Project Sekong 2014: We can only carry so much into the field. We either “make do” or “do without”.

February 10, 2014

A personal goal this year was to learn how to build some comfortable pieces of camp furniture out of common objects that are readily at hand. When I return next year I hope to have mastered several new knots, hitches and lashes.

I’ve resolved: By this time next year I want to have mastered six new knots.

The challenge isn’t to learn them in the comfortable confines of my living room using two, fat, differentially colored ropes. My self-imposed standard demands that I’ll be able to tie them using a variety of materials in true-to-life settings. Not that I aspire to equal my friend Des, a retired Royal Navy rescue diver and the most accomplished knot maven I’ve ever met. Des, to earn his rank had to tie a dozen or more knots blindfolded…underwater.

I’ll be pleased with myself if I can identify the most appropriate knot for a particular situation and then, in broad daylight, above water tie that knot. I hope to soon be BFF with the Canadian jam knot, the trucker’s hitch, the constrictor’s hitch, the inverted bowline, and several other knots, hitches and lashes whose mastery would elevate me from the JV bench to a spot on the varsity.

Before this year’s project I studied photos of some simple lashing techniques that looked likely to be useful in the field and around camp. Yesterday I finally found the time to put the techniques to use. Our current, barren camp has no trees to tie a hammock to, no saplings to serve as clothesline posts. We could use several freestanding tripods of sufficient strength to suspend our hammocks, our clotheslines, our shade cloths.

The result, after using a lashing technique that I saw pictured back home, is more stable and far stronger than any I’ve fashioned before. I can pick it up, collapse it, carry it hither and yon, and when I spread the legs and set it down it’s just as sturdy as ever.

The next technique I attempted was cribbed from the same camping manual. I used lashings to secure a triangular piece of tarp to the tripod, after binding stones in each corner to eliminate any slippage. The tarp, married to the tripod, created a reading chair that will bear my weight and more. Admittedly, my chair looks like an ugly, distant relative of the illustration in the manual, but it’s a strong, comfortable piece of furniture admired by the guys on the team.

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