Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Don't Think it is a Train

I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Ok, actually I don't see much light...through the two new windows that are installed but still have their protective paper covering on the outside.  After spending the better part of two weeks with plastic covering window openings, I now have, both salon side window openings again.

Most of the install went just like the last one, with a few changes.  I did the window blackout first thing this morning, applying two coats with about 30 minutes of drying time in between coats.  I started the install process after lunch.

I thought about doing two adjacent beads of sealant, but after cutting the tip of the sealant tube about 1/2" below all the usual places you would cut it and improving my technique, I was able to apply a huge bead of the stuff.  The bead was probably 3/4" wide and at least 1/2" tall.  I would have liked to have taken a picture of it, but didn't want to delay the installation of the window.  After all this work, I definitely want to give it every chance to seal well.

This time when I placed the window, sealant squeezed out around the edges of all but a couple small spots.  I was easily able to add a little more sealant to those areas using a small putty knife.  I don't think I mentioned this last time, but I bent the end of a small  putty knife so it had a 1/8" long 90 degree bend and that allowed me to push the sealant down into the groove.  Without removing the protective paper I can't be 100% sure, but I think it is sealed well.

So, now I need to wait for the stuff to cure before I can remove the clamping screws and apply the final beads of sealant and put this project behind me.  I guess that means I can finally post about something else for a few days.  Now where's the maid to clean up all the project mess?

Friday, January 30, 2015

You'll Never Guess What I Did Today

Yep, more window fun.  While waiting for the sealant to cure on the starboard side salon window, I removed the port side window today.  I'll spare you the details...if you are interested, it went just like the last one.  There is now plastic over the window opening awaiting the new glass on that side.

I did want to talk about a couple quick things today though.  First, I forgot to give a shout out to my friend and dock-mate Bill.  He has been helping me when I needed a hand with both the window and anchor locker projects.  Single handing this boat I think is easier than single-handed repair of a boat and I really appreciate his help.  Thanks Bill...I definitely owe you one.

Second, if you have noticed, I've been trying to do daily posts over the last week or so.  In the past I've tried to hold off telling the story of a given project until it was complete, but that often left me with several days between posts.  So my question to you, dear reader, is do you like this approach?  Do you prefer hearing something daily or do you prefer a post that summarizes a more complete story?  If you have an opinion, please leave a comment letting me know what you like.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Almost Have A New Window

Yep, another window post. This is taking a lot longer than I thought it would.  I know others that have said they have rebed windows in just a day or two.  I don't know if new windows make much of a difference, but I'm guessing it is because I'm going slow.  Guess I really want to get this right because I certainly don't want to do it over.

After breakfast this morning, I go to check out my blackout paint work from yesterday.  What I found was that the paint was a little thin in spots. Guess I'm not the best at painting with thinned sealant.  So, I thin a little more of the Dow 795 sealant and apply another coat in hope that it will dry quickly so I can install the window in the afternoon.  After it skins over a bit, I removed the tape that was protecting the mounting edges of the window.

While the window dries, I start preparing the opening.  I removed the plastic that had been protecting the opening during the recent cold and wet weather and applied masking tape and paper around the opening.  Then I vacuumed up the last bits of the old sealant that had somehow been hiding in the opening since I originally cleaned it.  Following that, I clean the mounting surfaces with some denatured alcohol.

The next step was to apply the foam tape that acts as a spacer and creates a dam for the sealant.  When I was reading about this process, most seemed to indicate that the old foam could be left in place and reused.  Unfortunately, it seems they assembled the windows on my boat differently than others as they had applied the foam to the window and not the opening.  When I tried to remove the foam from the window, it pulled apart.  Apparently I finally found one glue on the boat that held well...the backing tape for that foam.

Window masked and foam strips installed.

I had purchased 3 - 10 foot rolls of 3/8" by 1/2" closed cell foam insulation tape at the local big-box hardware store to replace the original foam.  I applied one ring of the foam around the inside window opening and that took one of the rolls.  I then applied another ring to act as the sealant dam that was roughly between 5/8" and 3/4" from the outside edge of the window (I measured the distance from the inside edge of the blackout to the edge of the window to determine spacing).  In the forward corner there is a large space between the inner and outer rings of foam so I added some additional foam strips, similar to what was originally there.  Unfortunately the tape on this foam wasn't as good as the original and I had to use some contact cement to re-glue a couple of the corners down.  In the end it took about 25 foot of the tape for the one window opening.

I spent as much time as I could to allow the blackout to dry, but it was time to dry fit the window.  I needed to check window spacing in the opening and drill small holes that will be used to clamp the window in place while the sealant cures.  I had purchased a small 3/8" thick pine trim board and cut it into a few blocks to use as spacers and wrapped them in plastic (actually cellophane tape) so hopefully the sealant won't stick.  Using the blocks, I set the window in place and adjust the window position and blocks to get a uniform gap around the windows.  Marking the position of the block on the masking tape around the opening and on the protective paper on the window was done to aid in reassembly.  I noticed that the window will be a little recessed and I like the effect.  If I had wanted the window to be flush with the mounting surface, I would need foam that is thicker than 3/8".

Since the new acrylic is flat and the opening has a slight curve, it will need to be clamped in place.  To do this, I used some large fender washers and 1.5" drywall screws.  I held the window in place at the center and probed for points where I would need to clamp to get the window to conform to the curve. I pushed on the window in with one finger  and when I located a good spot, I drilled a pilot hole for the screw.  After marking the location of the hole on the masking tape, a fender washer and screw were used to gently clamp down the window.  I repeated this process until I was happy with the fit and look of the window.  Then I disassembled it all in preparation for applying the sealant.

I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to applying all this sealant with a manual caulk gun, but I don't really have another option here at the marina.  At least I did buy a good quality caulk gun for the job.  Since it was not a particularly warm day but the sun was shining, I had put one case of the sealant in my dark car to warm it up in hope it would help it flow better and maybe prevent my hand from cramping up.

After retrieving the somewhat warmer case of caulk from the car, I take a tube and cut the tip to allow for the largest bead possible.  Going around the outside of the outer band of foam, I apply a large bead of the 795 sealant making sure it stands above the height of the foam.  It took two tubes to run the bead around the foam.  I place the spacer blocks back in the marked locations and then line up the window with the blocks and press it into the sealant.  Using the marks I made for the screw locations, I install the clamping screws until the window pressed against the foam but was not compressing best I could tell.

I expected more sealant to squeeze out of the joint than actually happened, so I got a bit suspicious.  I carefully peeled back a little of the protective paper from the outside of the window and my suspicion was confirmed.  While there was a pretty decent seal, there were some bubbles and voids so I ended up pumping more sealant into the joint and worked it under the window with a putty knife. This took almost another full tube of sealant, but everything appears to be full of sealant now.  Next time I think I'll run two thick beads of sealant around the window to avoid this messy step.

Window installed and clamped with the curing sealant.

So, now I need to wait several days (I'm thinking 4 or 5) to allow the sealant to cure enough to hold the window in place without the clamps.  Once the clamps are removed, I can apply more sealant and created the finished edge bead of the window.  In the meantime, I have another window to work on as well as finishing up the anchor roller mount repair.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh, I've Been Working on the Windows...

...all the live-long day.  As I mentioned in my last post, my replacement acrylic windows arrived yesterday.  Also mentioned was the fact that the quality of the cutting done by Lee and Cates Glass was sub-par.  They apparently used a jig saw to cut the shape and the jig saw operator apparently wasn't the best at following the lines. The shop then took a belt sander to the edges to clean up the saw marks.  The sander used apparently had about a 40 or 60 grit paper on it, and the result of the sanding was a very rough finish with a random depth chamfer on the edges.  A really poor edge finish that would be OK if there was a trim piece to cover it, but not at all suitable for a Leopard (the windows are only held in by a bead of sealant).

What passes as a finished edge at Lee and Cates Glass

So, the first thing I had to do today was to clean up the mess left by the glass company.  If the windows had been cut a bit oversize, I could have used a router to trim down the edges and get a good result...but that wasn't the case.  So, I decided I would try sanding the edges to straighten them out.  After some sanding with 120 grit, I realized how un-straight the cuts were and decided I would do my best to give it the illusion of straight.  When I got the worst of the waviness out, I hand sanded the remaining chamfer to even it up.  I then switched to a 320 grit paper to try and clean up and slightly round the chamfer.  Four hours later the end result on the two windows, while not perfect, I think looked significantly better.  By rounding it is a little harder to see the lack of straightness in the edge.

After a lot of sanding, it looks a little better.

The next step is to black-out the edges of the window.  You see, the shape of the window is different than the window opening and in order to not see the mounting and fuselage underneath the window, these areas are coated with a black paint. In order to do that, I needed to transfer the shape of the internal window opening to the protective covering of the new glass so I could cut and remove it.  I created a pattern using construction paper by shining a light through the old window and tracing the outline. I then cut the pattern out, leaving tabs that went to the windows edge at several locations to aid in placement on the new window.

Lining up the pattern using tape reinforced positioning tabs.

Once the pattern was cut out, I laid it out on the new window and traced the outline with a marker. Using a sharp knife I then carefully cut the protective paper along the line and removed it.

Removing the protective paper for the blackout area.

In order to get the paint to stick, I hand sanded the exposed acrylic.  I re-taped about 3/4 of an inch of the edge of the window that I didn't want covered in blackout to help guarantee the sealant will hold the window this time.

Sanded with edges taped, ready for the blackout

Of course the black paint they originally used when installing the window I believe to be the main source of the seal failure (the whole reason I am doing this) so I tried a different option.  On the Leopard Catamaran owners group on Yahoo, someone said they had thinned down some Dow 795 sealant with mineral spirits and then used it to black out the window.  Since 795 is the currently recommended sealant and the one I will be using, and since it is supposed to stick well to itself, I decided to give this a try.  Using a partial tube of 795 that was graciously given to me by a fellow Leopard owner and blog reader, I created the thinner 795 and applied it to the window.

Blackout thinned 795 applied

As you may be able to tell from the shadows in the last picture, the day was ending as the blackout started to dry.  So, it took all day, but the edges of both windows are now better and the starboard window (if the sealant "paint" cures) should be ready to install tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ups and Downs

I've been writing a lot recently about the projects I've been working on because...well...that is what I've been up to task-wise.  But a number of things have been going on behind the scenes as well.  All of this has combined to feel like I've been on a roller coaster these days.

The day after ordering the acrylic replacement windows, I get a call from the fraud monitoring service for my credit card.  They wanted to check with me on a couple of charges and, indeed, we found two charges for over $1400 that I did not make.  They blocked my card and had to issue me a new one.  Of course, I'm not at the "billing address" for the card, so it was fun to convince them to send me a card at the marina.  And since the charge for the acrylic hadn't cleared yet, I called them to give them a heads up and hopefully prevent any further delay in getting my windows back in.

Cards were having a bad week with me.  About 5:15 pm one evening, just after the marina office closed, I found that the pass card that allows me access to the marina facilities stopped working. While at a marina, I tend to use their facilities because it is a bit less of a hassle than going for a pump out of the small holding tanks on a regular basis.  I was able to borrow cards from fellow residents, but still a hassle until I could get the card replaced the next day.

I finally emptied one of my propane tanks on the boat.  Naturally, it happened in the middle of cooking breakfast.  This is not a big deal since the boat has two 10# tanks and, with a few minutes with a wrench in the propane locker, the gas was flowing again.  There are two reasons this is actually noteworthy though.  I filled these propane tanks back when I was in Hammock Beach and it has taken me this long to use one up.  That is a longer span than I expected.  This is also of note because this tank was found to have a problem with one of the safety features of the valve and I've been waiting for it to empty so I could have the valve replaced.  So, with the tank empty, I was able to find a company to replace the valve and refill the tank for about $30...not bad at all given these aluminum tanks are pricey to replace.

Right next door to the propane place, there was a metal fabricator/machine shop.  I was happy to find this because of my anchor roller project.  You see, the anchor roller was mounted to the  fiberglass with only 1.25 inch washers as backing and I think the lack of a proper backing plate may have contributed to the failure of the mounting structure.  So, with a rough sketch of a template in hand, I had the place make me a big stainless steel backing plate.  It was $45, but well worth it if it prevents future problems with the anchor roller mounting structure.

And this leads me to one of the worst things that has happened in the past week.  While re-drilling and test fitting the anchor roller and new backing plate, I found a couple drips of epoxy that were preventing the backing plate from seating properly against the fiberglass.  I grabbed my Dremel tool and made quick work of getting rid of the drip.  What happened next was surprising and depressing.  I can only guess that it was the combination of the epoxy dust on my hands and the fact that I've lost some weight, but my wedding ring slipped right off of my finger. And it didn't land on the deck nor the trampoline, but fell right through the gap between them and into the murky water under the boat. To say I felt bad would be an understatement. Fortunately some friends I met through the blog know of someone who might be able to retrieve it if they can get a hold of him.  Given the silty muck I don't know what my chances are, but I hold out some small hope that it might be retrieved.

Today the acrylic for my replacement windows came in.  Excited to finally be closer to getting rid of the plastic covering the big hole in my boat, I ran the old window over so they could cut the new ones. Unfortunately, the promise that they could cut the windows just like the old ones wasn't realized.  The shape is correct, but apparently the shop used a jig saw to cut the shape and then rough sanded the edges.  This wouldn't be so bad, but they sanded an uneven chamfer into the edge and this would look pretty bad with the windows only mounted in sealant.  I debated rejecting the parts, but I really just want to get my windows back in and get out of Brunswick, so I decided to take them and clean up the edges myself.  I guess Lee and Cates Glass has never heard of a router and so I will have a couple days of additional work to clean them up for mounting.

This past week kind of reminds me of this scene from the movie Parenthood...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fluorescent to LED Conversion Redux

Well, the bad weather has returned to Brunswick and most of the southeast I think. So I decided to convert one of my more standard fluorescent fixtures to LED as a nice indoor project. I took a few more pictures this time so I could write up some instructions for anyone interested in trying this. I also decided to do an upgrade, I made the fixture switchable between white and blue light. While the blue could be useful for preserving the eye's night adaptation, since I can't convert most of the cabin lights this way, I don't know how useful it will actually be. But a fun thing to play with on a cold, rainy day none-the-less.

In the process below, I chose to reuse the wire in the fixtures and solider the connections.  If you are not comfortable with soldering, there are clip on connectors that can be used with the strips and you could use crimp on connectors to connect the power leads.

But first a few notes about LED light strips

Before I get started on the conversion, I should talk a little bit about the LED strips.  The LED chips appear to come in two basic sizes, 3528 and 5050.  The numbers refer to the dimensions of the LED chip and the 5050 chips are supposed to be between 2 and 3 times brighter than the 3528 ones since there are actually 3 LEDs on the 5050 chip.  In order to compare various strips, you will need to know what type of chip is used as well as how many chips there are in a given length of strip.  A 10 inch strip containing 15 3528 LED chips will be about as bright as a 10 inch strip containing 6 5050 LED chips.  A 10 inch strip containing 15 5050 LEDs will be much brighter, and it will also consume more power than the 15 chip 3528 strip.

Also note that you can generally only cut the strip every 3rd LED otherwise some of the chips will fail to light.  So, if the chips are spread further apart on the strip, it limits the size of functional strips you can create.  In my project, I am using strips of 3528 chips that are spaced about every 11/16 of an inch. This allows me to cut a strip almost 10" long with 15 LEDs.  This is a useful size for fitting on the reflector of a fluorescent fixture.  I've found that three of these strips is approximately equivalent in light output to an 8 watt fluorescent bulb.

One last thing to note about LED's, there are usually two different flavors of white. Bright white, daylight white or cool white LED chips produce a very white light similar to commercial fluorescent bulbs and the color often feels cold or sterile to people.  Soft white or warm white chips produce a light a bit closer to the light produced by an incandescent bulb and tends to feel more warm and comfortable to many people.  These colors will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer.  As I noted in my previous conversion, I chose a warm white LED strip and found it to be a little too yellow.  This time I will be using a combination of two warm white strips and one bright white strip per fluorescent bulb replaced.  I find this configuration to produce a light that feels brighter than the warm white alone and yet still feels warm and not sterile.

The lights I used in this project are the Lampux 12V Flexible LED Strip Lights, 300 Units 3528 LEDs, Non-waterproof, 16.4Ft 5M Spool from Lighting Ever. I have one spool of warm white, one spool of daylight white, and one spool of blue.  At $7.99 U.S. per spool you can get enough LED strips to replace 9 fluorescent tubes with extra lights left over for under $20 including shipping (prices from 1/2015, not including the blue option),

Converting a Fluorescent Fixture to LED

At the highest level, this project consists of disconnecting the fluorescent light ballast and connecting the LED strips directly to the switched power and ground wires of the original fixture. This process assumes you have a 12 volt system.

What You Will Need 

  • 12 volt LED strip lights.
  • A soldering iron and rosin core electronics solder (if soldering)
  • 20 gauge wire (if soldering - can use wire scavenged from the fixture to keep costs down)
  • LED strip light pigtail connectors (if NOT soldering), 1 per fixture, 2 per fixture for dual color option.
  • Red crimp butt connectors (2 per fixture if NOT soldering, one per fixture for dual color option only)
  • LED strip light interconnects (if NOT soldering), 2 per fixture for single tube, 5 for double tube, and one more for the dual color option.
  • SPDT switch or on-off-on replacement switch (for dual color option only)
  • Crimp on connectors for switch (if not soldering, for dual color option only)
  • 12 volt LED single color strip lights (for dual color option only)
  • A couple zip ties or electrical tape to bundle and keep wires attached to fixture.

The Process

First you will want to remove the fixture so you can work on it.  Turn off power to the fixture's circuit (not just the switch on the fixture).  Remove the fixture and disconnect from the ships power wires (if there are no connectors, you should consider adding insulated crimp on connectors to make future work easier).

Existing wiring of the fixture

Remove the lens and any cover that may exist over the ballast to expose the fixture wiring. Trace the path of the positive wire from the back of the fixture to the power switch and then from the power switch to the ballast.  Cut the wire at the ballast.  This is the positive switched power wire.  Trace the negative (ground) wire from the back of the fixture to the ballast and cut that wire at the ballast.  If that wire is completely disconnected, you can set it aside so you don't lose it.  Do not throw it away.

Cut the wire between the switch and ballast

If you want, you can remove the ballast and the bulb sockets (so long as they are not integrated into the fixture) as it may give you additional space to mount the LED strips and run wiring.

Cut wires with the ballast removed

Dual Color Only: If you want to do the dual color option, you should replace the switch with the on-off-on switch or locate a position and mount the SPDT switch.  Attach the switched power wire to the center terminal of the switch and attach two pieces of wire to the other two terminals on the switch. These two wires will be the switched power for the array of white and array of colored LEDs.  Crimp two wires to the negative wire as you will need one for each LED array.

Wiring for the dual color option

Now you will want to figure out how to position the LED strips in the fixture.  Cut a strip so it will fit on the fixtures reflector behind where the bulb once was.  Be careful to ONLY cut the strip at the marked locations.  If you are using connectors, attach a pigtail to one end of the first strip and an interconnect on the other.  If the strip came with a pre-attached connector, strip the wire so you can connect it.  Cut two more LED strips and determine how to position them.  I used two strips of the warm white and one strip of the daylight white per bulb, placing the bright white strip between the two warm white strips.

Remove the tape off of the adhesive backing and apply it to the reflector on the fixture, making sure you leave enough room for the connections.  If using connectors instead of solider, you may want to connect up the strips before sticking them down to the frame.

Connect the positive terminal or wire of the first strip to the switched power wire (or one of the two switched wires if doing the dual color option).  Connect the negative terminal or wire on the same side of the same strip to the negative fixture wire (or one of the two wires if doing the dual color option).  At the other end of the first strip, connect the positive to the positive of the next strip and the negative to the negative of the next strip. Pay particular attention to make sure you connect positive to positive and negative to negative. Continue this process to connect the third strip to the second.  If your fixture has two bulbs, cut three more LED strips, apply them to the fixture and continue connecting one strip to the next until all the strips are connected in a single circuit.

LED strips wired up for the dual color option

If you are making these connections to a metal fixture and using the solider option, you may want to use a little electrical tape to insulate the connecting wires from the fixture.

When making the wiring connections, you may find it helpful to use zip ties or electrical tape to secure the wires.  make sure that pulling on the wires from the back of the fixture does not pull directly on the connections.  If it does, attach the wire to other wires or some location on the fixture to provide stress relief for the wiring.

Dual Color Only: In order to find the space to mount two of the alternate color LED strips, I found it necessary to re-install the ballast cover. I placed one of the white strips on each side of the cover and put the colored strips on the top of the cover. Cut two strips of the alternate color LED strips and apply them to the fixture.  Connect the other switched power wire to the positive side of the first LED strip and connect the other ground wire to the negative side of the same end of the same strip.  Connect the second alternate color strip to the first just as you did with the white strips.

The best picture I could take of the two different "whites"

That's it.  You now have an LED fixture (perhaps one with dual colors).  Reconnect the fixture to power and re-install.  Turn the circuit power back on and test the light.  If you did the dual color option and used the on-off-on switch, one side should turn on the white and the other should turn on the alternate color.  If you used the second switch option, the power switch will turn the fixture on and the second switch will select either white or the alternate color.

Well, I hope this all makes sense.  It is not a very difficult project and has the potential for cutting your lighting power requirements in half.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Recycling Worn Out Sails

One of our goals moving aboard a boat is to live a little more in harmony with our environment and I have been making progress in that regard.  Everyday things like taking reusable bags when I shop for groceries, paying more attention to the packaging used (something very difficult in our "seal everything in plastic" society), and being mindful of the amount of water and power I use have been in my repertoire for a while and are certainly more of a necessity on a boat.  Other things like my recent project converting existing fluorescent fixtures to LED both reduce power consumption and reuse the fixture thus rescuing it from becoming another bit of detritus in a landfill.

One item I have been wrestling with, both mentally and physically, since I bought the boat was what to do with the original sails that came with the boat.  When I bought the boat, there were two sail bags containing the boats original sails stuffed way up in the starboard forward storage space.  Back when I was in Hammock Beach, I dragged both sails out of the storage locker, wrestled them through the boat, and up to a grassy area at the marina to inspect them.  What I found were sails that were in pretty bad shape.  There were numerous patches and even the patches had ripped out again. Some of the material was sun damaged too.  I decided they were not worth keeping.  Not knowing what to do wth them, I put the smaller genoa back into the storage area, but the 95+ lb. mainsail never made it any further than the cockpit.

Part of the old mainsail with a ripped patch

And there it sat, leaning up against the cockpit door, for over 6 months.  I tried asking around to see if there was something I could do with these old sails.  Since all the damage was around the edges, I thought maybe someone could trim them down and make smaller sails.  When I asked a few different sail shops, they were not at all interested in having them...even as a donation.  One said they occasionally take old sails and ship them to places like Haiti where the locals will rework and use them.  I heard from other boaters that they have traded old sails to fishermen in 3rd world locations for a regular supply of fresh local seafood from their daily catches.  But here in the good ol U.S. of
A., there didn't seem to be many options other than relegating all that fabric to the dumpster. That didn't sit well with me.

After tripping over the mainsail in the cockpit one too many times in recent days, I tried once again to search for a more responsible way to get rid of the sails.  This time I apparently typed in the right search terms into Google. In the list of results, I found a company called Sea Bags.

They take old sails and recycle them by converting the material into several varieties of bags, totes, and other products. I contacted them by email and sent them a couple pictures of my old sails (since I wasn't sure if they were too ratty to be used). I received a reply that they would indeed be interested in them. In talking with them I found out that they can use most of any sail.  In fact, to quote one of their staff:
In most cases, almost 100% of the sail will be used to make Sea Bags products. Realizing early on that there was quite a bit of sail material left over after making tote bags, Sea Bags began using the excess material to make hang-tags and smaller items, such as credit card holders, wristlets, small pouches etc.
Finally, I was nearing the end of my near constant tripping over these old sails.

I took the old sails, bundled them up, wrapped them in a couple layers of heavy (4 mil I think) plastic for shipping.  The folks at Sea Bags cover the shipping cost to retrieve your sail from within the U.S., all you need to do is log into their system, print out the shipping label, and get them to a location where UPS can pick them up.  The folks at the marina office helped me print out the labels (I don't have a printer on board...yet) and I left the sails there for the UPS pick up.  I've been told that if you are located near the Sea Bags facility, they may just come pick them up themselves.

In exchange for donating sails, they typically provide for a tax deductible donation through their sailing charity or they will trade you a bag per sail (depending on size and condition). Since I don't need the tax write off and could always use another reusable bag for packing and provisioning the boat, I went with the trade program. In exchange for the two sails, we requested one of their duffle bags and a zippered tote.

A week or two after sending off the sails, my sail bags arrived. I have to say I'm impressed. These are most definitely not the cheap bags you find at the discount stores. Each of their bags are hand crafted in their facility in Portland Maine and the craftsmanship shows.

I'd love to give you all sorts of sewing definitions...but I'm not a seamstress so forgive the lack of appropriate terms.  The tote is made from two layers of sail material with a spliced three braid line for a handle.  The duffel has the same two layer construction for the main part of the bag with single layers at the ends. The handles aren't just attached, but wrap around the entire bag in between the material layers to provide support and prevent detachment.  The stitching uses similar thread to what is used in sail construction so I have no doubt it will last a long time. The zipper flaps on both are a single layer of sail material and the zipper is a better quality than what is on may new sail cover. The internal seams are covered in a fabric band to help prevent snagging and unraveling and protect the stitching. In this day and age, it is nice to see what appears to me to be a very quality product.  Add in the fact that they are doing this from recycled material, and this company is a winner in my book.

If you are looking for a unique gift for a sailing enthusiast, or a quality bag for yourself, you should check them out.  And if you happen to be tripping over some old sails, consider donating them to Sea Bags.

Sponsor Disclosure: In the interest of full disclosure, the company mentioned in this article has graciously provided free or discounted products or services to help support our effort to sail away from the rat race. The opinions expressed in this blog are still our own and not indicative of the opinions or positions of the company. We do encourage you to check out the products or services provided by this, or any, company that supports the cruising community.
In the case of Sea Bags, the products provided were in trade for my used sails and anyone wishing to trade can get a similar deal.