Safety tethers for sailors

Many marine safety tethers sold today are not safe.

We have known for years that many of the snap hooks used on the “boat end” of safety tethers can come unclipped rather than doing their job. I was reading an article in Scuttlebutt Sailing News that brought this issue up yet again.

A few years ago we looked into making tethers and determined that we did not have the resources to do it right. We consulted sailors (other than ourselves), equipment suppliers and folks with engineering backgrounds. It’s not like we just took a quick look.

Since our decision, sailors continue to die due to safety tether issues yet suppliers continue to sell products that are questionable and others provide DIY advice for a tether that does not make any sense.

We encourage sailors to research their purchase fully. Practical Sailor has a number of articles on this subject. Look at the racing rules and the ISO specification they reference. Do your homework, this is a life and death decision.

We encourage the industry to stop peddling products and DIY advise that does not, at a minimum, meet current thinking within the safety industry. It is a good sign that some manufacturers have quit supplying products that were poorly designed 20 years ago but it shouldn’t take that long to get crap off the market.

Jute twine protects your trees

You just paid good money for a new tree, the last thing you want to do is to kill it!

It’s springtime in Cle Elum and that means trips to the nursery hunting for that special tree. This time of year also means wind, lots of wind so when you plant that new find you don’t want it blowing over that afternoon. So we use tree straps to protect the tree and provide a way to secure it upright, safe from the wind.

Tree Straps
Various Colors of Tree Straps

Tree straps need to be tied to a stake, post or other secure object to do their job. Jute twin has one feature your trees will love, it rots.

Why is rotting good?

Because some times we forget to remove tree straps and as we all know, trees grow both in height and circumference. Eventually a tree strap secured with wire or synthetic twine will girdle the tree.

Girdled Mature Pine Tree

So rotting, or as the manufacturers catalog says being biodegradable, is a fantastic feature for use in the garden.

Other admirable features of jute include:

  • inexpensive
  • soft and holds knots well
  • it’s a natural fiber- not plastic
  • our 1/2# spools are easy to handle
  • good UV resistance

Straps or Webbing – what’s the difference?

We get calls from customers who don’t know if they are looking for straps or webbing. The difference is akin to line and rope….

My father used to explain that a line is rope with a job. Dock lines are made from a coil of rope, as are anchor lines, guy lines (for your tent) and lead lines for your horses.

Straps and webbing work the same way. Straps (at least the ones we sell) are made from webbing. We sell bulk webbing should you want to make your own strap(s).

As with everything there are exceptions. Years ago I used to sell “crab line”. What the crabbers were buying were coils of rope but it was still called crab line. Metal banding for securing cargo to a pallet is often called strapping even when sold in bulk.

In my world, once I have done something to a piece of webbing it becomes a strap.

Cle Elum Footware

June 2017 saw us moving from Tacoma to Cle Elum, WA. We had been in Tacoma since 1984 but when we sold the life raft service side of our business in 2017 there was no need to remain where we had been for 33 years. Little did I know that moving to Cle Elum would ignite my memory back to the mid 70’s.

At that time I was working for a marine supply company. We sold everything from toilets to fishing gear. There was lots of rope (bought it by the rail car load), chain and even footwear. We sold slip on shoes commonly referred to as “Romeos” that were made by the Currin-Greene Shoe Company. My wife thought they were ¡UGLY!

Fast forward to 2018. We have moved to Cle Elum and learned that Romeos are the footwear of choice. Although I am sure many small towns say the same, here Romeos are called Cle Elum Wingtips. Most likely every man has a pair, or several, at his disposal (they make women’s Romeos too).

Along comes a newsletter from a local vendor titled “The Unofficially Interesting History of Romeos” That got me thinking about the shoes I had sold years before. A bit of research dredged up an article on the Currin-Green company who were sold in 1978 to McKenzie & Adams. They too seem to have been sold and the new owners have quit making Romeos.

So now my wife still hasn’t changed her mind on the looks of Romeos. They are classified in the “comfortable” part of my wardrobe (read UGLY) but I am allowed to wear them. Otherwise how would we ever be able to go out to a formal occasion where Cle Elum Wingtips are required footwear?

Romeo Factoids

  • They still come in brown and black. One hardly ever sees black Romeos in public.
  • Two sole configurations are available- “wedge” which I find works great in dry weather, it doesn’t track dust into the house, and a slip resistant sole which is my choice in the winter.
  • Polish seems to be optional. Sweep them off with a broom once in a while and treat the leather so it stays soft. There are some that have a high polished pair for going to town but it isn’t often you see them.
  • Don’t expect your feet to stay dry if it is wet or snowy out. That is why they are great, just slip them off and don the proper footwear be it rubber boots or Sorel’s in the winter.
  • They are not a substitute for dress shoes when in Seattle. Then again why would one want to leave Cle Elum?
  • They are rugged. I get several years out of each pair. They take a while to break in so it is smart to have your next pair on hand so that you can break them in slowly (and save your feet). The pair in the picture above were purchased in 2014 and are finally in need of replacement.

History of Currin-Green

Cle Elum

 

Black holes and politics

The New York Times had an article on October 23rd about Steven Hawking’s final paper- How to Escape From a Black Hole. He theorized that it was possible to escape from a black hole but:

“If you fell into one and came back out, you would lack all the details that had made you: male or female, blue eyes or brown, Yankee fan or Red Sox fan.”

Perhaps we all could use a bit of black hole magic. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if everyone could work together rather than hating each other? Our country, and world, would be a better place.

Bourbon and bits

Most mornings I read the Scuttlebutt Sailing News. Today it took me on a trip down memory lane. The Sailing News has a section titled “Crumudgeon’s Observation” and today’s was:

“SHOT OF WHISKEY: In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a “shot” of whiskey.”

This sounds like a great story but Snopes.com claims it isn’t true. 

Now on to memory lane. My father always used to call 25¢, 2 bits. The 12¢ in the shot of whiskey story got me thinking about the usage of the term “bit” so a bit of investigating online showed that 2 bits was a common term for 25¢.

So what did I learn this morning?

  • My father was right, 2 bits = 25¢
  • While I enjoy reading the Curmudgeon’s Observation it must be taken with a shot of bourbon (my whiskey of choice)
  • Snopes.com is based in Tacoma, my old home town and where Westpac Marine / Straps to Go operated from 1984 to 2017. You can read about them at the News Tribune

Need a hole? We have grommets

Webbing and grommets go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you need a hole through a piece of webbing a grommet will prevent it from chafing. They come in all sorts of sizes and while brass is the most common metal used to make grommets, stainless steel is also an option.

Trying to be efficient we use self piercing grommets whenever possible. This eliminates the need to pre-punch a hole through the webbing making the assembly more cost effective. Our semi-automatic setting machine can handle the following sizes-

SizeInside DiameterOutside Diameter
#01/4″9/16″
#15/16″5/8″
#23/8″3/4″

If you need something larger we have to install them manually. Here you can get up to a 13/16″ inside diameter and there are also more material options.

When specifying a grommet you need to be specific. Are you providing us with the grommet size, inside diameter or outside diameter? Recently we had an inquiry where the outside diameter of the grommet was larger than the width of the webbing, that doesn’t work. We also need to know your material preference. Plain brass, stainless steel, brass with a nickel plating and brass with a black oxide plating are the most common. Not all sizes and types are available in every finish.

Grommets can also be installed without the washer as seen in the image above. This is a polypropylene strap that has the loop side of hook & loop sewn to it. We have then placed a grommet without washer into one end of the strap. Why, I am not sure but it does show another option.

If a grommet is overkill we can melt small holes in to polypropylene, nylon and polyester webbing. This technique does not provide any protection to the webbing but there are applications where that is not necessary. 

Give us a call at (253) 627-6000 if you have questions, we are always happy to talk about grommets.

Good Golly It’s Molle

The other day while wasting some time I was wandering through a sporting goods store and what did I run in to? MOLLE

MOLLE was everywhere-

On the side of a Yeti cooler bag,

On a Field & Stream backpack,

and on another Field & Stream product.

MOLLE needs a friend to work well and we have the Talon Hook

an easy, adjustable way to connect 1″ webbing to the loops on your backpack, cooler bag or whatever.

We have Talon Hooks in stock, order some today

Trail Bum Backpacking Stool

If you are in need of a multi-purpose camp stool check out the Trail-Bum by Trail Dogs. Those beautiful black straps with orange sewing came from our shop (the embroidery was done by a third party.

According to my wife this must be comfortable. Years ago I had an orange T-shirt that I would not give up. I was informed that the “orange thing” must be comfortable otherwise I would have sent it to the dump years ago. Since then by definition everything orange must be comfortable. I am sure that these stools must follow my wife’s decree.

I can attest that the straps are plenty strong. They are all heavyweight polypropylene. The two on the outside are 2″ width and the middle one is 3″.  Sewing is all with Tex 90 polyester thread, in orange of course, which will provide great abrasion and UV resistance.

Belt extenders for Block & Co. tip bags

Looking for belt extenders that fit Block & Company tip bags? We can make them.

A customer called looking for these. They had tried ordering some elsewhere only to find that the buckles weren’t the same so they wouldn’t work. The buckle on the tip bag was an ACW CSR 1″ which is something we have in stock. For under $3.00 each our customer now has belt extenders.

Not having been to more than 2 or 3 casino’s in my life, I don’t have a clue how a tip bag is used but I hope the employees need them because they are getting massive tips and need a secure way to transfer them to their bank accounts.

strap extenders

Here are examples of a 12″ and 24″ strap extenders made from #630 black 1″ nylon webbing and ACW’s 1″ CSR buckle. We can make these any length and this webbing comes in many colors.