In reverse of the cliche, I brought my students a peck of our own freshly picked apples and pears today, fuel for the challenging work at hand as they begin to construct their boats at full scale. It’s been a bad year for apples along the Sonoma Coast, after an unusually cold and damp spring and summer, but the late, sparse drop has produced some sweet, robust fruit. I’m hoping the warm weather of Indian Summer will hold out at least until next week, when we plan to make an exploratory paddle in rented kayaks along the shores of the Bay near CCA‘s San Francisco campus. Before the class progresses too far in executing their craft or planning the actual Expedition, I’m eager to see how they behave as a group on the water, and how they respond to the forces of wind and tide about which we’ve been speculating as the hulls take shape.
Lukas Nickerson, my TA, demonstrates how to tie a bowline knot
Over the coming week, I’ve assigned the class the task of learning to tie a bowline, the ancient, enduring, all purpose loop knot associated with maritime craft, climbing and rescue. The knot is easy to tie, easy to untie, and is virtually unbreakable when bearing a load. I think everyone should be able to tie a bowline, but feel strongly that it is a minimal prerequisite to voyaging on the water in any capacity, second perhaps only to swimming. I left Lukas and Jackson with the charge of teaching the rest of the class, hand to hand, which is the best way to learn the knot. My dad first taught me how to tie a bowline as a kid, and I re-learned when I needed it to survive as a deckhand aboard an Alaskan salmon seiner.