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That's not a knife!

3 April 2013 David Ritchard

Now this is a knife...

"Now this is a knife..."

Recently at the Australian Etchells Nationals, we had the unfortunate incident of a boat sinking. She had broached, the kite was released and the halyard stopped at the figure of eight at the line's end. To release that halyard, so as not to have the boat dragged over, the crew used the knife.

Some many years ago, the middle man went overboard whilst sailing downwind in about 25 knots. As he fell, his foot caught in the spinnaker sheet and he was being dragged along behind the boat. Again, the hasty use of the knife probably saved a disaster.

The moral of the story is that you need to have a proper, sharp knife that it is available to all crew with no delay.

YA Special Regulations stipulate:

'Sharp knife capable of cutting high modulus fibre rope, sheathed and restrained, located in or near each cockpit shall be provided.'

Self-explanatory? Yes. Hence why are equipment auditors presented with knives on bits of string, old rusty numbers or the worst of the lot, a Leatherman.

Please review this standard in your boat. You need a knife with a stainless, serrated blade. It needs to be ready to use, mounted in a sheath or scabbard and properly restrained, so that it does spear off into the bilge at the first opportunity.

Suggestion - pinch a four-inch Victorinox serrated knife from the kitchen and then replace it every season. Mount it inside the console and tell all the crew where it is.

It may save a catastrophe.


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