There is no shortage of handy types living on and around boats. But men who can captain boats, fix boats, fix motors, rewire electronics and sew too? Not as common, but they are out there!
Our new friend, Mike, a shy type who doesn’t like to have his picture taken, lives a few boats down from us. He is one of those Renaissance men who can turn their hand to most things boat-related. And sewing is a very useful skill to have on a boat.
You could say that he and Bob are cut from the same cloth, so to speak.
One day they got talking and Mike offered to help us make hatch covers out of sunbrella fabric for our boat.
It just so happened that we brought our special sewing machine — a Sailrite — with us from Canada. It is a beautiful piece of machinery, very heavy duty and designed to sew sails and other heavy fabric.
So Mike and Bob spent the better part of two days working on measuring, cutting and sewing and they had a great time doing it. We set up the Sailrite in our cockpit and they went to town. The outcome is above — two beautiful new hatch covers. (The round shiny things are snaps.)
At home Bob had used the Sailrite to do repairs on our bimini and our sails and he was looking forward to completing some projects on our new boat.
So he decided he would tackle a companionway cover. The one that came with the boat was ill-fitting and badly weathered. The cover provides protection from the weather and sun for the varnished hatch boards and plexiglass hatch over the summer while the boat is on the hard. The Florida sun takes a real toll on these materials. In addition, should a tropical storm come through, the cover should prevent the wind from forcing any water into the boat.
It took a day to lay it out on the sunbrella fabric and cut it out. The wind can be a pain when doing this kind of work. After the fabric is cut out, all the seams are glued together with seam tape, the project is put into position and checked for fit and then brought back to the sewing machine and sewn. There’s five pounds of sand in the bottom to hold it down.
What makes the Sailrite so unique is that it has a “walking foot,” which combined with the heavy steel construction, allows the machine to grab big, heavy pieces of fabric, pulling them through the machine, in order to sew them together. These machines are a favorite among sailors, and are a part of the culture.
Here’s the product of Bob’s efforts in place over the companionway. He really enjoyed the project and it’s comforting to know that the boat is better protected from any big storms that may hit this summer. (I will not mention the H word.)