Spears, Big Bangs, and Invisiblity Cloaks

We went to the SSCA cruiser’s flea market a few weekends ago, because we just can not pass up a nautical flea market for anything, and gathered up a couple good finds. I got a flat stainless steel cheese grater that fits sweetly in my galley drawer. Yay. I also picked up Chris Parker’s book and two cookbooks, one for a pressure cooker and one for Asian food.

I was super excited about my $1.00 pressure cooker cook book and quickly picked out two recipes to try out as I have a pressure cooker and had yet to make a yummy meal in it……..and…….I still have yet to make a yummy meal in it. 😦 I didn’t know pork chops could be so tough. Then, the very next night, I turn out some horrid slop that earned the name “splat cabbage” -because that was the sound it made hitting the plate (and the dog bowl). “Tender-crisp” it was promised-but it was not. Keith offered to go pick up pizza. Funny thing is Kai could not get enough of it. He went berserk, to the point we felt a little embarrassed for him. Silly, mushy-cabbage-eating dog. Sorry buddy, I won’t be making that dinner again.

Keith, however, is the one who really got the big scores of the day. He raked in two Hawaiian slings, five spears, and brand new gaff for less than $40.00. He also scored a new set of binaculars. Good job! We also learned carrying around a handful of spears and large hooks clears the crowd from around you pretty efficiently. Unfortunately, not quite fast enough as we missed the best deal of day by just seconds. Right before our eyes someone bought all the flags for the Caribbean for $20.00. Damn that was a good deal!!

Also at the SSCA flea market, there were several round-table discussions groups set up, including a group for the Winlink ham radio network. I am still having one issue with our ham radio/email set up and had been waiting weeks to get an opportunity to talk to the top gurus. As I walked around the room, people were fluently moving from one table (presenter) to another. Except for the ham radio table in the corner. No one was getting up and no one new was joining in. It was just a tight little huddle. I milled around for a while and just lost my nerve to go up to the locked-down table. I decided to walk away when one of the guys noticed me. Ok, he noticed me because Keith was shoving me towards the table at my reluctance knowing I was going to whine all day about missing my opportunity if I didn’t take it.

What happened next was like walking into an episode of The Big Bang Theory. “Sheldon”, the one who noticed me being shoved too close to his personal space, greeted me. I rushed to explained that since his presentation last year I had gotten my license and was using his system and had some questions. It was like the verbal key that unlocked the secret door. I swear I heard him say ” well, why didn’t you say so” as he ushered me closer to the table and found me a seat-not his seat.. He asked what my problem was, I told him, he asked me something back that sounded like he was speaking Klingon as I didn’t understand any of it, we volleyed back and forth a few times making no forward progress before he said “here, speak to “Leonard”. He might be able to talk to you better.” It was true, “Leonard” was able to carry on a decent conversation with someone not as knowledgable as himself and provided translation between “Sheldon” and I as needed. Then they consulted the rest of the gang at the table but they were still puzzled. “Sheldon” then asked if I could afford to make a long distance phone call. Like the Sheldon on TV, I am sure he has some lovable, quirky characteristics that make him endearing once you get to really know him. I didn’t really get to know him that well. So, yes, I might not be as brainy as you, but I am successful enough to be able to make a long-distance phone call, thank you. Another minute of discussion between the group and I was told to call THE guy of all guys. I could hear the admiration in their voices. It was like I was being given the number for Steven Hawking. I was told to call him and tell him “Sheldon” and “Leonard” directed me to him. I was reassured if he couldn’t figure it out no one could.

The thing is, I am not trying do something new, hundreds of boats have made the same system we have work, it shouldn’t be that hard. I just want to control the radio frequency by the computer software and I seem to have verified that everything is set up correctly. Ugh. That’s when the lightbulb went off, I had had a table full of the brains and creators of this system all brainstorming together and they didn’t figure it out. The only plausible answer is that it is something so simple (or so dumb) that they didn’t even think to think of it. Something so obvious that it is assumed. And with that realization, I haven’t had the nerve to call “Hawking”. I swear, everything is ON and plugged in, but I just know it’s got to be something so stupidly simple.

Kai, on the other hand, is all about the figuring out lately. The other day I moved the garbage bag from the securely locked, dog-proof cabinet to the hall while I was doing some major cleaning. The temptation was overwhelming and my little guy just couldn’t resist. After being scolded to “leave it” one too many times he switched up his tactics. I turned around to see my rug, with a very large lump under it, scooting down the passageway. I grabbed my camera and just as the lumpy rug made it to the trash bag it stopped. Surprise, surprise!! Out popped an adorable little muzzle. Caught you!!


Welcome to my Sewing Room

Ok, it’s really just the V-berth, but every space on a boat is multi purpose.

At the heart of my workspace is my new LSZ1 sewing machine from Sailrite. Let me just say it was Keith that really thought we should go ahead and buy the new sewing machine reasoning that with it we could do the mizzen sail repairs ourselves and make a copycat Gailsail storm sail, thus paying for itself quickly. (We just won’t dwell too hard that those are the two projects I have not gotten around to yet 🙂 )


Anyway, the LSZ1, I knew it was a tough little machine but still had serious reservations about just how much it could handle. I was coming from a serious commercial Juki LU-563 powerhouse and didn’t think anything could compete with the power of it. Guess what, the Sailrite machine has earned my respect! I haven’t found anything yet that has given it any pause. And I have shoved some tough stuff at it. The sail covers frequently had 6 layers of Sunbrella and 4 layers of sailcloth going through at one time, more at seams. Didn’t hesitate. Not one skipped stitch either. Impressive. The shade awning had some real thick layers at the reinforcement points too, no problem.

The toughest challenge I threw at it was the cushions. Sunbrella usually is about 7-9 oz per yard weight. Storm sail cloth is about 9 oz. per yard weight. The Crypton upholstery fabric I chose was 16.9 oz per yard weight and with welting and seams I frequently had 8 layers cranking through it. That little machine didn’t care at all. Wow.

Oh, and by the way–the cushions are done!!! I love them. We went old school, with welting and buttons. I think it matches the traditional interior of the boat. Well, I’m not completely done, I am dying to make fun new throw pillows to brighten them up. Like frosting on a sugar cookie. Ah, but that will wait as it isn’t really a priority. I am packing fabric and it will be a fun rainy day project once we get cruising. Until then, my plain white pillows will do-I have a mizzen sail to repair instead.



So where is the rest of my crafting and sewing stuff? Everything but the fabric is in one very tightly packed locker. There is most definitely a one-in-one-out rule going on in there as it is filled to the brim with my canvas and crafting supplies. The bolt fabric is on a long shelf above the fishing poles and my folded fabric is in a waterproof bag. I am all set to keep on sewing. Of course I have a happy helper to assist. Kai is ever eager to press the foot peddle, ready or not.


Where were we ONE year ago: Chugging Away

Trapeziums and Trapezoids

The past few days have been filled with more odd angles than I care to figure.

We decided to make a security grate for the companionway hatch out of aluminum stock and it seemed like an easy enough project for me to get started on. I’m not sure if I had more trouble figuring out all of the angles or cutting a halfway decent line with a hacksaw. The hacksaw and I are not the best of team mates. I tell it where I want to make my cut, and it doesn’t listen. Of course after hours of my hard work Keith came home and said it would have taken only a few seconds to cut it up at work if I had given him a template. Ugh.

On the brightside, my cuts still ended up being clean enough for him to weld up. We did a quick fit after he tacked up the edges and it looks like it will work just fine. Of course the center bars still need to be added in the photo below, as I think even I could climb through that hole.


Not yet being done with not-right-angles, I plodded away on the cushion project some more. I am changing them from long bench like cushions to three smaller cushions per settee. I was pretty sure I had this, just divide the length of the cushion by three and cut…… Until I got started. Now would that be the front measurement or the back? They aren’t equal lengths. They look like it but they aren’t. And when I divide the back cushions by three, why don’t the seams line up with the bottom cushion seams? Should I try to make some of the corners right angles? Which corners? Or should I make them parallel to the bulkhead. Which bulkhead, the bulkheads aren’t parallel to each other? Ugh.


I think I have them figured out, but we’ll see when I am done. Fingers crossed I got it right.

Before I got started I was worried I didn’t have enough batting. Obviously I didn’t need to worry. There was even enough after Kai had it as his afternoon snack. He has got some good pillow poops going on :/



Where were we one year ago: 8 screws


One of the biggies on the to do list has been to sew some sort of “stack-pack” style sailcover. It wasn’t a convenience thing it was a serious safety thing. Take a peek at our boom, we can’t reach most of it. Not only is it very high, but with the bimini and dodger it was completely inaccessible. Bringing down and flaking the mainsail in the flat calm river was an ordeal, as was putting on the sailcover. Reefing at sea?-eeeek. It required balancing on the varnished (slippery) coaming and the top of the lifelines with nothing to hang onto except the bottom of the boom itself. Stupidly dangerous.

So, I set about making a new sailcover with lazyjacks. It’s basically two, flat pieces of canvas. Attach it to the boom and hang it from the mast. Easy.


I started with the Sailrite PDF instructions and the free full instruction video, but I wanted to make some custom changes. (If I hadn’t it really would have been easy) Namely, I wanted to use the slide slots we have in the sides of our boom as the attachment points for the bottom of the cover, line the entire sail cover with Dacron, and keep all of the weight-bearing seams away from any sun exposure. Decreasing windage was also a big priority while at the same time being mindful that we can’t even reach the boom, we really can’t reach the top of the sail cover and shove the sail in, it had to fit in the cover on its own when it’s lowered. And so began my complicated easy project.

I thought the dodger was the hardest piece of canvas to sew. That took me four full days. This sail cover is coming in at just under four weeks! I did make a mock-up using the old sail cover, so technically, I made two in a month. (The mock-up version is the second photo with the striped, tablecloth looking fabric on the bottom)

At times I got quite frustrated, like when I discovered it made a spectacular rain catcher :/ , but I think I finally got all the kinks worked out. It no longer catches rain, it does catch the sail, it is fully lined to protect from chafe, none of the working seams are exposed to the sun, doesn’t interfere with reefing lines, and it looks pretty tidy too. And most importantly, no more standing above the lifelines!


20140821-215536.jpg^don’t judge this one-it was my pattern!





I’m going to forget for a little while longer that I still have a second mast and sail to tend to.

Where were we one year ago: All Aboard

Grocery Getter

At some time in the near future (though how near is still to be determined) we will selling the vehicles, thus leaving us to drag home all our groceries by foot. Keith thought a bicycle would be handy and make the chore easier. (I thought “were the heck are we going to put a bicycle!”)

But, like he does, he found a deal on a tiny Dahon Mariner and brought it home and promised to find a good spot for it. He had fun wheeling his new grocery getter around the parking lot.

I’ll admit, I even had fun riding it.

When we were done pretending to be in the circus- seriously, it looks like a circus bike doesn’t it?- he folded it all up into an itsys-bitsy tangle of metal and tucked it away easily in the workshop. There might even be room for a second one.

We are thinking besides groceries and spare parts, they might be a really nice way to get around and experience the local areas a little bit more inland than we would be able to access just by foot.

Where were we ONE year ago: Seeing Double

Tiny triumphs

Two weeks into this not-really-retirement retirement and it is kind of hard to see that I have earnestly been plugging away on the lets-get-out-of-here list. For the most part, I have been trying to finish up the not-quite-complete projects and the should-only-take-five-minutes projects before digging into the doozeys on the list.

Several days have been spent pretty much on the ropes/lines/rhodes. I washed them, dried them, sorted them and then stowed them all back. (Hence my invisible efforts). I have all of our anchor set ups sorted out with new shackles safety wired on and new eye splices made for the ones with rhode. I hadn’t tried a splice before, that been Keith’s arena, and I found that Animated Knots by Grog site/app was by far the easiest for me to follow. My splices aren’t perfect, but I am pretty pleased with my first go! So much so that I decided to tackle the double braid splice after I replaced the mizzen topping lift. A bit more complicated, but successful. Yay! (And, no, that’s not the shackle that I used when I was done) All the lines that didn’t need splices got their ends whipped up nice and tidy.

Another it’s-bitsy project was to finish switching out the one last light fixture to LED an bulb. For some reason only one fixture on the boat used the bayonet instead of the G4 bases so I had missed one ordering when I originally switched all the bulbs. I was about to buy the one wayward bulb when I ran across the best solution ever. Marinebeam makes (or at least sells) bases that convert bayonet bases to accept G4 LED bulbs. They cost less than five bucks and even swivel so that the bulb will fit no matter the light bracket orientation. This tiny doo-dad totally made my day and now I still only have to carry one type of bulb! Done.


More visible, but arguably of lower priority, I finished planting my little herb garden. I think it’s kinda cute. Kai thinks it’s kinda tasty. I’ve got basil, hot and spicy oregano, garlic chives, lemon balm, mint, thyme, and parsley. They should go a long way in sprucing up the menu when the fresh veggies start running sparse. Of course that is if I can keep it alive and Kai leaves some for us!


Tiny projects, tiny triumphs. The list is shrinking ever so slowly!

Where were we ONE year ago: Sewing, Stowing, and Solar