This Knife Can Get Sailors Out of Just About Any Knotty Situation

Bladesmith David Boye understands how essential a reliable knife is to a sailor: His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all captains. No surprise then that his Sheepsfoot folding boating and rescue knife ($239) is a 2.5-ounce lifesaver. Its 3-inch blade holds an edge ferociously. In one test, it made hundreds of cuts through tough Endura Braid rigging line before needing to be resharpened. The blunt sheepsfoot-style tip is an added safety measure, preventing you from stabbing someone (such as yourself) should you slip while working on a pitching sea. Combined with a titanium marlinspike—a picklike tool used in tying and prying apart knots—it’s a tool every bit as necessary as a compass.

THE COMPETITION

• The U.S. Navy issued Colonial Knife Co.’s Riggers model ($70) during World War I, and it’s been an essential piece of mariner’s gear ever since. Along with the marlinspike and the 3 7⁄16-inch blade, it has a shackle key with a rope lanyard, making it harder to misplace.

• The AF300 Gen 2 Captain knife ($144) from Myerchin features a chunky 2.8-inch blade and a 3-inch spike, which both fold into a natural-bone handle you can personalize with your own scrimshaw work.

• When opened, the marlinspike of Spyderco’s titanium-handled Tusk mariner’s knife ($400) is held in place by a distinctive ball-bearing locking mechanism. The blade, meanwhile, is made from nitrogen-alloyed, corrosion-resistant LC200N steel, one of NASA’s preferred materials.

THE CASE

Boye actually wrote the book on knifemaking in 1976. His Step by Step Knifemaking: You Can Do It! has sold more than 200,000 copies to date. Despite that, he still maintains a lean operation; all of his knives are hand assembled in his Arizona workshop. What sets this model apart is a blade and rocker arm made of dendritic cobalt alloy that’s not magnetic—so it won’t affect compasses or electronics—and is impervious to rust and corrosion in saltwater. The knife even has a cadre of landbound devotees: EMTs trust it in rescue situations to slice quickly through seat belts. $239

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