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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sail Lockers and Too Much Stuff

Fenders in the water?  I don't know why.
When we moved aboard Northern Star, we brought with us a couple of our best large fenders that we had used on our previous sailboat.  Our new boat already had several fenders as well.  We didn’t want to get rid of any of them.  You never know when you’re going to need a smaller or larger fender than the ones you used the last time coming into a dock or rafting off another boat.  
Jerry cans atop the deck

So, we had fenders tied to the stainless handholds on deck, and we had them shoved into the large sail locker in the cockpit.  Seemed like there were fenders everywhere. Our biggest problem with the sail locker is simply that there are too many things that we want to keep stored in there……and oddly enough, let me just say that sails are not one of the them.  
Two fenders used  with a board to keep off piling.

Besides the bulky fenders, there are the extra jerry cans for diesel and water, water hoses, power cords, piles of extra lines. our folded shopping cart, two folding chairs. all the dock lines, a bucket or two and a box of spare hardware like shackles and snatch blocks.  
Carl is standing in the sail locker.  Sorting lines.

I wanted the fenders out of there.  And I didn’t want them lashed onto the deck in various places.  Messy looking, I figured.  So, I determined to make fender holders to mount on either side of the cockpit rails.  

Fenders lashed to cabin roof.
I began with taking stock of the fender situation.  We have seven oblong fenders and two large round fenders.  I figured there wasn’t much I could do to contain the big orange round fenders so I ignored those for the time being.  Two of the oblongs we have never used, so I shoved those way into the back of the sail locker.  I would give the remaining five fenders their own custom fit holders and by doing that, I would free up lots of space in the sail locker.  Yea!
The inside of the sail locker.

First I measured the five fenders. Two were 28” long with a circumference of 27”.  Two were 31” long with a circumference of 32”.  And the fifth, the one I tend to use ALL the time was 32” long and had a circumference of 39”.  What I wanted was to have these fenders attached to the outside on each side of the cockpit, much like weather cloths would be. (Lengths above include the shank of the fender where the line is attached).  

Plenty of room on the side to hang fenders.
I calculated that in order for the fenders to fit well, the circumference of the opening should be 4” greater than the circumference of each fender.  For the vertical length of each fender holder, I decided that I would go with a length that was about 8” shorter than the entire length of the fender.  I didn’t want the holders so large that the entire fender would disappear into the holder.  And I planned to leave the bottoms open anyhow, except for about a 6” wide “hammock” that would be sewn to hang across the bottom of the holder.  This would prevent the fender from falling all the way through and help water drain away from the holders.
6" wide "hammock" support the bottom fender

Some folks have weather cloths attached to the stanchions that surround their cockpit which we do not.  Weather cloths are appealing to me not only because they help to prevent getting sprayed by waves hitting the boat on the beam, but also because they add some privacy to the cockpit seating area.  Some people shower in their cockpit and so the weather cloths are helpful for that as well.  
Larger fender in between two smaller fenders
Ideally, I wanted the fender holders to be firmly attached to the boat, but removable, and to be somewhat symmetrical.  If they sort of resemble weather cloths, that would be a plus, I thought. Given there were three different sizes of fenders, I married up the extra large fender with one of the two large ones.  And I put the other large one in between the two medium-sized fenders.  The overall size of the two holders ends up being somewhat similiar

The side of the fender holder that faces into the cockpit.

Thanks to having scavenged yards of Pfifertex while I was in Annapolis, I had a lot of sturdy fabric to work with.  
The mesh is Pfifertex

I’ve talked about Pfifertex in previous posts.  It’s an extremely durable outdoor fabric and because it’s a mesh material, the water drains away and it dries quickly.  The back of each fender holder (that one sees when sitting in the cockpit) is Sunbrella that matches our shade panels and cockpit seating upholstery.  The Pfifertex is what actually surrounds each fender and that faces out, away from the cockpit. 

Fenders stay put, even when heeled.
Each fender slides into it’s custom fit opening and rests on a “hammock” that prevents the fender from falling all the way through.  In order to help the round opening hold its’ shape to make it easier to side the fenders in, I inserted a stay into a hem that encircles the top opening.  Fabric stores sell ready-made stays by the yard.  It’s the same stuff that is used to make a corset stand up on its’ own.  
Stays were placed inside a hem atop each opening.

Here’s an important tip about thread.  In order to make this project withstand constant UV exposure, I used a Lifetime thread called Profilen.  I ordered that from SailRite and it is the same thread that I used when I made chaps for our dinghy.  It’s really expensive ($129 for ___ oz) but it’s amazing stuff.  You can NOT break it.  It doesn’t snag or twist or separate when sewing with it.  And it does not burn!  Astonishing stuff.  It is slippery however, and when threading the machine, I had to wind it twice around the tension knob to prevent skipped stitches.  No wonder it lasts forever, or close to it.  It’s more like fishing line than regular thread in my opinion.
Heeling.  No problem with fenders.

To attach the fender holders to the railing, I sewed three sets of webbing and buckles across the back.  I ordered the white nylon webbing and buckles from SailRite.  
Close-up of webbing and buckle system

The webbing is attached top and bottom and then slides through a loop to keep the webbing cinched up snugly against the railings.  When the boat heels, the fenders stay right in place.  No risk of losing them.  The fender holders can be removed as needed for cleaning.  And I do appreciate the bit of added privacy in the cockpit.
We'll have more room in the sail locker this season.

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