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  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg-_lYeV8hBnDSay7nmphUA/videos?sort=da&flow=grid&view=0
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  11. ↓ https://www.youtube.com/user/TyingItAllTogether/videos?sort=p&view=0&flow=grid ↓
  12. Humans never could have taken to the oceans without rope: no string, no mariners. Photo by Stephen Barnes/Transport/Alamy Stock Photo String is far more important than the wheel in the pantheon of inventions. by Ferris Jabr March 6th, 2018 | 2,500 words, about 13 minutes https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-long-knotty-world-spanning-story-of-string/ The void opened suddenly—a negative space where there had once been sand. Kathryn Bard stuck her hand straight through the gap and felt nothing but air. It just kept going. She considered her surroundings: a slope of windblown sand near a terrace of fossilized coral 700 meters inland from the modern-day Egyptian coast. The recess in front of her, Bard realized, was probably not a result of geological processes; it was too deep. This was something else, something deliberate. Perhaps a tomb. Or a gateway. Throughout the winter of 2004, Bard, an archaeologist at Boston University, and a team of excavators kept digging through the sand, eventually revealing a cave intentionally carved from fossil coral. Over the next seven years, Bard and an international team of researchers unearthed seven more caves, part of an ancient harbor called Saww, known as Wadi Gawasis today. The ancient Egyptians probably used the caves as shelters and workshops between 2000 and 1750 BCE. Some of the caves contained limestone anchors, timber, steering oars, a bowl, and charred barley seeds. In Cave 5, the researchers discovered a set of particularly stunning artifacts. Not a fleet of intact ships, or protocompasses, or chests of gold and jewels; something much more ordinary, yet indispensable for any seafaring nation—for any civilization. Bard remembers when she first saw them. She squeezed through a small opening and shuffled sideways through a long narrow passageway to the very back of the cave. There they were: more than 20 thick papyrus ropes, neatly coiled and, by all appearances, so exquisitely preserved it seemed a sailor might come along and scoop them up at any moment. “It was a scene frozen in time,” Bard says. “They hadn’t been disturbed for close to 4,000 years.” Well-preserved rope was discovered at an archaeological site in Egypt dating to almost 4,000 years ago. Photo courtesy of the Joint Expedition to Mersa/Wadi Gawasis of the Università “L’Orientale,” Naples and Boston University In his 1956 book The Marlinspike Sailor, marine illustrator Hervey Garrett Smith wrote that rope is “probably the most remarkable product known to mankind.” On its own, a stray thread cannot accomplish much. But when several fibers are twisted into yarn, and yarn into strands, and strands into string or rope, a once feeble thing becomes both strong and flexible—a hybrid material of limitless possibility. A string can cut, choke, and trip; it can also link, bandage, and reel. String makes it possible to sew, to shoot an arrow, to strum a chord. It’s difficult to think of an aspect of human culture that is not laced through with some form of string or rope; it has helped us develop shelter, clothing, agriculture, weaponry, art, mathematics, and oral hygiene. Without string, our ancestors could not have domesticated horses and cattle or efficiently plowed the earth to grow crops. If not for rope, the great stone monuments of the world—Stonehenge, the Pyramids at Giza, the moai of Easter Island—would still be recumbent. In a fiberless world, the age of naval exploration would never have happened; early light bulbs would have lacked suitable filaments; the pendulum would never have inspired advances in physics and timekeeping; and there would be no Golden Gate Bridge, no tennis shoes, no Beethoven’s fifth symphony. “Everybody knows about fire and the wheel, but string is one of the most powerful tools and really the most overlooked,” says Saskia Wolsak, an ethnobotanist at the University of British Columbia who recently began a PhD on the cultural history of string. “It’s relatively invisible until you start looking for it. Then you see it everywhere.” Precisely when people began to twine, loop, and knot is unknowable, but we can say with reasonable confidence that string and rope are some of the most ancient materials used by humankind. At first, our ancestors likely harvested nature’s ready-made threads and cordage, such as vines, reeds, grass, and roots. If traditional medicine and existing Indigenous cultures are any clue, early humans may have even used spider silk to catch fish and bandage wounds. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of years ago, people realized they could extract fibers from the hair and tissues of animals, as well as from the husks, leaves, and innards of certain sinewy, pulpy, or pliant plants, such as agave, cannabis, coconut, cotton, and jute. By twisting these natural fibers around one another again and again, they formed a material of superb resilience and versatility. There is much evidence—past and present—that we are Homo cordage. Photos by Shanna Baker Because they are prone to decay, pieces of intact string from more than a few thousand years ago are scarce. Even when they are found, they rarely make headlines or feature in museum exhibits, more likely to be relegated to storage. But they do exist: in 2009, scientists revealed the discovery of tiny 30,000-year-old flax fibers in clay excavated from a cave in Europe. Some of the fibers were twisted, knotted, spun, or dyed turquoise and pink, suggesting complex textiles. If one looks at the archaeological record in the right way—focusing on the implied rather than the material existence of ancient fiber—then the evidence for the importance of string and rope is even older. In South Africa, Israel, and Austria, researchers have found shell and bone beads dating as far back as 300,000 years ago. And in the Hohle Fels cave in southwestern Germany, archaeologists discovered a 40,000-year-old piece of mammoth ivory carved with four holes, each enclosing spiral incisions. They think the tool was used to weave reeds, bark, and roots into a thick cord. Although string and rope began to take shape on land, it was the ocean that unleashed the full potential of cordage. The earliest watercraft were probably rafts lashed together from branches or bamboo, and dugout canoes carved from logs, such as the 10,000-year-old Pesse canoe discovered in 1955 during motorway construction in the Netherlands. At first, the only means of propulsion were oars, poles, and the whim of the currents. Sailing required a critical insight: that the wind, like a wild animal, could be caught, tamed, and harnessed. A mast and sail, which is really just a tightly knit sheet of string, could trap the wind; long coils of sturdy rope could hoist and pivot the sail. String transformed seagoing vessels from floating lumber to elegant marionettes, animated by the wind and maneuvered by human will. The exploits of Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and other European explorers during the age of discovery—all predicated on a mastery of sail—are well known and exhaustively rehearsed. The true history of sail-powered oceanic exploration extends far earlier than the 16th century and far beyond Europe’s shipyards and outposts. Five thousand years ago, the Austronesians began charting and populating the many scattered islands of the Pacific, braving the ocean in double-hulled canoes laden with chickens, fruit, tubers, and firewood. By 2600 BCE, the ancient Egyptians were dispatching sailing ships to Lebanon to gather cedar. Around 1000 CE, Viking explorer Leif Ericsson reached the shores of North America. In 1405, Chinese admiral Zheng He guided a magnificent armada of 317 ships—60 of them boasting multi-tiered decks, nine masts, and 12 sails each, if historical accounts are to be believed—to Southeast Asia and India in pursuit of exotic spices. In the following centuries, after all this precedent, Europe began to churn the oceans with increasing numbers of carracks, caravels, frigates, and galleons. It is no exaggeration to say that from the invention of sailing through the late 18th century, the economic prosperity, scientific progress, and military success of most nations around the globe fundamentally depended on string and rope. For much of this time, there were no major revolutions in sailing technology. Instead, there were elaborations and restructurings of an ancient template: a roughly crescent wooden vessel equipped with at least one mast and sail, and webbed with plenty of rigging. Toward the end of the age of sail, some of the more ostentatious designs verged on the absurd; certain full-rigged ships were so bedecked with line and linen that they looked more like parade floats than instruments of trade and war. By the late 1700s, engineers in England, France, Scotland, and North America were experimenting with steamboats. In 1822, the Aaron Manby became the first iron steamship to go to sea, traveling across the English Channel from London to Paris. By the 1860s, the British, French, and Russian navies had heavily armed steamships. After this, “a great epoch in naval history came to an end,” write Romola and R. C. Anderson in The Sailing Ship: Six Thousand Years of History. But it was not the end of the line for cordage. Even today’s motorized metal behemoths, slicing through the sea at unprecedented speeds, rely on rope and string. Terry Schafer, a navy shipyard rigger in Victoria, British Columbia, has been professionally tangled with cordage since the 1980s. “When I finished my apprenticeship, I worried I had chosen a dying craft,” he says. “But there is still a lot of demand for a skilled rigger today.” Schafer and his colleagues manufacture all the cordage the navy requires: tow ropes; hoist cables for cranes, winches, and dumbwaiters; woven fenders that cloak the lips of tugboats like mustaches and beards; ropes to tie the ships at harbor; ropes that fly the navy’s flags; and artfully knotted ropes to ring the bells that help sailors keep strict schedules. Schafer mostly works with synthetic materials including Kevlar, various plastics, and metal wire. But he occasionally uses plant fibers as well: cotton, flax, manila hemp (from a species of banana), sisal (from agave), and coir (from the waterproof buoyant husks of coconuts). There is still a need for professional riggers like Terry Schafer, who works in the Canadian navy shipyard in Victoria, British Columbia. Photo by Shanna Baker In the course of his work, Schafer occasionally refers to The Ashley Book of Knots, an encyclopedic illustrated guide to more than 3,500 practical and decorative knots with names like fisherman’s bend, cowboy’s pretzel, false lover’s, and wild goose. Written by American artist and sailor Clifford Ashley and first published in 1944, the book is a bible for professional rope workers and knot enthusiasts of all kinds. If any among them can claim to be Ashley’s successor, it is probably Des Pawson, a 71-year-old bespectacled and thickly bearded knot guru in Ipswich, England. Since 1989, Pawson and his wife, Liz, have earned their livelihood by making and selling boat fenders, bell ropes, hammocks, mats, belts, lanyards, theatrical props, and all manner of spliced and knotted handiwork to boatbuilders, retail outlets, gift shop suppliers, film producers, and various other clients. In Ipswich, Pawson curates the world’s only museum devoted entirely to knots and sailors’ rope-work. He is also a cofounder of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, an association of more than 1,000 knot connoisseurs that meets several times a year and has, throughout its 36-year history, attracted scholars, sailors, surgeons, farmers, miners, and magicians. “Cordage is an everyday material, and because it’s so everyday people don’t understand its value,” Pawson says. “But if it was taken away, you’d notice. Rope and knots are the building blocks of civilization. They pervade all aspects of our world.” Naval riggers weave all sorts of necessary tools: cables for cranes, ropes that fly the navy’s flags, and fenders for tugboats, above. Photo by Shanna Baker Look around. We still wear shoes laced with string. Our clothes, sheets, curtains, carpets, and tablecloths are all woven from thread. Our phones, computers, toasters, blenders, and TVs still largely depend on bundles of wire transporting electrons. Above our heads, power lines, phone lines, and fiber-optic cables sling from one utility pole to another. More than a million kilometers of undersea cables tie the continents together—the submerged ligaments of global telecommunications. When a nuclear submarine docks at a harbor, no matter how massive and intimidating, it still needs some rope to serve as moorings. Despite all the astounding advances in medicine in the past few centuries, surgeons still require needle and thread. Cordage is so invaluable that it has even accompanied our most sophisticated scientific machinery into the depths of space: to secure cables on the Mars rover Curiosity, NASA engineers relied on variations of the clove hitch and reef knot, two traditional knots that have been used for thousands of years. That rover is currently exploring the surface of Mars. String changed much more than human technology; it also altered our psychology. More than a physical material of enduring versatility, string has retained immense symbolic significance in many cultures around the world. For the Indigenous peoples of the Andes, string was its own mathematical language. From at least 1400 to 1532 CE, they recorded taxes, census data, and other numerical information with quipu: sequences of colorful tassels made from cotton and camelid hair, all dangling from a central cord, and each knotted in its own way. String and rope are stitched into the English language, into longstanding idioms—learn the ropes, spin a yarn, hang by a thread—and even in the way we talk about relatively modern inventions: to describe the internet, we speak of websites, links, and threads. Cordage also features prominently in myths and folk tales. According to a popular Sudanese myth, a rope once united heaven and Earth, until a mischievous hyena severed it, ushering death into the world. In Greek mythology, the three Moirai, or Fates, spin, measure, and cut threads representing every mortal’s life. And various myths originating in Asia tell of the Red String of Fate, an invisible red fiber, a capillary of the soul, linking the ankles or fingers of kindred spirits, future couples, or those simply fated to cross paths. If you visit Ise, Japan, when the tide is high, you can see one of the most romantic tributes to the symbolic power of string. Just off the coast, two rocks sit side by side, separated by the ocean, but joined by thick straw ropes. Known as meoto iwa (rock couple), they represent the union of the Izanagi and Izanami, the deities that created the Japanese archipelago. Their wedding bands, woven by local villagers, are shimenawa, plaited ropes of rice straw often used to mark sacred sites in the Shinto religion. Because the ropes are continually exposed to wind and surf, they are prone to decay. So, three times a year, at low tide, villagers dressed in white robes march into the sea with ladders, remove the old salt-soaked bonds, and replace them with fresh straw rope. A version of this ritual has been practiced for at least 200 years, possibly much longer. The long-lived tradition attempts to defy the inevitable. The sun and sea and wind will never stop assailing the stoic couple. The elements do not condone this marriage. But therein lies the ultimate lesson of string: even in a bafflingly complex and indifferent universe tumbling inescapably toward complete dissolution, it is still possible to weave composite strength from the small and solitary, to purposefully anchor one thing to another—to tie a knot. Ferris Jabr is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, Scientific American, and Outside, among other publications. Some of his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing series. .
  13. Not many people have an opportunity to get this close to a container ship. Those who do may see icons that impart important information. For example, those black brackets to the right of the company name indicate where the tugboat is supposed to push. Photo by David Webster Smith Signs and symbols on the sides of ships tell stories about an industry few outsiders understand. Text by Erin Van Rheenen Photos by David Webster Smith https://www.hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/the-secret-language-of-ships/ April 10th, 2018 | 1,700 words, about 8 minutes Approaching the container ship in San Francisco Bay, the tugboat looks like a pit bull puppy chasing an eighteen-wheeler. When the vessels are an arm’s length apart, the ship’s mate throws down a line. Now leashed to the ship, the tug can push and pull it around the bay. Big ships can’t easily slow down or maneuver by themselves—they’re meant for going in a straight line. Tugboat crews routinely encounter what few of us will ever see. They easily read a vessel’s size, shape, function, and features, while deciphering at a glance the mysterious numbers, letters, and symbols on a ship’s hull. To non-mariners, the markings look like hieroglyphs. For those in the know, they speak volumes about a particular ship and also about the shipping industry. Oceangoing vessels carry over 80 percent of the world’s trade, with more than 90,000 merchant ships plying international waters. Tankers, bulk carriers, and container ships—the largest things on Earth that move—are by far the most important modes of transportation of our time. They convey billions of tonnes of goods every year, bringing us everything from cars to crude oil to containers jammed with fidget spinners. Those who work in ports or on the water have a good view of the proceedings; tugs may have the best view of all. These photos get you closer to ships than most people will ever be. “The sides of ships have their own sort of beauty,” says photographer David Webster Smith, who is also a San Francisco tugboat engineer. “As soon as I can, I get my camera out.” http://davidwebstersmith.com/projects/ship-abstracts/ Most ships have clues to their identity emblazoned on their stern, often in the same order: owner, name, port (or “flag”), and International Maritime Organization (IMO) number. American President Lines (APL) owns this ship, christened the Mexico City, and it sails under the flag of Singapore. The owner, name, and flag may change over a ship’s lifespan, but the IMO number stays the same as mandated by an international maritime treaty. Like vehicle identification numbers, IMOs help thwart fraud. Do a web search on an IMO number and the ship’s full history pops up. Curious about those yellow-green, fortune-cookie-shaped objects along the lines? They’re anti-rat devices, foiling rodent attempts to scrabble from dock to line to ship. Why would a ship owned by a South Korean company (Hanjin) list its port as Panama? More than 70 percent of the world’s commercial ships sail under what’s called a “flag of convenience.” This means that the ship is registered in a foreign country and sails under that country’s flag, usually to reduce operating costs, sidestep taxes, or avoid the stricter safety standards of the owner’s country. By far the most popular flag of convenience is Panama, with Liberia and the Marshall Islands fast gaining ground. For these countries, the fees companies pay to fly their flags are a significant source of revenue. There’s another thing about this ship worth mentioning. See the crew members up on deck, at the far left and right of the photo? They’re actually dummies dressed as mariners, meant to fool pirates into thinking someone is always on watch. These marks, called load lines, show the maximum load a ship can carry. Load lines owe much to a British member of Parliament named Samuel Plimsoll. Worried about the loss of ships and crew members due to overloading, he sponsored a bill in 1876 that made it mandatory to have marks on both sides of a ship. If a ship is overloaded, the marks disappear underwater. The original “Plimsoll line” was a circle with a horizontal line through it. The symbol spread around the world; additional marks were added over the years. The letters on either side of the circle stand for the ship’s registration authority. AB is the American Bureau of Shipping, one of 12 members of the International Association of Classification Societies, which sets and maintains safety standards for more than 90 percent of the world’s cargo ships. The marks and letters to the right of the circle indicate maximum loads under different climatic conditions. Salt water is denser than fresh, cold water denser than warm. Since water density affects ship buoyancy, different conditions call for different load lines. W marks the maximum load in winter temperate seawater, S in summer temperate seawater, T in tropical seawater, F in fresh water, and TF in tropical fresh water, like that of the Amazon River. This ship is equipped with what’s called a bulbous bow, a protrusion low on the bow. Contrary to its ungainly appearance, the bulb actually reduces drag, increasing speed and fuel efficiency. The white symbol that looks like the numeral five without the top line alerts tugboats to the presence of the bulb, which under certain conditions may be entirely underwater. Tugs need to be aware of the protuberance to avoid running it over as they maneuver around the ship, possibly damaging both the bulb and the tug. The white circle with an X inside signals the presence of a bow thruster, a propulsion device that helps the boat maneuver sideways, a boon for getting on and off docks. The numbers arranged in a vertical line—called draft marks—measure the distance between the bottom of the hull (the keel) and the waterline. If the water comes up to the 10-meter line, for example, that means 10 meters of the ship is underwater. Where the water hits the draft lines tells sailors if the ship is overloaded, and—when compared to the reading on the opposite side of the boat—if it’s listing to one side. To the left of the draft lines are different versions of the bulbous bow and bow thruster symbols. BT|FP tells you the position of the bow thruster: between the ballast tank (BT) and the forepeak (FP), the forwardmost part of the ship. It’s important for a tugboat operator to know the location of the bow thruster, as it creates turbulence that the tug would rather avoid. Two tugboats approach an oil tanker near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. This photo is taken from a third tug that’s moving in on the ship, guided by white arrows pointing to “chocks” that house small but strong posts called “bitts.” The tug fastens lines to these bitts. SWL 50t means that the safe working load for each bitt is 50 tonnes. Once the tug has fastened a line to the bitt, it will exert no more than 50 tonnes of pulling pressure as it helps the ship brake or negotiate docking. Are these bird cubbies, rusting in the sea air? Not quite. The cavities are, however, known as pigeonholes. They’re part of an in-hull ladder that allows mariners to climb up the side of a barge. Unlike cargo ships, flat-bottom barges are not self-propelled. They’re usually towed or pushed by tugboats, though in the early days they were hauled up rivers and canals by horses, mules, or donkeys on an adjacent towpath. Though barges are often unstaffed, they occasionally must be boarded, for instance when a line needs to be thrown down to a dockworker. Pigeonholes give the boarders a leg up. A ship’s paint job isn’t primarily about aesthetics or branding. When you see this two-toned effect, the paint closer to the waterline is often of a different chemical composition, one that holds up better to immersion. Even more than preventing corrosion, a hull coating that may be underwater has to guard against the slime, algae, and barnacles that cling fast to a friendly hull. What’s so bad about shellfish and microorganisms hitching a ride? The crusting of barnacles, mussels, and bacteria—called biofouling—creates drag, slowing ships and upping their fuel intake by as much as 40 percent. Foreign species can also invade ecosystems and outcompete native species for food and space. To remove the hitchhikers, the ship goes into dry dock for scraping or power washing. Enter preventive measures, like antifouling paint. Early iterations contained copper and even arsenic, which effectively poisoned the organisms but also the water. Modern antifouling coatings are more eco-friendly, and there are always new systems being floated, such as creating a hull surface that mimics shark skin, since, unlike some whales, sharks don’t tend to harbor barnacles. The white rectangle edged in yellow—a pilot boarding mark—tells the maritime pilot where to board the ship. Maritime pilots (also called harbor or bar pilots) are experts on the navigational hazards of their home harbor and crucial characters in the drama of maritime life. The pilot catches a ride out to the ship on a boat about the size of a tug, scrambles up a ladder hanging off the clifflike side of the ship, and takes over for the captain just before the ship comes into port. The rope ladder may not yet be deployed when the pilot boat approaches a ship, so the boarding mark is an important guide. The white marks on the red are battle scars, reminders of scuffles with docks, other vessels (mostly tugs), and the sides of canals. A maritime pilot would board this ship using the two ladders pictured. First, he or she ascends the rope ladder, sometimes called a Jacob’s ladder, alluding to the biblical Jacob, who famously dreamed of a ladder connecting heaven and Earth. Partway up, the pilot sidesteps onto the relative security of the diagonal gangplank, called an accommodation ladder. Sometimes the pilot makes do with just the rope ladder. According to IMO regulations, if the distance from water level to deck (which changes according to ship load and sea conditions) is more than nine meters, the ship must deploy an accommodation ladder in addition to the rope ladder. Nine meters or more is a long climb on a rope ladder, especially under difficult sea conditions. Boarding and disembarking are probably the most dangerous parts of the job. Getting off the ship, pilots may let go of the ladder and use what’s called a manrope to help them onto the deck of the pilot boat. That way they’re less likely to be crushed between the pilot boat and ship. Erin Van Rheenen writes about science, travel, and the outdoors. Ten years at San Francisco’s Exploratorium taught her that the ultimate test of understanding a concept is to write about it for non-specialists. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Afar, and Fodor’s. She has also authored science curriculum, a guide to moving to Costa Rica, and a children’s book about a manatee. David Webster Smith works on a tugboat in San Francisco Bay, pushing and pulling ships around one of the largest ports in the United States. For three decades prior, he was a hook-and-line commercial fisherman, leading him in and out of ports from Monterey, California, to Westport, Washington. His photographs have been published in many guidebooks, and in periodicals such as Afar and the Los Angeles Times. http://davidwebstersmith.com/projects/ship-abstracts/ .