Back when we had our first boat I built some rope fenders. We let them go with the boat when we sold her, but Lulu always thought we should have kept them. When we got Siempre Sabado we decided that she was traditional enough looking that she could support rope fenders. So, for Christmas a few years ago, Lulu bought me a 500' coil of 3/4" manila line. 500' is a LOT of line. Each fender takes about 30' and frankly, I doubt that even the Mayflower could support 18 rope fenders.
So, we've been moving this big coil of rope around and every so often I try to figure out just where the heck we're going to stow it. Yesterday, after Lulu was finished cleaning the boat, I was inspired to take advantage of the warm, sunny day, and try to organize the coil. I figured that if I laid it ll out and then tied it up in long fakes rather than a coil, it would be easier to store and to use.
It took me over 30 minutes to untangle the mess that resulted from me trying to pull the line from the coil. What a mess. I'm so glad that I had the whole dock to work on and wasn't trying to straighten this mess out at sea. Once I finally got it all untangled and laid out, I measured how much line I still had. After all the fenders we've already made as well as the pieces I've set aside for making 3 or 4 more fenders as well as some baggywrinkle, we still had a hunk of line that was 264' long.
I decided there had to be something else I could do with the line besides make fenders. Lately, I've been interested in traditional ropework and a Turk's head mat or two on the boat seemed like a good way to use up some line. What I really wanted to make was a mat to use in the cockpit. This would be a mat about 2' x 3'. I had absolutely no idea how much line it would take to make a mat this size so I arbitrarily cut the line into three 52' pieces and one 108' piece. I started with one of the 52' pieces.
Why not just use the whole thing and cut off what wasn't needed? Because it would be a HUGE pain to try to drag over 200' of line through every twist and turn of the mat.
I started out using the diagram from Hervey Garrett Smith's book.
His mat had the shape I wanted but I had a terrible time converting his diagrams to reality. After four attempts, I decided to try a different tack. Since my previous attempt at making a mat using "The Ultimate Knot Book" was successful, I decided to go that route again. The problem is that TUKB only diagrams a round mat. But, since this is just my first attempt, I figured that I could find a use for a round mat if it came out OK.
The good news is that the mat came our pretty well for a first try with such large material.
So, my next attempt will be with the 108' piece. I think I know enough now to follow Hervey's diagram for an oblong mat and, if the ratios hold, I should be able to get a 2' x 3' mat out of the 108' length. It will be an ordeal working with that long of a bitter end but again, better on the dock than out at sea.
I'm tentatively planning on making a couple of Sword Mats for the side decks. Using 3/4" line, they should be stiff enough to bridge the opening above our deck scupper that is currently a trip hazard. If it all works out, you can be sure it will be the subject of a future blog.