On Nautical Sewing

Posted by: pat 10 years, 9 months ago


I've been doing a few sewing projects over the last month. I love to make things, whether they are made of 1's and 0's, wood, motors and PCBs, or...fabric and thread. Sewing is a skill that has a high utility value. There are all sorts of custom thingies you can build to suit a very specific and unique need. Don Casey's "Good Old Boat" book has been a great source of basic information and inspiration on all of the great sewing projects that will make life on a boat more pleasant. Plus it is interesting to think about the whole wearable electronics arena with conductive thread and stuff like the Adafruit Lilypad. But that is a topic for Halloween prep and not cruising prep...

Most of this summer's sewing projects are in support of the boat's new second/backup anchor. I purchased a Fortress FX-23 anchor on eBay. Fortress anchors are great as backup anchors because they are light and they disassemble to simplify storage. My first project was to make a storage bag for the Fortress. Fortress sells one, but it costs a bundle, almost as much as the used anchor, and after all it is just a bag. So I made one. It has custom fit inner pockets for each piece of the anchor, as well as a little tool pouch for a 1/2" wrench to aid assembly.

Next came a custom bag for the rode, 200 feet of line and 30 feet of chain. I read on...I think it was the Starzingers' web site...about their approach for storing a long stern-tie line: put it in a long skinny bag. Because the bag is skinny, the line doesn't tend to kink up or get snarled when spooling in or out. So I made two long skinny bags from some cool synthetic mesh material I picked up at Seattle Fabrics: one for the stern tie and one for the backup rode. Line will dry out in the bag, and it is tough stuff.

Kim is unconvinced the bag approach is the right way to go. We have a short stern tie line, maybe 150 feet, on an extension cord reel. It is still kind of a hassle to deal with reeling it in in such a way that the line doesn't bunch up on one side or the other. Given that we are going to Desolation Sound this summer where stern ties are de riguer, I invested in a longer line. I just bought a whole 600' spool. Way overkill, but hey it is cheaper by the spool. For starters we will try managing it on the spool with a boat hook as a spindle across the cockpit seats. I have a hunch that is going to work about twice and then we will go for the bag.

The one thing I can't seem to get nailed is a simple drawstring closure. I can sew it up fine, or at least I think it is fine, but the darn drawstring always binds up and doesn't really slide through its sleeve smoothly to culminate in a nice tight closure like I envisioned (and like every commercial drawstring works). Maybe I need to pin down the "bitter end" of the drawstring within the sleeve rather than leeving it as a continuous loop? I have no idea, but whatever I am doing is unsatisfactory.

Of course these are all "small boat" compromises. The real solution is to jump up to an Amphitrite, amiright? Big boats have their second anchors ready to go on the sprit, and they also have a stern anchor ready to launch from a stern rail mount, and they have fancy dedicated permanently mounted reels for stern tie lines too. But that is a cliff I am not going to jump off of. It is easy to admire these skookum bulletproof gear setups on bigger boats, just as it is easy to overlook everything else that goes with a bigger boat. Not gonna do it.

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