Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pledge Drive

I wonder if you have noticed that the posts on this site have gone from two a week, to one a week.  This is partly because of the time of year - for much of the northern hemisphere fitting out has just gotten under way.  But I suspect that it is also because our regular contributors (over there on the right) are slowly but surely getting their boats into optimal contition.  Oh sure, there will be the occasional project, but the big flush that happens when you get a new boat has ended for most of them.  In fact, my backlog now has only two projects in it - both from Eolian.  When those are gone (two weeks from now...) I will have nothing more to post here.

I think you know what that means:  new blood is needed.

This is your site.    For this to work out for all of us, everybody needs to contribute - think of this as a pot luck dock party.

Come on now.  All of you have a small project of one kind or another that others would be interested in seeing. Contribute to the feast:
  • Write it up and send it to SmallBoatProjects at gmail dot com
- or -
  • If you have already written it up on a blog somewhere and are willing to share, just tell me where in the wide world of the Internet to find it, and I'll come and get it.
- or -
  • Give me permission to "mine" your blog for projects. Anybody who is writing a blog about boating has numerous small projects buried in there. I'll ferret them out, if you let me.  No, I won't put your content on here without your permission.
Every posting will feature a link to your article (if there is one) and a link to your blog (if you have one).  In addition, all contributors will permanently have a link in the "Contributors" box on the right side of the blog. This ought to drive some of the traffic that this site is seeing back to your site.  I will not take any recent posts (unless you tell me otherwise) - that way this site will not be in competition with yours. Instead, it will hopefully serve to "reactivate" some of your older posts.

But the most important benefit you'll get is the warm feeling of having helped someone thru a problem - one that you have solved. And we will all be the richer for it.

Pitch in!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Indoor Projects

Onboard s/v Aletheia Nate & Jenn each take on a project to make life aboard better!
Here are pictures of two small boat projects we've completed (or began) since inception. All you need is looking for something to do or feeling a need for success to get going.

While Eric & Amanda were visiting, Eric and Nate installed this LED rope lighting under the galley cabinets. It was already on board and wasn't doing any good sitting in a dark hole. It actually adds a great deal of light while cooking or as mood-lighting. The dimmer is a nice touch too!
A dimmer for extra galley lighting
Tiny LED lights give a nice ambiance
Yesterday, I finally felt motivated to pull out some fabric I've had for some time intending to make a closet curtain to cover up clothing, foul weather gear, computers, etc. There used to be a big ole' heavy wooden door where there is now nothing. We removed the door in Freeport, ME. It's a very simple rectangular piece of fabric, but not being much of a sewer, the thought hemming and hand-sewing the 25"x 58" borders sounded like a lot of work for ME. But as Aunt Bev told me, what do you think they did before sewing machines?! Good point. Also, with the fabric staring at me, I thought today is the day. I've hemmed the borders and will sew the edges within the next 1-2 days and assemble with onboard resources of eye screws and bungee. It will also add a bit of color to all the dark wood.

Hemming the edges
Current visual
A closet curtain in progress
Completed look to follow...


Thursday, April 16, 2015

From Curtains to Blinds - A More Streamlined, Private Option

Please welcome new contributor Dana who lives aboard her Challenger 32, s/v NoName - yes, that's right! Her boat has not yet been named, and she has blogged about that great dilemma as well.  But for her first appearance here, Dana deals with replacement of the old curtains that came with her boat:

Old Curtains and Tracks
Old Curtains and Tracks
When I first viewed my boat-to-be, I was impressed with the amount of light in the cabin. For a monohull, and especially an old one, it seemed airy and bright and was one of the things that made me fall in love with her.   Although I scrutinized the details of the inside of the cabinets, lazarettes, bilge, and oven, the curtains escaped my attention since I considered them a frivolous, easy change that could be ignored in the short term.

Old Curtain Track Above Port Light
Old Curtain Track Above Port Light

Once I moved aboard, I saw the situation more clearly.  The curtains were thread-bare and stained like something found on a mummy.  Above the galley a section of fabric was held together with masking tape. The tracks were brown plastic strips held onto the walls with rusted screws. The curtains only slid on their tracks with the utmost effort and it quickly became irritating to open them each morning and close them at night.  There was no real privacy onboard through the thin, gauzy barrier, and something needed to change.

I researched a few different options for tracks for the windows, but they all looked similar to what I had, and I hated the look when the curtains were open. I ruled out the one-way vinyl window film because I felt that I still wouldn’t feel I had my privacy, didn’t want to lose any of the sunlight during the day, and I didn’t want my neighbors to think I was pimping out with mirrored windows.

Eventually, I settled on the idea of blinds.  I searched online for days comparing options and prices and decided that the cordless cellular blinds were the way I wanted to go. Options include light filtering vs. blackout blinds, single or double cell,  top down/bottom up, and cordless with a half dozen or more color options.  Even If I didn’t live with a cat whose favorite game is to bat around a rope, I felt cordless was more desirable, and due to the size of the head rail system, I stayed with single cell (outside mount – inside mount is for homes with deep window wells). I chose a light filtering blind in a cream color that matched my headliner. I found the Super Value Cordless Single Cellular shades from Blindster.com were on sale and a good deal.  With 5 blinds of varying customs sizes from 46″ x 14″ to 28″ x 14″, my total, with shipping was $228. That was about $50 for the bigger windows and $40 for the smaller window.   I also purchased stainless steel screws for another $20 because the included screws weren’t for the marine environment.

While I waited for my order, I started the process of the removal of the current system.  The tiny screws holding the existing plastic track in place were rusted flat heads.  After an hour or so of unsuccessful attempts with my smallest screwdriver to unscrew them, I resorted to using a small cat’s paw tool which I have had since my old house restoration days, with a queasy feeling in my stomach.   It seemed barbaric in the situation, and I occasionally had to use a hammer with the claw to get the old rusted screw out.   The wood around the rusted screws was stained, and so was the wall under the tracks.  I lightly sanded the thin mahogany veneer where the tracks were, cleaned the area, applied Orange Oil and hoped for the best. I filled in the holes with color matched wood filler, but the perceptive eye will always pick out the discoloration of the old track. To do more was going to be a major project, and I was one month in to ownership and not willing to strip/sand/bleach the walls just yet.

Straight and Level are Different
Straight and Level are Different

Once the blinds arrived, I ran into another dilemma.  As with an old house, level and straight aren’t always the same thing.  Do you hang them level with the window or the boat?  I am a symmetry person, so this was a big deal for me, and an inconsistent headliner put in before my purchase made it harder. I settled with using a standard measurement above the top of the windows despite what the ceiling was doing.  The head rail was larger than I had envisioned and I had a moment of panic because of the ‘no refund on special order’ policy.  As I tentively tried to hang the first, and largest of the shades, I realized that the distance between the top of the window frame and ceiling were perilously close, and in some cases, just not going to happen.  The headliner braces weren’t put in by a person with a tendency for detail, symmetry, or consistency.  I found a few open, pre-drilled holes, usually near the hull, with nothing in them, just sagging into the field of my new shades, and finished screwing them in to gain just enough room for the head rail. If nothing else, I had improved the ceiling.

Blinds with Clean Modern Privacy
Blinds with Clean Modern Privacy

I have installed blinds, including top-down/bottom-up blinds before, and I can only say that people on land with relatively vertical walls have an easy job.  After a few hours of contortions and cursing, the brackets were in place and the blinds snapped in.  This was the pivotal moment.  The blinds came down nicely, and all seem to fit the ordered dimensions.  A quick trek around the outside of the boat with the lights off showed that they proved complete privacy.  From the inside, the looked modern, with clean  modern, with clean lines, but also blended in well with the headline color.  But the best view was to have them opened wide in the morning, where almost all of the available window space let light in, reflecting off the light colored headliner, and making a grey Seattle day a little more cheerful.

Fully Opened Blinds
Fully Opened Blinds

The best part was that I could do it in 2-3 seconds instead of the time it took to try and drag the curtain slugs through their tracks.

Quick Solution to Bottom Atachment
Quick Solution to Bottom Attachment. Notice the Old, Discolored Track with Filled-in Holes.

The next hurdle was to devise a way to attach the bottoms so that they wouldn’t swing on the sloping walls, but were easy to undo each day to let the light in.  The provided holders were of a more permanent variety meant for blinds installed on doors. This took several days and even more consultations with friends for brainstorming. The eventual solution, although not glamorous, was to run a cord through the bottom rail ( the hold for the bottom mount was already there), with a loop on each end attached to tiny cup hooks placed in an old track hole whenever possible. The result is an easy way to attach and unattach the bottom of the blinds. I prefer them up when sailing/motoring so that if I need to run below I have the advantage of an mostly unobstructed view outside, and so I don’t have to fasten them to keep them from swinging.  I have friends that used the same basic blinds, but used magnets on the bottom rail of the blinds and a magnetic strip to keep them anchored down.  From what they’ve said – they feel it was a great improvement over the old blinds and they used the same company.

Although I can still see the ghost of the old tracks, the blinds look streamlined and tidy. They provide complete privacy at night, and during the day allow 95% of the available window space to let sunlight come in, an invaluable commodity in Seattle during the winter.
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