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Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Black Dog in North Carolina

First summer in Annapolis, I tied down tarps for shade,
Up until 10 days ago, North Carolina has been HOT and sticky!  Like this is a revelation to anyone.  When we decided on Oriental, North Carolina to keep the boat this summer while we do a little work on it, we knew we were signing up for heat and humidity.  
A hot day in North Carolina

Dogs, as we know, do not cool themselves by perspiring.  They pant, and Jax is really good at that. People we meet while walking Jax will sometimes comment on how hot he must be.  “All that thick black fur.”  Or they’ll ask if we’ve considered shaving him. The answer to that question is “No, his thick coat serves as insulation in heat as well as in cold.”  As my brother has pointed out, “You never saw a sheep with heat exhaustion, have you?”  Well, he’s got me there.  I haven’t seen that.  Frankly, I haven’t spent much time around sheep. But I listen to NPR, and since I’ve never heard news reports of sheep expiring in hot weather, I have to concede that there is probably something to his line of reasoning. 
  Jax greets sunrise with a snooze, snuggled into
narrow space between gate and combing.

We have also discussed this issue of a black dog with thick fur in hot weather with a veterinarian or two. They caution us to think about how tender his poor skin is under all that fur, never having been exposed to the sun’s rays.  We subscribe to the philosophy that dogs will know what they can best do to beat the heat.  
Taking a dip in the Neuse River

Jax looks for shady spots to lie in, plenty of water to drink and an occasional belly dip in the water when he can.  When we have the AC running, he astutely chooses the coolest room of the boat to make his comfy spot.

Prime location to keep both of his humans in sight
When Carl and I are both outside the boat, however, Jax, the herding dog, naturally feels compelled to keep us both in his sights.  When Carl is working in the cockpit, and I am sewing on the covered patio in front of the boat, he positions himself midway between us. That puts him on the bow of the boat, in the sun.  

Original canopy, only 80" wide and 72" long
I felt the need to help him out by adding some additional shade up on deck.  And so, several weeks ago, I designed a canopy that is suspended over the bow by hooking onto one of the *halyards. 

Note dashed line indicating fabric cut away and
reattached to make canopy wider near mast.
My first attempt at a canopy turned out to be a little on the skimpy side. I tried to make it inexpensively and started out with just 2 yards (in other words, a piece of fabric 60” wide and 72” long) of SurLast which is a very durable, water repellant fabric that I ordered from Sailrite. 

Lengths cut from additional 2 yards added to sides
and another 30" toward bow. Additional width
begins 12" down to allow for standing rigging**
SurLast is often used for making boat covers. I was thinking that it would be enough to provide Jax with a little spot of shade on the bow and it did, but I decided I could do better and should.  So, I bought another 2 yards of SurLast to enlarge the existing canopy just a little on both the port and starboard sides as well as adding additional length toward the bow. 
Applied white poly webbing to stress points to distribute load on fabric.

My diagrams show how I cut the fabric the first time and how I cut it to make the addition. You’ll notice that the sides are not cut at 90 degree angles. A canopy will hang better if there is a bit of a curve between the corners.  I marked the curves by first laying a piece of gently curved hose out on the fabric.  Actually, a little deeper curves would have been good. I made the hems by simply turning the edges under and sewing. 
Canopy suspended by halyard shackle 

I fastened a stainless steel ring to the top of the canopy by stitching 1” wide UV resistant webbing across the center of the lifting point in a big “X.”  I bought lengths of 1/2” PVC and cut them to provide support for four cross pieces. I made four, but three would have been enough for this size canopy. 

Underside of canopy. 1/2" PVC tubing bends with tight fit.
To hold the ends of the PVC firmly in place against the underside, I cut out pieces of heavy-duty ShelterRite and sewed them on to make a little pocket to hold the end of each tube on the underside of the canopy.  The PVC needs to be cut so it is almost too long to fit between the two pockets.  That will make the PVC bend and give the canopy its concave shape.  
Above: Bungee is hooked through webbing loop and taped

After exploring a few different ways of attaching the canopy to the lifelines, I settled on using 3/8” bungee cord and 3/8” hooks to make my own attachments.  One end of the hook is taped with electrical tape so that it can’t come unhooked. This method allows me to put the canopy up and take it down quickly.  Plus, if I want to walk out onto the bow for some reason, I can unhook a line, walk through and hook it up again behind me easily. 

Used EasyKlips at some attachment points, rather than hooks

I found a product which I really like called EasyKlip. These can be attached anywhere on the canopy that you like. They have a hinge on them and the more tension placed on the Klip, the tighter it grips the fabric.  Really slick.  I have left the canopy up during some pretty serious blows, and it handles the wind really well.  All the bungees stretch and give in concert with one other. 

Bungee hooked onto standing rigging**
As you can see, Jax has found the new shade canopy to be just the ticket to keep track of me when I’m sewing 20 yards away.  
Jax watching me sew from the boat

The canopy has generated a little flurry of excitement with humans too. I have agreed to make one of these for another cruising boat in the marina.
The enlarged canopy

*A halyard is a line that raises and lowers a sail.  We have a few that are not in use when we are not under sail. 

**Standing rigging includes the stainless steel cables alongside the mast. They are secured to the hull with chain plates and extend up to stabilize and support the mast.

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