Learning The Ropes – Untie Rather Than Cut

In sailing, there are many lessons learned on the boat which can easily apply to life, and many come from the ropes themselves. Of course, sailing snobs will attack you for calling a “line” a rope, but let’s forgive them in advance.

In learning the ropes, one will uncover special situations, special knots to use, and which knots become rapidly permanent after bearing a strain. But inside all of that, plus the callouses which arrive on your hands after a time, is the idea that each piece of rope becomes more and more precious the further from shore you get. And the idea of losing a piece of rope due to mis-management becomes more egregious indeed when you might as well be a million miles from a replacement.

Never cut what can be untied copy

One lesson is never to cut a line which could be untied. The knife or hatchet is a last resort. And cutting is destructive to hundreds of potential future uses. Like cutting wood when building something to fit, you can always take away a bit more, but you can never add back. Life lesson metaphors abound if one applies this to relationships.

Stow Lines Properly copy

Another lesson comes in the form of being neat, tidy, and ship shape with your lines. To a sailing newbie, taking the time to coil and stow a line may seem needless when it appears to be in no one’s way at all. But then again, it is in nobody’s way now, when the ship is flat and the sea is calm. Yet, later if the seas are bucking, and the deck is awash, and that line now stretches out across the deck it will either be whipping around and beating you to death, or wrapping around something you desperately need to move in a hurry, etc. Properly stowing a line is like a bachelor making his bed before leaving for work. You never know when the day will be that you meet someone and decide to bring them home.

The summary: Make your bed, stow your lines, and don’t cut a line except as a last resort.