By far the most popular way of learning how to tie knots, be it for boating, fishing or climbing, is via the internet where the animation allows you to see and follow every twist and turn.
The website and now iPhone app that leads the way is Animated Knots by Grog. You can click through to those animated knots on our website where you will also find links to the iPhone apps.
What has Grog got to do with it?
British Naval sailors in the 1700s gave the nickname ‘Grog’ to Admiral Vernon because his coat was made of a coarse silk called Grogram. When the Navy Admiral introduced the practice of diluting the sailors' daily rum ration, his nickname was applied to the drink - and his nickname survives for drinks to this day.
For the British Grogono family, ‘Grog’ has been a frequently used nickname. Today, three brothers (Alan, James, and Andrew Grogono) all call each other ‘Grog’.
A doctor by trade, Alan ‘Grog’ followed his father and grandfather into medical practice and became an anaesthesiologist. He also shared the family passion for sailing. Grog's surgeon brother James started what became a successful high speed sailing project. James, Grog and brother Andrew, with their father and two friends, created 'Icarus' a hydrofoil modified Tornado catamaran and progressively increased the World Sailing Speed Record in ‘B’ Class between 1977 and 1985.
Grog explains. ‘James was our leader and designer and driving force. However, he seemed to have a tough time getting away when the wind was right so I held the B Class record a number of times. I think my brother Andrew finally put it up to 28.6 knots which at the time seemed really, really fast.
‘It started as a standard Tornado and we still have it. It has had several new hulls, new masts, everything, but we call it the same boat. In fact, until you add on the foils, it is still a standard Tornado, so we didn’t wreck the boat.‘
Grog, along with his dentist wife Anthea and their four young children, migrated to the USA in 1974 from the UK.
A technology freak, Grog owned the first colour computer in the USA.
In 1995, when Grog was running the anaesthesiology department in Tulane Medical School, in New Orleans, Louisiana, he announced to his astonished department, that they must have a website. As no one else had any idea what he meant, he created his first departmental website, followed soon after by the family website.
Alan recounts the story. ‘I built a family website, mostly family photographs and I had a few other things that amused me that I knew something about. One of them was magic squares. It is still on our family website to this day. The other was knots from my sailing days.
‘I had this idea about teaching people how to tie knots, using sequences of still digital images turned into an animation. I launched the Animated Knots by Grog website in 2001. It quickly became too busy for our website host. We were taking up too much bandwidth, so we had to move it.
‘My reference was Ashley’s Book of Knots from 1944. There are nearly four thousand knots, with duplications - a monumental work.
‘When I started the knots website it was really only boating knots, for a good reason, as it was the only thing I knew anything about. I didn’t know anything about climbing or fishing. As soon as the website began to get busy I got endless emails, please do fishing, and please do climbing.
‘I was by then retired. Naturally all retired people are far too busy so I didn’t find any time until my knee wore out and my hip wore out and I had to have a replacement surgery for both of them. I had them done about six weeks apart. That forced me twice to sit still for a month.
‘My wife converted the kitchen table into a photo studio. She moved my computer down there and a rolling desk chair.
'I have yet to tie a single knot in fishing line. I am not a fisherman, I am not a climber: I haven’t even got fishing line in the house. But I managed to learn enough about fishing knots and about climbing knots to take all the photographs for those two sections.
‘Actually Ashley is not that good on climbing and fishing knots. I went online and I also phoned people up in university departments, climbing clubs and said ‘I need your help.’
‘When I went live with it, I got hammered. I got some of the toughest emails I think I have ever had; you are an idiot…. You don’t know what you are doing... You have never fished in your life.
‘I wrote back and said that is true. Would you be kind enough to help me? They did!
‘These critics spent ages editing, looking, and advising me. This helped me convert both these sections from being highly criticized. Now the fishing knots are my leading section.
‘These days comparing it to Ashley’s day there is obviously different technology in rope material and coverings on rope that affects what knots will work and not work.
In part 2 of this feature Grog expands on this knotty problem and takes us to the iPhone app. But you can jump ahead and order it by clicking here
... Animated Knots website