Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Birds With One Stone

Remember all the stories about the salon window replacement?  Well, there was one part of the story that I didn't really cover since I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  That missing part of the story is the "window treatments"...or what us guys call them...curtains or shades.

When I bought the boat, the windows in the salon that didn't have opening ports embedded in them had these things called Peek-a-Boo shades.  The shades are two pieces of clear plastic with white translucent stripes on them.  The two plastic pieces are setup so you can slide them across one another so the stripes either align and you can see out between them or block the clear stripe of the other plastic sheet creating a translucent white covering.

The Peek-a-Boo shade effect

They seem like a good idea and worked well to add privacy when you are in a marina and don't want to look out of the boat...or have others look in.  But when you do want to look out, it is a bit like looking out through prison bars.  Now you might be thinking that I could just temporarily re-install them until I found something better, but here is the catch.  The shades are held in place by about 20 little Velcro disks that stick directly to the Plexiglass.  I just couldn't bring myself to stick a bunch of Velcro discs on my pretty, clear, new windows.

I have been thinking about creating external covers for the windows using Phifertex mesh or maybe even Sunbrella material, but that is a longer term project.  In the meantime, it would be nice to have something covering the two big salon windows.

Another thing I wanted to do was to create some insulating panels to put in the windows to help keep the heat down in the summer.  In this case, I want something opaque that will prevent light...and heat...transfer as much as is practical.  I used to have this silver foil-like sun shade for one of my cars and it did a great job on those hot summer days.  I've seen other boats use this material to block out their windows, so I figured I could at least get some of them for now.

Unfortunately, my salon window openings are around 5 feet wide...a bit longer than any of those automotive shades.  Fortunately, I was able to find a roll of that silver covered bubble-wrap like material in a roll at one of the local big box hardware stores.  And at $16, the 16 inch by 25 foot roll was cheaper than buying two of the automotive car shades.  If I want, I could even get some strips of cloth and sew a nice band around the edges to make a custom fit shade that would fit snugly into the window opening.

The solar shade material and paper for the template.

So, I made a template using some of my left over masking paper (unfortunately I had already thrown away the templates I used for creating the window blackout or they would have been perfect).  I cut out two shades from the roll of silver bubble-wrap and trimmed them to fit.

The new solar shade for the salon windows

Now I have something that should be great when the sun is beating down on the boat, and at least for now provides basic window coverings while I am at the marina.  Always nice when one simple project solves two different problems on a boat.  Maybe sometime when I can find the supplies I'll even create that finished edge for them.


  1. Hi Mike - I am a liveaboard cruiser taking a short break from the boat to visit Copper Mountain. I did a snowshoe tour today and you will never guess who my guide was! Perhaps we'll meet you somewhere along the line. Our blog is at We are on a trawler now, but are former sailors.

    1. Hmmm...who could it be. How's my dad doing? Was the tour fun? I really need to take a tour with him, I actually have never done that.

      Just checked out your blog. Looks like a nice boat to cruise with. Taking a break from the cold weather in North Carolina by going to Colorado eh? I've been enjoying the warmer weather of Florida the past couple weeks but will be heading back to Colorado next week as well. Don't know how I feel about seeing snow right now.

      Hope you are enjoying your time up in Summit County.


  2. Hi Mike,
    I was glad to hear the engine issue was fuel filter related. Seems like several cruisers such as Catchin Rays, have had issues with fuel.
    As far as these reflectors, just keep the reflective surface clean. If it gets dirty some of the visible light turns to infared and you'll start heating up the surface and trapped air, and as I recall Plexi does not like to get hot.
    Doug from VT

    1. Yeah, I was talking with Kevin about fuel polishing. His sounded like a little more cut-and-dry case. Still a bit bizarre to me that the Racor filter was fine and the little Westerbeke filter downstream from the Racor (given the Racor was 2 micron) was the issue. Oh well.

      Plexi can deform when it gets too hot (well, OK, it can catch fire eventually too...but hopefully it will never get that hot). I've never heard that a slightly dirty reflector would cause an IR shift in the light spectrum...that seems kind of bizarre. If it were painted black, I could see the issue, but that would be a lot of dirt. Given the tint (it only transmits 25~38% of the light) I would think it wouldn't be too bad. But I'll make sure they are clean anyway as...among other things...don't want to scratch or muck up the inside of the window. you have me thinking about the blackout paint. Seems that would be more of an issue, but it didn't with the old windows (although there wouldn't be trapped air in between in this case).

      Interesting things to ponder.