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Richard Willette is a retired Chief Boatswain's Mate who has THE job every retired Chief would want... he's Chief Harbor Pilot for
the US Navy's submarine base in New London, CT.   He gets to guide all the vessels up and down the "TH
AMES" and is a very
busy man.

Still, he took time to show me some of his work and give me a few pics to put here.  (He just don't know it yet!)











































Thanks, Richard!  Send more pictures!   
 (If ya can't send pictures, send MONEY!)

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One mark of a good CPO is that he never stops learning.  Chief Considine hadn't tried a bellrope, so he explored my tutorial on
the subject, combined that with his considerable skill at ropework and came up with a winner!   Consider "Bravo Zulu" hoisted,
Chief!

                                                                                                                                              Pudding with outer cove
              Finished inner core (puddings)







         Finished bellrope prior to varnishing                                                                         After varnishing














                                                                                                Most impressive!

Yet another bellrope he just made (June 2007) as a gift for another Master Chief.   Super work!









A "Family Portrait" showing his line pulling tool, a small bellrope/keyfob and the first bellrope, then to the
                                                                                                       right, a closer view of the keyfob.
U S NAVY, U S COAST GUARD
& USMC  Fancywork
Click on ANY picture
fr a larger verzion!
Last revised  2010-03-28
Vince:  here is a couple of Boatswain's Call Lanyards.  I made one while aboard the USS Manuel (DE 351) in 1952 -53 and the other
while serving on the USS Yellowstone (AD 27).  They are made out of Belfast Cord that can't be found today.  They appear to be as
good as new as the cord is tight wound and doesn't appear to deteriorate even though they have been washed many times.  
These lanyards played a part in piping down many a chow down, sweepers and Boats Away while on my neck and even piped
aboard Admiral McCain who was Senator John McCain's father.

(1) A knot board I made for the USS Yellowstone reunion.
(Who IS that handsome young man?)   (2) A quick announcement board I
made for a local association... worked well!   (3)  The top Lanyard is a 17 strand French Sennate and the bottom is a Flat Sennate  
(4)   Turks Head covering the connections.  I wouldn't want to take the time to weave and tighten up a Turks Head like this today.
(5)   This shows the lay of the sennate, both inside and outside. The top photo is what I call a
flat sennate, it is a little more loose or
flexible but also has a nice look.The bottom picture is the
French Sennate, It is a very tightly interlocked Sennate and has a nice
appearance, the inside is flat.

I am amazed at how well the
Belfast cord has held up after almost 55 years. it is a shame that all of the manufacturers of Belfast
Cord have gone out of business.  There is nothing out there that can match it for sennate or square knotting.

Jack Cross BM2 (USN ret)

Thanks, Boats!
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Chief Petty Officer's Hat box decoration by Chief Boatswain's Mate
David Considine, USCG (O.I.C. of Chatam MA USCG Facility.)

"This is the anchor I made for my Chief's Initiation hat box.  I
basically tied the rope anchor that is the frontispiece of the
'Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Rope Work' by Graumont and
Hensel.   Since the Coast Guard Chief's Anchor has the shield I had
originally planned on making the shield overlay the anchor.  That
was almost impossible... I ended up cutting the shank of the anchor
in two and used a wood cutout of the shield to place in between the
new top and bottom.  For the shield I used several different sennits
and straight ropes."
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2006-05-12:       More from ChiefConsidine...

"I had done this for my brother ten years
ago while underway on a Coast Guard
Cutter.  He had received the harpoon from a
friend and asked if I could put some fancy
work on it.  Looking through Ashley I found
what he had for Harpoon fancywork.  I
didn't want to drill through the wood so I did
the best to secure the trail line in
accordance with the pictures in Ashley
(#2062 and 2063) making the mount on the
handle rather than the actual iron. "
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(6):  A Boatswain's Call (whistle) that would have been suspended from the lanyards.   (The instrument is a
"Call"... the tunes played on it are the "Pipes"
...only a lubber refers to the instrument as "A boatswain's
pipe".)  (
Here's an explanation of the instrument written by a Dutchman in Australia about the RN call...)
Playing around with the site has given Boats Cross the impetus to do some more stuff!  Here we have (clockwise) a sample portion
of a square-knot belt,  a ringbolt or "Spanish" coxcomb capped by two three-strand turksheads,  two more Boatswain's Call lanyards
and a detail of the seventeen-braid sennit he used to make 'em,  a knotboard he made for a reunion of the USS Manuel and a larger
knotboard replacing the one at upper left, which got "appropriated" by a nephew.  He wrote and cussed me out for getting him back
into the "game".... well, I'm just pleased as punch that he is back and is doing more stuff... his lanyards are just finer 'n froghair.

There's a tutorial by Bud Brewer on the 17-strand sennit that is similar to the method Jack used here.  It's at the
Tutorials pages.
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1st Sgt Michael Sink USMC is stationed in the Pacific Area and has been doing some fancywork as well.... I'm pleased to say that he
figured out how to do the split turkshead from this here very site, so don't nobody never say ya' can't teach a Grunt nothin'!   Although, in
fairness, he DID pick this up all by himself, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for some Squiddy-types I knew (and know!)  
Mike....ahhhh,  
FIRST SERGEANT...that's some pretty nice work!   Got any more like them there at home?

Going across:
Mike's first helm: a damn nice job!    Then a paddle which has some arcane meaning to a Marine that us non- Marines will never know
about. (
I think it's like the Masons....)  Then a detail of the helm, showing a St. Mary's coxcomb running into a split six-strand turkshead
and coming out as a Spanish coxcomb (or ringbolt hitch) and finally a side view of the split turkshead....  
Good On Yer, Mate!
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New addition from Sgt. Sink:  another paddle handle, but
THIS one is a doozy: he's managed to do square-knotting
AROUND the shaft of the paddle.  This is not only tough to get
even, but sizing the knotting so as to be tight to the surface
while retaining the orientation of the square-knots shews a
fine touch and skill with paracord! Nice turks- heads as well!
Ah, well... the Navy's loss was the USMC's gain!
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Retired HM1 (Corpsman) Mark Lemke seems to have also been bitten by the "paddle bug", possibly as a result of patching up
all those holes in Marines from dodging about with the FMF (Fleet Marine Force).  He has done some very nice stuff and you can
see some of them below.  Also, there is a small knotboard which shows that ALL the "Navy" didn't wear off him, after all.  

All the paddle handles are done in what looks to be "550" (Paracord) in many colours and finished with turksheads.  As I said
before, I'm not really sure of the significance of the "wrought paddle"... perhaps it's so the recipient can make it to his next
station, regardless of the travelling conditions?  Perhaps something to do with disciplining Gnus?

For those who don't know, the Corpsman is the "Medic" for the Marine Corps and possibly the only Navy person most Marines
will treat as an equal.  They bloody well better, innit?
Go HERE for some pictures of fancyworked handrails aboard the
USS Zuni/USCGC Tamaroa!
Two knotboards:  the smaller was a gift for
a departing Senior Chief while at Yokuska ,
Japan.

I don't know the story on the larger one, but
it certainly is a beauty!
The years have been kind to Richard!  On the right, as a
younger man with a wrought anchor and star he made, and on
the left, as he is today in the Pilot's Office, holding a
wheel/clock combo he decorated for another Senior Pilot who
was leaving New London
The Chief keeps his tools and mementos in the
small chest at the top of the picture.  We have
(L>R) his rigging knife, sheath and marlinspike. a
working Boatswain's Lanyard and Boatswain's
call, his sail-palm (looks like a seaming palm), two
rolls of sail/mending twine, one black dacron and
one lighter #3 waxed dacron, and finally a small
maglite with decorations and a sheath.
I have an admittedly soft spot in my heart for "Recon" paddles... especially such outstanding work!

S/Sgt Rich Kellis, an "old man" of 25, sends the following:



Hello... I notice that you were looking for pictures of paddles for  your website, so I thought I'd send you some. I have the ABOK here
at home as a reference. I'm still learning and I certainly took cues from
1stSgt. Sink on some of the work he had done in the past. I
think too many people go way to simple on these paddles and the affect can be lost to the casual viewer.

But I digress:

                       The first paddle is the paddle that was made for me when I left my last recon unit. It was simply done, but not                    
                        everybody has skill with the 550 cord.





                                                               (OK: Now just TRY losing your keys again!)











The next series of photos is a paddle I made for a fellow platoon member that was getting out of the service. I took special care to
make his extra nice and used the original Sergeant's insignia he was issued, as well as some commemorative coins that he had
received that were special to him. It consists of some turk's heads, solomon's bars, square knotting, and lots of half-hitching and
ring-bolt hitching. Mounting the coins in the 550 cord was a pain... but it eventually worked. The handle on the back is the Marine's
MCMAP (marine corps martial arts program) belt.





















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The camouflaged paddle is one I made for a team member. (The russian star is because he was a Russian linguist... not because
he was a communist. haha.)
I did the camo work myself and then wrapped it up with the 5 strand sennit and some coachwhipping. I think that the clean look
really gives it a special touch. I've made several other paddles, but apparently don't have pictures of any of them at this time. If I
obtain any more, I can send them your way.




















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Also... quick blurb about me... I'm a SSgt in the USMC. I've been in for 7.5 years, so yes, I came up the ranks pretty fast. I'm 25 so I
think I may be one of the younger guys doing ropework as a hobby these days, aside from the boy scouts.



Thanks,

SSgt. Richard Kellis
USMC (active)
This should explain why I don't make up "RECON Paddles" on request:

The Marine Raiders were the original 'recon' Marines... as such, they were also the first
truly 'amphibious' special operations unit. Without going into the details of their long history,
when the Raiders were disbanded, the members made a tradition of giving one of the many
paddles that were used with the rubber assault boats that the Raiders used to infiltrate enemy
beaches to the departing members. Eventually, all of the members had departed and left with
a 'piece' of the unit they left behind. When Marine Reconnaissance was formed, the members
of those units carried on that tradition of giving paddles to departing members, which by that
time had started receiving decoration and fancy ropework that demonstrated the
accomplishments of the Marine. That is why they used the paddles and not just any old plaque
or other item.

Additionally, the Marine's teammates are traditionally the ones who make the paddle for the
departing Recon Marine... not just any member of the unit. The Marine is not allowed to see
the paddle being made for him until it is presented at what is called a "paddle party." What
happens at the paddle parties are a lot of good ol' fun... but it's certainly a "What happens at
the paddle parties Stays at the paddle parties" sort of event.

Many a young Marine has been seen at the PX trying to buy cordage to wrap a paddle these
days. While other Marines encourage the art, they don't really pass on any helpful knowledge
unless the paddle is being made for a Recon Marine departing his unit. Over the years, people
have caught glimpses of these pieces of military art and without understanding the history
and meaning behind the artifact, go on to make a mockery of the whole thing by just giving
them willy-nilly to undeserving folks.

The only other community outside of Recon that do the paddles are Navy Chiefs.
Presumably, SEALs do this or something like it as well, but if so, they're even more guarded
about it than the RECON Marines.

Thanks to Rich Kellis and several others for the instruction on the history and purpose of the
"RECON Paddle".   
USCGC TIGER SHARK WPB 87359   BM1 Eric Silvoy