Sewing tales…


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.)

comp cover


The same but very different…

I have been MIA from this blog but not from the blogosphere…I’ve been active on Still and All lately, posting about magical trees in Coconut Grove and thoughts on colour.

Yesterday we decided on the spur of the moment to try to catch an image or two of a sunrise at the beach (it faces east since we’re on the Atlantic side). We both woke up at 4:00 am for some unexplained reason. This never happens in real life to me so it all must have been a dream. 😉

Anyway, we left the boys (dogs) dozing in the boat and headed out. My plan was to experiment with HDR photographs of sunrises. I also wanted to try some more long exposures.

HDR processing requires taking at least three (if not more) exposures of the same scene and using special software that fuses the exposures and maps the tones. I am just a beginner at this so I will share one of the images that I have created so far. I will be doing a full post on my blog in the future.

The first is long exposure and the second is an HDR image. The first was taken after sunrise looking away from the sun and the second was taken right at sunrise looking at the sun. Same day — just a few minutes apart and two different techniques. I love how different the images look and feel. Some people really respond to the softer, more dreamy look and some love the more dramatic look.

Watch for more on Still and All. I will talk about my methods and thoughts on HDR.

Long exposure

I call this Vanilla Sky and Caramel Sand. Long Exposure.


This was created using three different exposures.

Me in action

Bob captures me in action…





Peacock crossing….

peacock diptych

Processed with Kim Klassen’s texture “providence”

Yesterday we went to Miami to take care of some boat business. As I was walking the dogs around Coconut Grove, where we had stayed last year, we were stopped short by an unusual sight — a peacock in one of the courtyards.

I quickly took Angus and Charles back to the truck and grabbed my camera. I watched him for a while as he strode around the courtyard — I had never seen a pet peacock before and I didn’t know how friendly they were. 😉

As I was snapping away, he decided to cross the street. I realized he was heading to the little house where he lived to get some food.  So now I know why the peacock crossed the road…

All the while I was clicking away. Finally he decided to display his gorgeous plumage for me.


The peacock is a special symbol of Coconut Grove and everywhere you go you can see artistic renderings of peacocks. But this is the first time I had seen a real one outside a zoo or a cage. What a treat!

Sharing with Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday, the Free and Easy Edition…

Splish, splash…an unexpected evening swim with Angus…

Here’s the story of my unexpected evening swim with Angus from Bob’s perspective…

photo credit: Elena Galey-Pride

photo credit: Elena Galey-Pride

It started out as a normal walk with the dogs. The thundershowers of the early evening had just stopped so we thought it was a good time to get the dogs off the boat in case it started raining again.

A few days ago, I pulled a muscle in my back, so Sherry has been lifting the dogs from the dock into the cockpit while I stand with the other dog on the main dock.

A little while earlier I had taken a pain-killer and washed it down with a glass of wine, so my back pain was at a low point.

As we came back to the boat I waited on the main dock with Charles while Sherry went down the very narrow finger dock to our cockpit. The dock was slippery so she walked slowly and carefully.

Two conditions made the whole procedure very challenging: Windsong II was up about 18″ from the dock since the tide was in and the boat was about 16″ away from the dock because of current from the flood tide.

Sherry put one foot up on to the deck of the sailboat and used her momentum to lift herself and Angus (who was in her arms) up on to the deck. Well, she did not have quite enough momentum (!) and when she came back down she fell between the boat and the dock still holding Angus in her arms. Splash!

I moved down the dock as quick as my back would allow and tossed Charles onto the cockpit seat. He of course began barking and running around the cockpit.

Sherry and Angus were just surfacing at that point, Sherry still holding on to Angus. I laid down on the dock, got my hands on Angus and lifted him on to the dock.

I somehow got him into the cockpit and then lowered the helm seat opening the cockpit to the swim platform. Sherry swam to the stern of the boat like a mermaid and grabbed the reboarding ladder to bring it down. She then climbed aboard the back of the boat. The only loss was one slippery sandal. Once she was back on board and saw Angus was OK she began laughing and laughing. Stress relief, I guess!

We went below and got everyone dried off. Angus actually likes the hair dryer it seems. He slept most of the night with us in the aft berth and quite enjoyed the treat. Charles stayed closeby guarding us from any monsters.

Baking on board…

I had been meaning to do some baking on board. There’s nothing quite like fresh, warm, homemade goodies, but it took St. Patrick’s Day to really get me going.

Being part Irish, we both love Irish food so we decided to have corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread on March 17.

I used a simple recipe that called for ingredients we had on hand and away I went. Well, I didn’t have buttermilk so I soured our 2% milk with some Key lime juice, which worked very well. (So I guess it’s Floridian Irish Soda Bread, really.)

I didn’t have a big enough mixing bowl so I used one of our pots.

The small propane oven on Windsong II couldn’t accommodate a turkey, but it did quite nicely for a loaf of bread.

It was rainy and a bit on the cold side that day so the corned beef cooking away (see corner left pic) and the bread baking created wonderful aromas and warmed up the cabin so it was nice and cosy.

When the bread came out of the oven, it was all we could do to let it cool before we slathered it with butter and scarfed it down with a dollop of our friend Deb’s homemade strawberry jam.

I’m going to have to do more baking!

A visit from Captain Flash (or hangin’ around)…



It was a fabulous sunny day with a cloudless blue sky when Captain Flash showed up to check our rigging and install our anchor light.

(Some of you may recall that we broke it last year going through the Julia Tuttle Bridge in Miami.)

On a sailboat, the main engine is composed of the mast, the rigging and the sails. You might think it’s the diesel engine, but that is called the auxiliary engine for a reason — it is actually the secondary means of propulsion.

Using the wind to move a 14,000 pound sailboat through the ocean at 7 knots puts a significant strain on the mast and the wire rigging that keeps it up. Prudent owners who want to stay safe — and avoid having their mast fall down on them — need to have their rigging checked on a regular basis.

Enter Captain Flash (also known as Richard) of Mac Sails. Today he carefully inspected every part of the rigging on our boat. He was here for the whole day. What he was looking for was corrosion in the fittings, which connect the wire to the mast, the spreaders or the chain plates.

After inspecting the chain plates on the deck, he needed to go aloft — and hoist himself up the mast. To do this, he used one of our lines (the topping lift) to haul a block (pulley) to the top of the mast. He rigged a line through the block. One end was attached to the bosun’s chair that he sat in and the other end he used to lift himself up the mast (55 feet).

It was quite a sight — the closest I have gotten to Cirque to Soleil around here. (I managed to get some neat video which I hope to post in the future.)

When Richard wanted to stop and inspect something he tied the line off to a ring on the chair.

Captain Flash found two fittings that looked a bit suspicious. They have some corrosion on them, and we don’t know if it’s coming from the outside (not a big deal) or from the inside (potentially a big deal.) To be on the safe side, we will have both of them replaced.

I’m so glad that Bob agreed not to go up the mast himself! Richard was really much more suited to this job. And now we’re both feeling confident that Windsong II is in shipshape condition with strong rigging to hold up her mast.