|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
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
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.