While I’ve never carried a boathook aboard any of my boats, it’s not because I wouldn’t find one useful. Where space is limited, boathooks—even telescoping ones—are awkward to stow, so I learned to get by without one. For instance, I always approach a dock on its upwind side so I won’t drift away from it; when I can’t sail within arm’s reach to grab something from the water, I’ll make another pass; to push off a rocky beach I’ll use an oar.
The Revolve Rollable Boat Hook solves the stowing problem by using a concept you’ve seen in the common measuring tape: the steel tape curves across its width to make itself rigid and yet can curl up along its length. The 6′ Revolve does the same thing with a 4″-wide strip of what its manufacturer, Rolatube, calls “bistable rollable composite.” It appears to be made of a fabric infused with black plastic.
Rolled up, the Revolve is about the size of a coffee mug in a thick neoprene cozy. The detachable hook fits inside the rolled shaft, and then the two pieces are stowed together in a mesh bag to keep them from straying from each other when the boathook is not in use. The whole package weighs just a shade under 1 lb.
When the boathook is unrolled for use, the edges curl toward each other to make the better part of a cylinder, leaving a 3⁄4″ open slot between them. The hook slips over the end and locks in place with a twist. Pressing the yellow button unlatches it for removal.
You can extend the Revolve by hand, but for a touch of panache try flinging it out as if briskly drawing a sword and it will uncurl by itself to its full 6′ length (it helps to squeeze the grip end tightly). Rolling the Revolve up again can’t be done with a snap like that, but you can curl the end and then push it into some corner and have it spin while you push the shaft into the roll.
The foam grip gives the Revolve the buoyancy it needs to float, and like a proper boathook, it floats vertically. Only a couple of inches rise above the water’s surface, but that part is bright yellow to make it visible.
I was concerned about the Revolve’s strength when I first unrolled it. It twisted easily and didn’t feel very strong, but the torsion wasn’t a good measure of how well it would work for pushing and pulling. I set the boathook against a bathroom scale and with both hands on the grip, pushed as hard as I could. The scale registered 100 lbs and the Revolve showed no sign of buckling. Standing to one side and with the hook on a hanging scale, I could pull 90 lbs before beginning to lose my footing. I didn’t expect the Revolve to buckle under tension, but I was pleased that the hook end didn’t break and pull off. Boathooks aren’t always used for pushing or pulling but sometimes are used for prying, with one hand on the top end and the other closer to the middle. The force applied to the hook end is at a right angle to it, not in line with it. I could press against the Revolve sideways against the scale with 80 lbs of pressure. The shaft bowed but didn’t buckle when its open side was facing the scale. With the open side facing the opposite direction, it doesn’t take much force to buckle the shaft. In all my tests with scales, I applied more force than I could imagine needing for a boathook’s intended use.
In use aboard a boat, the Revolve has served well. I don’t have to be so precise pulling up to a dock as long as there’s a cleat to snag with the hook. And in a recent outing I was able to save my Whitehall from taking a beating on a rocky beach by using the Revolve to get the bow into the waves and shove off.
There are three accessories available that can be used instead of the hook end: hard and soft deck brushes, and a universal mount that has a 1⁄4″ x 20 screw compatible with most camera-mount systems. I may spring for the mount so I can use the boathook as a selfie stick. The only issue I can imagine having with the Revolve is remembering where onboard I might have stowed it. Rolled up, it could be in the tiniest, and most out-of-the way-places.