Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Inkanyezi Principle

The Inkanyezi Principle - 'Why use one complex knot when two simple knots can do the job better'

Article from Knotting Matters Issue No. 1 Autumn 1982

AMBITIOUS JIMMY HICKS, by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)

".....I made a spring, slipped, steadied myself, cast the painter around the mooring hook, and made the boat fast. "A round turn and two half hitches," I murmured, as I passed the turns, "and a third half hitch for luck." "Come off with your third half hitch," said one of the sailors. "You and your three half hitches. You're like Jimmy Hicks, the come-day go-day. You want to do too much you do. You'd go dry the keel with a towel, wouldn't you, rather than take a caulk? Come off with your third half hitch."

"Well, of all the red-headed ambitious fellies I think Jimmy Hicks was the worst .... ,He wasn't never happy unless he was putting whipping on ropes' ends, or pointing the top-gallant and royal braces.....Always doing something..... Always doing more than his piece.....If he was told to whip a rope, he pointed it and gave it a rub of slush and Flemish-coiled it.....You want to be warned by him.....You hear the terrible end he come to.....So as they was coming home they got caught in a cyclone off the Mauritius.....So it was all hands to the pumps.....By and by the pumps choked..... "Lively there," says the mate, "Up there one of you with a block. Out to the mainyard arm and rig a tackle. Lively now....She's settling under us." So Jimmy Hicks seizes a tackle and they hook it onto the longboat, and Jimmy nips into the rigging with one of the blocks in his hand. And they clear it away to him as he goes. And she was settling like a stone all the
time. "Look slippy there, your" cries the mate, as Jimmy lays out on the yard. For the sea was crawling across the deck. It was time to be gone out of that."

"And Jimmy gets to the yard-arm, and he takes a round turn with his lashing, and he makes a half hitch, and he makes a second half hitch. "Yard arm, there!" hails the mate. "May we hoist away?" "Hold on," says Jimmy, "till I make her fast," he says. And just as he makes his third half hitch and yells to them to sway away - ker-woosh! there comes a great green sea. And down they all go.....All the whole lot of them. And all because he would wait to take the third half hitch. So
you be warned by Jimmy Hicks, my son. And don't you be neither redheaded nor ambitious."

(MORAL: Always use the simplest knot that will do the job. Ed.)