Good nautical stuff to wipe your feet on
by Gregg Nestor
The sailor of yore had a complete repertoire of knots, plain and fancy. The fact that some knots were beautiful or decorative was secondary to their usefulness. One sign announcing to visitors that they were on a sailing ship, or for that matter in the home of a sailor, was the presence of a rope mat. For hundreds of years, rope mats were standard equipment on sailing vessels and well-kept yachts. They were primarily used as chafing gear and to provide skidproof footing at the helm, the companionway threshold, and the gangway. Many of these mats were quite decorative. All were fashioned by able-bodied seamen. However, in recent times this art has been neglected by boaters and is rarely seen.