Sunday, November 27, 2016

Finally Putting the Sailrite to Work

One of the bigger tasks (ok, two) that we needed to get done was upholstery on the boat. We bought a memory foam mattress with the intention of modifying it to fit the "owners" berth and that requires a new mattress cover. The salon cushions are the original blue-green vinyl and, as vinyl tends to do with age, is cracking and needs to be replaced.  So, one of my bigger tasks recently was to resolve these two issues.

The mattress required an angle be cut in the foam so it would fit and then a new mattress cover be created to fit the modified foam.  Cutting foam is a relatively straight-forward process.  Sailrite and other outlets sell a special cutter for foam that is a bit pricey, but a simple electric kitchen knife does exactly the same thing. Going to the local thrift store, we found an electric knife for $4...saving over $100 for that tool. Carefully measuring the angle and marking lines on both sides (adding just a bit of size for a better fit once in the cover), it was an easy matter for the two of us to cut the foam by guiding the knife along the line. The result is a nice fitting memory foam block for the cushion.

Cutting the new mattress to size

For the cover we found a nice charcoal gray Sunbrella material.  It is recommended that, to prevent raveling, Sunbrella be cut with a hot knife.  Just like cutting synthetic rope, a hot knife fuses the edges of the cut fabric to prevent it from coming apart. Naturally, Sailrite sells a hot knife for this purpose and, naturally, it is a $100+ tool. Not wanting to spend that much money and since Sailrite even mentioned this alternative in their videos, I bought a wood burning tool at the local big-box hardware store at a savings of over $80. The wood burning tool is essentially a soldering iron with a flat blade tip. Using this tool and a metal ruler (for straight lines) or freehand (for curves) the knife does a great job of cutting the material. It is a bit slower than using scissors, but not having to worry about the fabric coming apart at the edges is worth the effort. I used a large metal ruler as a backing to cut against and it worked well.  Sewing up the edges and adding the zipper were very straight forward when using the tricks outlined in several of the Sailrite how-to videos.  We are very happy with the result and now the boat has a nice, new, comfortable master berth mattress.

New owners berth mattress in place

I'm working on the salon cushions now. It started by copying some patterns that a fellow Leopard 38 owner had.  Unfortunately, these patterns didn't quite fit our boat (I would have thought that the boats would be the same but these patterns would have left a couple inch gap in a couple places) so I had to modify the patterns to improve the fit. I again used techniques outlined in the Sailrite videos, except I used normal brown paper instead of the fancy fiber-reinforced plastic sold by Sailrite. With the seat cushion patterns complete, we cut new foam for the seats and did a test fit and they look good.  We found another Sunbrella upholstery material that looks good and I'm now in the process of cutting the pieces to make the seat cushions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

An Anchor is Hard to Digest

I've been trying to figure out what to write for a while now.  It isn't easy these days. When someone stops cruising and moves back to shore, they call it swallowing the anchor. Having not done many of the things I had hoped we would, I'm finding this process rather difficult.

After weighing our options, we decided to stay in Southport and put the boat up for sale here. It is probably not the ideal scenario, but neither was hurricane Matthew. Finding a place to stay further south just wasn't a financially viable option.  Maybe after more of the area rebuilds and more dock space is available we will reevaluate the situation. If so, maybe I can get one last sail on her.

In the meantime, we have been working on plans to move off of the boat, finish a couple of projects, and clean up so we can put Rover up for sale. In order to clean up the boat and finish the projects, it made sense to get another place to stay so we rented a furnished condo. We have partially moved off the boat and have been staying at the condo while we work on the boat.

A presidential election has come and gone since my last post and it only serves to make me question if selling the boat is the right thing to do.  Part of me certainly wants to sail off down through the islands and stay there for the next four or more years. The cruising community is far more appealing than all of the silliness happening on that spec of dirt that was once my home. Of course, being a Caucasian male, I can imagine a great many others in the country find this sort of exit plan to be more of a necessity. But I'm pretty sure I would rather spend the next years among cruisers than integrated back into what passes as U.S. society these days. I guess if anything, this whole thing may have increased the value of my boat.

Meanwhile, the work continues.