Saturday, April 21, 2018

When the Boat gives you Sails...

We knew, when we got the fixer-upper sailboat, that she had been used for racing. It was no surprise, as we unloaded the sails that there were a mainsail, a jib and a genoa – which is an extra big sail which replaces the jib when you are hoping to catch even more wind. These are those beautiful big sails that billow out on the front of a sailboat.
We weren't ready for the two extra sails stuffed in the bag, giving us a total of FIVE sails! All with 'Cool Change' labeled on them and identical racing numbers.
What a bonus!
All were in moderately good shape, a little dirty and with a surprising number of wasp nests attached here and there.
All except one of the extra large jibs.
This poor sail was most likely original to the boat. It was still in one piece, with no tears or holes but it was as soft as a well loved blanket.
I a pretty sure I heard my 33 year old Kenmore portable sewing machine wimper when it was suggested that I use this old sail to make some tote bags, which sell on the internet starting at around $100!
my first expirement - the Train Bag -
big enough to hold ALL the stuff and a small child, but still fashionable.
Historically, sails were first made of 'duck', an evolution of the word Doek, which in Dutch means cloth. Duck cloth was cotton, linen or hemp.
Cotton sails were lighter but did not hold up to the sunlight and salt water like linen did. However, linen was heavy and as sails became larger, linen was less convenient.
It is important for sails to be strong, when pulled in any direction, without stretching, both in the moment and long term. That strength and stretch must also not be affected by folding. They need to resist breakdown under UV light and they need to be cost-effective.
These days, sails are made from nylon, dacron, kevlar and a few other man-made materials.
a pile of sail
From the feel of the sails for the Fixer-upper, I would guess these sails are nylon and maybe some well worn dacron.
Very different from the brand new dacron which Blue Skies' sails are made. That brand new material is a cross between plastic and steel.
A real challenge for my 32 year old Kenmore machine.

But this old sail material was so soft, and those bags sold online were so awesome, that I had to give it a try.

I learned to sew young, making Barbie clothes on a handcranked, kid size machine then graduating to 4-H circle skirts and shift dresses on Mom's machine. I have made a wide variety of items, from kid clothes to curtains and those very crisp sails.
The bags were a bit of a challenge, only because the construction process was so different. Time spent in a duffel bag in the boat yard left this sail pretty dirty.
Cleaning sails is a challenge. They stand up to water but you need to be careful what soap is used as you don't want to break down the fibers. We initially spread the sail out on the deck and hit it with the hose. I very gently scrubbed the bad spots with a Dawn dishwashing liquid diluted in warm water.
Train Bag pockets, the stitching was original to the sail.

interior pockets! next time will use interfacing for more stiffness

the back
Later, after a watermelon juice spill in my train bag, I threw the whole thing into the washer on gentle with Woolite, tossed it in the dryer for about 10 minutes then hung it to dry.
The fabric came out nearly like new.
Further bags have been prewashed prior to cutting and sewing.
Each bag I have constructed has been a little easier with the flaws from the previous being repaired in the next.
a lunch bag/tote

shopping bag size
where my topstitching shows, I try to use the same color thread and size of stitch as on the original.

pin-up girl interior of the shopping bag.
This was for our niece. The pin-up girls were in honor of
Rob's dad, whose WW2 plane had a pin-up girl, albeit less tasteful, on the nose. 

another lunch tote
I have also tried to incorporate as many interesting parts of that old sail as I can which means a very detailed process of lying pattern pieces to catch some of the old stitching or one of the racing numbers and in the case of my daughter's lunch bag, one of the hanks used to attach the sail to the forestay. 

every designer bag needs a label!
It adds a bit of character to each bag.
And that seems like a wonderful way to honor the character of Cool Change, and all those vessels that have gone before her.

Friday, April 20, 2018

To Reef....

R is for Reef.

In Sailing – to Reef is to shorten a sail to maintain better control so that the boat is not overpowered by excessive wind.
The sail in the fore-ground is reefed. Not well, as there is some pretty flappy fabric but still reefed.
This was on the Nautos, at Key Lime Sailing, Key Largo.
In Life – to Reef is to shorten a task in order to gain enough time to do the on-line french lesson that the app keeps reminding you it is time for as the cat takes his evening nap on your lap.
This is a 16 year old cat who won't hesitate to remove your arm if you try to move him. 

Come back tomorrow for a much better post on Sail Bags. Made from real Sails!

This is part of the A to Z Challenge. For more entries click here:

H-Head to Heel
P-Point of Sail

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Quote

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." 
~William Arthur Ward~

"and the hungry sailor knows to call ahead for the 
seafood platter at Alabama Jack's."

And I didn't think I would think of something for 'Q'.

This post is part of the A to Z challenge. For more entries click here:

H-Head to Heel
P-Points of Sail

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Points of Sail, almost an actual lesson...

So, today class, we will discuss the Points of Sail.
These are integral maneuvers which will become second nature in your sailing career.

A quick review -
Tacking is sailing upwind. In that fantastic serpentine manner because lunch is always upwind.
When the wind comes over the P-O-R-T side of the boat, it is called a port tack.
(Does anyone remember which side of the boat is L-E-F-T side of the boat...)
When the wind comes over the Starboard side of the boat it is called....say it with me...a Starboard Tack.

Running is sailing straight down wind. In this point of sail, the main sail is let out completely. The jib, or front sail will get no wind unless you are sailing 'wing on wing'.
Wing on Wing is awesome.
And dangerous.
It can lead to the Accidental Jibe – remember, that maneuver where you have to yell DUCK and the guy riding on the boom flies ever so gracefully into the water.

Now if you want to get even more specific with the wind position you can add 'haul' and 'reach' to the above.
Such as 'Let's go from this Close Haul Starboard Tack to a Beam Reach Port Tack' but then the boat stops dead because I forgot to mention the No-Go Zone.
That place where the boat is pointing directly into the wind because someone (me) let the jib out too soon, effectively putting the brakes on the boat.

Oh, and everytime the boat changes direction, everything below...shifts. And if it isn't secure then it shifts onto the floor...and into the path of the leaky port-a-potty...

Clear as mud?
Allow me to use this graphic to explain.
I do feel I must give credit for this illustration.
It has been floating around the internet for a while but it originated at Cruising Outpost.
Cruising Outpost is possibly the BEST sailing magazine out there.
First off, it is written by a retired biker.
It offers very helpful, easy to understand, non-pretentious information with a nice smattering of silly and a heaping helping of photographs sent in by readers.
Sort of like MAD magazine meets A Really Well Written Instruction Manual.
Oh, and they provide free subscriptions to active military personnel.

So hopefully they won't mind me using their graphic.
And if you do Cruising Outpost...
P is also for PIRATE!!

these are the dining room pirates. they are classy.

This has been yet another post for the A to Z Challenge. Anyone else as surprised as I am that I have actually made it this far???
For other posts click on the link:

H-Head to Heel

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ocean here...

Mother Mother Ocean...
I have heard your call........
looking towards St. John, from the shore of Fort Recovery, Tortola
There is something mysterious and captivating about the endless, crashing Ocean.
I could sit and watch the waves for hours as they sweep up and back, stealing a little piece of my place on earth and spiriting it off to lands unknown.
I could look out over the great expanse, imagine what could possibly be at the farthest edge of the gentle curve as the Ocean slips over the edge of the world.

In preparing to write today's installment, I did a little research. I wanted to find some interesting legends about the Ocean.
What I found was simply amazing – the phenomenon known as Fata Morgana.

According to Science, this fancy name for light refraction is the cause of Ocean based mirages and 'ghost ship' sightings. The most famous of which – the Flying Dutchman, captained by Davy Jones– in which an entire ship was lost and is now doomed to sail forever. The crew on board will signal to passing ships, in hope of passing letters from the underworld to the living.
This is not a good thing.

The Fata Morgana, named for Morgan LaFay the evil sorcoress, is caused by changing water and air temperaturs as the sun heats the atmosphere above the Ocean. The air near the surface is cooler, with air above getting warmer. Light doesn't travel through these different temperatures in a straight line, which is called a refraction.
However, your brain thinks all light travels in a straight line, which results in things like floating upside down ships...

I am looking forward to actually seeing this.

One Ocean legend I have experienced is the visit of a Gooney Bird.
Gooneys are a member of the Albatross family. They fly better in windy conditions, due to their rather unwieldy physique, drinking sea water and living on fish. They come on land only to breed. And they are said to be the spirits of sailors lost at sea.
I believe his name is Herbert. He was short on pleasantries.
We had a Gooney bird visit us nightly when we stayed at Fort Recovery, Tortola.
He would sit on the end of the dock in the evening and watch us as we wandered the beach. Finally, one evening, we wandered out onto his dock. Just to see how close we could get.
He just sat and watched with those soulful eyes, allowed me a couple of photos then gracefully flew away.

I'm pretty sure I heard him whisper, 'Davy Jones sends his regards...'

*The first two sentences are from the Jimmy Buffett song, A Pirate Looks at Forty.
**my info on the Fata Morgana is from

This post is part of the A to Z challenge. For more entries click: a-to-zchallenge

F- Flags
H-Head to Heel

Monday, April 16, 2018

Navigation, for Those who really only want Lunch

Navigation in sailing, or any other type of water sport, is complicated.
There are maps, charts, lights, rules, exceptions to rules, more rules...

I try, really I do, to pay attention to all this navigation stuff. But, until we are actually cruising on a course which will take us to and from Portofino to Nice and I am on first watch, all those numbers and circles and lines and arrows put me in a geometry coma.
Just point the boat in the direction of lunch.

That is all I need.

That being said, there are two navigation aids which I do pay attention to.
Mostly because these mark the way to lunch.
I am talking about the channel markers.

If you have been on any body of water you have probably seen them.
Those red and green buoys bobbing around.
They come in varying styles, depending on just what they are marking, but the colors are always the same.
Red nuns.

Green cans.
both these photos were taken from my US sailing 101 book.
I don't think they will mind if it helps educate...
Yes, you read that correctly.
Not the habit wearing, ruler weilding nuns.
Although, if you are so inclined, you may say a prayer or two taught you by said nuns when trying to get back to port.

I had never heard the markers referrenced this way until Toddy, our English Navy sailing instructor, explained.

Nuns are pointy, like the old style hats sisters wore. They are numbered in even numbers.
Cans are green, and by process of elimination, numbered in odd numbers. Like the number Seven. As in 7-up. Which is in a green can.....
Toddy was a genius at explanation.

The numbers tell you how many markers there are going into and out of the harbor to open water. Sort of like 'go to the last stop sign then turn left' logic.
They don't mark miles.
Mile markers are a completely different marker, and from my experience are purposely hidden along the shoreline making it really difficult to figure out where the turn is to get to lunch.
And they don't mark depth.
That is also a completely seperate set of numbers on the nautical map.

Are you beginning to see my problem here?

Luckily, sailing instructors are aware, Toddy was no exception.
From the beginning he taught us the universal sailing haiku:
When you are returning to port, or traveling through a channel, you always keep the red nun on the right (or starboard) side of the boat.
Unless you are studying for the British Sailing class, which naturally keeps the red nuns on the left.
I don't understand.
But I will not be sailing, or driving, in England.

The green cans get no haiku.
You just have to use the process of elimination and keep them on the left. Or port side.

(Need help keeping port and starboard straight? P-O-R-T has four letters. Just like L-E-F-T!)

And that concludes Navigation for those who are really only interested in getting to lunch.

This is part of the A to Z challenge. If you want to read more entries click here: a-to-zchallenge

H-Head to Heel

Saturday, April 14, 2018

And this is Why you Don't put a Big Motor on a Boat....

Today we will discuss boat Motors.
Or more importantly, why you should never put a powerful motor on a boat.
Note Dad's head looking over the shoulder pose. This is known as Ski Boat Dad Neck.
Back in the days of red gym shorts with white stripes on the sides, over-the-calf socks in white with stripes around the tops and hair devoid of product except for some dippity-do....
Sailboats were those pretty things floating on the lake, owned by rich people and the only boats I knew were powerboats.
Little run-a-bouts with a 65-85hp outboard.
My uncle always had a boat and we were lucky enough to get rides on it from time to time. Once we kids were old enough, Dad bought one of his own.
We would drag the boat to Lake of the Ozarks or Kentucky Lake and later weekly weekend trips to Lake Carlyle. My sister and I took turns water skiing. Me on two skiis, Sis sometimes on one.
They were noisy, windburned, sunburned exhilarating
 weekends culminating in the awesomeness that is 'taking the boat out' at 5pm, along with all the other boaters.
The anxiety I felt bobbing up and down on the boat as Dad got the trailer, watching other people jump the boat ramp line was overshadowed only by the hope that someone would forget to set their brake and back their truck into the lake with the trailer.
Once Dad took the boat to the river and we got to go through the locks. Which was cool and slightly horrifying as the lock master wouldn't fill the lock for one measly powerboat so we had to wait for much larger boats to enter also.
That was about as 'crazy' as our boating got.

Enter Rob and his friends, who also grew up around powerboats.
And are boys...

Hey! I have an idea...

No! I've seen it at the Tommy Bartlett WaterSki Show

Oohh, wooowwww, wooowwwww

Get off!

Nailed It!
(It should be noted that the guy in the white life vest had ridden a motorcycle 3 hours in July heat and humidity, parked the bike, swam to the boat, we threw him a vest and skis, he grabbed a ski rope...
Sailboats, especially bigger ones, do benefit from a motor. It makes docking and dodging larger more expensive vessels so much easier.
After our first ocean sail in the wooden boat, with a tide that was much more powerful than our sails, and oar, Dad gave us a small electric motor.
This year the fixer upper is getting a brand spanking new propane motor.
It is a mere 9.9hp motor.
Because we are still friends with those guys in the pictures....
This is part of the A to Z blogging challenge. If you want to read more click here: a-to-zchallenge.

H-Head to Heel
I can't believe I have made it halfway through!!