Sitting above my desk is a display shelf of small gifts and unique items. One of these is a piece of baggywrinkle. Don’t know what that is? It’s a particular rope product made for sailing vessels, fishing boats, and other craft. The bosun makes it by unlaying rope and then braiding the result together. It looks like someone lost their beard. Its use was to prevent chafing between lines or between lines and sails. Rubbing together created wear, wear opened the path for the failure of the parts rubbing. You used anti-chafing gear like baggywrinkle to stop that.
Well, the baggywringle was new.but it was created out of the old. The old line got reutilized to make new products for use onboard the ship. Baggywrinkle was one of those products. A rope parted? The bosun spliced it. Anyone rated Able Bodied Seaman would have been able to do basic ropework.
A rope was not the only thing, reused. When sails passed their useful life, the canvas could recycle into a variety of products. The list of items that you can fashion from sail is long: Small bags, ditty bags, for seamen to hold personal possessions, seabags for carrying around more substantial objects, hats, and even clothing.
Cooking grease found use as a dressing for the masts aiding mast hoops on their journey up and down with the sails.
In the 19th century, a sailing vessel could be very close to a closed system once out of sight of land. Making something new out of old was a necessity. This reuse extended into the sailor’s art—pieces of line, seashells, fragments of wood, and on whalers baleen and teeth.
Sailors fabricated models of ships from materials scavenged onboard.

Sailor’s – being superior sorts- were well in advance of the modern world when it came to reducing, reusing, and recycling. They made new from old.


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