I think one of the most useful knots is a virtual knot. I don’t mean one that is visualised in some sort of daft computer 3D head set but the equivalent of a knot in a handkerchief.
That is not to diminish the usefulness of different knots on my boat. There is the lighterman’s hitch for rapid tying up without it ever over tightening, the two half hitches for knotting to a stake. I love the double slip knot tying the centre and stern rope quickly and temporarily together to drop over a bollard whilst closing a lock gate. And how about that highwayman’s hitch or the similar tumble hitch that can be undone quickly by pulling on the loose end (too dangerous for use when climbing though).
The preference for the knot in the hanky was reinforced when I was painting the bilge/engine bay of the boat this week. People often use the phrase “don’t forget to ..” or “remember to ..”. But how do you do that I ask myself? I have an on/off switch on the smoke alarm of the boat. The galley grill is often the source of smoke from bacon or toast so when the alarm sounds I just switch it off and hang an oversized label on it which dangles in my way until I switch it back on and remove the tag. It is in effect a reminder to “remember to” switch it back on.
With much more dangerous situations human error is prevented by more elaborate systems. Such as the multiple pad lock systems used by different engineers working on high voltage systems or transmitter masts.
But what has this to do with my engine bay? I went back to finish off painting the engine bay following a day out on the boat which had interrupted the paint job. Lifting the boards and getting ready to paint I noticed the bilge pump. This normally sits on the bottom of the bay, ready to pump out excess water up its flexible hose and out of the boat. I had needed to move it out of the way whilst putting the first coats of paint on and there it was, still resting on the top of the fly wheel coupling. The coupling that yesterday had been running round merrily whilst cutting holes into the hose and wrapping the pump’s power cable around itself.
So me thinks that next time I do anything that requires rectification before starting the engine I should hang a tag on the ignition switch, effectively tying a virtual knot in my virtual hanky. Oh well, get out the electrical repair and hose repair kits!