Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Nations

I constantly have to remind myself that many of the eastern Caribbean islands are fairly young countries.  You can see the list below for the specifics but self rule has really only come about in the last 6 decades.

Antigua and Barbuda - November 1, 1981
Barbados - November 30, 1966
Dominica - November 3, 1978
Grenada - February 7, 1974
Saint Kitts and Nevis - September 19, 1983
Saint Luca - February 22, 1979
St Vincent and the Grenadines - October 27, 979
Trinidad and Tobago - August 31, 1962

Shocking right?!  Some are so young.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Sight Seeing in Trinidad

Check out the old and new bridge in the background
After Asa Wright Nature Centre, we took a different road back to Chaguaramas.  This lead us through the rain forest and along the north shore of Trinidad.

We stopped to stretch our legs and take in the scenery a couple of times.

Our rent-a-wreck car made it back down into Port of Spain and then to the Movie Town complex where we stopped for an errand and dinner.  

We arrived after dark back in Chaguaramas safely (thanks to John's expert driving skills) and worn out from our day exploring.
No celebrating?  No jumping?  Bridge - oh, I get jumping from the bridge

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Joanne, John, Sabrina and Jean Louis
We shared a rental car in Trinidad with John and Joanne off s/v Out of Africa and Jean Louie off s/v Sagarmatha for two days a couple of weeks ago.  The car was basically a rent-a-wreck but it got us around.....however there was some question/worry of that at various times.  Ha!
Stretching our legs and wondering if the car will make it
The first day was spent running errands.  Day two was spent sight seeing.
Look closely, do you see it?
As a South African, John is used to left hand driving and expertly drove us up into the rain forest to Asa Wright Nature Centre (their spelling, not a typo).

The former estate house and grounds were donated and eventually in 1967 became a protected conservation area for the protection of wildlife, study and enjoyment of all.

The main house veranda makes an outstanding viewing platform.

Numerous hiking trails and a cave are on the grounds.

The big focus at Asa Wright Nature Centre is the birds.  There is something like 17 different types of humming birds.

I know very little about birds (nothing really) but there were guides to help us spot and indentify the many, many, many birds there.

We saw four toucans as well as parrots in trees further off through high powered scopes positioned on the veranda for our use.

Tom and John went for an hour hike with one of the guides.

Joanne, Jean Louis and I opted for the veranda.

We all ate lunch on the veranda.  It was so peaceful with the sounds of all the birds as our lunchtime soundtrack.

It wasn't just us and the birds having lunch, an agouti came out for some lunch as well.

Leftover hanging bird nests (sacks) were visible in the distance as well.

Listen to the sounds on the video.  It was like that the whole time we were there.  Bird sounds non-stop.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SmartPlug Follow Up

I contacted the SmartPlug people late this afternoon via email.  I had an email response back in less than 15 mins.  Terry explained that the plastic clips are vital to the design.  Since our SmartPlug came with two of the three clips broken, this caused the failure.  As I stated before, we had to install it since we were departing and WM didn't have any more in stock.  SmartPlug has offered to send us a new one (to US address) as this is covered by their warranty.  I am impressed with the customer service.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

SmartPlug - Maybe Not

July 2013 we purchased and installed a SmartPlug.  See the blog posting details here Dumb Plug SmartPlug.  We got this based on the recommendation of another Caliber couple - no names, eh Jason and Christie!

This morning after flipping a couple of switches on our nav station panel, Tom noticed something wasn't right.  He started checking a couple of items.  Shore power plugged in at power source?  Check.  Shore power plugged in at boat?  Visual look? -Check.  Physical inspection? Check, wait.....WT.....the cord completely fell out of the head of the SmartPlug when Tom went to physically check it.  Not good!

On further investigation, the rubber seal that helps secure the cord into the plug head completely failed.  This along with the two broken, plastic clips inside (see previous posting Dumb Plug Smart Plug) leads us to question the overall value of the plug itself.  The concept seems good but the quality inside the plug seems to be seriously lacking.  I plan to contact the company and I will let you know what they say.

Fuel Polishing

The polishing machine
Clean fuel is important for all engines.  That is no different on boat.  Making sure you get clean fuel can be a challenging at times.  This is true even at marinas and fuel docks in the USA.  Worldwide it can be a interesting challenge as well.
The assistant keeping an eye on things
Tom is very careful to monitor our duel Racor fuel filters, especially after a bouncy passage.  To date, they have done their job well by keeping water and gunk out of the engine.  However, we know that we have water in both fuel tanks.  While changing the drinking water filter under the sink, water spilled and flowed on top of the fuel inspection ports and eventually some seeped in.  Additionally, we have been purchasing fuel from various places throughout the Caribbean and living in warm, humid conditions.  It seems crazy to me but microbes can actually grow and thrive in diesel fuel.  Many seasoned cruisers get their fuel polished professionally every so many years as a good practice.
Getting into all the nooks and crannies of our unusually shaped fuel tanks
So, for these various reasons, Tom decided to have our fuel tanks professionally cleaned while here in Trinidad.  There is only one company that does this here and as you can imagine he is swamped with requests as all the cruisers return to their boats and prep for departure.  After a week of back and forth contacts, Sean Boddean of Chute D,Eau Marine, Ltd showed up around 5:30 pm at our boat.  Tom had done all the prep work of filling the tanks to near fully, calculating the amount of fuel in each tank and opened the inspection ports for easy access.  *Those two bilges smelled of diesel fuel that day as we waited Sean's arrival- ugh!  Wisely Tom had covered each port with a bucket so nothing could be accidentally dropped into the fuel tanks.  Sean laughed and said he was impressed as he has too often dropped things into the tanks on his own boat.  He quickly measured out some FluidKleen (I think) and dumped it into each tank.  He said it needed to sit in the tanks for at least 24 to 48 hours and they would be back in  2 days.  The slight movement of the boat in the slip actually assisting in the mixing process. 

Dirty fuel out, clean fuel in
2 days later, Sean and an assistant showed up with the cleaning machine.  A long hose was run through a portlight down into the aft fuel tank.  On the end was a long tube that resembles a long vacuum cleaner hose attachment - the one for reaching corners and vacuuming drapes.  Sean Velcro'd a white cover over the hose to protect the interior of our boat.  Another tube ran out of their machine and back into the deck fill for the aft fuel take.  He switched on the machine and began polishing the fuel - basically sucking out all the fuel, running through the machine aka a big, giant, special filter and then back into our tank.  The long attachment allowed him to get into all the nooks and crannies of our odd shaped tanks.  After two mins, they took a sample of what was coming out of our tank.  The sample showed some water and gunk consisting of sludge / dead microbes.  Then he showed us a sample of the cleaned fuel going back into our tank.  He would only guarantee 95% but it looked darn clean to us.  The color made it look like the artificially bright colored pink grapefruit drink that we make with our Soda Stream.  After an hour, they finished the aft tank and switched to the front tank.  It showed a bit more water but less gunk.  However there were a few living microbes in that tank - which still blows my mind.  Have you smelled diesel fuel?  How can anything live in that!  Yeah, I skipped that day in science class.  
Close up of tank 1 dirty fuel, tank 2 in background
During the two hour process we chatted away with Sean learning all about fuel polishing and the many clever modifications he has made to the two machines he has.  Additionally we talked about the major boat rebuild his company is working on here in the yard, fishing, boating, his 3 boys and various other topics about life in Trinidad.
Clean fuel - looks like pink grapefruit drink
While this wasn't an inexpensive service, we feel it was well worth it.  Thanks Sean.  
Bonus - (a week later) Sean stopped by the boat yesterday afternoon.  He had taken a Saturday off to enjoy his own boat and went out fishing.  He had success and presented Tom with some Wahoo and Mahi, Mahi.  Yum!  Thank you very much Sean!  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Perfect From Far But Far From Perfect

Pretty girl!
This is something I say often when I am referring to my canvas projects.  Especially those few canvas projects I do for others.

This is also something we are learning in a broader sense as we cruise into our second year living aboard.  Everything doesn't have to be perfect.  And more specific is doesn't all have to be RIGHT NOW - as in all the equipment, gear, setup, ext...we thought we needed for cruising.  We knew this and we told ourselves this often as we purchased the boat and worked towards living aboard.  However, looking back now, I think we let ourselves get caught (to some extent) by the "must have prior to leaving" syndrome.  Several seasoned cruisers have gently reminded us recently that they have been cruising for quite some time and it just takes time to get things figured out the way you want them on your boat and what works best for you.  This includes....well....everything.  Nancy on s/v Fawkes has said to me more than once, "Sabrina, you need to remember that we have been living aboard for 7 years now" when I comment on something well organized and thought out on their boat.

Besides the gentle reminders, we are finding that in regard to most things, you just need time on your boat.  Real time.  Despite having s/v Honey Ryder for 4 1/2 years, there are many things that we are just now finding the groove on since moving aboard and really cruising on her.  Solar panels is one example.  Watermaker, wind generator, dodger/bimni/enclosure, SSB, placement/storage of things in the boat, and even clothing onboard, just to name a few.  Other things we are still working to figure out - like where in the heck to store our shoes. 

It seems time and experience cannot be replaced.  

PADI for Tom

Suiting up

Underwater Works Inc. Ltd is located in the boat yard here at Coral Cove.  Before we took off for the states this summer, Tom had a discussion with them about getting his PADI diving certificate.  The main purpose being so that we can get some sort of a dive rig to clean the bottom of our boat.  Free diving on the bottom this past year has only got us so far this past year.  And it's exhausting.
Checking the gear

When back in the states, Tom read a complete PADI diving book and then went to the library on a regular basis so he could take, complete and pass the classroom portion of the PADI online.
Getting ready to go

A couple of weeks ago he completed his in the water stuff here in Chaguaramas.  I am very proud of him!  
Time to jump in

He worked a deal with Underwater Works Inc. Ltd for some of their used equipment including a tank.  Now he can clean the bottom of the boat anytime, put on zincs without running out of air, retrieve any dropped tool and easily add the replacement line cutter (once we order it and have it delivered).  He might even be persuaded into a dive for fun should we hook up again with diving fools s/v Somewhere or s/v Amiris.  
Waiting to go under
Sadly, it looks like my bottom cleaning days are coming to an end now that Tom has dive equipment.  Boo hoo, sniff, sniff.......NOT!!!  Although I bet the waterline will still be available for me to scrub.  

Update FYI - as of the date of this posting, Underwater Works Inc Ltd has moved out of Coral Cove boat yard.  They are planning to open on the boardwalk in Chaguaramas sometime in the near future.

Special Note -  We did not get our dive certificates prior to casting off.  Frankly we were too busy and there are plenty of good commercial divers around.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Meet Little Nellie

Previously I mentioned to all of you that we probably need a good James Bond'ish name for our Sailrite sewing machine.  We have decided on Little Nellie.
From "You Only Live Twice" Little Nellie, a Wallis WA-116 Agile - Q branch of course!

*Sailors not only name their boats but key pieces of equipment.  There are thousands of sailboats with autopilots named "Auto".  One of the best equipment names we've heard is on s/v Amaris.  Their anchor and rode is named "Dick Chainy".

Made in the Shade

When we moved aboard in June 2013 I knew one of the things we would need at some point was a shade/rain awning.  This would 1.)  shade a majority of the boat thus lowering the internal temp substantially and 2.)  help keep the rain out thus allowing us to leave hatches and portlights open for ventilation while we are onboard.

I started with a general idea of a simple shade that would be tented over the boom and secured at/over the lifelines.  The postion of our shrouds instantly complicated the design, of course.  I ordered 20 yards of Surlast off EBay and got 20 yards in two batches.  Lesson learned, ask more questions. However, it worked ok since I was combining 3 panels to make my boom tent.  

Result?  It's a work in progress and I knew this.  I knew we would need to live with it in conditions to see what modifications were needed.  General design is ok.  I would like it to be wider.  I should have used webbing loops as attachment point vs grommets.  FYI - Graham on s/v Karma used to own a canvas shop and says he always use loops whenever possible vs grommets.  Grommets are a pain to put in, take a special tool (sized appropriately - thus meaning multiple tools for different sized grommets) and hammer to apply.  Instantly grommets become the weak point in your design because they actually cut into the fabric.  They rust and stainless steel grommets are very hard to find.  Once they start to tear out, grommets become a pain to replace without patching the fabric.  Webbing loops on the other hand are easy to add, repair or replace.  Smart lesson learned from a fellow cruiser.  We may also be adding height to our design in the future.  Currently we can crawl along under the awning.  We may try to use our two boat hooks as forward and aft stabilizers or add some Folding tent poles or PVC pipe.  We'll see.  I will probably add a smaller center piece to come back further aft so it covers the front screen in the dodger.  Currently it only partially covers it.  

The shade itself makes a HUGE difference.  It instantly lowers the internal temp of the boat several degrees.  It is astonishing.  One of the reasons I picked the white color was for this factor.  White or light vs dark colors makes a big different inside the boat in the tropics.  So much so that our friends on s/v Allergro eventually painted their dark hulled boat after a couple of years cruising the Caribbean.  Wow, right! 

S/v Honey Ryder came with a forward deck shade.  I have never fully figured out how to use it.  The design seems off.  Originally I purchased enough Surlast material to make a second cover for up there.  However I only got it 1/2 the way completed before we left the USA so we have been using the original cover while here in Trinidad.  With the current flurry of activity in Sabrina's Sail Loft, I may try to get back to the new cover and complete it.  Or I may just make some quick modifications on the original.  Having lived with it in use for a period of time now, some ideas have come to mind.  And I think this point is worth extra focus, some designs just take time to evolve into their finished stage.  

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Dinghy Chaps

Or that @*#% project.  Make no mistake, this is the biggest project of my canvas career to date and nothing short of a beyatch of a project.  Warning this posting is about sewing so there will be swearing involved.  It's just a hard, cold fact.  Deal with it!

Our dinghy -Nick Nack is original to s/v Honey Ryder, as in 1998.  It's a great dinghy but the years and recently the sun have really taken a toll.  I had not idea it would take such a beating.  In hindsight, I wish I would have made dinghy chaps the first year we got the boat.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

The dinghy is our car.  We use it daily to get to shore.  As such, a good dinghy costs about as much as a used car for a teenager.  Like I would know what that cost is, but you get the idea, serious $$$$.  In an attempt to get one more season out of Nick Nack, I am attempting to make dinghy chaps to protect Nick Nack better from the elements.  Just so we are clear -I am making a cover for an odd shaped, inflatable object.  WTF am I thinking!  Oh well, here goes.
Vinyl shower curtains worked well as pattern material

I split the front into 5 sections to conform easier to the shape
First we aired the dinghy up to full pressure and then let a little out of the tubes to begin making the pattern  This will allow the chaps to fit snug when fully aired up.  Then I started the pattern making process.  I used two clear vinyl shower curtains as pattern material.  This allowed me to easily shape the pattern pieces to the tubes of the dinghy.  I put darts in place where needed to help the pieces conform.  I used various colored Sharpies to mark hand holds, straps, air ports, rub rail and such. Because this is such an unusual shaped project, I opted to double check my pattern pieces.  After I had all the pieced taped together the way I wanted, I labeled them and then cut them apart.  Then I laid them out on a medium weight plastic drop cloth and cut new pattern pieces. Then I applied these back in place on the dinghy, thus checking the fit.  After a couple of minor adjustments, I was satisfied that I had good pattern pieces to use for cutting the fabric.  Sunbrella is $$ so the fewer the mistakes, the better when cutting - measure twice, cut once seems smart.

Double checking the pattern with a second set of pattern pieces
Originally I had hoped to use the various colored pieces of Sunbrella that I have onboard, making sort of patchwork quilt, hodge-podge looking dinghy chaps.  This would put those scrap pieces to use and as a bonus, who would steal a dinghy with multi-color patchwork chaps!  However all the pieces I had were too small but one.  It was big enough for a couple of pattern pieces but builder beige in color.  Oh well.  I would need to purchase some additional fabric.  A fellow cruiser had a huge batch of Pacific Blue - something like 90 meters.  When I inquired about getting 9 yards, they declined saying they wanted to sell it all in one batch.  Excuse me?  You want me to buy 90 meters or none?   Good luck with that one!  I ended up buying 6 7/8 yards of 60 inch boring beige from Lutchmans for approx $160 US dollars.  Nice!  

Now for the scary step in this process.....queue the dramic music....dum,dum,dum.....cutting the Sunbrella. Remember my pattern pieces are for an odd shaped object filled with air so each is crazy shaped.  I took it all up to the covered area by the pool and used two round tables (best I could do) to cut there.  Different dye lots of the ho-hum beige mean slightly different beige colors.  Oh well.  I picked a matching port and starboard pattern pieces for the darker dyed fabric in hopes of balancing it out.  I taped the drop cloth pattern pieces onto the fabric, and chalked around them, adding for seam allowance.  Then I removed the pattern pieces and cut out the fabric pieces with my hot knife, thus sealing the edges of the Sunbrella and eliminated fraying.  Plastic pattern pieces and a hot knife are a no go combo so that is why I chalked around and then removed the plastic prior to cutting. 
Cutting out the fabric pieces that will make up the dinghy chaps
Let the fun begin - time for sewing.  I was luckily during this time frame to have not one, but two fellow cruisers as consultants.  Graham from s/v Karma has owned his own canvas shop in a prior life and has one of the best custom, self made dinghy chaps I have ever seen.  He gave me some good suggestions and tips early on, although some of it was over my head.  Robin on s/v Just Imagine is a self taught, give it a try type guy when it comes to his canvas projects.  One of his first projects in learning to sew was dinghy chaps.  Holy shit, you have to respect that!  His dinghy chaps are more real life like I thought mine would be.... or "Good enough for us."  Don't get me wrong, I think his a pretty good for self made.  Robin was a huge help with this project, giving ideas, suggestion and most of all moral support.  Thanks Robin! 

So the sewing.  I started from the starboard back and begin connecting the pieces as I went forward.  I did not mark or cut any of the various openings yet as I knew I could do that later as I fit it more.  Fitting the front area was very tough.  I chose to do 5 panels around the front thinking this would help that process.  It did but I still found myself tweaking those seams numerous times to get excess out.  Late in the process I tweaked each side once more and I finally achieved the fit I wanted.  However it threw off a few openings I had put in by that point.  We were able to deal with it but in hindsight, I should have gotten the front completely set before cutting those out.  Oh well.  Good enough for us.  

Have I mentioned what a beyatch this project is?
Alternating between hot knife to cut webbing and sewing

I took it very low in front and then angled up at the sides to just under the rub rail in an attempt to help it stay in place when underway.  I did a drawn string all the way around the outside so we could tighten it down under the rub rail.  I thought it would be a nightmare to sew the drawstring in because of the odd shape (port curved to front then sharp turn and curved back again to starboard - ugh) but it wasn't.  I simply sewed the draw sting in as I went.  I will again never feed/fish a drawstring through if possible!  Sewing it in as I go is the only way!  
Sewing the draw string in
I put in full days sewing.  8:30 to 5:30 - FULL DAYS!
Trimming out the back edge

I was completely stumped on how to finish off the inside.  The drop off from the front V storage area to the rest of the inside of the dinghy was not matching up.  It was wrinkled coming down off the sides.  I slept on it.  Tom took a good hard look as well.  Hum?  The next morning I asked Robin to take a look. "I just took mine straight back even with the V part.  You really don't need it down to the dinghy floor."  I nearly blew out the light bulb that popped on above my head.  Brilliant Robin!  He saved me SO much grief in trying to get it to fit completely to the dinghy floor when that simply wasn't needed.  Thanks Robin!  
One of what felt like 100 fittings

Are you getting the serious brain damage going on with this project?
Another fitting
By the way- s/v Honey Ryder was back in the water when I started sewing but we left Nick Nack up in the yard on the hard.  So I would do a fitting on the dinghy and then take it all back to the boat to sew.  Then go and do a fitting and then back to the boat for more sewing.  Over and over and over again and again.  My favorite was when I would do a fitting, chalk up something important and then get back to the boat only to second guess my markings.  Argh!  Up to the yard again for another fitting and better chalk marks and notes.  Additionally each fitting was slightly different.  Remember - irregular shaped, inflatable object that is susceptible to temperature fluctuations.  Daily rain showers added to the fun. 

Did I tell you that this is the toughest canvas project I have tackled to date?  Royal pain in the arse!
Tom adding the I straps to the back transom
Graham had suggested webbing loops vs grommets wherever possible.  Great advice.  Tom and I discussed many options for securing the chaps to the dinghy.  The draw strings would only do so much.  We decided I straps strategically placed in the fiberglass was the best solution for us.  One in the front of the V, one on each side just after the V, one on the transom inside on each side and the same on the outside (back) of the transom.  Our straps for securing the emergency paddles have not worked since we got Nick. Nack.  (Paddles?  We have an outboard motor as most cruisers do - row ashore?  I don't think so!  Zoom zoom.)  Anyway, Tom decided small grommets on each side of the straps would allow him to use a small piece of line to tie the paddles securely in place (finally) AND act as additional tied down points.  Two birds with one stone - Brilliant Tom.
I strap in the front of the V

Paddles can FINALLY be secured in place
I studied, read, researched and took pictures of many dinghy chaps in the past year.  Several reports mentioned an issue of water collection at the back of the dinghy chaps as you pick up speed and thus pulling the chaps off.  To solve this I decided to use Phifertex - a vinyl mesh type material.  I just happened to have a spare piece of bright orange.  I also used that to trim out the cutout where the seat goes.  We don't have a seat but use those as handholds.  I also had a small scrap of bright orange Sunbrella I got in a scrap bag from Sailrite several years ago.  I used this to trim out the long run on the top of each tube where the line is spliced in for hanging on.  Confused?  Yeah - see the pics where there is bright orange on top each tube.  I had purchased some awesome 9" wide white vinyl from North Sails in St Maarten. Thanks Molly for that tip!  It is easy to cut and sew and doesn't fray.  I only wish I had more.  I used this for the three big carrying handles, two D ring openings and two loop openings.  I sewed webbing around the hole where the oars fit.  We had previously covered that with a piece of firehouse on each side to keep from scratch s/v Honey Ryder or other boats when we come along side in Nick Nack.
Darts in the Phifertex allowed me to taper it off at the back with the tube shape
Finish for aft end of tubes
9" vinyl and seat belt material for rub rail

Are you understand all the weird shaped cutouts I had to deal with and trim out?  
Area where spliced line is used for handholds

Seat belt webbing purchased last year on Ebay was used for two other chafe areas and for the rub rail all the way around.  I had a small bit of the bright orange Phifertex left so I added this as chafe guard in the front down near where the chain and painter attach.  I have a wonderful triangle chafe piece made of that same bright orange Phifertex that I tried to sew onto the finished chaps in the front.  However it's such an odd shape with weird angles, I found I couldn't get it on correctly without it affecting the fit of the chaps thus making the fit too tight.  So for now I have left it off.  I have not given up completely on this piece.  I MAY hand stitch it on.  I know, crazy but it would totally take the look over the top and add extra chafe protection.  We'll see.  The last thing I added was two pieces of orange reflector ribbon I have had for at least 10+ years.  It's really just for the fun and the whim of it but the reflective property can't hurt.  
Chafe guard for the front - yes center is off a tad - Oh well
After final fit and securing everything into place, I gave the chaps a good spray of 303 fabric protector.  I treat all our Sunbrella annually with 303.  It is expensive but it works.  We now buy it by the gallon because we use so much.  It's expensive but even more so up island.

Ready to see the finished product?  Ta Da.  How about that!
Dinghy Chaps in action

Another angle

I am pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.  Pretty from a far but far from pretty or in other words, "Good enough for us."    I am sure we will discover some things that need to be tweaked and adjusted as we go.  But it's not half bad for a first attempt.  Most important of all is that Nick Nack now has some proper protection from the elements.

Real Summary 
The down and dirty......this was a very hard project.  Nothing short of a real beyatch!  I now completely understand why professionally made, custom dinghy chaps cost so much.  My advice?  If you get an outrageous price quote for dinghy chaps, try to negotiate it down to a moderately outrageous priced quote and then seal the deal with whoever you negotiated with.  Shake their hand, give them a hug for good measure and if you have one, promise them your first born (if they want).  All well worth it vs trying to make your own.  I am sure their are those of you reading this that have made yours and are saying  "It wasn't that bad."  Bullshit.  Your memory is bad.  Or at the very least it's faded, just like the cold misery of a storm at sea fades with time into an amusing tale at happy hour.  Others reading this might be thinking "But I am an excellent seamstress.  I have been designing and making my own clothes since I was little."  Okay, your a great seamstress.  Whatever.  But don't say I didn't warn you.  If you do decided to undertake this crazy project yourself, there are a few good online articles and how to blog posting.  You can also start by taking pictures of dinghy chaps you like and more importantly the various ways of attaching them, dealing with all the odd shaped cutouts, how to taper the aft end tube area and so on.  However, you will not be able to plan for everything on your dinghy chaps.  It is very much a fit, adjust, change, and adapt as you go sort of project.  You must be flexible and have additional resources available like extra webbing and spare pieces of this and that to pull this off.  At least that was my experience and thus my humble opinion. 

With all the safety orange we look very official, sort of Coastie if you will.  We may start our own dinghy safety checks of fellow cruisers.  Violators will have to pay a "liquid fine" to us.  Hee hee.

The Numbers
2 shower curtains
1 medium weight drop cloth 
Blue masking tape
Numerous pieces of tailors chalk
7 bobbins fills of V92 black thread and whatever amount of matching top thread
Approx 8 yards of Sumbrella - plain ole beige *I do not remember the actual name of this color of beige
45 x 24 piece of Sunbrella - bright orange 
Approx 3/4 yard Phifertex - bright orange 
50 ft line for draw strings
Approx 30 feet seat belt material
Approx 1/4 yard 9" vinyl 
Approx 5 ft 1" black webbing for loops and trim
7 I straps
Approx 30 grommets
1 1/2 bottle (regular size) of 303 fabric protector 
2 days of pattern fitting - 1/2 to 3/4 days each
1 full day procuring fabric (maxi taxi into the city, various stops, Lutchmans, 2 1/2 wait for maxi taxi back)
1 full day cutting fabric
4 1/2 FULL days sewing and numerous fits
1/2 day plus a part of the morning to do the final fitting and secure everything in place
Launch - 3 fellow cruisers to lend a hand to carry Nick Nack down to the water
A brain that is slightly off

BIG thanks to my wonderful and brilliant husband Tom.

And the loft is now seriously closed.  It will reopened after the owner gets some serious beach combing, snorkeling, and general limini time in!