|Review by Peter Vanderwaart
Where do you go for answers to questions like these?
How can I use a piece of line to help carry a piece of
Should I lubricate my turnbuckles? What should I use?
What is the maximum load that I can expect on the my main
What knot should I use to attach the rode to my anchor?
(answers at bottom of page)
In today's society, celebrity can come to most any line of work.
We have celebrity chefs, celebrity financial advisors, celebrity
fitness trainers. Thanks to "This Old House" and its
imitators, we have celebrity woodworkers, plumbers, landscapers,
whatever. In the boat world, we have celebrity riggers. Brion Toss is
one. (But not the first. That may have been the late Spike Africa,
"President of the Pacific Ocean.") It goes without saying that a
celebrity has a book. Toss has written a couple. He has made a video
or two. He does seminars. He has a web site (www.briontoss.com).
As far as I know, he has yet to appear on Oprah!
The Complete Rigger's Apprentice
is an enlarged combination of two earlier Toss books: The Rigger's
Apprentice and The Rigger's
Locker. It contains the answers to the questions posed
above and many, many more. One of the first questions that I
researched was how to keep the tips of my spreaders from sagging to a
decrepit-looking and dangerous angle. Brion had the answer: a bit of
friction tape and marline service (page 216).
In concept the book is the text for a one-year apprenticeship in
rigging. It is not meant to be complete; no single volume could be an
exhaustive compilation of such an ancient craft. But it is thorough
in the basics.
What is your interest? Rope? Descriptions of the various types and
recommendations about selection. Knots? Two dozen of the most
important, including seven bowlines. Splices? The most important
splices for each kind of rope, and for wire. Design? Guidelines for
masts and rigging. All this plus instructions for serving and
seizing, loft and boatyard techniques (such as working aloft),
emergency procedures, and decorative ropework. There is even a
section on tricks and puzzles. Anyone paging through this book is
going to find ways helpful techniques and ways to do things better.
Anyone. Regardless of experience.
The emphasis is safety first, followed by workability and
durability. Economy is a lesser priority, although by no means
ignored. Especially interesting are numerous suggestions for
specialized and homemade tools, such as the head of a crescent wrench
welded to a marlingspike.
The text is very well written. The descriptions are clear for the
most part, and the tone is light without being excessively breezy.
The illustrations by Robert Shetterly are excellent. This is one of
the most useful books on my shelf.
The answers to the questions at the top: 1) tie up a simple sling,
page 259, 2) yes, with anhydrous lanolin, page 11, 3) look it up on
the graph, page 22, 4) an anchor hitch (of course!), page 54.