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Not afraid of frayed knots: Captain teaches rope skills to kids

Reposted from August 2008

It wasn’t meant to be a lecture on the lost art of marlinspike seamanship.

But when a seasoned captain like Capt. Paul ‘Whale’ Weakley gets around eager kids, he makes time to teach them.

The latest kids who wanted to learn were Darcy Jensen and Kenna Reed (the niece and daughter of The Triton’s David and Lucy Reed). Darcy has recently been taking sailing lessons and may have an opportunity to forgo some of her freshman year of high school to sail across the ocean.

She asked Whale for some help learning rope skills.

“This is the same stuff you learn in summer camp, tying these knots and making bracelets and lanyards,” he said during the trio’s first session in Whale’s living room. “Then you figure out it’s a sennit knot and it’s a famous sailing knot and it’s no longer something stupid you learned in summer camp. These are the pull tabs for all the shackles on a sailboat.”

Fourteen-year-old Darcy and 6-year-old Kenna have been doing their homework, practicing Turk’s heads, monkey’s fists and making enough sennit knot lanyards to offer all their family and friends key chains.

“This really is a lost art,” Whale said. “Crews today all say that they’ll get their knots and splicing done ashore. They see me walking down the dock and ask me to do it.

“Part of it’s lazy, part of it is desire,” he said. “Do you want to do it right or not?”

Part of it, too, is that there aren’t many veteran captains like Whale willing to take the time to teach young people.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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