O Leatherman! My Leatherman! Our work for the day is done,
We’ve weather’d every wiring task, the plumbing work is won,
A board was sawn, rope cut and gone, a lunchtime orange peeled cleanly,
While twin screwdrivers do their task, and knife blade sharpened keenly;
But O pliers! pliers! pliers!
O the most useful tool, I say,
But the bottle opener will be employed
At the end of a long, hard day.
(with sincerest apologies to Walt Whitman)
I was a Swiss Army knife aficionado from a young age. Inspired by the original MacGyver TV series, where the mulleted star used his trademark red-handled folding tool to defuse bombs and stop toxic waste leaks, I carried mine everywhere (just in case).
But the primary thing lacking was a set of pliers. When I started working on boats, I needed to pull cotter pins from standing rigging, adjust turnbuckles, and loosen tight knots. I tracked down a multitool with pliers (a Gerber variety) that could be opened one-handed, a trait useful when hanging off the side of a boat on a mooring. I don’t know how many times I almost dropped that thing into the Atlantic, but it worked very well.
Back in 2012, I (with several others) worked on an extensive refit in a 40-year-old Chuck Paine-designed sailboat, Mollymawk, whose owner wanted the boat outfitted for extended solo voyages. We converted the forward berth into a workshop space, replaced most of the systems, did structural repairs, and gave the boat shiny new paint and varnish. The owner of Mollymawk was so grateful for our work that he gave each of us a Leatherman engraved with the boat’s name. That tool soon displaced the Gerber in my pocket and has been there to this day. I can’t tell you how many tricky situations, roadside repairs, and inconvenient tasks it’s gotten me through over the years.
During our recent wiring-and-plumbing blitz to get the Kleins' cottage ready, I used it roughly every five minutes. I wouldn’t want to be without it. It's the ultimate at-hand tool.