Monday Minute - Do You Have These Handy Tools in Your Bag?

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I got a great response to my post about the IF Thermometer with laser sighting, so I got to looking in my tool bags for anything else that might be a bit uncommon but helpful. And I found a couple of handy tools that I don't use very often but when I need them, there isn't anything else that works as well.

 This Blue Point mirror even has an LED light to help me see what is behind the pump, hose, or wiring block.

This Blue Point mirror even has an LED light to help me see what is behind the pump, hose, or wiring block.

The first is a mirror, a small round mirror on a extendable handle. The mirror can be swiveled around to just the right angle so I can see around the backside of equipment, often using a flashlight to highlight the otherwise hidden area. I sometimes have a larger mirror that I take off my workbench for projects where I need to see a larger area. I can prop it up so I don't have to hold it, or even use some tape to keep it in place and face the area while I work.

This mirror may come in handy this spring as I consider replacing the fuel lines on Blue Angel. It makes me nuts that even on a smaller boat like this Hunt Harrier, the builder used cheap hardware store fittings and hose, rather than the quality marine fittings and fire-rated hose I have come to expect on boats built to best practice standards. That should be a fun project if I have proper access. Stay tuned for that. 

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The other tool is a strong magnet. When I drop something metal out of sight, I can always get it back using this magnet. It doesn't work on some types of stainless steel parts, nuts, and washers, depending on whether it is ferritic stainless or not (which has a higher concentration of iron).

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Look online and you will see some amazingly powerful magnets that are not very expensive. Some are strong enough to raise objects off the sea floor, which is apparently called magnet fishing. I found this "super magnet" on Amazon for under $50:

 It is 3.5 inches wide and lifts 500 lbs.

It is 3.5 inches wide and lifts 500 lbs.

If I bought one of these super magnets, I would be sure to never place it anywhere near my instruments, compass, wallet (containing credit cards), or anything that is sensitive to a strong magnetic field. But it might be fun to play with. Just think of the stuff you might find in the rivers and lakes. Or even off the beach.

What cool and unusual tools do you keep in your toolbag or toolbox? 

A magnet on the beach reminds me of something that I just have to share. Several years ago, I visited Omaha Beach in Normandy. It is a sobering place despite how beautiful it was on that summer day. The cemetery above the beach is an incredible and moving experience. I walked down to the beach, and at some point picked up two small stones and put them in my pocket. I carried them home as a memory of what I saw and the carnage I can only imagine that took place on that day in June, 1944...on both sides as well as the local civilians.

Fast forward to my preparations for heading to Spain later this week, to walk the Way of St James. One of the traditions of this pilgrimage, called the Camino de Santiago, is to place a small stone at the base of Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross. This dates back over a thousand years, and each pilgrim leaves a stone as a symbolic gesture to fulfill a vow, or to leave behind a bad habit or personal problem, or to honor a loved one. Each pilgrim has his or her own meaning for leaving the stone.

In my case, I chose one of these stones from Omaha Beach. The smaller one.

When I opened the box where they were, I picked up the small stone and really looked at it for the first time. I was surprised to find the stone had a hole in it, along with the rust stain from some shrapnel or bomb fragment that hit with such force it punctured the stone. The metal had long ago been eaten away by the sea, but the rust stain remained. I realized I was holding a piece of history that was physically there on D-Day, there with the exploding shells, explosives, and intense gunfire. On the very spot where brave young men were willing to die to save the world from evil.

I'm taking the other stone to Spain.

Have a great week.