Tillerman's planning on giving not just one but the top five best sailing inventions, which naturally got me wondering what mine would be. Of course the best ever is the triangular sail, so that leaves just four to find.
To make it interesting I decided to not post any that I'd read elsewhere. So no bowlines and no breathable oilies - even though both are brilliant.
The running up four, from 5 down to 2, are:
5) Winches - they have gears and can self-tail, and sit all shiny and compact on every yacht. We couldn't wind in a fully loaded sail without them.
4) Depth sounder - when we crossed the Atlantic we had an electrical failure that wiped out our instruments. Mostly we could do with out them, having the windex and compass. But nearer the coast sailing without an idea of how much water there is under the keel would have been almost impossible.
3) Tell tails - great and so simple. Couple of bits of string attached either side of the sail and you can learn so much from them about how to trim it - brilliant!
2) Compass - fixed into the mind of the sailor is basic orientation, wondering where is north? where is the wind coming from? what course to sail. How can the compass not be on the list?