My latest build request to Monte was a thread-spool rack for my work closet. My projects continue to expand, and my thread inventory has become an unmanageable pile of spools. I also want to be able to store each bobbin with its corresponding spool of thread, since it’s hard to tell the difference between V-69 and V-92 thread sizes; and navy blue, black and dark green start to look the same to my old eyes. So, the top of each dowel is tapered so bobbins can be stored with each spool. I can also use it to store my growing collection of binding tape, basting tape, cord, and webbing. Voila!
I have entered the “bag” phase of my maker existence. I decided to try to make a bag styled like the classic LL Bean Boat and Tote. We were gifted a pair of them as a wedding gift, and have been using them hard and constantly for almost 2 decades. And they still have much life left in them.
The LL Bean totes are made with 24 oz cotton duck. I already had some 15 oz, so I used that for my first bag prototype. I also used some 8.8 oz navy cotton duck for the bottom and straps. Duck cloth is supposed to shrink anywhere from 5-10%. So, I’ll have to see how my design holds up over time.
The finished dimensions of this bag are 17″ W x 14.5″ H x 7″ D, which is pretty close to the Large-sized LL Bean Boat and Tote. The ones we already own are the Medium and X-Large sizes, so this will be a nice addition.
If you’re interested in trying to make one yourself, here are my notes:
I used V-92 polyester thread, and a #18 needle. My Sailrite LSZ-1 cuts through all those layers like butter.
I may try making one with Sunbrella material for the bottom and handles, instead of the 8.8 oz duck cloth, as I see that marine Sunbrella is 9 oz, so fairly close. Though Sunbrella is much more pricey than duckcloth…
Next challenge: making bags out of a used mainsail that friends gifted me. Stay tuned.
We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.
We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.
And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.
Julie and Ryan recently acquired a new-to-them sailboat. It’s an older Catalina 25. It needs some work, so we are helping them get things fixed up. Clever Monte got the outboard motor working. Now he is helping Ryan repair the electrics on-board. Julie brought over the sails, which need some mending. Their mainsail will be my next sail project. It’s in pretty good shape, except where sun damage caused some tears and deterioration where the previous owner left parts of the sail exposed.
Our original plan, to leave the ICW and head offshore in Beaufort, was intended to avoid the challenges associated with the ICW south of there. These include transiting the dozens of ocean inlets that the ICW crosses south of Beaufort where significant shoaling always occurs, often changing the ICW channel depth, making it dangerously shallow, and passing under a number of bridges that are less than the required 65′ vertical clearance with tides than can vary from the mean water level by up to 4 feet. But, alas, the weather offshore has been unfavorable, so we continued on south.
There is a kind soul on the internet, Bob Sherer, who maintains a blog called Bob423 ICW Tracks and Routes where he provides tracks (collections of GPS points) that he has carefully taken and mapped out for maximum depths. The tracks are available for download as GPX files into chart plotting software, like the openCPN that I use on my laptop and the Garmin chart plotter that Lori has at Trident’s helm. Fortunately, Bob’s latest track is as recent as a week or two ago, so it contains safe tracks around hazards that even the Corps of Engineers haven’t moved the red and green buoys around yet. There have been reports of multiple boats running aground this week in those spots. Not wanting to be one of those boats, we have been following Bob’s track. It can be a little spooky when Bob’s green track goes outside the marked channel. But so far, so good.
The bridges are a challenge of their own, especially with the flooding in North Carolina rivers currently going on, and an especially high tide. We have had to wait for the water level to go down on some bridges before passing underneath, but even so, we have bent the springy VHF antenna at the top of the mast back as we passed under 2 of them. That’s a little too close for comfort.
Hopefully, we only have one more bridge and one more shallow spot, at Snow’s Cut, today. Then we will be at a marina in Southport tonight, and pick up Tony tomorrow and head offshore for a leg south tomorrow afternoon. We think there is a 24-hour window that will allow us to get to Charleston without weather drama. But we’ll see how that plays out.
Even with those challenges, it’s been a nice few days since Beaufort. It’s been sunny, with wind to put up a sail. We anchored one night, and were on a mooring ball last night. Very nice.
Julie has moved back to Austin! She drove, pulling a trailer full of her things behind her. When she arrived, she told me that she brought my mom’s sewing machine with her. It is one of the things that Noreen has been storing for me since mom died. I was very excited to unpack it. This is the sewing machine that I learned to sew on. It is a Montgomery Ward Expert BT long shuttle sewing machine, complete with the original manual, attachments, and storage cabinet. I have vivid memories of sewing on this machine with my mom when I was a little girl.
I believe my mom bought this machine before she married my dad. That would make it at least 65 years old, but may be even older. I cleaned it, oiled it, threaded it, and took it for a spin. It works great! What a solid piece of machinery.
Many, many thanks to Noreen, Julie, and David for getting this machine to me.
We are making more frequent trips to the lake lately to get a break from the endless 100 degree days we have here in Austin.
Last Sunday when we came home from the lake, we realized we were missing our styrofoam cooler. It’s not just any styrofoam cooler, though. It is a cylindrical bait bucket that’s been in Monte’s family as long as he can remember. And it has been along on all of our camping and boating adventures for the last 20+ years. It makes a great, compact ice bucket. As it has worn thin and broken over the years, Monte mends it with wood and epoxy. One day, I expect it will be all wood. It’s special.
We went back to the lake Tuesday but didn’t find it on the boat. So we sadly assumed it must have blown into the lake from the parking lot while we were loading the car. Monte added it to our Lost-shit Log of things we’ve lost in the lake.
We looked for it on lee shores as we sailed, but didn’t spot it. Returning to the marina Wednesday afternoon after anchoring out for the night, we learned it had been found and turned in to the office. Awesome!
I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE. Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it. It is getting very dim. I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute. Still no stunning captures. No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.
This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground. The lake level is 668′. Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.
My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE. Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.
A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:
A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:
And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:
I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July. When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast. This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.
Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon. I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view. Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye. I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either. Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be. I did capture it in several photos. Here’s the best one:
It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it. If conditions allow, I may try again. If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.
Monte asked me to make him a mask, since the ones he’s been using are either too small or uncomfortable. So I finally knocked out my first homemade COVID mask, custom made to his specifications. 🙂
I then asked him to make me a frame for a piece of art that our niece, Laura, drew and sent to me. He knocked it out, custom made to my specifications. 🙂 I just LOVE this drawing. Laura requested people to send her photos of their quarantine workspaces, which she then drew in watercolors. I sent her a picture of my craft space in my office, which is where I sat to make Monte’s mask.
Monte completed the install of our new head on Nirvana this week! The work was interrupted by this shelter-in-place for a couple of months. But he made several trips this week and declared it done yesterday.
So today we went to the lake and took her out. We anchored and jumped in and floated in the lake for the first time this year. Water temps were still a tad chilly at 79 degrees F, but we sucked it up.