Ever cross courses with a “cheater pipe?” It’s something I first heard about while working on supply boats in the Gulf of Mexico years ago. When bringing a cheater pipe to bear upon a particular project, a wink (or some other facial expression connoting the sentiment: “Okay boys, we’re bringin’ in the big guns now!”) is usually in order. Under most conditions, a cheater pipe is simply a fairly large (say about 2 feet long and 2 inches in diameter) galvanized pipe that is temporarily fitted over the handle of a recalcitrant valve in order to force the valve open via leverage. The longer the cheater pipe, of course, the more leverage is available and the more likely it is you’ll do significant damage with too much oomph. The folks at Top Shelf Marine Products obviously had all this in mind when they designed their Seacock & Ball Valve Helper, a nifty, cheater-pipe-like product that comes in two sizes: Junior for valve handle widths up to 7/8 inches ($14.99) and Senior for handle widths up to 1 3/16 inches ($16.99), each coated with grippy foam on the business end. Every month or so, I limber up the Groco seacocks on the Betty Jane (after adding a shot of grease via the Zerk fitting I’ve installed in each) using the Senior model. Makes what used to be a tough job easy.
The idea of combining volume and performance is about as old as boatbuilding itself. But sometimes the execution just brings the mix to a precise level that will stop you in your tracks. Check out the 26-knot Sunseeker 95, and see how she came about.
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