just attributed it to being tired from staying up all night nursing the boat into port. But it stuck with me and I decide to try some experiments. Now, I'm not the greatest sailor but I can tie a couple knots and navigate my way along the coast...but sure enough, every time I tried to reverse my position on the line and tie a knot, I just couldn't wrap my brain (or the line) around it, it felt like I was running in slow motion

So is it just a case of practice makes perfect and I need to brush up on my skills, or am I just coming at it from the wrong way? (<---see what I did there )
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Old 29-06-2015, 15:36   #2
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Probably a little of both. Could have been a little nervous. I wouldn't read too much into it. A little practice can't hurt.
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Old 29-06-2015, 16:22   #3
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Maybe learn the nature of a knot like the bowline for example. There are a bunch of ways to tie one but they are all pretty much the same. With some pratice, from a strange angle you will see what needs to happen to the knot to make it work. "If you can't tie knots, tie lot's"
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Old 29-06-2015, 16:27   #4
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

knots have their "mirror images" just like optical isomers of molecular configurations or like the identical yet opposite structure of your right and left hand. One form may be more traditional, but the mirror image knot is not less functional.

Getting lost in the moment of making the opposite form is not unexpected!
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Old 29-06-2015, 16:42   #5
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

As you said, the knot wasn't the issue, the angle was. You couldn't "see" it.

Get in that angle and tie it till you can see it.

Like the man said, "Tie lots"


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Old 29-06-2015, 17:03   #6
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

So is it just a case of practice makes perfect

Yes, I liked the if you can't... tie lots quote too.

But lots of a few if that makes sense; I'm very wary of those 'salty-dogs' who claim they can tie fifty three knots, including the left-handed shamrock overhand closer hitch. When it comes to crew, give me one who can only tie bowline, clove hitch, rolling hitch and reef knot, plus make off around a cleat, but is able to do any of them first time, every time; the rest are just for showing off and making decorations.

I learnt most of my knots as a climber and it was often said of bowlines in our climbing-club: "When you can tie a bowline, one-handed, behind your back, using either hand and do it in the dark and rain, that's when you can say 'I can tie bowlines'."

Having recalled this adage, I just had a try before posting this and whilst it's neither dark nor raining, I could only manage to tie one left-handed if it was in front of me, so it looks like I need to do some practicing too? I'll bear that in mind as entertainment for my next night-watch.
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Old 29-06-2015, 18:12   #7
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Most likely, practice will help, especially if you devote some time to understanding the knot as you tie it. The challenge of tieing it one handed will also concentrate you on the mechanics of it, if you want to try to learn to do it while you're holding on with the other hand.

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Old 30-06-2015, 09:05   #8
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Regarding crew: I often have novices aboard and run them through the basic 4 or 5 knots.
Its amazing that intelligent people sometimes have difficulty with the clove hitch. Bowline etc seem Ok (rabbit comes out of the hole round the tree etc) but the clove hitch? Just finds a block somehow.
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Old 30-06-2015, 09:28   #9
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Tunnel vision. It can happen to just about everyone in critical moments when there's an adrenaline surge. I learned from my dive training in caves and working with federal agencies that you need to practice these kinds of things all the time so if it ever becomes necessary, then you can do it practically asleep. That said, when I was first learning to tie a bowline, I could do it every which way sitting comfortably at my desk, but when someone on a boat said "quick, tie that line off there," my brain went numb. Every. Single. Time. So it's good to also practice it again and again while under some pressure, such as put a time constraint on it or do it in a certain place like the grocery store when people are staring at you
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Old 30-06-2015, 09:29   #10
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

You need to speak with Seaworthy Lass.

Cruisers & Sailing Forums - View Profile: Seaworthy Lass

She is the resident knot genius around here IMHO. She will set you straight.
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Old 30-06-2015, 09:36   #11
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Learn a couple of different ways to tie bowlines. I teach one method for attaching the bowline to a clew or elsewhere, and another for tying a loose bowline. One is tied toward you, the other is tied away from you.

Personally I do not like the rabbit and hole memory aid. I will use it only if I have to.
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Old 30-06-2015, 09:37   #12
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hahser View Post
Regarding crew: I often have novices aboard and run them through the basic 4 or 5 knots.
Its amazing that intelligent people sometimes have difficulty with the clove hitch. Bowline etc seem Ok (rabbit comes out of the hole round the tree etc) but the clove hitch? Just finds a block somehow.
I think the issue is that the clove hitch is much simpler that it looks.
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Old 30-06-2015, 09:53   #13
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hahser View Post
Regarding crew: I often have novices aboard and run them through the basic 4 or 5 knots.
Its amazing that intelligent people sometimes have difficulty with the clove hitch. Bowline etc seem Ok (rabbit comes out of the hole round the tree etc) but the clove hitch? Just finds a block somehow.
I'm one of them.

I learnt the bowline, zeppelin bend, reef knot etc no problem but the clove hitch? All kinds of issues. I think I have it now, but even then it sometimes takes me a few tries. No idea why that particular knot gives me so much trouble!
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Old 09-07-2015, 05:55   #14
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

It's definitely a practice thing. I teach seamanship (not the sailing variety) and I'm always amazed how much effort it takes to get a knot to stick in a new deck hands head.

I am definitely one of those who can tie a bowling one handed in the dark with either hand- but I haven't always been.

As you encounter more and more situations as the one you described you will get better and better at it.

When on watch just play around with rope. When you get your knot down, challenge yourself, try one handed, try closing your eyes, try one handed with your eyes closed.

Experience combined with practise will make you a whizz. I spent years as a professional deckhand, on a buoy tender, so you're tying knots dozens and dozens of times a day in varying and sometimes dangerous conditions. If you screw up or are to slow, then you have a bosun cursing you for being inept and the Captain over the public address system suggesting you might be better off working in the galley. Which sounds harsh- but really it's just incentive to becoming a better seaman.

No doubt your experience has already made you a better seaman, just keep practising.

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Old 27-07-2015, 19:08   #15
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Re: Knot Dyslexia

The problem is you were thinking about it. Ask any major league batter what they are thinking about during the wind up and they will say "nothing".... in fact, most of the pre-batting routines they do may look silly and pointless but they serve to help clear the batters mind. Knots are the same. If you have to think about it (e.g. "the end goes around the loop") then you haven't practiced enough.

If you want to know more then look up the "four stages of competence". Your friend is likely Unconsciously Competent (Stage 4) at tying that knot, while my bet is you are Conscious Competent (Stage 3).
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