The Homestead Reference Library: The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice

By , February 13, 2012

The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging, by Brion Toss, is an important volume in our homestead reference library. I acquired this book when we were building our largest sailboat, Selkie. It proved to be a valuable resource when sailing, but has also come in handy many times on the homestead.The Complete Rigger's Apprentice

Knowing how to tie knots comes in very handy on boats and the homestead. Some of my best knots, and information on how to tie them, come from this book. Toss’s axiom has probably saved my life a couple of times: “a knot worth tying is worth shaping properly.” Having gotten the impression somewhere in my youth that a properly tied knot should come together from the tying alone, this came as a shock. He means that a knot should be “shaped,” manipulated into proper position manually as its tied, when necessary, to fully take advantage of the features the tier seeks in it. This is just one of the many important lessons I’ve learned from his book.

Knots are simply one feature of the book, which goes on to offer advice on line splicing, handling, lashing, block and tackles, and much more. The chapter titled Sheer Ingenuity says it all, with several excellent, innovative suggestions for tarping, towing, anchoring and stowage.

While the books focus is nautical, we’ve found many applications for the knowledge gained through this book on land. After all, much of survival at sea is a matter of keeping your stuff from flying away or being destroyed, which can happen just as easily on the landlocked plains or a mountain top. I’ve learned everything from how to affix a no-slip eyelet to the thin end of a smooth, tapered pole to a foolproof way to tie my shoes.

The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging (check your local independent bookstore) is apparently a combination of two separate books that are now combined in this single volume. While it may not make our essential titles list, this is definitely a book we refer to often on the homestead.

2 Responses to “The Homestead Reference Library: The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice”

  1. Dave Z says:

    There’s a couple filling in, here in WarmSprings Bay, who do a lot of professional delivery work.

    They’re always glad to take on boats rigged by Brion Toss with Carol Hasse (rhymes with BOSSY) sails, knowing that everything will be up to snuff.

    Their word of approval for such boats is ‘Hassetossed’. It’s starting to creep into conversation as a general synonym for ‘skookum’.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    I believe I have you to thank for this book, Dave. Mom and Dad gave it to me for my 38th birthday, but I think you recommended it to them. Mom’s dedication reads in part, “May your knots never untie until you want them to!”

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