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Gear Test - Hooknife frees fouled props

Boaters are a proud bunch, and we dislike admitting when things don’t go exactly as they should. When we find ourselves in those situations, it is a good feeling to know that we have planned ahead and can deal with the issue at hand in a safe and effective manner.

Fouling a prop, rudder or keel on a partially submerged lobster pot or floating line can be frustrating, but attempting to free the running gear while swimming under the boat with knife in hand can prove to be both frightening and dangerous. With that thought in mind, the Hooknife from Sailor’s Solutions allows the user to reach and cut through the offending line using one hand, and without diving under the boat.

The Hooknife is fabricated from 420 stainless steel and has three extremely sharp cutting edges. Two of the edges oppose one another to form a 5-inch-deep V-shaped hook for snagging the fouling line and slicing through it. The hook is wide enough at the mouth to allow it to snag and cut a 1-inch line. The third cutting edge is in line with the handle and permits the tool to be used as a standard cutting edge.

The blade is securely fastened to an anodized, heat-treated aluminum adapter that allows the tool to be used with the included 13-inch handle with lanyard or with an adjustable handle such as those manufactured by Shurehold and Swobbit. Using an adjustable length handle, it would be possible to cut through an offending line from the safety of your dinghy.

Once the Hooknife blade assembly is snapped into the handle, you realize there is a working tool in your hand. The end grip with molded finger grooves permits a secure grasp when wet, while the wrist lanyard provides additional security from loss. The distance between the blade and your hand allows meaningful strokes without fear of getting tangled or injuring yourself on the running gear.

I put the Hooknife to work, and it worked as designed. I had no difficulty in cutting through typical lines up to 1 inch using the hook, and sawing through a 1-inch line with the straight edge. For cutting all but the smallest diameter lines multiple strokes were required, but the design of the Hooknife makes the task far easier than using a standard boater’s knife. I would, however, prefer serrations on one cutting edge.

The Hooknife is sold with the 13-inch handle, packaged in a semirigid plastic container that can be stowed on board with other safety gear. The straight cutting edge has a protective sleeve that should remain on the blade until use, to prevent injury.

Available directly from Sailor’s Solutions for $39.95, the Hooknife would be a worthwhile addition to your on-board emergency equipment.

Sailor’s Solutions, Northport, N.Y. Phone: (631) 754-1945. www.sailors