Stringy, what a great suggestion -- if you used a bungee with a bungee hook it would snap to itself -- make a great adjustable tether loop. Or you could put a line in to tie down gear. I also like the way you fixed that picture!
Brazos, you have to watch out for those wicky ropes -- it would be an embarrassing way to sink a kayak!
Conservation, it would be nice if Hobie had "How To" and "Product Review" sections we could all go to for reference -- The posts become lost in time and space and eventually lose their pictures, making them less useful.
I also started out with needle nose pliers and had the same result you did -- they worked but it was hard to keep them engaged through the full rotation without skipping out and chewing up the notches. If you're doing more than a couple of changes, the tool makes it a heck of a lot easier. Or you could make one with a small scrap of steel or maybe an old fork the wife wouldn't miss (bend the handle for leverage).
Be careful though -- the last time I borrowed her electric toothbrush to polish some aluminum rivets it didn't go over too well! And, for some reason, the subject continually gets resurrected from time to time!!???
Thanks all for the comments.