829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sailors' Helpers

I don't quite know when the name of it forever changed
from shock cord to 'bungee'.  I think it was sometime in 
the 80's when people, many of them boaters, stopped
using cotton or nylon cordage to tie their boats or kayaks
or sailboards to their roofracks.  Their granny knots didn't
always hold, and here and there you would see Laser
mast sections rolling along the shoulder of the NJ Turnpike,
often going as fast as you were. Tie-down straps, along
with bungees, became the go-to cartopping fasteners.  Feed
the end of the strap through the buckle, honk it down,
hide the loose end somewhere, and then bungee
anything else that remains.  Hooks on both ends of the 
bungee made it convenient for any schmo
 (blogger underlined in red my compound word 'roofracks'
but said nothing about the word schmo)  to quickly
secure any last minute accessory in order to make it
home without having spars rolling on the NJTP shoulder.

I'm not sure where the word 'bungee' came from.  And I
for once did not ask Mr. Google.  And please don't go
there and report back to me.  I really don't care, for a
change.  I think some Australian Outback dude invented the
word 'bungee' while wrestling a crocodile.  "Hee-yah,
hand me a bungee, mate! The bigga the betta!"
Speaking of Google, my kids have virtually no
idea of what the Dictionary is.  Oh yeah, it's that big, thick,
dusty red book on the bookshelf with the little cut-outs
on the side where the letters are.  Dictionary.com my ass.

Shock cord was and is often used to keep the bitter
ends of the traveler or barber hauler lines from getting
tangled in something else, or maintaining a taut hiking strap
or  keeping a daggerboard from slipping down the trunk
on a Laser.  We bought it from a spool, sold by the foot,
and melted the cut ends with a match. And if we didn't
have the cash to pay for it, we filled out a withdrawal
slip and walked into the bank lobby to get it.

Andy Rooney passed away this week.  I think he called
it shock cord too.  I doubt he had a debit card.
And I know for a fact he used the Dictionary.  I Googled it.


  1. I think this is one of the best posts you have ever written. I love posts about the little incidental things in sailing... like blazer buttons and sandpaper - and bungee cords.

  2. Sorry I'm late to the schmo - things have been busy this week.

    Being a sheltered city kid, I didn't find out about bungee cords until my freshman year in college, when the only commute vehicle I could afford was a 65cc motorbike.

    That was years before I would learn about anchor bends and rolling hitches, so a bungee was the only practical way to keep a pile of books on a motorcycle seat. I did discover that they're subject to catastrophic failure, so should be used with caution on a boat.

    Or to hold your pants up.