April 28, 2009

Duct tape to the rescue

IT’S A MINOR MIRACLE, I admit, but only twice in my life have I punctured an inflatable dinghy. The first time, I sat down heavily and unexpectedly on the side float with a forgotten screwdriver in the back pocket of my jeans. Ruined the jeans, too.

The second time, my borrowed sloop was moored to a buoy off Hope Island, a state park in Puget Sound. I noticed that the current had gathered a large clump of seaweed around the mooring line, so I jumped into the inflatable with a sharp knife to cut the weed loose. I stabbed the dinghy instead.

In both cases it was duct tape that saved the day until permanent repairs could be made. Professionals frown on duct tape, as they frown on Vise-Grips and adjustable wrenches, but for amateurs like me it’s a godsend.

I read somewhere that duct tape was developed in the 1930s to seal ammunition boxes, but I have my doubts about that. I think it’s more likely that it was invented to seal metal ventilation ducts, and, having been invented, quickly found a million other uses.

On boats it does everything from repairing book covers to patching split sails. It fixes holes in water pipes and it makes an effective gag for garrulous crewmembers.

Of course, repairs with duct tape are meant to be purely temporary. But temporary, when you think about it, is just a state of mind, not a period of time. So relax. That's why we all like duct tape. You don’t need to replace your old duct tape with new duct tape until the old duct tape actually falls off.

Today’s Thought
Humans can learn to like anything, that’s why we are such a successful species.
—Jeanette Desor

“I see you’ve stopped playing poker with Fred on Friday nights.”
“Yeah, well, would you play with a guy who hides aces up his sleeve and refuses to pay his debts?”
“Certainly not.”
“Neither will Fred.”

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