Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sailing with shade

For two years I've spent weekends on the boat slathered in sunscreen and fighting sun stroke. I watched with jealousy as other boats sailed by, their happy crews shaded by colorful biminis.

The Starwind has a complicated cockpit. The mainsheet comes down to a traveler in front of the companionway. The backstays and backstay adjuster run right over the top of the helm on their way to the stern. The boom is low. We couldn't just wander over to West Marine and grab something off the shelf. It was going to have to be a custom canvas job, and custom canvas jobs don't come cheap.

The other Starwind 27 in our marina had two small biminis and directed us to Kemah Canvas. The guy from Kemah Canvas showed up and said, sure, he could make us a custom bimini like that ... for $1600.

Considering that was more than we paid for the boat, I couldn't bring myself to spend the money, so we continued to live with sunburn.

Then, a couple months ago, I heard our marina neighbor Dale had started doing some canvas work, so I asked him to take a look. A couple weeks later he said he had figured something out and gave me an estimate of $650. A month later, here's what I found on the boat.

Starwind 27 custom bimini

He made a custom two-part bimini that zips together on each side of the backstay. The space for the backstay also doubles as a window to see the sail. The rear portion of the bimini also gives you a little more head room while the front portion clears the boom with no problem. I honestly, couldn't be happier. We sailed for almost five hours Saturday without getting burned.

And not only did he make the bimini, he threw in free winch covers with the extra material! The boat looks better than it ever has before.

Starwind 27 with new bimini

Which brings me to the next project. Mary bought a Brother TZ1-B651 sewing machine from our other marina neighbors. I spent a couple hours cleaning the rust off of it and oiling the parts.

Brother Tz1-B651 sewing machine with hand crank

The machine is now turning freely, but aligning the bobbin and adjusting the mechanism is beyond my realm of knowledge. However, once I get the sewing machine sorted out we can start measuring to re-cut the oversized Genoa sitting in my spare bedroom to fit the Starwind. It would have come in very handy last weekend when we barely had enough wind to move at all.
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