What's the #1 Boating Lifesaving Gear?

What sailing or cruising gear takes the #1 spot in boating safety? Is it the personal flotation device (also called a "pfd"). Or that super-duper new life raft tucked into her shiny white container, lashed onto your sailboat deck, ready for, well, you know, "just in case".  Read on, then you decide!

Inspect your boat from bow to stern before AND after sailing. Don't forget the "after sailing" inspection means no matter where you stop for the evening.  Dockside or slip side. Tied up to a mooring buoy or hooked into the seabed with your boat anchor. 

 But, wait a minute! Did you forget your own personal head to toe inspection? Sure, you brought your latest lifejacket or pfd, but have you thought about what other piece of sailing gear you must wear every moment you're aboard? 

 Consider that no other piece of sailing gear gets forgotten more often, or if remembered, gets stowed in the seabag, or lashed to the pedestal or mast, or put loose into a pocket. Lot of good that'll do you if you need your knife this moment!

Your sailing knife rises to the top to take the #1 spot in boating safety equipment. Why? 

 Consider the thousands of sailors who sailed the big ships for hundreds of years. Without a pfd. Without sailboat lifelines strung along the deck. And, without a fancy life raft, EPIRB or other marine safety equipment. If those guys got into trouble, they always, without question, had one piece of gear lashed, attached and in place at their waist. 

 A sailing knife. And where was it? In a sheath, attached to their belt and with a lanyard attached to the knife and a belt loop (or other place on their person). 

 So, what's with the lanyard? Have you ever tried to hold on to a piece of gear with wet hands? 

 Have you had a wrench or other boat tool knocked out of your hands when you're pitching and rolling on a deck, bucking like one of those bulls in a Texas saloon? Enter the lanyard. It'll keep your knife with you, even if it slips out of your hands. 

 And, the knife you attach to the lanyard needs be a "Rocky Balboa" among knives, no matter its age. Will it keep rising and performing to the max, even after getting knocked about?  Use this seven point check-list to choose a sailing knife:

* Stands up to the tough stuff: salt air; sea spray; humidity.
* Lightweight, well designed, easy to use and lasts a lifetime.
* Keeps an edge even after cutting today's high-tech rope.
* Comes with a superior warranty and made in the USA.
* Built from materials that don't rust, like cobalt and titanium. 
* Can be used near a magnetic steering compass without interference.
* Tested by "heavy-hitters" in sailing (like Blue Water Sailing and Practical Sailor Magazine). 

 If you are anything like me, you've been through the cheapo knives. They cost a few dollars, last a sailing or boating trip or two. Then, they stop cutting. You've seen this, I'm sure. You buy the boating catalog special or the latest blade to beat all blades. Cut through tough sheets or splice a few lines aboard and your knife turns into a butter knife. And butter knives won't cut through a sailing rope for beans! 

In my mind, a dull knife should have a red-blinking light on the end of the handle. Call it a "dull alarm". Blink, blink, blink. That way, you know it's time to break out the sharpening tool. Don't know about you, but I'd rather be sailing or cruising than sharpening a knife every five cuts. 

I've had my Boye knives for years and have never, ever sharpened them. Not once. The edges are still sharp. They cut through a rope lickety split. No hesitation. Sail or cruise, and you'll want a knife that gives you the edge in safety. It must be able to:
* Cut away a Genoa sheet or other line wrapped around a foot or hand.
* Saw through lines or webbing if trapped underwater in a sailing emergency.
* Slash through fishing line or other debris wrapped onto a propeller. 
* Splice a rope or cut frayed fibers from a line to make it "like new" again.
* Make a sail patch repair in a torn sail or canvas product aboard your sailboat.

 Now you know how to select the perfect sailing knife to boost sailing and boating safety aboard any sailboat. 

- Captain John Jamieson