Lines and Rope

See all those lines there, hanging on the wall of the shed? Those are rope, but they are not “ropes.” Really.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is an avid sailor, so I’ve learned most of the associated lingo. I can not only tell port from starboard, I can tell a ketch from a yawl, a dock from a slip, a map from a chart, and topsides from decks. Today’s post is about a fun distinction: rope vs. line.

In the boating world, rope is a material lines can be made from. When you cut a length of rope and apply it to some purpose, then it’s not a rope, it’s a line. It’s kind of like the word “wood.” Wood is a material you can make things out of, including planks. A plank is a piece of wood and it’s made of wood, but it’s not a wood. In the same way, for boaters a line is a piece of rope and it’s made of rope, but it’s not a rope. On our boat we have some lines that are rope (such as the halyards and sheets used to control the sails) and others that are wire (such as the guys and stays holding up the mast). So what’s hanging there on the shed, coiled and ready to go, are lines that are made of rope.

This moment of obscure word lore is brought to you by the boating community, who wants you to know that it’s possible to go someplace slowly and uncomfortably and love every minute of it.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Lines