disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle

1Apr/104

Knives

A few weeks ago I dropped into a show at the Lotus Sound Lounge on a Saturday night, a bit after midnight. I hadn't really planned on going to a club but I was already downtown and had friends there, so without a second thought I stopped by. When I got to the door the security staff went to pat me down for weapons, at which point I remembered that I was carrying my every-day pocket knife, which is a particularly vicious-looking sailing knife.

Myerchin Navigator Lightknife

Myerchin Navigator Lightknife

The knife in question was a Myerchin Navigator LightKnife; a half-straight, half-serrated blade for cutting rope accompanied by a tapered steel spike called a marlinspike, used in splicing and knotwork - or in my case, mostly used for untying seized knots. Of course I immediately brought the knife to their attention, so that they wouldn't think I was trying to sneak in with a weapon.

"Oh, um, hey - there's a large knife in my right front pants pocket."

The guard stopped searching me and looked somewhat taken aback. "Um. What?" he said.

"It's nothing sketchy, it's just a sailing knife, I live on my sailboat. I forgot I had it with me. I'm happy to check it with my bag or whatever.". I had the attention of the second guard now, who stepped closer.

"You can't take that inside, you'll have to leave it with us..." he said. So long as I could pick it up when I left, I had no problem with that. They both agreed to hold the knife at the door for me.

I also had my Leatherman Kick in my backpack, so I had to surrender that as well, but of course when I got out of the bar I flailed and forgot to retrieve the knives. In my defense, there was the small matter of having to step in and break up a fight between a big guy and the skinny prostitute on the ground that he was kicking, but that's a whole other story. A friend who works at the Lotus is currently trying to retrieve the knives for me, but I'm sure it'll be no surprise to hear that nobody knows exactly where they have gone. *sigh*.

Anyhow. I'd like to say that the Myerchin knife has served me well in the five or so years since it was given to me by an ex-girlfriend, but in fact it is the third iteration of the same knife. The first knife lasted three years, but finally the locking mechanism stopped working. With a lifetime warrantee, I had the knife replaced, but the locking mechanism on the new replacement fell apart within two months! The third iteration has lasted about a year so far with no troubles, but has grown quite dull in a very short time - and I don't own a good sharpening kit.

Spiderco 'Atlantic Salt'

Spyderco 'Atlantic Salt'

I mentioned the dullness in passing in a chat with my sister Heather, who lives on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick with her boyfriend Matt, a professional diver for the east-coast fishing industry. He started enquiring about the knives on my boat, and was startled to find out that I didn't have a Spyderco 'Atlantic Salt' knife onboard , and apparently stomped around the house muttering "How can he not have one?!  He lives on a boat!!".  He (and she) promptly ordered me one for my birthday, along with a knife sharpening kit which he insists that all marine-type folks should have. The knife and sharpener are currently sitting in my other sister's apartment waiting for me to come and pick them up. Apparently the Spyderco knife blade is made from "H-1" steel; a "precipitation-hardened steel containing nitrogen instead of carbon, which cannot rust".

When I told Matt that I already had a knife, and showed him a photo of my Myerchin Lightknife, he scoffed and called it a 'city boy knife'. I found this funny, because most of the city boys I know don't carry knives at all, and the ones that do are just as at home in the backcountry as they are in downtown Vancouver.

I quite liked the Myerchin, for several reasons:

  • it has a half-serrated, half-straight blade - hard to sharpen, but good for lots of cutting tasks,
  • a marlinspike for untying knots - very useful,
  • a shackle key in the blade, very handy on a sailboat,
  • a basic LED flashlight in the handle,
  • decent sized with a pocket clip, fits well in my pocket, and
  • it looks and feels good.

What I didn't like about the Myerchin was pretty much only one thing: the build quality. With the warrantee I just have to walk in to any West Marine store to order a free replacement, and the edge is apparently maintainable with a little attention every few weeks, but I haven't had the tools to properly sharpen it.

My friend John Foulkes feels that every man should carry a knife, and refers to this type of knife as an 'EDC' - an 'Every Day Carry'. I don't think the Spyderco 'Atlantic Salt' would make for a good EDC in the city, but I can certainly see how it would be if one were working around boats as a day job.   I am very much looking forward to adding the 'Atlantic Salt' to Tie Fighter's equipment.

the Boye Knives 'Cobalt Basic 3'

I do wish sometimes that I were the sort of person that could get away with wearing a small fixed-blade knife, but unfortunately, due to my social nature and my general clumsiness, wearing a sheathed knife on my hip - regardless of size - is an invitation to trouble either in the form of accidents or unwanted attention from authorities. Perhaps in the future, when I've both calmed down somewhat and moved on from the bustling city life, I will be able to wear a sheathed belt knife. When that day comes, I will purchase the Boye Knives 'Cobalt Basic 3'. The Basic 3 is - in my humble opinion - a *gorgeous* small fixed-blade knife that would be absolutely perfect for life on a boat.

...that is, for older, calmer, less city-living people than I. Furthermore, it's a $300 knife, which is currently out of my price range.

If I don't end up getting my Myerchin back from the Lotus, I think I have decided to purchase the same knife again. I'm fond of it, I'm familiar with it and the list of things I like about it far outstrips the list of things I don't. I've been shopping around the internets for similar knives, and I just haven't been able to find another knife that I like better than the Myerchin.

If you're looking for an EDC, check out these links:

Columbia River Knife & Tool - good quality pocket folders, no sailing/rigging specific tools though.

SpyderCo - excellent reputation and variety.

SOG Speciality Knives and Tools - good variety, though a somewhat difficult site to browse.

Do you have an EDC that you love? Please share a link in the comments!

Posted by drew

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Have you considered the Victorinox Helmsman Swiss Army Knife. I have used this knife for two years now and find it’s marlin spike much easier to use for undoing seized knots. It also comes in a skipper variation which includes pliers and a cork screw.

    http://www.smartknives.com/Victorinox-Knives/Victorinox-Helmsman.htm

  2. Not a big fan of Swiss Army Knives. Had several as a kid but with no locking mechanism and mediocre steel they sit in a drawer most of the time.

    I don’t think you should hesitate to own *several* knives, Drew. Maybe cycle through them in an EDC role. I’ve heard nothing but good things about SpiderCo, they make good high value knifes.

    Here’s an interesting video about knives from a guy who makes them. If you don’t have time to watch, he basically promoted the idea of a fixed blade “neck knife” which may work well for you. He claims that almost 100% of the price of a fixed blade goes into the steel where as up to 75% of the cost of a folding knife goes into the handle.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awro-7Z5pPk

    Sorry to hear about the losses, that kinda blows.

  3. I carry a spyderco Scorpius like this http://spiderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=39 but without the serration. It’s a beautiful item and really does its job well. To people who aren’t familiar with knives it DOES look a tad threatening though. But it’s been a HUGE help when I was working construction and retail (opening boxes… although my boss gave me hell for using it even though the “exacto knives” they provided were dangerously dull and had tape goo messing up the safety mechanisms and people tended to leave them where customers and kids could grab them). Regardless, I love this knife and I’m always glad I have it.

  4. You should post a link on Twitter whenever you make a blog post, makes it easier to follow.


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