At this time of year, I always worry that my fitness class participants aren’t getting full value for their summer. Those hours spent in class toning and firming their bodies make their complexions a tad pasty. They starve for those outdoor experiences that only a trained fitness instructor and former archaeologist can provide. That’s why I invited the whole class to join me on a camping holiday at Stump Lake last weekend.

In the wilderness, they would experience outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking and swimming. Hungry for information, they would learn skills such as how to survive bear, cougar, and mosquito attacks. They would learn other essential outdoor skills like surviving the capsizing canoes and how to put on wet jeans in the morning.

 After a harrowing day featuring retrieving food from the lake bottom, we set up camp and built a large crackling inferno. Judging by the withering looks I received, I knew that group sex was out of the question, so I tactfully neglected to bring it up. Nevertheless, as their instructor, I felt duty bound to keep the information coming. I gave each of them a length of nylon rope and gave my impromptu lecture demonstration on the craft of knot tying.

“The reef knot,” I began, “Is a very useful knot to know when you’re in the bush.”

“My god,” said Melanie while squeezing excess water from a marshmallow before impaling it on a stick and sticking it in the inferno. “I thought he was kidding. He really IS going to tie knots.”

 “Just hold the two ends of the rope, and . . . ”

 “… and then he’s going to tell one of his lame-assed stories,” said Beth while shaking the last few drops of water out of her mascara. “Maybe I should sneak up behind him and garotte him.”

“Right over left, left over right . . . ” “…Or maybe not,” continued Beth. ”

If I just let him be, sooner or later he’ll have a hangman’s noose and he’ll hang himself.”

“Right under left and through . . . Hmmm . . . As I was saying, the grannie knot is a very useful knot to know in the bush.” As I told my class, I am somewhat of an expert in the art of knot tying. I inherited this talent from my father who was a tug boat captain. This avocation, as one might guess, offers no shortage of opportunities to tie knots. There are knots to link barges and scows to the tug boat that can come undone in the middle of the night. There are knots to tie to dredges that won’t come undone when the dredge takes on water and begins to sink. There are hitches, lashings, bends, splices, and shanks that can keep a boy (or an aerobics camp) entertained for hours. There is a knot for every occasion.

 One such occasion was a ski holiday pop and I took to Manning Park when I was thirteen. The resort sported a spectacular 100 meter ski run serviced by a solitary rope tow. Skiers paid five dollars to ski per day to ski down the slope, climb to the top of the hill, and sidestep back down the hill in the rope tow line-up. I can’t remember who made the suggestion to use the rope tow two at a time. I suspect it was Pop who had grown impatient in the line. Whoever it was, it was a stroke of genius as the line-up dwindled to a few people at the bottom. Even the attendant was impressed with the speed his machine carried skiers up the hill – until the rope broke. Then he packed up all the money he collected and told everyone to go home.

“We can’t go home yet. It’s only eleven o’clock in the morning,” said Pop. “Besides, I have my hyperactive kid with me for the rest of the day. Do you hate me that much?”

 “…Got nothin’ to do with you,” he said. “Rope’s broke.”

“Well I’ll fix it then,” said Pop. “Got your knife on you, Mike?” He referred to the new jackknife he bought me for my birthday that summer. It sported a blade with a broken tip and a marlin spike for splicing.

“You can’t fix it,” said the attendant. “It has to be spliced.” “I know how to splice. In fact, I’m an expert splicer,” Pop said. “Mike, take this guy down to the lead pulley and show him how to slacken the rope. I’ll put the broken ends together and splice them with your marlin spike.”

I went to the top of the hill and showed the attendant how to slacken the rope with the come-along jack. Two hours later, the rope was spliced. I reset te tension and fired up the engine. The skiers, who oddly hadn’t moved since the rope broke, continued their uphill journey. I watched the splice go through the lead pulley.

“The splice  looks a little thick, doesn’t it,” I said. “I know,” Pop said. “I had to double it over itself and don’t know if it’ll go through that bottom pulley. “Don’t bother putting your skis back on,” he continued. “I just remembered an important dentist appointment you have.”” With any luck we’ll make it to the parking lot before the splice hits that pulley.”

“The dentist isn’t open on Sunday,” I protested as we sprinted to the parking lot.

 As we loaded the skis into the car, we heard a thunderous sound of metal being wrenched from a concrete foundation. I glanced back to see the rope tow’s engine burst into flames before it toppled. “Get in the bleeping car,” said Pop. “We’re going to be late, and you don’t want to miss that important appointment.”

 “So you see,” I told my class. “Knot tying is a very useful skill. You never know when you’ll need to tie a knot. “Angela,” said Beth. “Do you have that hangman’s noose tied yet?”

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazineDoctor in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at looking for a change, start with a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


4 Responses to “KNOTS”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Funny, Mike!! Loved that ski tow story. As for the other, you must have gone to summer camp with me.

  2. Mike Broderick Says:

    Thanks Sharon,

    You should have seen me tie my tie on Monday. It DID resemble a hangman’s noose. It aalso raised the eyebrow of the CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade – although that could have been the shirt tail sticking out of my fly.

  3. limewire Says:

    shoot amazing story bro.

  4. mikebroderick Says:

    Thanks Limewire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: