Sailboat Projects

I’ve been lucky with weather for a couple of days, and I’ve been able to prep, tape, repair and paint both stripes. I completed the touch-up on the boot stripe yesterday, after painting the entire area on Saturday.

2017-03-27 17.09.22

As it turns out, boot stripes are really hard to photograph. It may look a bit hazy, but that lighter area you see on the stripe is a reflection of the ground.

I’ve been using Pettit Easy Poxy topside paint (Forest Green) for the bootstripe for several years, and I’m very pleased with the ease of application and the amazingly smooth and glossy finish. The paint levels out very well and leaves a very shiny appearance.

The sheer stripe was a bit harder to prep and repair, if only because it was all done standing on a ladder. The old 2-part polyurethane paint had started cracking chipping in a few places – possibly where that part of the gunwale took a hit against a piling, or some such thing. Regardless, I dug out the spider cracks, eased the edges of the chips, and filled with epoxy fairing compound.

Cracks enlarged and filled.

I also touched up the bottom paint along the waterline, some chips here and there, etc. Next session of work, I’ll sand all of that smooth, fine-sand the first coat, then repaint the entire sheer stripe.

Here’s a photo of the first coat of paint on the sheer stripe. Sorry about the ladder.

A couple more days of work, and I’ll be ready for launch.



The winter hibernation is over. Today is the first day of spring, and I started boat work last week, in preparation for the launch in the first week of April.

First on the list of things to do was to mark the winter cover for alteration. If you are a follower, you may recall that my boat cover was a recycle find that nearly fit.  Designed for a boat that was slightly longer with a lengthy sprit and jib boom, still it was made for a vessel about 29′ on deck. That’s a close fit for my 27′ on deck, and gives me enough extra to modify and make it fit right. Here are a couple of photos from my make-it-fit session back in December – just wanted to get the boat covered up, and was too busy to custom-alter it.

Most of the stanchion reliefs are in the wrong place, as well as the shroud cutouts. The bow and stern need a lot of material taken out of them, and additional grommets have to be installed to pull it tight after the new cuts are made, along with binding all the new cut edges.

I engaged my resident fabric expert – Ruth, my wife – to make the marks and cuts. She’s done a lot of sewing, and understands how fabric behaves, and how to make it behave. Here she is marking and cutting:

When all was marked and cut, the cover looked smooth and almost wrinkle-free. Now we can sew and bind the raw edges and reinforce at our leisure throughout the sailing season. Fortunately, we have the use of a heavy-duty sewing machine that belongs to one of my slip neighbors.

Next item on the check list was to prep both bootstripe and sheerstripe for new paint. Last year I had prepped the bootstripe, but failed to communicate with the yard that I wasn’t quite ready for launch – not being mind-readers, they launched the boat as instructed. . . and I sailed all last year with an ugly bootstripe. I’ve already spoken to the yard manager this year. . .

The sheerstripe paint had failed in a number of places – bubbled, cracked, scared, and severely faded. So I’ve done the initial sanding on both stripes, and just need to go back with fine grit and a wood block to finish it. Then just wait for a warm day for painting.

Had to insert a selfie . . . Just a reminder – paint dust is really bad for you. A respirator is the way to go. The little paper dust masks really aren’t sufficient.

I wasn’t idle all winter. Winter tends to be the time when I focus on music, and especially recording. I’ve just finished recording several cover songs of my new band for demo tracks. I’ve finished the editing and mixing, and we’re ready to use this for marketing. I’ve posted links for your listening pleasure. The demo isn’t for sale, distribution, or profit – just sound samples for potential club owners and sponsors.

“Brian Wilson” – Bare Naked Ladies

“Change Your Mind” – Sister Hazel

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge

“Take It Easy” – Eagles


Rock and Roll!



Cay of Sea was hauled for the season in the first week of December. Winterized and ready for freezing weather, she sat and patiently shivered for a month before I had time and inclination to work on the canvas cover I acquired several months back. So two days ago, knowing that rain and snow were in the forecast, I got to work.

If you’ve looked at the link above, you know that the cover itself is in two sections. Already stored on board the boat, I wrestled both sections on deck and began the process of sorting which end went which way.

I first spread the aft section over the boom and deck – not knowing for sure if the cover would reach down to the gunnel if tented at boom-level. It didn’t, but I wanted it to, so rather than build a set of crutches and ridge line pole, I thought I could perhaps suspend the boom with a piece of line a foot lower than the gooseneck would ordinarily allow. This would allow the edges of the cover to extend just past the gunnel. This worked well, but I needed a way to suspend the aft section of the boom also, as there was no cut-out provided in the cover for the topping lift. I made a cut-out in the canvas, and reinforced it with some .25 inch cow hide that I had on board. The 3″ x 6″ piece of leather was hand-stitched into place around the outside of the patch. After it was sewn to the canvas, I cut a slot just where the topping lift shackle would go through to attach to the end of the boom. Then I sewed around the slot attaching the canvas to the edges of the slot – this was with a locking stitch. Following the locking stitch, I went around the edge of the slot again with a continuous loop stitch.  Wish I had a photo of this . .  .  Most of this sewing was accomplished with my Speedy Stitcher (no sailor should be without one of these tools).

After adjusting the end-of-boom height, I was able to get the after end of the cover sorted. The bow-end presented a different challenge. There are three lifting points above the deck on the bow and getting these semi-balanced was difficult – in fact, I didn’t really get them right, but I think it will be okay for this year. In the spring when I remove the cover, I’ll mark it for alterations which I can accomplish without the press of bad weather bearing down on me.

Fortunately, I have a great deal of extra line on board, because I needed a lot of it to secure the edges of the cover. I passed the line from side to side to pull the edges taut, and was able to identify the sections of cover that will have to be changed for future seasons. Most of the cut-outs for stanchions and shrouds are in the wrong place, but I don’t think it will be difficult to add the right cut-outs and grommets for pulling down the edges. I’m sure there will be some water and snow accumulations in baggy pockets where the cover won’t allow me to pull it taut, but it’s not too bad, and certainly a lot better than leaving it uncovered again. Here are a few photos:


Stern needs a few more grommets and a cut-through for the backstay.


All that sewing and custom fitting is why these things cost so much.


Big saggy pocket at the mast. I can just take a fair amount of material out of this section to tighten it up, and add a couple of rings to lift the mast accommodation until it’s taut.2017-01-05-15-59-332017-01-05-15-59-582017-01-05-16-00-33


Got the cover on just in time – we had three inches today.


The lesson here is that a sail’s stitching should be repaired before it becomes a tear in the sailcoth.

I just learned that lesson.

I’ve known for the past few sails that there was a section of stitching near the clew of the main that needed re-sewing. Yeah sure, I’ll get to it. Eventually. During a day-sail last week, eventually became immediately, as the foot of the sail tore out around the broken stitches for a length of about 12 inches. I pulled down to the first reef to finish out the sail, and took the sail down the next day to fix it.

I could have done this by hand with my Speedy Stitcher, but I have access to a marina neighbor’s heavy-duty sewing machine. It was time to give it a try.

Forthunately, I’ve watched my wife sew long enough and asked her enough questions to understand what has to happen with the machine – the concept of the locking stitch, what the bobbin does, what effect the tension knob has, and why a sewing machine is threaded the way it is – so I was able to figure out how to thread and adjust the machine, and how to refill the bobbin with a little trial-and-error.

I cut a patch to sew down over the tear, placed over the carefully positioned section for repairing with the help of double-sided sewing tape, and began to carefully feed it through the machine. Four times! This is a straight-stitch-only machine, so I had to make sure I had sewn down all the edges and fully supported the material surrounding the tear.

The machine is made by Thomas - heavy, strong gears and body allow it to punch through many layers of cloth.

The machine is made by Thompson – heavy, strong gears and body allow it to punch through many layers of cloth.

In the photo above you can see the patch applied – it’s to the left of the seam opening – through which daylight is pouring! I repaired this open seam, and inspected the rest of the sail as well. I restitched down the entire length of the leach, as much of the stitching was weak or missing, and reenforced a few other places too.

Here's an image of the repaired sail in use. The repairs aren't beautiful, but the are strong.

Here’s an image of the repaired sail in use. The repairs aren’t beautiful, but they’re strong. And it looks like I need to adjust the wrinkles out of the trim too. . .

I discovered yesterday that I missed one weakened seam just above the first reef point – and it began to open up in the brisk breeze. I dropped the main as soon as I noticed it (see – I’m learning) and finished out the sail on jib alone. Today, I’ll take a closer look at it. This one may be small enough to repair by hand. If not, I’ll bring the machine down to the boat, simply pull the foot of the sail off the outhaul, and repair it right there on deck.

Finally, during a walk today through another marina in my neighborhood, I came across this beautiful lapstrake dinghy and though you would enjoy a photo of it.

Tender to s/v Hesper, featured in this post.

Tender to s/v Hesper, featured in this post.

Good things happen to those who look in free-cycle bins.

Several days ago I was looking in the free-cycle bins at a local marina. I lifted the lid and noticed armfuls of material. Huh! I wonder what that is. After digging around a bit, I determined that it was a full cover for a sailboat – I had no idea what size. I hauled it out and decided to sort it out later.

Yesterday was later, so I spread it out and measured. 34′-36′ x 14′ depending on how I count the sprit cover. My boat is 27 x10. . . Wow – that might work. It was designed for a cutter, as there are cut-outs for a forestay and inner stay, replete with dimensions for the rollerfurling drums. It has a couple of small tears – really, not difficult to repair at all – and one zipper that’s broken. The cover will have to be adjusted to fit perfectly, but that’s okay.

2016-10-17-17-47-13 2016-10-17-17-46-27There are reliefs for stanchions – all in the wrong place, as far as I can tell – but the edges are bound and tabbed with turn-buttons; the tabs are reinforced; all the openings are set with turn-buttons or zippers, and potential chafe areas are bound with leather edging. This was thoughtfully put together, and it doesn’t seem like any expense was spared. It has been used, obviously, but the fabric is by no means worn out. I don’t know how water-proof it is anymore – treatment with a waterproofing compound would be a good idea regardless.

The boom will have to come off and a lower ridge pole set up, otherwise the width won’t extend to or past the gunwales. The forward section is fitted first up to, and around the mast, then the aft section is buttoned into it, and it also wraps around the mast. There is a full-width zipper about 25% forward from the stern, which will allow access while covered.

2016-10-17-17-46-52This forward section has three reinforced lifting points, currently joined with a continuous line, and terminating at an adjustable ring – it looks to be “self adjusting,” meaning that you can slide the ring along the continuous line for optimal positioning after a halyard is attached and the section is lifted from the deck.

2016-10-17-17-46-46The after section has a large pocket to accommodate its rise up and around the mast, while the area over the cockpit has two straps underneath to go around the ridge pole, assuring that it won’t flap too much in windy conditions.

And here’s what it looks like draped over the boat:

2016-10-17-17-32-46 2016-10-17-17-34-03 2016-10-17-17-33-43 2016-10-17-17-34-21Pretty sure it’s got to feed under the safety lines to reach over the gunwales, and that improves the slope for shedding water and snow as well. I don’t think it will be a “set up and forget it” type of thing.  I’ll still want to come and check for water pockets, and clear off significant snow falls – good thing I live a mile from the boatyard! Still, I think it will be a huge improvement over what I’ve done in winters past, which includes ill-fitting, wind-shifting tarps, and . . . nothing.

Under the category of regular maintenance, I’ve finished (refinished?) several varnish and paint projects noted in recent previous posts.  I’ve built up 6 coats of varnish on my fresh re-do of the fore hatch, and reinstalled it. But this time, I also painted the under-side of the hatch, so that it’s nice to look at while we’re lying in bed. It’s also easier to clean now, with a fresh smoothly painted surface.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

More coats to come, as the seasons progress and I refresh the varnish 2x per year, but 6 coats is a good place to start.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn't get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

Fresh paint and no mildew! Just couldn’t get the stains off the old finish, no matter how much I scrubbed on it.

I also completed a paint project that I’ve been threatening to do for years, and I’m so happy with the result. This isn’t one of those projects that gets a lot of public attention.  It’s another hatch under-side that only we see – our companionway hatch slider. That ugly is hidden with the hatch open, which nearly all the time when we are on board. But at night, and in bad weather we close up, and there it is. . .  scraped, scarred, mildew-stained ugliness. But in the immortal words of Inspector Clouseau, “Not anymore.”

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

This has got to be one of my favorite accomplishments! It has niggled at me for a long time.

And an on-going project – the varnish repair of the top-side of this same hatch. Occasionally, a small bubble of moisture will form underneath the varnish. I’m loath to strip and refinish the whole thing for a 1-square-inch imperfection. So I cut out the spoiled section and slowly build up the layers in that area, gently using a combination of scrapers and razor blades to shave the excess varnish as it builds up in the wrong place.

See where the repair is? About 2/3 to the right, slightly above center?

See the repair? About 2/3 to the right, roughly centered in the vertical axis.

I applied the sealer coat of varnish to the fore hatch, and re-coated several other pieces of bright work at the same time. This round of varnish re-coating will carry me through the fall until I put the boat away for the winter.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. You can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now.

The raw wood soaked up thinned varnish (50% thinner) like a sponge. Upper right: you can also see an area that I filled with thickened epoxy that was chronically problematic due to the uneven surface. Though not pretty, I think it will hold onto the varnish now. I keep threatening to build a new hatch because of this one’s imperfections imperfections. . .

Slider/companionway hatch decking - I've patched 2 places in the varnish, but they're not complete yet.

Slider/companionway hatch decking – I’ve patched 2 places in the varnish, but they’re not complete yet.

Another revarnished piece that's been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase - it wasn't assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I'm looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.

Another re-varnished piece that’s been problematic. The vent was a Home Depot purchase – it wasn’t assembled with waterproof joints/glue, so water has spoiled some of the areas. I’m looking for a different solution to the wood slatted vents.


%d bloggers like this: