The Birth of the Cable Tamer


Cable Tamer

These high-tech times present a whole new challenge for us cruising folks. How does one cope with the multitude of cords, chargers, headphones, and adaptors that accompany every new device that comes on board? Add two gadget-hungry teenagers, a few Kindles, several cameras, and you have cable mayhem. Reader Jessica Rice Johnson wrote us with her solution to the cord chaos aboard her familys 62-foot catamaran.

At first, they tried an electronics basket at the chart table intended to catch the clutter. It worked, sort of, she said; at least the cables were contained in one place. However, one day while unraveling a snarled mess of wire spaghetti in an effort to extract ear buds, Johnson reached her limit, and her frustration gave birth to the Cable Tamer. Heres her story:

The project started with finding a practical and convenient place to mount the pocketed cable organizer (which is similar in design to a hanging shoe organizer). We chose a bulkhead in a companionway near the chart table. The placement determined the overall size. For the back panel, we used Sunbrella Plus as it is reinforced with an undercoating that would support the weight of the pocket contents.

I laid all of our cables and devices on the fabric panel to work out the size and number of pockets needed. Marking the back panel with light pencil, I came up with dimensions for the strips of heavy gauge, clear vinyl that would create the pockets. The vinyl strips have seam binding stitched top and bottom. I added extra length to the strips so that I could add shape to the pockets when sewing them with vertical seams. I finished by stitching seam binding around the entire outside edge. The Cable Tamer is mounted to the bulkhead with washers and stainless-steel machine screws.

Once construction was complete, it was the moment of truth. Would my invention actually hold and organize all of our cables? Yes! The mess of tangled cables is, thank goodness, now a thing of the past.

– Jessica Rice Johnson and her husband, Richard Johnson, own and operate Elcie, a 62-foot expedition charter catamaran (, now sailing in the South Pacific.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at