Sailboat Projects

Cay of Sea is finally buttoned up for the winter. Although she’s been hauled out for 6 weeks now, we’ve finally finished the alterations on the winter cover, and it fits nice and tight.

Alterations involved cutting appropriately placed slots for stanchions and shrouds, then sewing binding tape around the newly cut slots. We also needed to take material out of the stern section. This area was marked with a sharpie, pinned together into “darts,” then sewn up along the marked seam lines.  Finally, the excess material was removed from underneath the darts. My wife, having sewn a great deal in her younger life, knew exactly what to do, and did a great job.

All in all, it wasn’t a marathon sewing session. Just a couple hours on two different days. The final day of sewing involved a trip to the boat (just a mile away from our house) to fit and evaluate the alterations. Then a final session with the sewing machine finishing up the last details.  Here are some photos of the process.

Cutting new relief slots for stanchions and shrouds.

Cutting strips of excess material on the bias to be made into binding tape.

Sewing the tape along the raw edges of material.

A finished slot, raw edges bound with tape. There were probably 10-12 of these slots to bind with tape.

There’s the finished product.

Compare with last years’ arrangement, when the cover was just put on any way it would fit:

The alterations made a big difference. Now it lays flat and tight without bunchy gatherings where the cutouts were in the wrong places.

Many thanks to Kate and Frank for the use of their excellent Sailrite sewing machine!

Here are links to previous posts on this subject:



I’ve been away. Literally and figuratively. We travel far and long this summer (to S. Korea and back), and spent every free moment with our kids who were moving there (before they left).

But, I’m back now.

We’ve been day-sailing recently and had an over-night with a group of friends over Labor Day in the Rhode River. Last week I finally installed and satisfactorily tested a tiller pilot that I picked up for cheap at a second-hand marine shop ($40.00!). As I’ve experienced with my previous tiller pilot (that gave up the ghost about 5 years ago), it isn’t strong or fast enough to steer the boat in a brisk wind, but in moderate conditions it’s okay, and of course for motoring it’s excellent.

As you can see, I had to adapt the old bracket with an extension because this unit is shorter than my old one. This is a prototype bracket, and I need to make one that looks a bit more shippy.

I’ve done a couple other small projects on the boat, mostly by way of keeping the appearance and functionality intact (the continuous refit). Otherwise, she’s been sailing great and doing exactly what we want her to do.

Some boaters get 5-foot-itis – the desire to get a bigger boat. We keep pushing that away, knowing that for how we sail and cruise, Cay of Sea is just perfect for us. We are so satisfied with her size, seaworthiness, and cost! Besides that, I can’t imagine starting all over again with a different boat. There is always so much to do with a boat before you trust her completely, know her systems, know the status of all her maintenance items.

We’re completely comfortable with boat we have!



Finally finished up this little project. Always a challenge when I have to dodge rain drops. I installed the trim back into a fresh application of Boatlife teak-colored bedding compound, then installed the plugs with varnish as glue. Some folks use shellac, but varnish seems to work just as well. Gluing them in with anything stronger makes them difficult to remove next time.

Plugs set, waiting for the varnish to cure so I can trim and sand flush.

To trim, set a sharp (very sharp) chisel 1/8″ proud of the surface being finished, and gently tap. The top of the plug splits away. You can do this several more times for a curved profile to pare away excess material at the edges before you begin to sand. Just don’t set the chisel too closely to the base material, or the plug may split away below the surface. I set the beveled edge of the chisel towards the eyebrow so that plug tends to split up and away from the base. After trimming with a chisel, use a small block with 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around, and sand only the proud part of the plug, as much as possible. You will certainly sand a little bit of the base material as well, but careful attention to the level of the plug will keep it to a minimum. After all is smooth and flush, coat with your finish of choice. I use Cetol on these.

Done. Trimmed, sanded, and coated with Cetol.

I started this project about a year and a half ago, and lost momentum. I’m finally back at it, as the port side eye brow is absolutely embarrassing now. Add to that the fact that half the bungs are missing, and it’s just in a very bad state.

I removed the screws after splitting out the remaining plugs. There was a fair amount of something in the screw head slots – not sure what it was, but probably whatever was used to stick down the plugs originally. I guess some of the material has been lost from the teak trim pieces, as many of the screw heads were not too much below the surface of the wood.  No way would a plug stay in there. That means I’ll need to deepen the recesses for the screws. Screws out, and that was the easy part. Next was to separate the trim from the coach roof. It was bedded on to the coach roof with a sealant that released pretty fairly well with paint thinner, but much better with acetone. Still, it took a patient and careful 45 minutes to slide a couple of putty knives between the surfaces.

Had to work it from both ends, as one of the screws (not an original) was too short to thread out, but too far in to easily release.

As I gently pried the trim from the coach roof, I poured a little acetone into the crack that was revealed. That allowed me to separate 3-4 inches. Finally I separated the last few inches, and the remaining screw lifted out of the hole. I was happy to get the trim off in one piece.

Now, just lots of clean up left to do.

Next step is removing the old sealant, and cleaning up the trim pieces in preparation for new finish.

I sanded smooth the first batch of fairing compound on the port side, and did the same with a couple of other smaller areas, then refilled the same area (port side) with another batch of compound to bring all the repairs up to surface level – and picked up the scratches that I missed the first time.

Thought I would add this photo of the sheer in sunny conditions. You can really see how well the paint leveled out.

I resanded the filled areas, and repainted the repairs, then added a second coat to the repaired areas again yesterday. Now the sheer has two finish coats of paint. I began the painstaking task of pulling tape – I don’t know what I was thinking when I used the blue painter’s tape. The difficulty of removal just isn’t worth the $5 I save by using the cheap stuff. I had to leave a couple areas taped on the rub rail, as I couldn’t peel them off easily, and the paint was still too fresh to work on it without marring the finish.

Finished repair and two coats of paint.

And today the boat yard launched Cay of Sea – Nice to have her back in her slip!

Home for the season.

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!



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