Are you confused by all the recommendations for personal sailing safety gear? Your personal gear must be compact, fit on a belt or inside your sailing shorts pockets, and be waterproof. Keep these five tools on your person no matter where you choose to sail.
1. Sailing Knife with Marlinspike
Choose a knife with an all stainless straight or serrated (saw-like teeth) blade. Select a 4″ blade for folding knives and 4″-6″ for straight blades.
The better marine knives come with a marlinspike–a pointed, metal spike, joined to the knife with a hinge. Buy a separate marlinspike in a sheath if you decide to use a straight blade knife. Use the marlinspike to splice three-strand nylon line or open stuck shackle pins.
2. Needle-nose Pliers
You know the aggravation of trying to get a grip on an anchor shackle pin, bolt head, or pipe. Enter the needle-nose! Get a pair with comfortable, nonslip grips, equipped with a wire cutter near the hinge. Use them to tighten or loosen shackle pins, cut electrical wire, or change cotter pins in your sailing rigging.
3. Mini Light with Night Lens
Find a light small enough to fit into the palm or your hand. The best for boating come with a button on the end of the cylinder for click-on, click-off operation. It needs a holster and snap on night lenses (red or blue).
Use your light during the day to check your engine or bilges located in dark compartments. Snap on the colored lens after dark to protect your night vision.
Make sure to carry a full set of spare batteries. If your mini light uses AAA batteries, slide them into a tall plastic, cylinder shaped, prescription bottle. If it uses AA batteries, store them in a plastic soap dish and secure it with a few rubber bands.
4. Hand bearing Compass
This champion of mini compasses looks like a rubber coated hockey puck with a neck lanyard. It’s a magnetic compass made just for the yachtsman. These marine compasses are filled with heavier fluid to keep the compass card from sticking to the sides.
Use it to find your position or check your sailboat’s steering compass. Give this invaluable navigation tool a permanent berth in your sailing navigation tool kit.
5. Small Line or Sailcloth Strips
Do you need more line to lash the headsail to the lifelines or an extra tie for a furled mainsail? It seems you never have enough short pieces of line ready at hand.
Carry four or five 18″ -24″ pieces of small line or strips of dacron in a pocket. In a pinch, you’ll be ready without having to dig through a sail locker for more tie-downs.
As a sailing skipper, you need to stay prepared with the best sailing safety tools close at hand. This list will get you started in selecting the best gear on the market to keep you and your sailboat crew safe and sound.