Always remember to use antiageing serums and moisturizer behind your ears and the back of your neck, to keep your hidden areas well hydrated and help prevent skin from sagging.
We started by learning all the classic knots, bowlines, sheep-shanks, reef-knots, rolling hitches and others, before moving onto the fancy decorative knots like ‘the monkey’s fist’ and ‘the Turk’s head’. Most of us soon grasped the basic rope work, although once the lessons moved past that, someone either had an affinity or they didn’t. I had little trouble on knots in general and easily picked up a good working knowledge of some of the more complex areas, such as splicing, stages, seizings and whippings. I only started to struggle when we moved on to the weaving of blocks and tackles and the rigging of derricks and lifting gear, where more often than not I would manage to entangle everything and produce unworkable gear.
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I looked forward to these seamanship afternoons though, and enjoyed absorbing an understanding of when to use manila ropes, or coir, or hemp, sisal or tarred ropes, ordinary lay, right-hand lay, plaited ropes, polypropylene ropes and all types of artificial fibre. Jimmy was hopeless: all thumbs, the worst in the class for seamanship. Chiefy picked on Jimmy a lot for his Glasgow accent and held him up for ridicule to the rest of us.
Jimmy acted the goat; Chiefy really disliked him for that. Sometime he ordered Jimmy up to the front of the class to demonstrate some complicated piece of work that he knew full well Jimmy would not be able to do. Poor Jimmy would fumble and fail while we all watched him with pity, until Chiefy finally sent him back to his place with humiliating gibes ringing in his ears.