Boat stuff

As the world confronts the Covid19 pandemic and daily life becomes more challenging for so many, there are places where life goes on unscathed. Hopefully once this runs its course, some of you may be able join Oh! to experience some of the gems of the natural world around us. So rather than add to the chorus of news, here is a peak into some of the ways self isolation can be spent while cruising.

There could not be a better time to take on some of the bigger “to do list” stuff than now. The winds are calm and Oh! is in “wait and see mode” trying to decide where to go for Hurricane season. So it is time to get on with it. The first task was to repair the torn port forward corner of the trampoline. It got torn by some rogue waves as Oh! was making the passage from Bermuda to St. Martin in December. I had managed to secure it pretty good at the time. It was one of those, “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing this if I had a choice” moments. Tie yourself on, hold on with one hand and re-lace the tramp with other. No need to wash my face after that was done, it got power washed many times while struggling along the pitching bow and cross bar. In the end all was good and could have been far worse. At least it appears to have happened during daylight hours.

The repair has sufficed for the past three months, but it had to be repaired before more damage can be caused.

The plan was to tape it with three to four layers of sail repair tape and then stitch the tape in place. Once that was complete, new stainless steel grommets would be pressed in place where the old ones had been torn out. The challenge would be getting the stitching done by lifting and turning back the port forward corner while most of the trampoline was still laced on, and hope the sewing machine didn’t go for a swim during the procedure.

The result far exceeded my hopes and although the grommets are much lighter than the originals, I do not have a multi-ton press, or the larger diameter ones on board. But they seem to be working just fine. The rest of the day was spent double lacing about 50% of the trampoline on to re-enforce the old lacing. The new lacing is also tied off every 3 feet so that in the future an entire side cannot unravel the way it did at sea. I am slow with my Sailrite sewing machine and not a trained sailmaker, so it is not surprising this minor repair and replacing of the laces consumed an entire day…but it is done. Next up, the rear cockpit sun shades.

The previous owner of Oh! had done some really nice work creating roll down mesh sun shades. I now know how much work and time this takes so have a much better appreciation of what he accomplished in the short time he owned Oh!. Unfortunately the material (that was represented as Sunbrella) must have been a knock off as it literally started to disintegrate within its first year. Also, the fabric covering that held the shades up to the Bimini when they were not in use was attached by Velcro that was glued to the overhanging Bimini. Over the past 5 years I have found that Velcro was the Achilles heal of the whole design. Although it seemed like a very simple and good idea, nothing seems to stick to gelcoat for any length of time. Every season the Velcro would gradually peel off as the adhesives deteriorated in the sun. I have tried everything from contact cements to epoxy and even the vaunted 3M 5200 (which turned to goo within one season). Nothing worked. Therefore a redesign was required.

My solution was to replace the old fabric and Velcro attachment with new corded edge and a series of UV resistant webbing straps to roll the shades up into. It seemed pretty simple and since the actual shade screens were still in great shape it should quick… yah, well not with my skill level. Plus, removing the old Velcro and glue backing was backbreaking as well as a pain in the neck. Just ask Andy, he had a go at one length and I am sure he will back me up on what a messy and nasty job that can be. In all about 8 metres of old Velcro and glue were slowly and painfully scraped off over the past 2 months. Removing the Velcro revealed holes every 15 cm from several attempts to screw in aluminium tracking. About half of those have now been filled and sanded down, once the other half are filled the gelcoat will be repaired – but that is a huge project all on it own. For now the focus is to get the new cording and straps installed and sun shades back up so they are functional. The first task, ripping out the thread to remove the old fabric was a lot bigger than anticipated…seems to be a theme here.

The stitching was very short spacing an tight so it was difficult to rip out without damaging the underlying mesh. Each panel took about a hour of tedious labour – at least the back ground music was great. Attaching the new cording was easy, but I hand crank my sewing machine. The electric motor and foot switch work great, but I’d is kinda like those signs about how drinking coffee allows one to do stupid things faster; I make much bigger mistakes and creat messy stitching a lot faster with the motor. Something about a twitchy foot and sensitive foot switch. I have also started to notice a bit of lean on my yoga plank position – probably due to a weak left arm guiding fabric and the repetitive exercise caused by all that cranking on the right arm strengthening it. The only solution to that will be learning to sew with machine backwards.

Next up was the straps, 8 in total, complete with snaps to fasten them in the rolled up position and Velcro tabs to keep the straps tidy when the shades are down. What was initially thought of as a one day project essentially filled two days but The result is clean and functional. I can now quickly unroll, or store the shades in a mater of a minute or two. I have since added the same strap system to the side canvas cover as well. The picture below shows one shade in the rolled up position and the other down.

And another job bites the the dust. Oh! yes!!

Since, we are on the topic of sewing, I finally made the time to make some progress on another project that has been in the works for 18 months. The “perch” is a set of cushions that I designed several years ago that go between the port Bimini pillar and the coach roof. A great place to relax and read, sit in a breeze or just kick back and write a blog. Which I exactly what I am doing. It was always meant to have a cup holder to hold drinks, snack bars, camera etc. I had cut out the pieces while at the Madeira Islands, but never got to the assembly stage. Well, now that job is done too.

I made up two sets of parts when I cut them out while in the Madeira’s Islands. Hopefully, the second one will get assembled in a few days. For now, it is time to enjoy the competed cup holder and maybe even dig into a new book. The book is about the adventures of an Englishman I heard give a presentation a few years back at the Banff Mountain Film Festival – Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Oh! and yes, as the title states, I agree he would truly be “Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know”.

Cheers from…Oh! it is so nice here!

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