Better Mouse Traps

Walking down the docks where boats are slipped, be careful not to check yourself against one of the many pointed steel anchors that overhang the bows.  It’s easy and painful to do if your not paying attention.  If you’re someone like Greg Kutsen, you’re more than paying attention, your noticing how you can improve the design.  With over a dozen anchors already on the market, it takes a bold and impassioned person to want to introduce yet another solution to what one would assume is a saturated market, but that’s what Greg did.

Hearing in person Greg describe the thought process behind his designs, you can’t help but admire the solutions he’s developed . . . simple, smart, and artful.  After learning about it, I bought and made his anchor Kandu’s primary anchor (she has five different anchors).  The first time we dropped (meaning, let the anchor and chain play out to the sea bed when anchoring in a cove) his design, I was amazed, but not surprised by how quickly and securely it grabbed the bottom.  The first time we deployed his bridle and chain hook, I was impressed by how quietly we held the hook (sailor slang for “anchor”).  Here again, Greg sees things I don’t.  Chain hooks have been around for over a hundred years.  Tying a single nylon line (rope) to “snub” the chain (providing some elastic shock absorption against pulling too hard the stiff chain against the even stiffer deck hardware) has been around for over 50 years.  And employing a chafe guard around the line to protect it against untimely wear and potential severing, especially in heavy weather, has been around longer than chain hooks and nylon snubbers combined.  Greg sees a gap and takes it upon himself to design a smarter hook and then places it at the end of a beefy nylon bridle, a double nylon line configuration that centers the boat to the anchor’s pull.  At the center of the bridle he includes a hefty thimble and chafing gear arrangement.  He also has chafing gear sewn at the two ends of the nylon bridal, protecting them against rubbing at the chocks (cut-aways through which the dock lines and anchor rodes (ropes) pass).  There is nothing under-sized about what Greg makes. It’s all big and strong, and surprisingly less expensive than alternatives or a do-it-yourself.  But he didn’t stop at anchors, hooks, and bridles.  He noticed that boat owners have three or four bronze “keys” dangling in the hanging locker (closet), each designed to open a different type of deck fill cap; lids that cover hoses built into the deck that lead into fuel, water, or holding tanks.  Unlike someone who takes for granted “that’s just how it is,” Greg wonders why one key couldn’t service all deck caps.  So he designs one and finds a way to include shackle key functions too!  Instead of softer bronze, he makes it of harder stainless steel.  Now Kandu only has one key (with a looped lanyard at its end to tie around our wrists so as not to lose this useful tool to “Davy Jones’s Locker”). I no longer have to hear the chime of multiple keys clamoring against each other.  And I no longer have to untangle key tethers to free the one I want.  Greg’s unassuming key, smaller than many of the standard keys it replaces, does it all.  When you see it, like the preverbial sliced bread, you wonder why no one had invented it before.  When I buy something that Greg made, I feel I’m getting something that embodies his engineering and manufacturing thoughtfulness, and his caring concern for properly servicing the boat owner’s needs.  The research and discovery of a clever solution to common cruising problems is inspiring; other examples include Rich and Charlie’s high-volume water makers (read blog post titled RO 101), Marty’s powerful and compact cordless electric winch handle, and Jay and Haoyu’s long-range folding electric stand-up scooter.  With our sailing days about to begin, more than the next iPhone, I look forward to seeing the innovations that companies like Greg’s will bring next.

Uncle Bill says, “If you have good ground tackle [aka anchor gear], you don’t need expensive hull insurance.”  Knowing Greg, his engaging spirit, and the quality of his creations, I sleep soundly at anchor.

L to R: Eric Rigney, Greg Kutsen, Deneen Taylor, Leslie Rigney
L to R: Eric Rigney, Greg Kutsen, Deneen Taylor, Leslie Rigney

 

 

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