Posted by: towmasters | November 25, 2009

Making The Cut: Work Knives For Seafarers – Part I

Every seaman needs at least one good knife, and often more than one. Different cutting tasks may be best done with different types of knife blades, and no one knife can be the best at every cutting chore. But by giving careful consideration to your needs you can find a reliable, all-around working knife or two that should handle most jobs for you.

Spyderco makes some of the finest knives I’ve ever used and many of them are particularly suited for use by seamen. They’ve recently added a new kind of steel to their line-up called H-1, replacing most of the carbon with nitrogen, and it is claimed to be truly rust-proof. So far mine have lived up to that claim. All of these models are available with an aggressive serrated edge, the only way to go for cutting through tough and slippery synthetic lines, although you can get them in a plain edge too. Most of them also have brightly colored handles, a major plus if you need to find them in a hurry, like after you drop them. Lanyard holes came about for a very good reason: a knife on the bottom is no good to you whatsoever, so use them. Parachute cord has been the material of choice for this purpose for a long time. Check out their Edge-U-Cation page for everything Spyderco you ever wanted to know.

This series will focus on the folder category, starting out with the Atlantic Salt…..

…..which has a fully-serrated sheepfoot blade to avoid accidentally stabbing yourself or something critically important to your welfare such as the liferaft or your life jacket. It’s yours for $69.95. If you like living dangerously, or simply need or prefer something without the rounded tip, try the drop-point style Pacific Salt for $63.95.

The Saver Salt is a smaller version of the Atlantic Salt with a 79mm blade for $59.95…..

…..and the Salt I is a smaller version of the Pacific Salt, with a 76mm blade, also for $59.95.

The Mariner Salt has a 95mm blade with a stainless handle and an integral key slot for opening small screw-pin shackles. More metal costs mo’ money, so its $95.95.

The Spyderhawk Salt has a 92mm hooked Hawkbill-type blade designed for fisherman to cut rope and netting with a well-controlled pulling cut and costs $76.95…..

…..and the Tasman Salt is the smaller version with a 75mm blade for $59.95.

Although not made of the H-1 steel, the Rescue models may still be to your liking. You can get the Rescue 99 with a blue handle for $38.95…..

…..or the Rescue 79 with an orange handle for $57.95.

The blunt-tipped Assist I is specially designed for paramedics, fire and rescue professionals to make scissor-cuts of seat belts or rope without injuring the person being helped. This is an exceptionally well thought-out design. has it for $79.95.

The Harpy has a 70mm VG-10 stainless blade with a stainless handle with a built-in shackle key and goes for $83.95.

Boye Boat Knives makes a pair of folders with rust-proof dendritic cobalt blades and optional titanium marlinspikes. You can choose the sheepsfoot-style safety/emergency knife…..

…..or the pointed-tip style.

Editor’s Note: none of these knives are cheap, but then you shouldn’t be trusting your life and limb to a crappy, cheap blade either. Make no mistake, a good knife can make all the difference in a life-or-death situation so don’t try to save money on something as vitally important as your primary emergency knife. has a wide selection of many brands for way less than the list prices from Spyderco. There will be a post on inexpensive knives for rough work coming soon… the meantime readers should feel free to offer their suggestions for worthy candidates to add to this list.


  1. […] Towmasters slices through the BS with Making The Cut: Work Knives For Seafarers – Part I » […]

  2. […] you missed it, check out Part I of this series, which covers folding knives….. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

  3. The Spyderhawk Salt knife almost looks like a surgical knife.

  4. […] case you missed them, check out Part I (folding knives) and Part II (fixed-blade knives) of this […]

  5. […] along periodically, so I have to take advantage of it. Starting last fall I ran a 3-part series (Part I, Part II & Part III) on the numerous types of knives that may be useful to working mariners, […]

  6. How do you sharpen a serrated blade?

  7. […] using the wrong tool for the job at hand, • using said tool for the wrong job. Towmasters would not […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: