Personal Effects on Deck
By the time you read this, it will have been about six weeks since the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were attacked. Those events will still be weighing heavily on all of us, and most painfully on those who have lost loved ones, including many PS readers. Our hearts and best thoughts go out to you—and will remain with you, as citizens and sailors. We're all in this together, and we will carry on with firm resolve and all the cheer we can muster. Fair winds to you.
The lead story in this issue is a review of multi-tools. Our recommendations will certainly cause a ruckus, but so would any set of recommendations, because the 18 tools we looked at are like a big family of slightly different siblings, and all have those who dote upon them. In fact I was disappointed that the multi-tool I rock to sleep every night barely passed muster by our reviewer. Never mind that it weighs like the Great Pyramid of Cheops. I can carry it.
Aside from a multi-tool or a knife, there are three other crucial on-deck personal effects that every sailor ought to have—a watch, sunglasses, and a pocket flashlight or bite-light. The watch, like the multi-tool, stays on all the time. Luckily, the sunglasses and flashlight can be carried at opposite ends of the day.
It's no good having one or two big flashlights aboard that everyone can share—along with those, everyone ought to have his or her own, and be able to put their hands on it immediately. None of this, "Honey, I smell rubber burning, and the engine's acting funny—have you seen the flashlight anywhere?"
My current favorites are an old AA-cell Pelican light with the pocket clip broken off, and a $12 AA-cell Coleman headlamp (For Kids!).
We've gotten a lot of letters about the review of sunglasses we did back in the May 15th issue—some flak, some support. I'll admit that I was a bit dubious about the article, having lost overboard the only pair of expensive shades I've ever owned about 12 years ago, and having since bought all my shades in the cheapo-bin at the local drugstore, never spending more than about eight bucks—and having lost or broken literally every pair.
Shortly after we published the article, Olaf Harken sent us two pairs of his company's glasses, justifiably miffed that we hadn't included them in the review that ended up touting Maui Jims. I can't compare Harken's glasses to the ones we've already reviewed, but I can report that we have a lot of rocks where I live, and in all the dinghy racing I did this summer, I could see the rocks under the surface through the Harkens—their edges, their depth gradations, and the passages between them. These were sometimes narrow passages where no others sailed. (I would say "dared to sail," but alas, it wasn't a lack of daring but the use of something called "good strategy" that kept others away.)
The difference between good sunglasses and cheap ones is not a little—it's a lot. It's worth the difference, for me, anyway, between eight bucks and 80. I can't believe I just said that.
We've had a number of letters warning that polarized lenses make it difficult to read LCD instrument displays, and it's true, they do. Here's the solution: Tilt the glasses up. Jeepers —with all the discussion about not being able to see displays, and protecting electronic back-ups with Faraday Cages, you'd think we were operating in a video arcade.
More seriously, by the time you read this, the government may well have flipped on the switch for GPS Selective Availability again— and with cause. If it happens, it will be yet another good excuse for us to get our eyes out of the boat.