Keeping a naval tradition alive

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By Capt Aaron Lee and AB Keiran Sidle

Being a boatswain demands a lot from an individual. Attention to detail, teamwork and physicality are all part of the job. However, one aspect of the trade remains integral but often taken for granted…rope work! There is one young sailor, however, who considers rope work more than just part of the job. AB Keiran Sidle of Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix has turned this skill into a hobby that he is extremely passionate about.

AB Sidle has been in the RCN for three years and it was during his QL3 trade training that he was first introduced to rope work and it has taken off ever since. In addition to the traditional knots like the bowline, clove hitch and square knot, he has taken his skills to the next level by creating knots that are intricate and decorative works of art.

In one deployment alone, with NRU Asterix, AB Sidle made over 50 small rope work projects for the ship or his fellow crewmembers. His smaller projects include knife lanyards, belts, and binocular straps but it’s the decorative jobs that really get his creative side flowing. Some of his more decorative works include the adornment for the ship’s bell, a rope knot ship’s wheel and a beautiful rope knot anchor, all of which currently decorate the bulkheads of Asterix. He’s even had the opportunity to present one of his creations to the former Commander, Royal Canadian Navy, VAdm Lloyd, during a recent visit to the ship while in theatre.

For anyone interested in starting his or her own decorative rope projects, AB Sidle has practical advice: try to be as creative as possible, and have a lot of patience. As he says, “It might not turn out how you’d like the first time but learn from the mistakes, take your time, and you’ll be rewarded for it. Practice makes perfect.”

For a boatswain with NRU Asterix, rope work is critical to mission success, but for AB Sidle this skill has amplified into a hobby that gives him a chance to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work. It allows him to express himself in addition to giving something back to the ship in which he sails. He would like to bring rope work back to the modern sailor as he believes it helps teach sailors to take pride in what they do. It is a visible reminder of all the hard work that has been done.

AB Sidle’s rope work is very much appreciated by his shipmates who always look forward to his next work of art. Asterix and her crew are proud to have a young sailor on board who is keeping a long-standing naval tradition alive and well in the Royal Canadian Navy.

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