Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

When we moved aboard well over a year ago we decided not to get a storage unit.  I was good with that, but what to do with all of the stuff that didn’t really belong stowed on the boat but might handy to complete something on the to-do list before we departed?  Shoved into my SUV, that’s  what.  I filled it to the roof with things I just couldn’t part with, but knew had no place on board.  Literally to the roof, I don’t know how I haven’t run someone over backing up and I certainly haven’t gone through a single drive-thru without feeling the judgment of being a full-blown hoarder these last months.  The contents are mostly “supplies” for projects and the thought was they would get consumed as the to-do list dwindled.  Among my hoard of supplies I was lugging around several random pieces of teak; the old dodger, bimini, and sailcovers; a bag of styrofoam beans for the beanbags; and lots of odd pieces of foam, batting, and fabric scraps.  Not much has gotten consumed and my car still only had room for only me-no passengers. With the fact that we are quickly approaching the day where I need to sell my car I had to get busy clearing it out one way or another so I started recycling, reusing, and eventually reducing the hoard in my car.

First project was to use some of the teak and build a book shelf in the aft cabin.  Oddly, we didn’t have a single shelf in the boat that would  hold a full size reference book or guide book and I thought it was finally time to remedy that.  The finishing work is still in progress, but the books are on. I think it’s pretty good for only using recycled wood. A rope cleated to the bulkhead will keep things in place.


Next was to salvage as much canvas as possible from the old dodger and bimini.  I made two storage bags for the dinghy, one is for the anchor and line and the other is for our snorkle gear.  They snap on to the handles and keep the dinghy floor uncluttered yet remove easily.  I think they are going to work well, but didn’t put too much effort into the craftsmanship as I am considering them my prototypes.  I’m sure the second generation might have some modifications.  

Moving on, it was time to give Kai a place of his own in the dinghy.  He is too little to stand on the floor and see out and doesn’t have the sea legs to stand on the tubes which means he usually ends up sitting in my lap, which is fine now but someday soon he will be all sandy and salty and I probably won’t think it’s so fine anymore.  Enter Kai’s bucket.  Now he gets front row action while sitting/standing securely in the dinghy.  We tried it out already and he seems thrilled with his booster seat :). Bonus, when he isn’t in the dinghy with us the canvas will also hold our 5 gallon look-bucket for diving or anything else we don’t want sloshing around on the floor.  Note: the photo of the new dinghy organizers is pittyful, but there will be plenty of dinghy photos in the near future-you know when it becomes our only vehicle πŸ™‚ 

With plenty of old Sunbrella left I moved out of the dinghy and up to the mother boat and made what I think will be a great add-on to the bimini/enclosure setup in place.  The bimini ends just before the cockpit does due to the main sheet so when it rains the cockpit (and cushions) get very soaked if the enclosure panels aren’t in place which they frequently aren’t in place because it makes the cockpit a steamy greenhouse when all closed up. To keep the cockpit drier and shadier I made two little pieces that zip right onto the bimini with grommets on the back.  Super simple, yet very effective. I like how well they follow the curvature of the bimini on the grommet side.  Yeah for shade!  I’m liking these recycling (completely free) projects!

The bag ‘o beans was used to make Kai a bean bag bed and our cockpit bean bag wedges were fluffed up.  I even filled up one of my handmade bead embroidered pillow covers for some outdoor-friendly whimsy in the cockpit. (It’s a leafy seadragon-it’s hard to tell in the photo). With those complete, I had one more bulky item out of the car, I can almost see the backseat now.

I used up some small scraps of fabric to make a canvas water bucket.  Canvas water buckets come in handy when you have to rinse the deck off due to a little pup having been trained that it is OK to do his business there.  Our last one wore out.  I added a tag with glass marbles on one side of the bucket so that it tips and fills with water easily.

Hello, Ball Bearings. Welcome Aboard!

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. Keith, being that his background is an airplane mechanic, doesn’t really follow this rule very well.  In his world if it breaks the plane falls out of the sky, therefore you fix it BEFORE it breaks.

This logic was applied after taking a look at our main traveler.  It definitely wasn’t up to making the long haul with us. So, in our continued effort to make the mainsail more manageable we decided to upgrade the traveler and main sheet. We replaced the old and very stiff traveler that was running on warped brittle delron wheels and only had a 1:1 purchase with a new traveler from Garhauer.  (They even match drilled the new one to the existing holes so it was super simple to install) The new one has ball bearings and a 4:1 purchase.  On top of that we switched out the very aged and also brittle 3:1 mainsheet to a new 4:1 mainsheet, again now with ball bearings.

WOW!!!  What a difference!  

We also switched out the jib sheet cars as they looked like they might be one robust gust away from shattering. That, and they were also horrid little feet eaters-there has been many bloody footprints to vouch for that. 😦

I think with these simple upgrades we just cut our sailing work in half and maybe prevented a few loud and scary failures as well. (Hopefully there will be less bloody footprints on the deck, too)




Dear Next Owner Of Our Boat,

If you have ever owned an only-new-to-you boat, then you have probably come across an “improvement” or repair done by the previous owner(s) that left you scratching your head.  At least every one of our boats has given this joyous opportunity.  Sometimes it’s a simple “I wonder why they did that?” situation, and sometimes it’s a “Why in the world would you do that!!” situation.  Note:  Those two statements, though they sound similar, are very, very different.  One is the cousin of “huh?”, the other is the cousin of “WTF” (and usually involves an unexpected cost of some sort).  

This boat has had plenty of both.  Huh, I wonder why  that shelf has that odd cut out?  WTF, why in the world would you glue foam-backed vinyl in the shower!

Well, dearest next owner of our beloved boat, I need to explain a few improvements I made this week that I am quite sure will make no sense to you.  You see that access hatch in the coaming of the cockpit? Yeah, go ahead and open it up.  No, it’s not a storage locker. Yeah, it’s weird, it’s just an opening to an even smaller hole. It goes to the head (bathroom).  No, it’s not some icky peep-hole.  It’s for the running hot shower water.  Yep, you hang the solar shower up there on the dodger frame, drop the nozzle into that hole, and take a warm running water shower down in the privacy of the head.  Yeah, as opposed to the deck.  You know, for when it’s cold and rainy or if you are in a crowded anchorage. No, there is no hot water heater onboard, solar showers only.  Yes, you can add a hot water heater yourself.  Why two different size holes in the boat?  Oh, yeah, I don’t know.  The previous owner drilled the big one.  I don’t know why, it didn’t go anywhere. Had to drill a smaller hole to fit in the head.  Now, um, the other thing…eventually you would have found it, but let me show you. There is a tiny black switch about the size of a penny when you open the pantry door.  Yeah, in there.  Now run your had along the forward facing cabinet.  Found it?  Keep feeling around, it’s in there.  Got it?  That is the switch for the exhaust fan.  Where?  Oh, that tiny vent above the stove exhausts into the cockpit locker.  Yeah, yeah, that’s probably why you thought the winch handles smelled like bacon.

On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t explain my actionsπŸ˜•



Oh, and to clarify, the boat is not for sale. I am just acknowledging that I too am guilty of being a quirky “previous owner”. 

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 πŸ™‚ )


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

Workshop Rework

On this first week of my newly gained unemployment status, my main goal was to get as many of the incomplete, half-finished projects done as I could and set myself up for future project-tackling sucess.

The most time consuming project was organizing the workshop. Yes, our tiny little 35 boat has a for-real workshop. πŸ™‚ It came at the expense of my much desired separate shower stall. 😦

But anyways, the workshop–it was a MESS! Like couldn’t even step into it, let alone find anything, mess. Not any more! Check it out, clean, and organized, and labeled. Ok, it’s never gonna grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but it’s a pretty pulled together space considering it’s our garage, attic, shed, basement, broom closet, and mechanical room.


Keith is a mechanic, the man has tools. Crazy amounts of tools. We went through them together and sorted and grouped and thinned, and organized them all. Turned out that the tools were not really the problem, it was everything else; paint cans, caulk tubes, oil jugs, sandpaper, shop-vacs, extra saw blades, 9 different rolls of tape, paint brushes, lightbulbs, hose clamps, bilge socks…..

So much stuff, but it all has a place now, and that makes me happy, happy. The room really could have used a fresh coat of paint, but it will have to wait; there are higher priority items on the list.







This last photo is my secret to a clear counter top: always have a home for the items that don’t have a home. (Yes, it’s full-those were all the items I had ask Keith about when he got off work)

Where were we ONE year ago: Dodger

Gearing Up

Keith has been working crazytown hours this weekend giving a fire-breathing dragon a pair of wings. Because, of course, all fire-breathing dragons need wings! (And apparently they have huge ones) I’ve barely seen him at all this weekend, he left before I woke up this morning and I haven’t seen him yet-it’s about ten at night. Not exactly the long, three-day weekend most people were enjoying.

Since he has been slaving a way I thought I should do some work too, here on the waterfront. Today’s choice of project was the winches. They are supposed to be taken apart and serviced on a yearly basis. So how, in all my years of us owning boats, is it then that I have never even seen the inside of one our winches? On any of our boats?

I started with Google and YouTube, dug out the winch rebuild kits and grease (at least we had those on board already), and grabbed my camera (so I could see where all the pieces go). Turns out they are pretty easy to take apart, but gunk-omolly were they filthy!! The first one I tackled was a tiny one that we never use. Seemed like a good one to practice on. It took about four and a half hours (including my research time). No worries, I moved on to one of our our main cockpit winches next, figuring it would take me about an hour now that I had it all figured out. It still took me about four hours. The larger winch had a bunch more pieces and a bunch more dirt. Two out of seven done today, it’s a start. Besides, I learned a few things today: “white spirits” is UK speak for mineral spirits; just because it fits, doesn’t mean it’s right; and that the all-crucial piece for the winches is the teeny-tiny spring-see those four springs in the pieces pic? Crazy, I know.