You have to love a hack that solves two or three vexing problems at once, so let's introduce the rowing world to the plastic wing-nut.
That's right, it turns out that all these metal fasteners on our shells may not be the best way to go after all, and a plastic wing nut is in many ways a faster, easier way to perform the really simple, but crucial, job of keeping your rigger tight to your hull.
To be precise, these wonder wing-nuts are not just plastic: to make this hack work, what you are actually looking for is a nylon wing-nut, and any respectable marine shop should have plenty. The great thing about these nylon fasteners apart from, well, the wings, is that they let you skip using washers altogether, so you get to use fewer tools and fewer parts all at the same time.
This is just one of those perfect hacks where the right part fixes a host of "ills" all at once: tired of losing washers every time a boat gets rigged and de-rigged? Or with trying to keep enough wrenches on hand to put all the rowers to work? Or with losing all the wrenches you do hand out? Or with how metal nuts seem to loosen themselves at inopportune times? Well, a plastic wing nut puts an end to all of those problems: it tightens without needing a washer, a wrench, or even that extra from-time-to-time retightening. If you are a salt-water program to boot, you also save yourself a bit in the corrosion department: the plastic doesn't gum up with salt nearly as badly over time.
They are a bit bulky, sure, so they work best on wing riggers. In fact, they will not be much help at all in the tight space you get on some of the bolts on euro-style riggers--though even on those shells, you can replace as many as three metal nuts and washers, leaving just one bolt that still begs for a wrench, and that might just be worth it.
Of course, lots of white plastic may not look terribly sleek on best your racing shell, and maybe that makes this a trick best saved for older workboats, but these wrench-free wing nuts are super convenient, so we wouldn't be surprised to see this hack out on the race course one of these days--if only because it is a trick that is at its most ingenious when it comes time to rig, or re-rig, a whole eight.
So get your rowers--or your boatman--a really useful holiday gift this year: a bucket of plastic wing-nuts (and you can use the money you were going to spend replacing all the wrenches that went missing this fall!)
Do you have a cool trick that makes rigging a snap at your place? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
Have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion here? Send it to us!