This week I have been at my mom’s house above San Jose while Jon and Zoë are on the boat. Jon is working on antennas and bilge pumps and radios and other fun tasks; Zoë is helping I’m sure. And I am sewing bags and covers and awnings, oh my!
As I glance over the list of sewing projects we have finished for Eurybia I see that they fall into three categories. Some projects are Essential – created because they are useful in themselves. Others are for Storage – they make storage easier or collect items together so they can be found more easily. Others are for Protection from wind or sun or salt – they lengthen the lifespan of the thing they are covering.
These items include things that are useful in themselves. In this category I have made: salon cushions for comfort, curtains for heat exclusion and privacy, whole-boat awning for heat protection, under-sail awning for the crew’s sun protection and crew hats, just because. This would also include cockpit cushions, but we have not replaced the cockpit cushions on Eurybia, just on Phoenix (our last boat). A solid companionway cover that protects from driving rain or a netting one that protects from flies and insects also falls in this category.
A mast cover and berth pockets are two things I built to store all those little things that make life simpler – if they can be found! By the bed I like a back scratcher and a flashlight and chap stick or lotion, a place to put my glasses and my kindle, and an eye mask for sleeping during a daylight off-watch. In the salon I want napkins, a wine opener, sunglasses, pens and pencils, kill switch, keys, and all the things you need frequently in daily life – these items store nicely on the mast with the right (removeable!) cover.
Other objects need bags either to collect small parts for a single purpose – our port-a-bote seats and bolts for example – or to contain things that would otherwise unroll or need to be tied – such as awnings or hoses or power cords. Properly labeled bags make these items easier to find and use. Tool Rolls for wrench sets are also in this category. On Eurybia we have a cockpit table that has fiddles and legs that are kept in a table-parts bag secured to the binnacle for easy access. Also our folding bikes – which make large awkward packages that tend to flop open – are best stored in a bike bag.
The final category are those (expensive) things that deteriorate in the sun, wind, or salt. Sail covers and stack packs could be included here, but it also includes sail bags, deck bags, windlass or winch covers, binnacle covers, propane can bags or fuel/water cans, fender covers, wheel covers, grill covers, mast boot covers, and hatch covers. Propane cans can be important to cover since if they get scratched and rusty the refilling people may refuse them. If you have stainless supports in your dodger that cross the stratoglass / plastic windows, you should cover the stainless in boat blanket material to protect the window material from burning and turning brown.
This is the list of some of the protective bags and covers that I have made for Eurybia:
- Binnacle Cover
- Wheel cover
- Grill / grill table bag
- Fender covers
- Cover for outboard
- Mast boot cover
- Hatch cover
- Porta-bote (dinghy) cover
- Windlass cover
- Dodger stainless tube cover
- Covers for propane cans
- Covers for fuel and water cans
Sunbrella, Odyssey, Surlast, Phifertex and nylon are some of the materials I use for making bags and covers. Sunbrella is good all-round – soft touch, ok on chafe, great for UV situations, and easy-to-sew. Odyssey is less expensive, a little better on chafe, fine for UV, but plastic-y touch and not as durable as Sunbrella. Surlast, top-gun and similar materials are great on UV and chafe and more waterproof than Sunbrella. Nylon is fine for lightweight bags that are not stored in the sun. Phifertex is great if you need the bag to drain, or as a bottom to a bag.
Most bags will need closure of some type. Zippers, buckles, snaps, twist ties, elastic and rope cinch-ties and velcro, listed from more-robust to less-robust methods, will all work, depending on your application. Also add labels to your bags so that you don’t have to open the bag to find out what’s inside. For a fairly durable label I will sew light colored cloth on the bag and write the label with a sharpie. It will eventually fade but can easily be renewed. I envy those folks with embroidery machines! Sadly those sticky labels made by labeling machines do not adhere well to cloth. And finally handles finish off a bag and make it easier to grab and carry. I make them out of webbing (for strength) or sometimes the bag material (if I want a matchy-matchy look).
That’s all I’ve got on bags and covers. Let me know what solutions you’ve come up with and add pictures if you have them!