Knotting a rope can leave anyone tied up in knots, literally! The art of rope tying and the types of knots extend from use in regular everyday life harnessing a clothes line to specialized situations like boating, climbing, sailing, fishing, rescue and many others. Knots are also highly complex and designed to suit various purposes from regular everyday requirements to high performance situations like safety, search and rescue etc.
Ropes are indispensable for lifting weights, to hoist things up; in fact it is a virtual ‘life-liner’ in climbing, rescuing and searching. It is considered one of the few elements that are not backed by other support equipment or design in the protection system and hence it is vital that a rope must not fail the purpose it is designed for.
Therefore, it is very important to have a basic understanding and knowledge of the construction and design of ropes as well as in choosing the right ones to use for a specific purpose so that risks are mitigated.
All ropes may look alike to a layman, but ropes meant for different purposes fall into specific categories – dynamic and static. Those that take stretch when in use are designed to absorb and dissipate energy are known as dynamic and these are the ones generally used for climbing. Static ropes, on the other hand, are designed for minimal stretch and are mainly used in rescue work where heights and altitudes are a factor. The purposes of these ropes cannot be interchanged.
There are literally thousands of knots for different purposes – decorative knots, fisherman knots and utility knots.
These serve various functions as mentioned earlier and are used by boaters, search and rescue teams, scouts, and many other outdoor purposes. It is essential to know at least a few knots or categories that will come in handy in a situation that calls for immediate action. Three of the most basic utility knot categories are:
• Bends, which are knots used to tie two or more ropes
• Hitches, which are the ones used to knot objects and ropes together
• Loop, which is basically a loop in the leader or main rope itself
Besides these, there are knots for –
• tying down (Security), required when an object needs to be secured to an area or a platform;
• pulley type (Hitch), which is a useful knot because it can function like a pulley system; and
• fisherman’s knot or water knot which are useful to join two lengths or pieces of rope together to lengthen the rope or make an extension.
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