The phrase “to know the ropes” originated with would-be (or impressed) sailors on wooden sailing ships that once ruled the waves – the men had to learn the rigging to protect their lives. Rope was important to sailors then and it still is, even if they’re not sailing on a Ship of the Line.

In the harbors here, maritime ropes are as common as sea gulls. They can be gracefully still: hanging, coiled, or piled. They can be in action, forming quickly-thrown cleat hitches to lash a boat to a dock, or running up a sail.

In this image, the old, multi-stranded rope is hanging patiently near a ramp into Great Cove at the WoodenBoat School. It’s been spliced with a knowing hand and the end is whipped to prevent fraying. (Brooklin, Maine)