Having read your recent article concerning sailor's knives in the March '04 issue, I forward a comment. To obtain superior performance, one usually has to pay a superior price. There is another way.
Though I have owned folding-blade "rigger's" knifes, my tool of choice in every situation at sea has been a fixed-blade sheath knife. Early in my seagoing I brought aboard a Case XX, full-carbon steel, commercial 7" kitchen knife (forged, full tang, riveted). The knife was immediately turned in to the bos'n aboard the USTS Bay State, (then the Massachusetts Maritime schoolship), and he "jumped" it—struck off the tip and ground a rounded sheepsfoot.
The knife went into service with a 4-1/2" handle and a 4-1/2" blade, in a tallowed leather sheath. It has happily cut everything from sail twine and marline to synthetic mooring lines and towing hawsers.
Now, after 38 years of use it is not pretty, and it will gather no admiration around the yacht club. But it is not pitted nor rusted, and it takes and keeps a razor edge. Yes, like anything else one depends upon at sea, it warrants care and cleaning.
The term "jumping" dates back many years at sea, wherein a new seaman upon signing on would be required to present his knife to the blacksmith or carpenter for the above noted procedure. The reason was to cut down on incidences of ill-thought confrontations between seamen (inflatables not being much of an issue then).
-D. B. Fisher
I found your article, and editorial, on knives in the March edition of PS to be interesting and informative. I couldn't agree more that having a good knife at hand is a wise choice when sailing the waters of life and bay. Yet I was disappointed to not see my favorite knife included: A Wichard model 10052. I bought this knife more years ago than I care to remember, and think I paid around $12 for it. I see the Defender catalog sells it for about twice that amount. I've used this unassuming tool to cut line, slice slivers of limes for my beer, and even cut fiberglass battens. The bottle and shackle openers have also served me well.
As sort of a bonus, this little beauty glows in the dark, so you can find it in the middle of the night, should that be necessary. I'm not a flack for Wichard, but this product is a winner. It's still a bargain at twice the price.
I just got my copy of PS and read the knife article. As usual you did a very good job. One question though. In the article you use a category called "Street Price" for the knives reviewed. Please inform me of what street you found them on, because the "Retail Price" listed on these manufacturers' web sites (using the links provided in the article), is significantly higher , across the board, than the prices in the article. I know that you are not in the habit of telling people where to shop, but in a situation like this, perhaps you could tell the readers where are the best places to shop for these items, whether it be a web site or a discount mall.
Try www.knifecenter.com. They're quite reputable. As an alternative, try www.onestopknifeshop.com. If they don't have the knife you're looking for, try entering the brand and model number in www.google.com, with a "$" after the search words, or use the new beta-version "Froogle" shopping search engine (see "advanced search" on the Google home page). We did see prices even lower than those listed in our article, but can't be sure all the sources are trustworthy.
You should check out the Gerber "E-Z-Out" knife—a one-hand opening folder with belt clip, combo high carbon SS lock-open blade, Zytel handle with a rubberized edge to make it less slippery ("Soft Kraton insert allows for a positive grip"). Unfortunately, no hole for a lanyard. It cost me about $30, I believe, at EMS. Very pleased with it. Affordable enough to outfit the whole crew with them. (I am sure my wife will be pleased with her birthday present!)
Port Washington, NY
The review of knives was well done and very informative. I also have a sheath knife on the boat. However, if you want to cut a line quickly, a small hand axe is a better choice. I know you cannot carry one around as a sheathed tool, but it does the cut in one stroke.
The downside, besides storage/access, is the need to be good with it, as a wrong move can hurt instead of help. There is also the damage to whatever is under the line being cut. But, if things are that bad, who cares about the non-relevant items of the moment?
-C. Henry Depew
I drive a 1972 Bristol 34, Gusto, that I hope to own forever. Still, I always enjoy your sensible sailboat reviews to see what else is out there, and to pick up ideas as I continue my perpetual renovation. I was especially charmed by the looks and layout of the Hanse 371 in the Feb 1, 2004 issue. However, I was disappointed that the underbody wasn't shown, or even discussed in any detail. I searched the Net for further information on the boat's design, but every link I followed showed the same images as in your review. What's the big secret below the waterline?
Regardless, I can honestly say that I read Practical Sailor for the articles and not the pictures. (I can't say that about all magazines.) Keep up the good work.
-Arthur Zatarain, PE
We dislike publishing sailplan profiles that don't show a boat's underbody, but often these are the only illustrations that are readily available. When design offices are badgered for full underbody plans, they occasionally send out a duplicate set of full blueprints, which, unfortunately, cannot be scanned properly for artwork—at least by this magazine. We can't admit to having made this effort with Hanse Yachts, but there's a small illustration of the 371 underbody options at www.hanseyachts.com. (It's too small for us to reproduce here at the pristine resolution our readers are used to...)
[Re: the mention of Spin-Tec in "Headsail Roller-Furlers, February 1] I currently use a Spin-Tec roller furler on my Pearson 365. For the most part, I like it a lot. I purchased and installed the unit myself in the fall of 2001. I've owned ProFurl and Schaefer units in the past, and was ready to try something different. I had a quote from a rigger in Ft. Lauderdale for a ProFurl NC 42 for $1,975 installed, which seemed a good deal, but at $500 less and looking easy enough to install myself, the Spin-Tec was the choice.
Installation was straightforward. I put it together on the dock, slid it over the headstay, and fastened everything together with minimum trouble. I think it took an afternoon to do. I only called the factory once for help, and they were great. (One of the diagrams didn't quite make sense to me.) In fact they were great from start to finish, patiently answering all my questions before and after my purchase. They get top marks for customer service.
Regarding normal use, it works great. It's the smoothest turning furler I've ever used on any boat. Virtually no friction. It furls and reefs with ease. My first major trip with it was a trip home in February from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West. Rode a huge cold front all the way down Hawk Channel with gusts to 40 knots. The unit performed perfectly reefing and furling, and still continues to.
There's a slight learning curve with keeping tension on the furling line when unfurling in a breeze—if the line gets away from you, it can wrap around the base of the unit. It happened once to me, and once or twice with friends operating it.
Maintenance is non-existent. The manual says to rinse with fresh water every so often, I think. The rains down here do that for me. I've done no other maintenance to it in 2+ years, and I don't think it needs any. Nothing has come loose; nothing has broken; nothing has failed in any way. It's built like a stainless steel tank.
Now for the one thing I think could be better: The closed bail at the top of the furler is too big, at least for my boat. I've mentioned this to the factory. The bail can grab my spinnaker halyard and wrap it around the unit up top. I have to make sure my spinnaker halyard is pulled aft a bit to keep it out of the way. If the bail was a semicircle instead of a right triangle I think there would be no problem. I've mentioned this to the factory, too. It's the tip of the triangular bail that catches the halyard. The triangular design may be required to make the messenger line hoisting method work.
The other consideration with this unit is sail changes. I didn't purchase the messenger line arrangement (it was an option), so I have to go up the mast to change sails. I can imagine a lot of people saying "Whoa, wait a minute," but it has worked for me so far. I only have two headsails—a 140% for summer and a 110% for winter. I haven't had the 110% up since I put the Spin-Tec on. I guess I'm lazy, and the reefing ability of the Spin-Tec is better than I thought it would be. Besides daysailing in the Key West area, I only go to the Dry Tortugas and the Bahamas. So far, sail changes haven't been an issue.
Offshore sailors may want to consider carefully what is required to change sails before deciding on a Spin-Tec.
I'm sorry I can't report on how well the messenger line system works.
I hope this answers some questions about a fine unit.
Key West, FL
I would like to respond to an owner's comment in your March issue review of the C&C 29, regarding noise from the engine compartment.
The Yanmar 2GM was introduced into the United States in 1980 and originally equipped with the American-made "Bushing Incorporated" motor mounts, which were very stiff, and transmitted much of the vibration into the hull. Early in 1981-82, the North American Yanmar distributors switched over to the new black Yanmar motor mounts, which were specifically designed for each individual Yanmar model. As a result, the softer mounts that were matched to each engine produced a very smooth and quiet diesel package. I highly recommend that any customers who have the older American-made mounts consider changing over to the Yanmar genuine mounts. They will be very pleased with how much smoother and quieter the engine will perform. When using the Yanmar mounts, the engine beds will have to be cut down slightly, since the mount is larger.
Another alternative is the Aqua Drive mount, which is basically about the same size as the Bushing mount. The Aqua Drive mounts are also softer, which will definitely give you a much smoother-running engine.
I am a third-generation co-owner of Mack Boring & Parts Company. We have been the Yanmar Diesel Distributor since its introduction to the US market in 1974.
Executive Vice President
Mack Boring & Parts