Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Basement filled with old sails? Try this:

Like many of us, I have a basement filled with old sails in old sail bags and am often asked, “Why?” Finally, an answer that goes beyond, “You never know.”

I’ve been thinking about sewing up a riding sail for some time, not because LIQUIDITY uncomfortably dances around an anchor or mooring, but because, well, because you never know. A riding sail is small, light, stows easily and so there’s little downside to having one on board. Crafting one also seemed a small, manageable project and as I said above, I had no shortage of available material.

Here’s the step-by-step process that turned a swatch of LIQUIDITY’s original 1977 main sail into a riding sail:

Materials used:
Sail cloth, relatively light weight, preferably recycled.
            Recycled 3/8” (or whatever) line, sewn on as a bolt rope.
            Whipping twine.
            Sail needle and palm.
            Home sewing machine.

Step 1 – Measure six times, cut three times:

Measure first with some light line and a tape measure. Create a triangle: tack at the base of the backstay, head at what looks about the right height from the tack and clew led forward until it looks about right. Write down the measurements and take them home.

Stretch a section of sail cloth out flat and recreate the measured triangle on your living room floor. Add a generous margin to the triangle and cut a swatch of sail cloth. (I added a foot or more in every direction before making the first cut.)

Back on the boat, use some light line to bend the newly cut, over-sized triangle to the back stay and lead the clew forward. A marking pen will help you define the proper angles and slowly reduce the size of the swatch, in a series of cuts. Keep going until the proportions looked about right, then make the final, cut leaving about an extra 1” margin all around.

Step 2 – Hem the sail

The home sewing machine will do just fine going through two layers of relatively light sail cloth. No magic in sewing the hem; just folded the edge over and feed it through the machine. Three sides will take just a few minutes.

Step 3 – Sew in the bolt rope.

Using sail needle and palm, sew the hemmed sail to the bolt rope.  http://navyadministration.tpub.com/14067/css/14067_73.htm

Seized an eye at each corner. 

With a little planning and a lot of luck, I was able to capture the Cape Dory 28 logo.

Figure about two hours to decide on the dimensions if you experiment the way I did. Cutting, sewing, seizing and the like probably took three hours in total.

Riding sails are cut flat; pretty much any suitable swatch of old sail cloth will do. Since it's not a performance sail, pretty much any reasonable size/shape should work for you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter is a good time for...

Winter is, among other things, a time to be an idler, not a lazy good for nothing in the common use of the word, but rather a non watch stander in the traditional, nautical sense. Idlers included the ship's carpenter and sail maker, among others and I trust that they managed to keep quite busy.

Among my idle activities, working (i.e., "playing") with rope may well top the list. Actually, working with rope involves its own list as there are lots of ways for me to play (i.e., "work"). Okay, here are just a few:

Traditional whipping: Yes, you can buy the dippy gooey stuff at West Marine. You can wrap with electrical tape. You can melt the strands of synthetics (is there any other kind?). But none of that goes well with single malt Scotch and a warm fire.

Line hangers: Yes, you can buy line hangers as West Marine. (There seems to be a theme here.) But with some 1/4" three strand you can hang your lines for free. The right length of line, a small eye splice in one end, a stopper knot in the other (that just fits through the eye), attach to a lifeline with a larks head and you're ready to go.

Fender hangers: Yes, they sell these at the marine stores (I'm not just picking on WM). They do everything a hitch will do and less. Just be sure your fenders have whips that are long enough to work with.

Fender whips: Speaking of fender whips, you can buy them but why would you? These are easily made from otherwise frayed and worn out dock lines and the like.

Dock lines: The best (i.e., free) dock lines are made by recycling discarded very long dock lines and reworking them into somewhat less very long dock lines. Sometimes you need to cut off and then replace an eye but often you just cut off a frayed end and add a whipping. (See "traditional whipping," above)

There's more but you get the idea. The above requires only modest skill, perhaps a bit of dumpster diving and (except for the single malt, some whipping twine and a sail needle) it's all free.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Eldridge - don't leave port without it

Yes, I know. It's all in my iPhone. Tides, currents, diagrams and more. That's not the point.

LIQUIDITY was built in 1977, before there was an internet, before there were cell phones, before there was GPS. Navigation was a matter of paper charts, paper tide and current tables, pencils, rulers and a lot of looking around.

Tradition, more than need, is why I buy Eldridge and why I just bought the 2014 edition.

Oh, and also the part where there are no batteries required. (Remember to recycle the 2013 edition.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Let the Repower Begin!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Happy Hanukkah, too.

As the Thanksgiving weekend ends, Liquidity is safely under her winter cover at Marina Bay. Tucked under the bow in its own shrink wrap, is the MD7A that's provided backup to me and the three previous caretakers since 1977. It seems smaller and perhaps less important now that it's out of the boat. But it has a big heard. The little Volvo did its job and did it well.

The MD7A still runs, of course, and its last big test was a long, hard, into the wind, into the seas slog from Provincetown to Scituate, last September. It never missed a beat and if I keep this up, I'll second guess why I'm repowering!

Actually, my little Volvo that could is showing signs of age. Nothing that's not correctable, of course, but issues with the cooling system, some water leaks and some oil leaks that require removal from the boat. If I could do the work myself, I would, but to pay for removal and reinstallation, plus the rehab, doesn't seem worth it to me. I'd be happy enough if the MD7A simply found a new home.

My next task is to actually order the Beta. I've got it all scoped out and am just one email away. I'm thinking delivery right around the first of March, tuck the Beta in the back of the Jeep and take it to the yard at Marina Bay. (The good news is the Beta weighs in at about 200 lbs.; about half the weight of the Volvo.) Then off comes the cover and away we go. I'll do the outside while Kevin does the inside. That should keep my on track for a launch the first week in April!

(Who do you know who could use a sweet, reliable Volvo MD7A for Christmas? It's quite small and would look great under your tree and in your boat.)