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Tied Up In Knots

As my “Weather’s Better in the Bahamas” series winds down, I wanted to tell you all about a competition we had on board the Pecheur that week.

You probably already know that Boy Scouts tie knots. Well, sailors tie knots, too. (You knew that, right?) The two knots that all of us (even us adult, non-scout types) had to be proficient in before setting foot on the boat were the clove hitch and the bowline (BOH-lin). Well, as you would expect of people who are getting ready for a trip to the Bahamas, we all made sure that we knew how to tie these knots, but not to mastery level.

Much to our surprise, we found out at that first briefing session that not only would we use our knot knowledge while sailing, but we’d also be involved in a bowline-tying contest all week. The contest would have several rounds, with a final before we’d head home. The winner of the entire contest would win a gorgeous Turks Head bracelet, tied on his (or her, since I was eligible, too!) wrist by Captain Del himself.

Well, we practiced tying knots ALL. WEEK. LONG. When we weren’t sailing or snorkeling or cooking or swimming or cleaning or singing or jumping off the roof or searching for conch shells, we were tying bowlines. We needed to tie them accurately and QUICKLY.

We practiced alone…


and we practiced in groups.


Here I am, preparing to compete in the first round. I was pretty fast, sometimes.


During round two (a couple of days later), the older boy competed against Emsy, who was fast as lightening. I remember during this particular pairing, the kid–who wasn’t yet proficient– -was tying his knot as fast as he could, which was still a little bit on the slow side. At the same time, Emsy intentionally tied hers in slow motion, dancing and swaying back and forth all the while, trying to give him the edge. He still lost.


That night, the night of round two, the prize for the first place winner was an ice-cold can of coke. You may think that’s no big deal; to that I say, “Go sailing in a really, really hot area and drink only water, lemonade, and fruit punch for four straight days and THEN talk to me about how an ice-cold can of coke is nothing special.”

We were all insanely jealous of the winner, but he earned it.

On the night of round three, the Bowline Final, the excitement was thick in the air. The boys really, really wanted that Turk’s Head bracelet, but they wanted bragging rights too. I can’t even begin to try and figure out how many hours we all spent that week, sitting on deck (or below deck when it rained) practicing our bowlines.

In the end, it was between the winner of round two (A.J.), another boy named Dan, and one of the dads. It is *ridiculous* how excited we all were, going into this final contest. But you’ll see, because I’m about to show you. And you’ll see how exciting it was for the winner, too. Check it out:

The next morning? He got his bracelet.



Months later, it pretty much rotted through and he had no choice but to throw it away, but I found out later that he had researched how to make them and soon after Captain Del’s creation was gone, another new one took its place. I smiled when I heard about that, because he found a way to extend our trip, even after we returned home.

©2010 Suburban Scrawl

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