Most helpful critical review
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as it ought to be
on 12 May 1999
Brion Toss is a demi-god among modern riggers -- not only a master rigger but someone who, judging by his TV appearances and classes, can also teach and explain. I bought this book expecting it to be a lucid compendium of everything one might want to know about rigging. It falls short.
1. Many of the illustrations and explanations are difficult to understand. There's a difference between artistic illustration (which is used in the book) and good technical illustration (which it should have). There's also a looseness with written explanation, eg, "bring it up even with the mark" where it's not clear which "it" is meant.
2. The book is fraught with typos. For example, Fig 4-15C shows a braided core buried for "4 rope diameters" when it should be 14 (the text has it right). Someone who has done eye splices in braid (like myself) and is using the book as a refresher would probably follow the figures rather than the text -- and get hurt. In another place, 8mm line is referred to as "1/16 inch" when it should be 5/16.
3. The eye splice for standard braid can be done as described only by using Brion's proprietary Splicing Wand. Not only is this a $50 item, but it can't be used with 1/4" or smaller braid (which I do have some of on my boat). I would have expected someone of Brion's stature to tell how to do a splice using a Uni-fid (or regular Samson fids) and then "here's how it's easier with my wand if you want to buy one."
4. Tables for things like sheet and halyard loadings are published without comment (and, in fact, contradictory data is given between Fig 2-1 and the Lewmar data in the Appendix -- almost a 2:1 difference in mainsheet loading for a 35' boat!). I would certainly thing someone of the author's experience would have his own opinions about these vital numbers.
Shortly after I bought the book I decided to completely replace all the running rigging on my 36' boat. While I had New England Rope's instructions, I turned to this book for a second opinion on how to splice ordinary braid, StaySet-X, and T-900 (this experience obviously colors my feelings about the book). After experiencing the difficulties I reported above, I discovered my local library had Barbara Merry's (out of print) Splicing Handbook. While the latter doesn't have some of Brion's exotics like the Mobius Brummel splice, what it does cover is how this book should have done it.
Will I keep this book? Yes. Will I refer to it? Yes. Do I think it provides one-stop shopping for everything I ever wanted to know about rigging? No. The next time I want to do some rigging work will I go to other books for alternate views rather than implicitly trusting this book? Absolutely.