Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tired of Bird Poop on the Windscreen? I am.

For reasons I can't understand, birds like my boat above all others in the marina. At least the red-berry-eating birds do.

UV killed my last enclosure and I would like to do better this time. A clear view is nice, particularly in the winter when I don't lower the glass. I procrastinated a good long time, not seeing a simple way that didn't require a lot of holes, but I think I like this plan. If it makes it through the winter and proves to be as convenient (easy-on, easy-off) as I hope, we'll make one of Sunbrella in the Spring.

I added another tie in the lower center after taking the picture; that made it drum tight.

A simple tied strop at each of the upper corners is quick and requires no adjustment.

A strop can also be tied into a loop at the end of a line. Again, no adjustment required.

The tarp is a good 8 inches from the window. The trouble with typical snap-on covers is that they rub on the Strataglas, causing more damage than they prevent.

Three corners and the center front edge are attached with strops, so no adjustments are required. The forward port corner line goes forward around the toe rail and back to the midships cleat where it is easily tensioned. Very fast.  Much faster than washing windows.

rev. 3-11-2013, 9-22-2016

Finally, after several years of testing, a more neatly tailored and more permanent Sunbrella version. Should last the life of the boat. about 9'6" x 37". with lap felled 2" hem on all sides (uses a standard width without trimming).

Winter Sailing

Keeping a stiff upper lip, and all that.

Actually, the Chesapeake is a beautiful, if lonely, place in the winter. Sailing near Annapolis for 6 hours today I saw not one boat. On Labor Day you can hop decks across and not get your feet wet.

Of course, the cabin heater's running, I've got a nice dodger, and I'm wearing ...

  • Fleece socks
  • Tights
  • Sweat pants
  • Wind pants
  • Turtle neck
  • Sweater
  • Shelled fleece jacket
  • Fleece balacava
  • Fleece hat
  • And gloves... 
... so I'm perfectly warm.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dock Walking

A favorite pass time of sailors, we examine how each boat is secured for the winter season or against summer storms. We study how she is outwardly equipped reach distance places, either in comfort or safety or both. Is she a racer, compromising comfort for speed, or is she more tame? Is her design emotionally moving or comforting, or just functional? Has the owner molded her to his purposes, or do the changes simply follow the latest fashion or build-up first impression? Perhaps he thinks these things are "done" by  knowledgeable sailors and he aspires--perhaps successfully, perhaps not--to be one. Is the boat new, or immaculately cleaned, or instead well maintained but with a suggestion that utility is valued above impression? We look for errors in seamanship or rigging. We search for things they've done smarter than us, differences we might adapt ourselves. In each case we weigh our boat against what we see, not perhaps in grandeur, but at least in execution of the details designed purpose.

It's said the master comes to resemble his dog. Is it like that with boats? Clearly we work to remake the boat to match our own image of what a boat should be; the changes, at least, reflect who we are.

Do we examine people in the same way, mall walking? Do we rap on the planking to see if she's is sound? We can, with a few careful questions or at length in conversation. Are they cautious people, following the crowd? Do they explore life's possibilities as far as they want or can?

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: ‘holy shit… what a ride!’”              
George Carlin

Do we spend our time at the mall, collecting fabric signs that we can hang on our body to proclaim that we conform or that we don't conform... but we we bought them at the mall anyway, so what do we think of that? Do we focus on learning new skills and trying new things or stretching what we know, or do we take in the evening movie and enjoy our adventure safely, efficiently... vicariously? Do we look at other people to see what we like in them and what we can learn from them, what we can do better in ourselves, or only to compare fashion sense? Are we always dock walking?

I say that whatever compelled that first caveman to size up the male competition and leer at potential mates, to consider what body decoration or dance would make them more intimidating or more attractive, that force is still alive on the docks, even when we are walking quietly, alone. We are the product of our genes. The things I enjoy most--climbing, sailing, cycling, my wife--all appeal to the inner caveman. I'm good with that.

It explains why the utilitarian aesthetic of my boat doesn't bother me. It explains my utilitarian wardrobe. My wife, of course, would point out that this all makes a statement. Women can interpret anything.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dumpster Diving and Thrift Stores--Going Green

I have no pride. I'm too old for that.

I'm also not sharing my very best "shopping" spots. Sorry, but I guard such secrets more closely than the elusive magic fishing hole. Some have produced many thousands in savings and I ain't sharing.

Note: none of this is from actual "dumpster diving." That just made a good title. Only "free cycle" bins and thrift stores.

My most recent score was a complete floor to a 9-foot inflatable sport boat, a discarded display model that was too sun-bleached to be saleable, but which had always been on display under cover. Much nicer than the wooden model my boat came with. The timing couldn't be better; my existing floor has just rotted out and I was in the process of pulling it out so that I could copy it! I'll be leaving the patched-up rotting floor in place through the winter, and install the new one in the spring.

Other scores:
  • Milwaukee Port-a-Band ($250), barely used. The blade was missing. $5.
  • Multiple sets of Gore-Tex foul weather gear, most with the tags still on them. Now we have pant/jacket sets for the whole family, at home, on the boat, and in the car. This particular thrift store gets a lot of high-end outdoor store old model donations. $8-$15.
  • New Gore-Tex paddling jacket, very sweet. $5.
  • New Perception white water PFD. They mixed it in with the worn-out cheapo horseshoe vests. $5.
  • Numerous ropes, cast off by riggers. It's amazing what their racing customers throw away, often replacing good lines after a single season. I haven't bought line in years, I'm spoiled. Free.
  • 2-year old skis (K2 ACT old model but new. Plenty of side cut. Were $450, $5 to me).
  • Bug netting for my boat, cut from surplus cot bug bar, $3.
  • Most of my gas cans, or at least all of the ones I actually use; I hate the new CARB models. Cheap, but that's not the point here.
  • Materials. Most of the materials for projects are scavenged, from precast FRP, to metal plates for chain locks and bridle plates, to new wire for solar panels. Mostly from refinery construction projects. I'm spoiled in this regard.
  • Fenders. Some are junk, but many are donated or pitched because they are dirty or the owner got a new boat. Generally free.
  • Boat hooks. I bought one 30 years ago. Since then, I've found many for free or cheap. I don't even tie them down anymore, they just sit on the tramp, good weather and bad, and I very seldom lose one.
  • Luggage. I fly almost weekly, and I refuse to worry over the scratches baggage apes impart. But some fool is always donating a nice roll-aboard with a few scratches; I'm actually quite picky regarding quality, since fall apart luggage is not acceptable. I reason that worn luggage is the badge of a veteran traveler.
  • Furniture salvaged for quality lumber, all my own. My modified nav table was cut from a very nice SCAN computer desk that I had no further use for--I still have the original cherry table, in case some future owner prefers it. My salon flip-up bunk was fabricated from the same desk. Good quality teak laminate for free.
  • Bike rack. Always available in thrift stores, and easily modified to carrying old non-folding bikes on the stern rail.
  • Sheet bags from shoe bags. About $1 each, since several come from each bag. Add grommets in the corners and lash to small pad eyes. I tried the twist-lock canvas fasteners but have found them less durable and versatile.
  • Marine antiques. The best deals are found in thrift stores with untrained staff. My daughter's room is collecting some real show pieces, but mostly it's just fun, since each piece has a story. Cheap or free.
I could go on much longer. These are typical, only examples, not even highlights.

Seriously, it's about finding things you actually need or plain materials that can be turned into something of new quality, not about collecting junk. It should be recycling of the very best sort, a very green practice, far better than pretending you're recycling newspapers (which are often processed into absorbents and other nearly junk applications) or bottles (generally melted down) rather than reused as-is.

I spent too much on my new PDQ; I've got to stretch the maintenance and improvement budget to the very limit. My 401-K and my kid's college fund are more important. I enjoy the process of thinking things through, and most of the improvements I've made aren't the sort where you buy some do-dad and bolt it on, adding adding more to clutter than functionality. They are more subtle. Other than the propane heater, solar panels, AC, and davit block installations, very few of my project posts represent more than a few dollars.