Are you tied up in knots? Not anymore

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Manufacturer debuts 2.0 version of SlipKnot, which is capable of holding single or multiple lines

Keeping the lines on a sailboat secure and stable can be difficult, especially when single-handing.

Arthur Stafford, Jim Swieznyski and Bill Fiegener (from left) believe they've come up with a better kind of knot.

At last year’s Newport International Boat Show, the Stafford Manufacturing Corporation of Wilmington, Mass., debuted SlipKnot, a device that twists, locks and holds single or multiple ropes. The company recently launched the 2.0 version.

“Often the customers that would visit us at the show or on our Web site didn’t know the size of the line they used and didn’t have the rope handy to measure it, so they didn’t know what size they needed,” says Jim Swieznyski, director of sales and marketing. “In our new model, we have inserts to make the devices fit 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 7/16-inch, and 1/2-inch.”

Swieznyski says it’s more convenient for customers to only have to buy one SlipKnot for all the sizes.

“It’s also a way for us not to lose sales,” says Swieznyski. “If a customer walks away the first time, the chances of selling him or her on that product again diminishes significantly.”

The original idea for the SlipKnot came about three years ago when Arthur Stafford, owner of the company, was given a challenge by his brother-in-law — a sailor always fighting his lines — to create a clamp that would hold lines in place.

The device is designed to help sailors more easily manage single or multiple lines.

Not one to turn down a challenge — and a fisherman himself — Stafford set about creating such a product.

“We needed to make something that could pull itself apart, but still clamp on strong enough to hold the rope secure,” says Bill Fiegener, Stafford CFO.

“We wanted a product that would be light and easy to handle,” says Stafford, 60. “We had to make sure the boater wouldn’t need any tools to use it and no metal, because we didn’t want it marring or rusting since it would be around water all the time.”

Stafford settled on a plastic injection mold for SlipKnot, designed to provide a strong, yet durable, product.

This is Stafford’s first venture into the marine business after specializing in metalworks and machine parts for 35 years, and Swieznyski says many ideas for improvement have come from customers. Another feature of the 2.0 version is a cap with a loop on the side that attaches to the top of the device.

“People can attach another rope, or a bungee cord, or a carabineer to the loop,” says Swieznyski. “In our customer surveys, having a way to attach the SlipKnot to something else ranked 1 or 2 on the list of most popular convenience options.”

The test data for the product on the Stafford site gives measurements for the slippage points of each SlipKnot device, whether it is a straight pull or a loop pull. For a straight pull, if the rope diameter is 3/8 inch and is braided, the slippage point is about 125 pounds. The same type of rope with a diameter of 1/4 inch in a loop pull has a slippage point of 190 pounds.

The 2.0 version is only available in blue and will come with four color-coded inserts and a connector cap for the total price of $9.95. The original SlipKnot will still be available in packs of three in blue, yellow and orange with no cap for $14.95. Additional caps can be bought to fit the old and new versions for $2.95 each.

“We’re trying to preserve the original packaging as much as possible,” says Swieznyski. “Though it has many uses on a boat, it can also be used for camping and around the home.”

For information, visit www.staffordslipknot.com

this article originally appeared in the New England Home Waters Section of the June 2009 issue.