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By Erik Rasmussen

A Knife Little Trick

As part of the sea kayaker’s safety kit, a sharp knife is a must to keep with you – especially if you deal with ropes in any way.  The last situation you want to find yourself in, would be trapped or caught in a load of rope underwater or being pulled along by a snagged line.

There are plenty of specialist knives to choose from and they tend to be of the ‘flip’ or ‘folding’ variety, which means that they can be stored on your person pretty safely, without fear of stabbing yourself whilst going about your paddling business.  These should be easy to open one-handed and have an open-lock to prevent it from snapping shut when in use.

It can be a little fiddly to open the knife one handed sometimes, especially if hands are cold and wet or you’re in a bit of a tricky spot, using it for real, in an emergency.  A neat little trick I learnt to assist opening and speed up the whole process; was to attach a cable tie to the blade – this provides something to grip between your teeth and yank open.

Although technically no longer a one-handed technique, the cable tie does give you a whole load of extra purchase on the knife and therefore a better chance of using it in anger – just be careful not to stab yourself in the mouth!

A couple of other pointers on knife care/use:

  • A serrated blade is preferable for cutting through ropes
  • Don’t use the knife for anything else – keep it sharp and close by – you don’t want it blunt when it counts because you’ve been chopping apples/salami during rest stops
  • Look after the blade and mechanism, salt and silt can clog this up from time to time – so rinse in clean water and dry properly
  • Tying your knife to your buoyancy aid – personally I’m against this as it could become more of a hazard in a difficult swim situation – but there are two schools of thought on this one
  • Make sure you’re legal, owning and carrying a knife should always be safe and for a purpose
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