Troubleshooting our solar panels.

Perhaps the biggest “must do” task on our list before we left was making our bimini and installing solar panels.  While our 50 watt solar panel has kept up well over the past few years, we knew we would be demanding more from our electrical system when we cut the docklines.  We have minimal power requirements and weight is always a concern given Pegu Club’s size, so we decided to go with flexible solar panels.  While they aren’t as efficient or durable as hard panels, the weight savings alone (8 pounds for two that could be mounted directly on the bimini vs. 33 pounds plus a stainless frame for two hard panels) made it worth it to us.

We had ordered a bimini kit from Sailrite several months ago, and now it was time to get to work.  The kit came with the stainless steel tubes already bent, so all we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted the bimini to be, then cut them to the proper length.  Don’t let the simple description fool you into thinking that this was a quick process.  It most definitely wasn’t.  However, by the time we were finished cutting we had a bimini frame that Jeff could stand underneath, which made for a happy Jeff. 

Continue reading “Troubleshooting our solar panels.”

Making our bosun’s chair.

One of the items I started sewing before Christmas was a bosun’s chair.  A bosun’s chair is one of the less-expensive ways to get to the top of the mast.  Basically you sit in a seat, attach it to a halyard (and a backup line for safety), and someone uses a winch to hoist you to the top.  We figured that I would generally be the one going up because I’m lighter, making it easier for Jeff to hoist me vs. my hoisting him.  However, we needed to keep open the possibility that he might have to go up there.

Looking at the most common suppliers, we discovered that hoisting Jeff along with some tools would put him uncomfortably close to the weight limit of the chair.  Fortunately Sailrite had a kit that was not only cheaper, but also had the highest weight capacity of the options we’d seen.  After convincing Jeff that I felt comfortable enough in my sewing skills to make one by hand, I ordered it up.

Continue reading “Making our bosun’s chair.”

Sewing our foredeck bag.

When we decided to remove our furler and switch to a hank-on jib we knew that one of the things we would need to do is get a foredeck bag.  The foredeck bag is attached to the headstay and allows you to keep the sail hanked on when not in use.  When you’re finished sailing, simply drop the headsail, place it in the bag, and zip it up.  You can use the jib halyard to raise the bag off of the deck, and there the sail sits waiting until you need it again.

We could have purchased one, but as is typical with canvas work it was much cheaper to order a kit from Sailrite, saving us at least $40 compared to a pre-made bag.  Using their handy-dandy YouTube video along with the written instructions that came with the kit, this actually turned out to be a very easy project.

Continue reading “Sewing our foredeck bag.”

Cockpit cushions (and an engine update)

First up: the latest on the engine.  John Bayreuther was able to get to Pegu Club last week and the engine has been fixed.  He told Jeff that he found a cracked washer that was letting air in, and there was also a lot of air in the injector.  He ran the engine twice and all was well, so we are back in action.

This was an inexpensive fix as far as boats go so we’re holding off on replacing the engine until this winter, but we’re definitely getting a new one.  Up until now Thumper has been rock solid for us, but it’s 40 years old, some parts are becoming unavailable, and we have no idea how it was treated by Pegu Club’s many prior owners.  On top of it all, as a single cylinder diesel Thumper is LOUD!   A new engine will certainly be expensive, but it will also be smaller, lighter, (hopefully) reliable, and much quieter.

In the meantime the guys are squeezing us in to the launch schedule so splash is this Saturday at 9:45 a.m.  Yay!

Just because our splash was delayed didn’t mean that all boat projects stopped.  In fact, one big project that we managed to essentially complete during our unexpected down time was finishing up new cockpit cushions.  I say essentially because we still have to make the helm cushion, but the port and starboard cushions are done and those were the two longest ones.  The helm cushion should be much easier by virtue of its size.

Pegu Club originally came with vinyl covered cockpit cushions.  Unfortunately they were hard as a rock and also suffered from the same smell that the rest of the boat came with, so out they went.  I had never made cockpit cushions before, but with my trusty Sailrite and the detailed Sailrite video on YouTube I figured I’d give it a go.

Continue reading “Cockpit cushions (and an engine update)”

Beating the heat.

The week leading up to the weekend of August 13th was hot and humid.  Temps were in the 90’s and it was thick-air-like-breathing-through-a-wet-blanket humid.  At one point I did a comparison of the temps and dew points between West Hartford and Sarasota, FL, and they were the same.  I’ll take it over winter any day, but with no air conditioning in the house I was looking forward to heading to the boat.  Unfortunately, work was interfering so heading down on Friday evening was out, but I went to work at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday in the hopes of salvaging some of the weekend, and by mid-afternoon we were driving to Shenny.

Continue reading “Beating the heat.”

It’s curtains for you!

After struggling mightily with sewing winch covers, it was time to tackle a sewing project that was easier – curtains.  No sewing circles into tubes this time.  After watching the Sailrite video on YouTube it was obvious that all I needed was to make a few straight cuts, a few straight hems, and I’d be all set.  Well, close but not quite. Continue reading “It’s curtains for you!”

Interior Cushions? Finished! (For now).

Mother Nature conspired against us this past weekend to ensure that it was not a particularly productive two days.  Going into it we knew that Saturday was going to be cold and rainy all day, and Sunday was going to be even colder (upper 30’s) with wind gusts over 50 mph.  So we did what we could.

Saturday we drove down to Defender for the annual Warehouse sale.  Armed with our list, we debated asking for Defender’s checking account number so we could simply have our next paycheck direct deposited into their account.  We settled for giving them our credit card instead. Continue reading “Interior Cushions? Finished! (For now).”

I don’t think you could pay me to make these again…

“I’ll make some winch covers!  How hard can they be?”,  I thought.  Ha.  By the time I was finished I had thrown away the first three, still wasn’t entirely satisfied with the remaining five, and had taken to calling them “*$#@%%* winch covers!”

Much to our pleasant surprise, Pegu Club came with five winches that had clearly been upgraded from her original stock winches.  They are all oversized and self-tailing, and the two largest are two-speed winches.  Two-speed winches have a high and low gear which allows you to crank the lines in a lower gear (by reversing the cranking direction) as it becomes more difficult.  Buying them all new would approach $3,000, something we never would have done.  Her original winches would have been fine, but the bells and whistles on these are certainly nice to have.

Now bear in mind that as far as I can tell, a winch cover is truly unnecessary.  Sure, I didn’t like how rainwater would just stay in the hole for the winch handle but it’s not like it was going to hurt the winch.  Heck, Little Bristol was built in 1975 and had her original winches – likely never covered – and they were fine.  Nope, I just wanted to make them because I thought it would look spiffy. Continue reading “I don’t think you could pay me to make these again…”

An Ode to Our Sailrite LSZ-1

Oh, my Sailrite LSZ-1.  How do I love thee?

One of the many boat-related subjects that captured my interest awhile ago was canvas work.  I had taken some sewing lessons a few years back and had a lightweight machine, but I knew sewing for boats required something more heavy-duty.  There are countless “What’s the best sewing machine?” threads on the sailing forums and the Sewing on Boats Facebook page, and the runaway recommendation is always a Sailrite machine.

Sailrite is an Indiana-based company that has been around since 1969.  They sell everything you can think of that might be needed for boat-related (and home decor) sewing, and their customer service is top-notch.  With hundreds of how-to YouTube videos covering everything from making cushions to sails, they have a way of breaking down each step so that you find yourself thinking, “I can make that!”. Continue reading “An Ode to Our Sailrite LSZ-1”