Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Settling in for a winter aboard

The new cockpit enclosure will make living aboard much nicer this winter.
Life aboard Oceanus is good. We continue to check projects off of our to-do list. (I will post more on that later.) One huge project Virginia completed was to sew not one, but two enclosures for Oceanus's 10-foot cockpit.

While we were hauled out in Toledo and securely in the paint tent, Virginia took advantage of no wind and scaffolding to make patterns for the enclosure. While we were at the dock in South Beach she was constantly frustrated in her efforts to pattern the side panels for the enclosure by the northwest winds that blow all day every day during July, August and September.

The plan was to make the enclosure out of Sunbrella View, a shade product. This is pretty neat stuff. It keeps out most of the sun, insects and even a lot of the wind and provides privacy: when it's sunny, you can see out, but people can't see in. We first learned about the fabric when we watched a series of videos about the makeover of a 43-foot Hans Christian sailboat named Galetea in Olympia, Wash. Sunbrella made the videos featuring professional dodger and boat-canvas makers. We thought an enclosure with side panels made of View would be just the ticket for Oceanus.
The Sunbrella View fabric enclosure provides privacy as well as wind and sun protection.
Several months ago when Virginia tried to buy Sunbrella View from Sailrite, she found that it was no longer available. She quickly searched the internet and found an outdoor fabric store that had 20 yards available in our toast color and she bought it all.

As soon as we got the boat back to her slip in South Beach she went to work on it. First, she modified the connector piece that joins the aft end of the dodger with the forward part of the bimini. By making it more hourglass shaped, she was able to make it tighter and flap less in the wind. She then sewed the five side panels out of the View fabric. She figured they would  make a good pattern for the more expensive vinyl enclosure. It took her about a day to make each panel.
The View through the enclosure.
The enclosed View cockpit was wonderful! It kept the wind out, but still breathed and gave us privacy. When it rained, the View fabric kept most of the rain on the outside. But when the wind blew during a rainstorm, it drove water through the fabric. So Virginia replaced one panel at a time with a vinyl one. Now we have two enclosures: one for our cold, wet Northwest winters and one for summer and warm, sunny climates.

The clear vinyl enclosure makes life aboard much more pleasant, especially when it rains. Things in the cockpit stay dry and when you come in from the rain you can strip out of your wet gear before going below. It is also much brighter than the View enclosure.
Inside the new enclosure it's dry and warm.
 This will go a long way toward making this winter bearable. As I write this rain is coming down in sheets and the wind is gusting to 50 knots, in other words, it's a typical winter day on the Oregon coast. Inside the cockpit enclosure it is dry, except for a little rainwater that trickles down the backstay.

Friends of ours who spent the winter aboard last year turned their boat so it pointed north giving a southern exposure to their vinyl enclosure. They lounged in the solar-heated sun room in t-shirts even on cold winter days.