What is that do-dad? (Handyman in Your Pocket)

Is that a "Handyman in Your Pocket" or are you just glad to see me?!

Is that a “Handyman in Your Pocket” or are you just glad to see me?!

Hey Captain! What’s that little book you keep looking at? “It’s my engineering almanac.” well kind of, sort of, it’s not really an almanac like Ben Franklin would print. It’s more like an engineer’s cliff notes. Full of random engineering data like: strength ratings for different grade bolts, forgotten geometry formulas, pulley & gear ratios. Just a complete mish-mash of cool information.

I actually came across it in one of those serendipitous days where I saw guy at the plumbing store using it. Then 5 hours later saw Adam Savage of Mythbusters using it on T.V. I went looking for it and found it at Amazon.com. The combination of a plumber, a TV show host, and good reviews made me think there must be something to this Grimoire 1.

I must admit that the main audience for this book is not us mariners. It does not contain any American Boat and Yacht Council(ABYC) specifications. The main target audience is more common land based applications. That does not mean the information inside is not relevant to a marine environment. The bonding strength of an adhesive is the same at sea as it is on land. You just need to ignore sections like ‘carpentry and construction’ that do not apply to life at sea.

For example page #87 is one I use frequently. What size of hole do I need to drill for a particular bolt. There’s also a section on ‘Glues’ yep that’s right they have a list of glues: what they’re good for, what they are NOT good for, Bonding strength, and solvents needed to clean them up. There’s even a section on chain size/strength, now that’s something us salts can appreciate!

My favorite section is Wiring, it covers how much load a wire of a certain gauge of a given length can handle.. That comes in handy when you’re wiring in that new shiny electronic widget. Are you sure that spare 18 gauge wire you used for your new AIS display is adequate, you willing to risk a fire on the boat on a guess?

Hey! What do you know, there is a proper way to  install a U-Bolt!

Hey! What do you know, there is a proper way to install a U-Bolt!

Some would say hey I’ve got the internet why do I need a book? Well for one thing, it doesn’t need batteries or internet access! The internet does have more information but we don’t always have access to it. It just good seamanship to have a backup plan, especially for times when things are not going right.

All around it’s small, cheap, and just damn handy to have on the boat. Granted it won’t answer every question, but it might bail you out of a jam when Lord Neptune and Professor Murphy conspire against you. Like finding yourself at sea or on a small island with limited resources where you need to pull a rabbit out of your hat to get you to a safe harbor. I highly recommend having this gem aboard!

Cheers, Island Rambler

P.S. Speaking of handy reference material, does anyone know of a good ABYC book to keep on the boat. I have looked high and low with little to no luck!!!!


  1. A book of arcane magic spells, Wikipedia
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