Chandlery September 1, 2000 Issue

Chandlery 09/01/00

The Jamestown boat hook, shown here
on a dinghy, has a very practical knob
end. Because a long, slender piece of
mahogany tends to ‘wobble’ when being
turned in a lathe, it takes skill to get the
shape perfect.

Do It Right & Proper
Sometimes with a confounded boat that you invest with inordinate pride, if you want something done exactly right, you just have to do it yourself.

However, if you do, some sailing friend, to whom you perhaps owe your confounded life, will want you to make him one, too.

Next, there’s a little line of other friends—even acquaintances whose last names you don’t even know. They’re willing to pay! And they don’t flinch when you name an outlandish price that reflects the ridiculous amount of time required to “do it right.”

Before you know it, you’ve got this confounded little business that spawns comment from your spouse and maybe the confounded Internal Revenue Service.

That’s how it went with Andy Kovacs (no kin to Ernie), who lives in Jamestown, on Conanicut Island, across the bay from Newport, Rhode Island.

He sails often with a friend who keeps a Nonsuch 30 in Bristol fashion. Nonsuch owners tend to be that way.

One day, picking up a mooring in bad weather, Kovacs broke the aluminum boat pole. He repaired it with duct tape. At season’s end, the ugly pole was still in use…and Kovacs felt guilty.

Seeking to avoid being burdened all winter, Kovacs set out to find for his friend a “proper boat hook.” He found nothing that matched his expectations.

He did see a nice bronze hook in the West Marine catalog for $19.99. He spent a lot of futile time looking for a wood pole. What he found was a custom woodworker willing to turn a 6' piece of straight-grain mahogany into a very graceful shape with a knob-like end. It’s not easy to lathe a long, slender piece of wood. It tends to wobble.

Nicely let into the bronze hook, the graceful-looking pole gets three coats of varnish (but needs several more and then a light sanding and a new coat at least annually until the confounded end of time).

Besides being nice to handle, the pole, if dropped overboard (it happens), floats handle up (see photo at left). That’s vastly superior to watching bubbles escape from an aluminum pole, creating a race to see if you can retrieve it before it loses its buoyancy.

Being labor intensive, the “Proper Boat Pole,” as Kovacs calls it, delivers for $149, plus $12 for shipping (it comes in a tough cardboard tube). For another $10, Kovacs will engrave your boat’s name on the bronze hook…which is not a bad idea in these confounded times. (Jamestown Sailing Gear, P.O. Box 475, Jamestown, RI 02835, 800/925-5598, fax 401/423-9238.)

New Windex Mount

Masthead flies are found on virtually all sailboats. They’re simple; a quick glance does it.

They also fairly foolproof, although we’ve hung up two of them—one in some trees at a dock at a beautiful place called the Sportsman’s Inn at Killarney, Ontario, the other on the underside of a bridge that started to close unexpectedly. Repeating the latter would suffice for an informal cardiogram.

In the October 15, 1994 issue, Practical Sailor reported on a bunch of masthead flies—the Great Hawk, the Lago, the Spar-Fly, the Windex and the Windicator.

The Windex, made in Sweden, was a clear winner. It settled fastest, was neither too lively nor too sluggish, provided the best day and night visibility and had excellent mounting hardware. (Another fly, the Danish-made Windway, was discussed in the June 15, 1995 issue; it came close to the Windex.) Windex continues to rule the roost at the masthead and they have a new model just out.

Called the “Sport,” it has a new glass-filled polycarbonate mount called a J-Base, which provides for top, side or front mounting. With the optional Windex Universal Masthead Mount ($18.88), it can be made to stand up to 13" out from the mount. The Sport also has, of course, Windex’s customary sapphire bearing and excellent reflectors on the adjustable arms.

The Sport, with a 10" arrow, would be very satisfactory for a smaller cruising boat, and fits in nicely between the standard 15" and the Windex Dinghy. (Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo, Hayward, CA 94545, 510/732-9229.)

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