3/24/2011 – Some more ropework

My big plan today was to make a swim ladder for getting back onboard after swimming or dinghying around. We had this old piece-of-crap swim ladder that hung from the gunwales. It had aluminum sides and hooks and plastic steps. We bought it second hand some time ago. While we were in Avalon back in early November, I stepped on it while climbing out of the dinghy and the step just snapped in two. I thought, “uh-oh, better cut back on the cheeseburgers a bit” but then, Lulu stepped on the next rung and it snapped as well. Now, Lulu isn’t hardly big enough to snap her fingers, much less a swim ladder step. The plastic was obviously very rotten. So, yeah, I will have fries with that.

Anyway, we bought another POC ladder at Minney’s in Newport Beach but have never had occasion to use it. We just step up from the dinghy to the boat and so far we haven’t had occasion to actually swim from the boat. But I knew I wanted something better. I had some extra line and I remembered seeing a rope ladder in one of Hervey Garrett Smith’s books. I dug through “The Arts Of The Sailor” but found nothing. Next I cracked open “The Marlinspike Sailor” and there it was on page 49. I broke out some old spare line and started tying knots.

The ladder itself went really fast. Splicing a lanyard on to the loop took way longer, mainly because the line I was using sort of tended to fall apart as soon as the strands were unlayed. That, and the fact that the twist held the line together tenaciously and it was like pulling teeth to open the strands enough to make a splice. But, soon enough it was all done.


The rungs are about a foot apart and, yes, they are kind of narrow. Smith maintains that the one-footed rung is the right and traditional configuration. He feels that a double-footed rung is unnecessary and will undoubtedly sag badly. Good enough for me. The large diameter rungs, made of soft dacron line, are very kind to bare feet. The lanyard allows it to be tied to whatever is handy and it’s long enough to hang down into the water, making it easier to climb than if the first rung was at the surface. It also folds up to stow in a very small spot. I gave the POC ladder to a local Mexican guy who likes to get free stuff from the boats. He was welcome to it.

While I was making this ladder, Gary from s/v Megadon next door asked me if I wanted a fishing pole. Gary is getting ready to try to sell Megadon and he’s pretty sure he’s going to take a bath on the deal. So, he doesn’t feel inclined to leave a bunch of stuff aboard for the next owner. So, he had this medium weight Daiwa graphite pole with a Penn 309 open spool reel that he was offering to give me. HELL YES, I want it! One of my jobs today was going to be going to the store (Ferre-Mar) and buying a fishing pole and reel so we’d be ready to haul in the lunkers up north this summer. Now Gary had saved me a trip and a considerable sum of money. Then he offered me a tackle box full of goodies. There are even lures small enough for our little lightweight “playing at anchor” rods that we brought from home. Combined with the stuff that we bought in Ensenada, we are pretty well set.

But it didn’t stop there. Gary then asked if I wanted any line. I thought he meant fishing line and said “sure”. Turns out he meant lines as in “sheets”, “dock lines”, “halyards”, etc. Never one to turn down free line, I said, “You bet I want it. What have you got?” He proceeded to unload a box that contained a bunch of old braided dacron line as well as some 3-strand nylon. It was all too big for the fittings on our boat (megadon is a 53 footer) but I figured we could at least use it as dock lines or something.

After I finished building a second swim ladder (just because I had the line and I could), I started contemplating all the line I’d gotten from Gary. There were two sheets of some sort, possibly for a spinnaker. It was the kind of old dacron that gets very soft and pliable. I thought, “This would make a great little mat to give Gary as a partial “thank-you”. I measured the line out and it was about 65′ long. Wasn’t sure how large a mat I could make but I started working on a round one. It went fairly fast and, when I was done, I had made a round mat about 2′ in diameter. The worn dacron felt very nice on my bare feet.

Now I was getting a little more inspired. Maybe I should just make the rest of the old sheets into mats. There was some really pretty red line so I started working with it. It also was about 65′ long but this time I decided to make an oblong mat. No telling how big it would be. An hour or so later, I had a mat about 15″ wide by maybe 24″ long. It fits perfectly on the side deck just forward of the sword mat. Not sure if that’ll be its final resting place but it sure makes a nice welcome mat for now. I have enough line left to make at least 3 and maybe 4 more mats about the same size. There’ll be one or two more red ones, a blue one, and a white one. Won’t we be festive? And patriotic.


So, that’s what I did with my day today.

And what was Lulu doing during all this? Well, first she cleaned house (boat). That’s why I had picked today to finally go get the fishing pole, etc. I can’t go below while she’s cleaning and going to the store was a good way to make sure I didn’t go below. Turned out not to be a problem. Then she took a nap to try to get over a nagging headache. Finally, she worked on, and finished, the first of her new macramed porthole curtains.


This is one of the ones in the V-berth (our bedroom). The ones in the saloon will be a little less densely knotted to allow a little more light through. But these are for privacy while still not completely cutting off all the light (and air).

So, there you have it. We’re just a couple of knotting fools. Might even call us a couple of knotheads.

Oh and BTW: I called Clark from Paradise Found Dive Services the other day to come and scrub the bottom of the boat. There didn’t appear to b much growth but I was starting to see a few barnacles and I wanted to cut them off at the pass. Clark had distributed a flyer awhile ago where he advertised this service for a boat the size of Siempre Sabado at $1.00 per foot (length on deck). Only $28.00 to get our bottom scrubbed? Count me in. When I called him, he said that the March sale was still going so it’d be $0.90/foot. Only $25 to get our bottom scrubbed? Oh yeah! Today was the day he came to scrub.

We had lately been thinking about hauling the boat out in Guaymas this summer while we went up to Oregon for a couple of weeks. During that time we’d hire someone to sand the bottom and then we’d paint when we returned. However, the very expensive paint we applied in Newport last year is continuing to pay off. Clark said that all it took was a light scrubbing and the new layer of paint that was exposed looked brand new. He couldn’t see any reason to repaint. I said that I wished we’d done a little better job of prep work along the water line because the bottom paint was coming off there. He said that it wouldn’t really matter. In the Sea the barnacles and such like to grow at the water line. When you have the bottom cleaned, the first thing the diver does is take a scraper to those barnacles, removing both them and the bottom paint along the water line. So, looks like we won’t have to haul out, saving ourselves a bunch of money and considerable hassle. Maybe we’re not such knotheads after all.


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About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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3 Responses to 3/24/2011 – Some more ropework

  1. Eric says:

    How did you learn to do all the rope work? Very cool what you've done! I bought a bought a couple of books on knots and have watched a few videos but I'm beginning to think my brain is not wired for learning knots. Did you take a class?

  2. No classes, Eric. Just trial and error. Lots of error. Most of the diagrams in the books are very difficult to follow. I just puzzle away until I finally get it. Believe me, I make lots of false starts along the way. Try starting with some simpler knots that you might already know (bowline, rolling hitch, etc.) See if you can tie them by following a diagram. That might help you start to visualize what the diagrams are trying to say. Good luck.-Steve

  3. vic says:

    U 2 R Multi-Talented 4 sure!

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