Exotic materials and minimal weights enhance corrosion-free performance—at acceptable prices.
Not long ago we waded into the realm of knives to evaluate those most fit for on-board use (see PS March 1, 2004 "Sailors' Knives: 18 Blades"). Several companies featured in that article have since introduced new products, or new features on their products; the most salient of those are presented here.
Boye — Ever since cutting ability, light weight, and immunity to corrosion earned the David Boye Boat Knife a top rating in our evaluation of 14 nautical knives (see PS, June 2000), we've kept our eye out for new products from this firm. That same non-magnetic cobalt-blade lockback knife is now available with an optional titanium (also non-magnetic) marlinspike of useful, and perhaps unique, design.
Also new since 2000 are an external lanyard ring, a greater selection of handle colors, a combination plain/serrated edge, and an optional nylon belt pouch. The clothing clip has also been upgraded to titanium.
The new marlinspike is mounted outside the handle and adds little to the thickness or weight of this product. Its flat design allows you to easily insert it between rope strands, then rotate it to part them. Near the tip is a sewing hole, and midway along the shaft is an 18 x 5 x 2 mm shackle-key opening. The price for the enhanced Boat Knife is $129; add $20 for titanium marlinspike/shackle key/awl, and $5 for belt pouch.
Spyderco — Sharing Best-Buy honors in our March 2004 evaluation was the Spyderco Salt I folder. It impressed us with qualities similar to the original Boye Boat Knife, doing well in every performance category. The company has now added a companion model, the Pacific Salt. Except for small variations in size and weight, the two models are identical. The Pacific Salt's blade is about 3/4" longer, and its weight an ounce more than the Salt I's.
Both models feature H1 blade material, a precipitation-hardening, low-carbon stainless steel which Spyderco claims to be non-rusting and naturally hard without heat treatment. We found that its fully-serrated blade cuts even better than the Salt I, due to its increased length. The current street price is $49.
Mission — We recently bought a Multi-Purpose Diving (MPD) knife from Mission Knives, whose MPK model was also featured in our most recent knife test. A new marine model, the ultra-thin (0.2"), ultra-light (2.2 oz.) fixed-blade MPD is of obvious interest to serious boaters, and costs half what the MPK does. It's made entirely of Mission's high-strength titanium alloy that's nonmagnetic and impervious to corrosion. The skeletonized, 4" handle is ample in size, and is integral with a 3" serrated blade with blunt, non-puncturing tip. A versatile and well-fitting Tek-Lok Kydex sheath is provided, adding only an ounce to the overall weight.
The MPD cuts well in routine chores. An alternative drop-point design is available in the otherwise-similar MPU model; the company's MPS is a "big brother" to both. The handles of all three models can be braided with parachute cord or cotton line to enhance the grip. The current price for the MPD, $158-165.
One note regarding the sharpening of titanium and cobalt blades: our experience, validated by the makers, is that both materials are best sharpened with fairly coarse, abrasive material, e.g., diamond or aluminum oxide. Fine stones seem counterproductive and unnecessary here. Although these blades resist abrasion well, we've found that it's easier to restore their edges than on most steel blades. Of course sharpening serrated blades can be tricky, but not impossible.