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Old 07-09-2013, 04:53 PM   #1
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Physical laws of ropes

While sitting cross-legged on the swim platform of the boat on Sunday, untangling some ropes and watching people on jet skies look at me while I looked at them, it came to me that there are certain immutable physical laws which govern how ropes behave. Thought I would share these.

1. Any two ropes, laid in proximity, will tangle of their own accord.

2. A dock line which has one end carelessly left loose on the dock, and the other end tied to a cleat on your boat as you pull away from the fuel dock, will always catch on something on the dock.

3. A rope thrown onto the dock as your dinghy drifts away, in the forlorn hope that it will catch on something, will never catch on anything.

4. A rope will never be the right length.

5. Even domesticated ropes will refuse to obey your girlfirend.

Those are the ones which occur to me. Probably there are more.

John
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:05 PM   #2
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You can't push a rope :-)
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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Aha, I knew it !
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:59 PM   #4
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It is not only moden ropes are contrary. Here is an excerpt from Three Men in a Boat a very funny book, written by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889, about three batchelors in an English canal boat.

There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.
I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.
That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession — conscientious, respectable tow-lines — tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them.
This tow-line I had taken in myself just before we had got to the lock. I would not let Harris touch it, because he is careless. I had looped it round slowly and cautiously, and tied it up in the middle, and folded it in two, and laid it down gently at the bottom of the boat. Harris had lifted it up scientifically, and had put it into George’s hand. George had taken it firmly, and held it away from him, and had begun to unravel it as if he were taking the swaddling clothes off a new-born infant; and, before he had unwound a dozen yards, the thing was more like a badly-made door-mat than anything else.
It is always the same, and the same sort of thing always goes on in connection with it. The man on the bank, who is trying to disentangle it, thinks all the fault lies with the man who rolled it up; and when a man up the river thinks a thing, he says it.
“What have you been trying to do with it, make a fishing-net of it? You’ve made a nice mess you have; why couldn’t you wind it up properly, you silly dummy?” he grunts from time to time as he struggles wildly with it, and lays it out flat on the tow-path, and runs round and round it, trying to find the end.
On the other hand, the man who wound it up thinks the whole cause of the muddle rests with the man who is trying to unwind it.
“It was all right when you took it!” he exclaims indignantly. “Why don’t you think what you are doing? You go about things in such a slap-dash style. You’d get a scaffolding pole entangled you would!”
And they feel so angry with one another that they would like to hang each other with the thing.
Ten minutes go by, and the first man gives a yell and goes mad, and dances on the rope, and tries to pull it straight by seizing hold of the first piece that comes to his hand and hauling at it. Of course, this only gets it into a tighter tangle than ever. Then the second man climbs out of the boat and comes to help him, and they get in each other’s way, and hinder one another. They both get hold of the same bit of line, and pull at it in opposite directions, and wonder where it is caught. In the end, they do get it clear, and then turn round and find that the boat has drifted off, and is making straight for the weir.
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwnall View Post

Probably there are more.
You can't shoot pool with one
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:52 PM   #6
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Any rope tossed, whether to a person or over a piling or cleat, will be one foot too short to reach its mark!
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #7
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The ONLY "rope" on a boat is attached to the clapper of the ships bell. Everything else is "line".
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:34 PM   #8
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Line is a nautical term for a rope. But a rope can be a line attached on only one end in normal use. The bell rope, the bucket rope, the tiller rope, the bolt rope, check rope, foot rope, monkey rope, and the dip rope.

Read more: The meaning of rope vs line

I have also been taught that rope is rope till it's assigned a task...then it becomes a line if not one of the above.

It's also known as the "rope locker" not the "line locker" aboard ship....
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:58 PM   #9
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"I have also been taught that rope is rope till it's assigned a task...then it becomes a line if not one of the above."

That makes sense. The cordage on the big spools in my store say "Rope" on the label. The shorter pieces of cordage with eyes spliced in them say "Dock Line" on the label.

Sometimes blow boaters buy rope that turns into sheets or halyards on their boat.
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:21 PM   #10
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Tuesday morning I was awakened by an unusual sound and saw a tug alongside, portside forward. The free end of its natural-fiber rope was presumably tied to the ship's bow in preparation of the ship making a ninety-degree starboard turn to the berth. The ship would have the dock on its starboard side. So, presumably the tug would be pushing to help turn the boat and perhaps the rope would be used to pull the boat if needed to arrest the turn. (The ship had bow and stern thrusters so I'm unsure of the need for the tug. Perhaps the tidal current or weather was a factor.) ... Would that rope be a tow-line even if it was used as a painter at the time I saw it. (Sorry, the photo of the bow end of the tug is poor: the weather was foggy and the window was covered with condensation.)

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Old 07-10-2013, 09:41 PM   #11
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Really hard to say from your description...it's never a painter but might be one of the lines in the picture if she was made up in side tow...but I'm guessing it was just a bastardized tie off based on a specific situation...plus I doubt if it was natural fiber...nowadays a lot of synthetics look just like it but I haven't seen natural in awhile....could be but I doubt it...
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:09 AM   #12
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Great models of a side tie , but the towing boat had better attend to that crack from his stern clear thru the deck house
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:19 AM   #13
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A piece of roap is exactly twice as long as half it's. Length
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:30 AM   #14
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It Would NEVER be a natural fiber rope in todays world aboard these ship docking tugs. They use a version of synthetic lines that has been purpose engineered for high horsepower loads generated by tractor type tugs.
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Old 07-11-2013, 08:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwnall View Post
While sitting cross-legged on the swim platform of the boat on Sunday, untangling some ropes and watching people on jet skies look at me while I looked at them, it came to me that there are certain immutable physical laws which govern how ropes behave. Thought I would share these.

1. Any two ropes, laid in proximity, will tangle of their own accord.

2. A dock line which has one end carelessly left loose on the dock, and the other end tied to a cleat on your boat as you pull away from the fuel dock, will always catch on something on the dock.

3. A rope thrown onto the dock as your dinghy drifts away, in the forlorn hope that it will catch on something, will never catch on anything.

4. A rope will never be the right length.

5. Even domesticated ropes will refuse to obey your girlfirend.

Those are the ones which occur to me. Probably there are more.

John
They also share many of the characteristics of extension cords...funny that...
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