Fancywork, a lost art connecting mariners across the ages
The art of tying cordage around Boatswain’s pipes, handrails, ship’s wheels, bell pulls, boat paddles and just about any other gripping surface goes back hundreds of years to the days of sail and canvas where such reinforcement was needed to give those at sea a grip on wood that could become slippery with spray in times of peace and blood in times of war.
When steam came along, ventilator openings were added to the list to keep wayward objects and animals from popping down on the snipes. Over the years, such knotting techniques as coxcombs and turksheads evolved and were past down by experienced bluejackets and tars to the incoming swabs as tribal knowledge.
And it remains very much alive to this day: