Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sow's ear purse ...

Folk lore is adamant about sow's ears and silk purses, and I suppose it has some merit. What the lore fails to mention is that sow's ears are perfectly suited for the purpose of allowing sows to hear things. It is trying to turn them into something else that causes all the trouble. Still, though I am far from expert in all things bovine porcine, my guess is one could make a perfectly serviceable pouch out of a sow's ears, perhaps even a attractive accessory that looks like fine leather.

I suspect that because much of a cruising life seems to be spent taking things that were intended for one purpose and pressing them into some other service. Money is always in short supply, so getting a work order written up to get it done just isn't an option. Besides, given our experience - and the constant horror stories we hear from other cruisers who have used marine contractors - I'm not even sure where I would start to look for someone to do this kind of project. For the same reason (money) just tossing out all the old, hacked up bits and starting from scratch with shiny new bits of silk is also not much of an option. But we do have time, and trouble is an every day companion. No sow's ear is safe in a mooring field or achorage full of curisers.

Today was day nine of turning Kintala's hap-hazard, limp, and ugly sow's ear of a bimini / frame into something that would support solar panels while still keeping the sun and rain at least tolerable. (I am beginning to wonder why any of us buy a boat that has an outside steering station only.) Nine ugly, stressful, gouged up hands and short tempered days of trouble.

Yesterday was the worst, a day at least as bad as the one back in Oriental when I discovered fuel barfing out of the WesterBeast's injection pump. Though the bimini frame was securely mounted to new hard points on the coaming, getting the frame, fabric, and ridged solar panel to play nice together was just not happening. I fell into the berth last night exhausted, battered, discouraged, and wondering if I simply didn't have the skills to make this sow's ear into anything more useful. Sleep was fitful, filled with weird dreams of long ago bosses and places of employment all mashed together in some surreal tale of things going wrong. But as often happens, the sub-conscious starts mulling over the problem as well. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning I woke up with a new idea of measuring spans and aligning bows with strings and yardsticks, making sure it all stayed put under any reasonable load with rivets and a few braces.

Today was a tough day as well. It turned out the aligning was a really good idea... that should have been done first... not after a bunch of holes had been drilled in the stainless steal tubing. (Note to self – when one's tool room is lacking drill wax, a bar of soap will work well as a stand in.) Nor was the day helped any by the constant swell augmented by weekend power boater wake hits. Yet tonight ye 'ol Tartanic sports a bimini that is (mostly) straight and true, taunt, flat, and overlaid by solar panels incorporated as part of the frame. Not a silk purse, but a perfectly acceptable rig. It is mostly straight because I couldn't figure out a way around the funky bend in the aft-most bow, courtesy of some anonymous putz from the past. In the end Deb pulled off some Sail Rite magic to get us over that final hurdle, and it will take a good eye to spot the funk.

Of course I have yet to run a single wire or give much consideration to things like a permanent home for the control panel. So I suspect this job isn't even half done. I'm going to blame some of the slow progress on the short days. Assuming any reasonable morning routine, buy the time work commences there is barely eight hours of daylight left.

That, and working with sow's ears just takes a lot of effort.


michael dibbley said...

Hey Tim love your blog, by the way a sows ear comes from a porcine (pig) a cows ear comes from a bovine (cow):)
Mike D s/v Grape Ape

TJ said...

Fixed it Michael, thanks. It is pretty clear that I don't know anything about farm animals.

Deb said...

Clearly Tim needs a new editor Michael! I'm surprised I missed that one. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.