Progress on Serenity seems to be in fits and starts. Seems like nothing happens for a couple months then BOOM, action! The latest BIG project was the dodger and bimini. For those non-swabbies reading the blog, basically the dodger and bimini are two separate entities – but connected – which provide protection(wind, sun, rain, snow(not for us!) for the cockpit area.
Our old dodger didn’t really fit right, the top bar interfered with the view forward when at the wheel, and the bimini part was pretty rag tag, plus we wanted sun screens so you could have protection from the sun, but get a nice breeze, which the original configuration was not suited. Here’s a snapshot of the old dodger, bimini, and sail covers:
First off, deciding the color. As everyone knows, a simple statement fraught with pressure and angst. White, black, tan, yellow, orange; out. How about Navy? Classic, but ummmmm, no. Hunter green? Too bright. I LOVE red but didn’t know how it would fade(splotchy? pink? weird?) plus it’s more expensive, red being a difficult color to dye consistently. Purple? If it was just me, and I was going for funkadelic, hells yes, but for Serenity, alas, no. We perused a Sunbrella catalog and I spotted “Fern”. I was immediately drawn to it, and kept coming back to it. Why? It’s an “earthy” color, reminding me of the spruce and pine found in mountain climes which I love, only second to the water. The color also goes well with the cream color of the boat, it’s a tad on the lighter side so we thought it might be a little cooler during the summer(not so much so, as already discovered), and I thought when it faded it might not be so noticeable. And last but not least, I haven’t seen another boat with the same color. Ker-pow!
With the color decided we chose Island Nautical to do the stainless and canvas work. They are based in St. Petersburg, FL and have a reputation for high quality work. Are they expensive? Yes. However, in the end I feel we got a bargain considering all the work put in. More on that below…
Interesting fact, St. Petersburg here in FL was co-founded by a guy named Peter Demens, who spent time in St. Petersburg, Russia and he loved the city, thus the town was named St. Petersburg. That’s on a historical plaque in St. Pete, FL. You’re welcome.
Back to the project… We worked with Jim the Canvas Guy. No, I don’t know his last name. To me he’s Jim the Canvas Guy. A few challenges facing Jim: how to get the dodger tall but not too tall = good sightlines but not so tall as to inadvertently be a wind catcher, easy ingress/egress from the cockpit, get the bimini to work with the arch(HUGE!), bimini tall enough we can stand under it without cricking our necks, boom to not hit the dodger/bimini frame, visual access points to the wind vane at the top of the mast, easy access to the dinghy and dinghy motor, and the most treacherous part of all… me standing there going “what about this”? On repeat about a dozen times. For this project, brains and creative thinking required.
Yeah, Jim is a total rock star. He came out numerous times, discussed with us, measured, pondered, measured again, discussed more with us, brought out the stainless guy, made patterns, more discussions; basically worked his BUTT off. I cannot tell you the amount of hours Jim put into this project. Stuff that looked good to us, he would go, umm, no, I don’t like that, lemme see how I can make it better. It was all about form, function, AND looks. The level of expertise, the quality of work, it was worth EVERY CENT. I would like to think Jim enjoyed working on Serenity, stretching his brain to come up with elegant solutions to some sticky wickets. In my opinion, the end product is near perfection; just short of a work of art.
Here are a few close ups of the details:
Another important piece of this project was the shortening of the main sail boom, and with that the main sail. Many Tayana’s suffer from what’s called weather helm. Basically what that means is the boat has a tendency to sashay itself into the wind. It’s an annoyance since if you’re not paying attention next thing you know, forward progress has stalled and the sails are flapping. The fix? Shortening the boom by 18″. Yikes. That seems like a lot to me, however 18″ isn’t an arbitrary number. Bob Perry, who is the designer of our boat(and many other wonderful boats), and other Tayana owners, using careful consideration and what I can only assume is math, landed upon 18″ being the ideal length to shorten. DISCLAIMER: This is for a 37′ boat. Other boat lengths, please consult a professional regarding shortening.
Some action pics of The Shortening happening:
So, after all this, we went sailing, on Christmas day, and the weather helm had 99.9% vanished. Now Serenity practically drives herself. Sweet.
The sail covers, dodger and bimini done. Serenity in all her fern-y glory. Life is good!