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Man O’ War Cay is famous for its boatbuilding.  Many MOW-built boats were on display last Saturday for Sojer Day – a celebration of MOW and it’s boat building tradition. 

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Among the MOW-built boats on display was “Rage,” a Class A , Bahamian Sloop.  She and her predecessor, “Rough Water”, are both famous racing boats.

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Here is“Lady Di;” the skipper has lowered her sails and is sculling her to the dock.  Note that the boat has been built with a sculling notch on its transom.  Learn more about sculling here:  http://www.simplicityboats.com/ScullYulohaboat.htm

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This is “Yippee”:

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Yes, “Yippee”:

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“Lively Lady”:

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And “Tribute”:

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Plus many traditional Bahamian sloops:

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MOW is also known for all things related to boat building, including rope making.  At MOW’s Sojer Day, we were treated to a demonstration – their skill and experience made it look so simple.   The main street was used as the “rope walk,” a long, straight, narrow pathway where the rope making takes place. 

At one end of the rope walk, three strands of sisal, (twisted fiber twine), were attached to hooks which were part of metal rods threaded through a large square board.

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On the other side of the wooden board, the metal rods were bent in a particular way and then attached onto a plywood plate.  This configuration insured that, as the metal rods rotated the hooks, all three lines turned at the same time, at the same speed, and in the same direction.

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It’s basically a homemade rope-making machine.  With every turn of the crank, each strand of line was individually spun or twisted identically with the other strands.

At the other end of the rope walk, the three lines were attached, altogether, to a single fitting so that they could be twisted in the opposite direction when someone turned the crank.   In order to anchor the rig and keep the lines at a proper tension so they wouldn’t kink, someone – in this case, me – had to stand on a plank that extended from the bottom of this post, along the ground.  [Note:  you can eat homemade coconut ice cream and still do this part.]  The plank would jerk forward slightly as the rope was made, but keeping some weight on the board was critical to insuring the right tension.

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In between, a skilled rope maker used this wooden cone to make sure the rope laid up evenly as the three plies were twisted into a single rope. 

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Here he is in action:

This is the finished product.  Pretty simple – pretty amazing.

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A beautiful tradition for a beautiful island.

PS  Goldwin and I and our friend George got to sail Rage up to MOW for Sojer Day – and back to Hopetown.  Just the headsail, but what a thrill! 

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2 thoughts on “Rope Making at MOW

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