Companions’ cover.

I think I’m on a roll with this boat canvas thing. I made a companionway cover for Marty & Sue’s boat. I love the color. It’s insulated, with a layer of Reflectix between two layers of marine Sunbrella. Stitching it was a bit like wrestling a bear at times, but my new machine handled it well. 🙂

Simple favors.

I had a nice visit with Laura today.  When she came over, she brought a pair of exercise bands that she wanted made smaller by a couple of inches.  Frankly, I don’t think I could get one of these over both my arms up to my elbows, but Laura can actually put both her legs in these!

I was pleased to see that my awesome new industrial sewing machine could not only sew through layers of this really thick rubber elastic band material like butter, but the machine’s walking foot just stepped right over the 1/4″ thick rubber label along the way.  I’m thrilled at the big and small projects I’m able now able to do.

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Whatever works.

One of the salon cushions on our Catalina 320 tore along a center seam. I tried mending it once and it just tore again, as the fabric had significantly weakened along the seam. I think the material is Ultrafabric Brisa Original (from around 2005).  I haven’t been able to find a color match yet. It’s just as well, though, as the fabric runs around $65/yard. I’m not ready to reupholster the entire set of salon cushions yet. Soooo, what can I use for a temporary fix?

I decided to repurpose a length of Tear-Aid Type-A tape that I originally got to patch a few holes in our Sunbrella bimini skin. It should adhere well to Brisa’s polyester and rayon backing. It’s not supposed to be sewn-through, but I don’t need a waterproof seal. I simply want to use it to patch along the back-side of the rip and to strengthen and reinforce the area around the tear so I can stitch a new seam through it, about 1/4″ in from the tear.

So I gave it a shot… and I’m happy with the repair.   Now I just need to wait and see how long it holds up.  Fingers crossed!

Before:

 

And after…

If you’re interested, here’s a few pics as I tried the fix.

I removed the cover from the inner cushion pieces, and ripped out the old seam on all 3 pieces of fabric involved in the seam.  The alcohol is to clean the Brisa fabric backing, where I want to apply the Tear-Aid.  The hair dryer is to help me flatten out the old folded seam allowance, and also to help dry the backing after I cleaned it.

Both pieces of Brisa are torn along the old seam.  I’ll need to patch both pieces in a similar fashion before trying to sew a new seam.

Tear-Aid says to clean the application area with alcohol and let dry.  As I cleaned the fabric with alcohol, I saw that the backing material was rotted away in places.   So I removed all the non-adhered backing along the tear.  Not sure how it got in this condition.  Maybe something caustic spilled here and weakened the fabric.  Or maybe 15 years is all you can get out of Brisa.

After cleaning and drying the pieces of Brisa, I used scotch tape on the right side (outside) of the tear to hold the edges of the tear together, temporarily.  I’ll remove it after I apply the Tear-Aid to the wrong side (inside) of the torn fabric.

I cut a length of Tear-Aid Type A tape and applied it on the backing-side of the Brisa fabric along the tears.   Tear-Aid recommends leaving an inch of patch around any torn area, but I didn’t have that much of material along the old seam allowance, so I used a smaller piece than they’d probably recommend.

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I removed the scotch tape from the right-side of the pieces of Brisa, and clipped the right-sides of Brisa together to prepare for stitching the new seam.  This time I’ll sew THROUGH the newly applied Tear-Aid, approx 1/4″ in from the tear along the old seam.

Stitching the seam was a bit challenging, as the adhesive from the patch gummed up the needle every 6 inches or so.  But, as long as I cleaned the needle each time with alcohol, it stitched pretty well.  I used a ballpoint (recommended for Brisa) needle, size 16, and V-69 poly thread, and I also found I had to lower my top thread tension.

There you have it.

Cover-up.

My latest canvas-work project… a cover for the grill off the back of the boat.  Voila!

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Making my own pattern was definitely the hardest part.

If Monte stands around too long in one place, I’ll make a cover for him, too!

In the belly of the beast.

I spent today and another day last weekend sitting in the bottom of our port-side lazerette at the stern of the boat. We lost the electronic control unit of our auto helm in a lightening strike at the marina earlier this year. We got off easy; a neighboring boat’s electronics repairs from the same strike is over $80K and counting. Marty gave us a unit that he used to have on their boat. We installed it over the course of the last two weeks. Lots of pulling of cables through tiny stainless steel tubing, making new electric connections, and squeezing into small spaces.

Nirvana’s rudder post. Oh, the places you’ll go…
New black conduit with the 5 cables inside run from the helm back to the new auto helm control unit

Marty and Sue accompanied us on the calibration run. Everything worked! It’s nice to have Otto back.

In the closet.

Two projects on the long to-do list that I made when I retired were:

1) purge 30 years of paperwork and de-crap the rest of the mess in the closet in my office, and

2) create a workspace in my office closet for my projects like sewing, painting, knitting, beading, photo scanning & editing, etc.

I’m ecstatic to report that I’m crossing them both off today!

I didn’t get a truly before pic. But this is a during pic (all this crap previously filled the closet).

And, (drumroll) this is the after pic:

Many thanks to Monte for building and installing my new desk!

Now I just need to shred the boxes of purged papers and documents…

So, sew.

I’m slowly working down my boat sewing project list. I made 5 winch covers for our jib sheet winches, house top winches, and windlass. I used Sailrite’s pattern and instructions as a guide. My takeaway: it is not easy to sew a circle onto a rectangle.

I also replaced our frayed and yucky bimini straps, having to sew a loop and attach the fastener-buckle thingie before installing.

Bring on the next project!

In hot water.

We have been talking about it for quite some time. Today we sprang into action! We replaced an old water heater before it failed and flooded the house.

After two trips to Home Depot (you can never, ever take one trip), draining the old tank, some heavy lifting, and a few choice phrases, we are back in business.

Thanks Sweetie!

Doo-hickeys.

First some terminology…

Sailboats have barriers along the perimeter of their decks that are meant to keep people from falling off. We call these barriers lifelines. Lifelines have gates that can be opened to let people walk through them when docked or rafted up. These gates are typically created by putting a piece of hardware that opens and closes on the lifeline at the gate called a pelican hook.

Still with me?

Pelican hooks have a tiny little ring that you pull to open them. It’s usually difficult to grab the little ring just right.

To make it easier, you can put a little fob, or lanyard, on the ring that you can more easily grab and pull the pelican hook to open the gate in the lifeline.

Long story short, today I made a set of these lanyards for Nirvana’s lifeline gates. 2 for port, 2 for starboard.

Installed…

Here’s how I made them if you’re interested.

The easy part is learning how to tie the individual cobra weave knots. So I’ll leave that out and just share one of many links that I looked at to help me figure out the basic cobra knot: here. The hard part was figuring out the best jig or setup to easily secure the cord while tying the cobra knots. I’ll share what I came up with.

What you’ll need:

– 95 paracord (1.75mm wide)

– measuring tape

– knife

– lighter or hot-knife to melt cut ends of the cord

– carabiner with 2 big paper clips attached (the jig I came up with)

– tweezers and/or a crochet hook to pull the working ends of the cord back through and under the cobra weave knots to bury them and finish the lanyard

To make a 3-1/2″ finished lanyard out of 95 paracord, I used 44″ pieces for each lanyard. Cut to length and fold that in half.

Tie a simple overhand loop knot 3 1/2 inches from the midpoint of the piece of cord. This defines the finished length of the lanyard.

The carabiner and paper clips make up my jig for holding the cord while tying the cobra weave knots. Other people use different things; pegboards, wire harnesses, etc. Basically, you want something you can pull against to keep the cord taut while you are tying the cobra weave knots with the two working ends of the cord. This is what worked for me.

The carabiner can easily be clipped onto a drawer handle or hook. The paper clips make it easy to loop the 2 working ends of the cord to start the first cobra weave knot. And they make it easy to slip the finished lanyard off them as well.

Before tying the first cobra weave knot…

After tying 3 to 4 cobra knots…

Keep tying cobra weave knots (9 or 10) until you have about 1 inch of the loop left. Remove lanyard from carabiner and paper clips.

To finish the lanyard, you need to pull the working ends of the cord back under the length of cobra weave knots that you just tied. This will bury them and keep the lanyard from coming untied when it is in use. This is where the tweezers and/or crochet hook come in. I pulled the working ends under about 4 or 5 of the knots.

Then trim and melt the cut ends of the cords; the finished lanyard…

Good luck!

Frosé in the house!

It is HOT in Austin this summer. A cool drink goes a long way to make you forget the temperature outside. I have recently been introduced to a lovely pink frozen beverage called Frosé, made from rosé wine, but presenting as a slushie. Brick Oven Pizza served up my first one (and several since then). Pretty good!

Ever since then I’ve wanted to try making my own. We have a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker which we use to make delicious sorbets. So, I asked myself, “Self, can our ice cream maker successfully make frosé?”

The answer is, “YES!”

Today I conducted a test run. Inputs:

    – 1 Bottle of chilled rosé wine
    – 1/3 c chilled simple syrup (see recipe below)
    – 1 Cuisinart ice cream maker w/ pre-frozen canister. Our model is ICE-25R but is likely replaced by a newer model by now.

Pour wine into the canister, add simple syrup, and stir. Put canister in ice cream maker and start her up. At 15 minutes it was freezing nicely.

I ran it for another 10 minutes and it looked ready.

I scooped some into a wine glass, added a paper straw (no plastic!), and put the rest into the freezer for later.

Delicious! I highly recommend. Cheers!

Simple syrup recipe:

– Heat 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. Cool and refrigerate.

Shocking.

They say April showers bring May flowers.  But, they also bring colossal bolts of lightning.  We had some potent ones during the storms over the weekend.  Monte is still piling up and fixing the carnage at the chez.  The photo below doesn’t include the internet modem/router box that we had to replace, and two fried GFCI outlets, one fritzy raspberry pi, an LCD monitor power pack, and who knows what else.

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On a positive note, Monte didn’t get killed when he was outside and lightning struck nearby.

Tiny boats.

We met up with Kurt & Barbara tonight at the lake. We watched the remote control (RC) sailboat fleet races.

We watched the youth Laser fleet practice.

And we cashed in on two-for-one burger night at the marina!

Sheila’s law.

Murphy’s got a law.

Here’s mine:

Whole-house interconnected smoke detectors shall only sound their deafening false alarm in the dead of night.

Corollaries:

1. They shall do so several times in the same night, for non-deterministic lengths of time, leaving only enough time between alarms to allow sleep to nearly be achieved.

2. The one of all the sounding units which can silence all alarms must be difficult to determine, and must be located at or above 12 feet of elevation from the floor.

Sailing is HARD.

My sailing friends left Galveston on Saturday, December 1st, headed to the west coast of Florida, and arrived five days later on Thursday, December 6th.  I am thankful for this, but it was not an uneventful passage.

The tiny, purple vessel in the middle of this image, south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was S/V Trident on Sunday evening, as they were making their way along the safety fairway amongst cruise ships, tankers, commerical fishing boats, and other ships.

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Before they left, I told Lori I’d be her land-buddy / emergency contact.  So I carefully recorded all the info for her float plan, and put the various Gulf of Mexico Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centers on speed dial.  Monte was sending them localized National Weather Service weather updates every day, and we had the luxury of being able to see them on AIS as long as they were within reach of a receiver.  MarineTraffic.com is a website you can use to follow boats that have AIS transmitters.  Although, after about 48 hours they were out of range of land-based receivers and their location was no longer being updated.  After that, the only thing we had to rely on was Lori’s satellite device, a Garmin InReach Explorer+ 2-way communicator, which transmitted their position every 10 minutes, and allowed for terse 2-way texting.

This is the their track from their Garmin InReach device, through which friends and family followed their progress.  Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 12.47.06 PM (1)

On Monday evening, their satellite device stopped sending updates (note the gap in their blue track south of Alabama).   Before Lori left, we discussed what to do in this situation – i.e.,  if their position was unknown and they were not reachable.  We agreed that if I didn’t see updates for a while, and after sending a text and not hearing back after waiting 3 hours, I’d officially start to get worried.

That happenend Monday night.  I waited 4 hours and then called the Coast Guard to ask if they could simply hail them through a VHF relay.  VHF only transmits a distance of 10-20 miles and S/V trident was about 200 nm off shore.  But ships commonly relay VHF messages from one boat to another and/or to the Coast Guard.  After a couple hours, the Coast Guard called back and said they were not able to hail them via a VHF relay.  Later that night, Coast Guard sector New Orleans called me back to say they had dispatched an aircraft to fly along their track to see if they could make contact.  God bless the Coasties.  Semper Paratas.  After 10 hours of not getting position updates, at 4 am, two things happened at the same time:  I got a call back from the USCG saying they had made contact with S/V Trident by radio, and S/V Trident’s Garmin tracker started updating again.   Lori sent a message after that saying that the tracker was buried under some cushions.  Whoopsie.  All good.  🙂

The next day, a cold front reached the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Trident was in its midst.  Late Wednesday afternoon, Lori sent me a message saying that they had lost steering and had not been able to hail the Coast Guard.   They were taking emergency steps and were able to regain control of the boat.  They were not in fear of losing the boat, but they were in distress.  I called USCG again, and the St Petersburg District monitored the situation for a bit, and then decided to send out their patrol boat given the bad weather and sea state at the time.  It took another 4 hours for the Coast Guard boat to close the remaining 40 miles or so to reach S/V Trident, who was still making way eastward.  It took another hour or two for them to establish tow and head back east.

All seemed to be good at that point.   But, then at 4AM, Lori texted that one of her crew had been injured, her sister, Janet, was thrown down the companionway in the violent seas.  The towing Coast Guard boat arranged for another boat to intercept with paramedics aboard.  Janet had fractured both her hips and endured 6 or so hours flat on her back in pain, on a boat thrown about in high seas.  Once inside Tampa Bay in the morning, she was transferred to another USCG vessel and to hospital where she is recuperating.  Thank goodness.

Sailing is hard.  You have to be ready for anything.  Sometimes all at once.

God bless the Coast Guard.