Wednesday, August 12, 2015


A pilot's first solo is a memorable event.  Mine was in Piper Cub a few weeks after my 16th birthday. Many hours of dual instruction went by before I first took to the sky on my own.  Memories of some fragments of that flight still float around in my brain, though it happened some 44 years ago.

I logged some dual hours on the Sailrite machine today. It would be nice to qualify as a pilot in command on that thing, but that is many hours of practice in the future. Filling up a bobbin, threading the machine, and actually stitching a seam is a pretty much the limit of my ability. Half the time I have no clue as to why I am doing what I am doing. Deb is in charge of design and fabrication. I am drone labor, laying down about 3 stitches per second. When Deb is in the Sailrite's pilot seat she just stomps down on the “go” peddle and fabric bits stick together like magic.

Which is to say that the Bimini project is moving along, but at a drastically reduced pace. I do have my moments. A small storm rolled through the marina this afternoon. I kept stitching right along even as the boat swayed, heeled, and bounced off her dock lines. I be hard core...arggggh.

After the storm we dried out the cockpit and did the first test fit of the raw cover. Patterned, cut, with the finished hems on the port and starboard edges, and the three main panels stitched together into one whole unit, there was enough done to see if it was anywhere near close to fitting. It looked pretty good, so tomorrow we drive on without having to back up much, yet.

One nice thing about canvas work is that the progress is out there to see. Where there was once just a roll of fabric there is now a thing that looks clearly like a Bimini top. Where there was once just an engine cover hiding the Beast, there is still just an engine cover hiding the Beast. Three days of hard work went on behind that cover and there is nothing to show for it. Three days of hard work have gone into the Bimini and there is a Bimini to show for it.

Something similar can be said about cruising in general. Back in my old life, even though I traveled thousands of miles a month, usually I was in the same spots doing the same things. Out here we anchor, moor, take a dock, and are rarely in the same place long. Summer work-fests are the exception and, even then, it is engine work one day, canvas work the next. There is wood working, electrical wiring, and Wednesday night sailing. Different people come and go off the end of the pier, anchored out to visit with Deb and I. We try new things, learn knew things, and see new things all the time.

It is a balance of course, all life is. In St. Louis and Indy the kids, and especially the grand kids, are trying new things, learning new things and seeing new things all the time also. Things we don't get to share with them. The first crawl, the first steps, the first words, the first missing tooth; we hear the stories after the fact. Someday though, maybe they will share some of our stories up close and first hand. Who will be the first grand kid to take the helm for a solo watch? Who will be the first to set the anchor or help me put in a reef?

Before that can happen Kintala has to find her way back to the ocean. Watching the Bimini take shape helps remind me that the day is getting nearer.   It may be only a few weeks away. Certainly it will happen long before I solo the Sailrite machine.

1 comment:

s/v Odin the Wanderer said...

Awesome! Congrats, TJ! (Although, I warn you--Your sewing budget will now increase. The only thing we squabble about is whose turn is it and who left an empty bobbin!)