The natural tools I’m thinking of are always readily available. In fact, you’re never without them. I’m referring to the teeth, tongue, toes, nails, armpits, elbows, lips, chin, fingers, and other tools with which nature has kindly provided you.
Here, in no particular order, is a list of the ways in which you might use these tools:
Teeth: Gripping mainsheet; holding a flashlight; cutting twine; frightening noisy kids.
Tongue: Removing jam, tuna, etc. from messy can openers.
Toes: Feeling for tools you dropped into bilgewater; testing the temperature of water before swimming.
Nails: Undoing small slot-headed screws; picking eyes out of potatoes; slitting open envelopes; cutting off electrical tape; scraping dried varnish blobs off deck.
Armpit: Gripping the jib sheet; holding the tiller while you haul in the mainsheet.
Elbows: Holding down the jib you just dropped on the foredeck.
Lips: Holding small nails or screws; tasting bilge water to find out if it’s salt water, rain water, or holding-tank overflow.
Fingers: Opening shackles; poking into wood to find rot; testing the temperature of beer; removing wax from your ear.
Ears: Holding pencils and glasses in place; preventing hat from dropping over face.
Knees: Pinning down cockpit cushions in a breeze.
Thumbs: Protecting teak from damage when you’re hammering in nails.
I don’t doubt there are several other body parts that could double as tools in certain circumstances. Eyelids, perhaps? Eyelids must be of some use, apart from fluttering at passing girls. And buttocks? Buttocks are very powerful when clenched. Could be a substitute for a vise, surely, but you’d need a partner to help with the actual work in the vise.
In any case, there’s no need to despair when you’re caught without tools. There are all sorts of dingly-dangly bits on your body and mine that might be pressed into use in emergencies. Just put your mind to it and select the right natural tool for the job.
The human body is the magazine of inventions, the patent office, where are the models from which every hint is taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses.— Emerson, Society and Solitude: Works and Days
TailpieceNever put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it you can do it again tomorrow, and if you don’t, you haven’t messed up another day.
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)