Sunday, August 4, 2013

The ultimate necessity...SHADE!

 We were so fortunate to have a lovely, long spring here in Houston this year. Usually by April 1st, it's in the 90's. However, this year, the hot weather didn't start until June, so it was just amazing having 2 extra months of nice, spring-like weather. Actually, February and March were in the 60's and 70's, too. So we had 4 months of beautiful weather! However, June brought some warm weather, and now summer is most definitely here in Galveston!!! The temps have been in the low to high 90's but with the humidity (which is always high in all of Greater Houston area) they say it "feels like 100 or 105". In June, we started in earnest to design a shade canopy to go over the boat. Paul did the drawings, being the mechanical engineer designer, and we discussed how we wanted it to be over the boat. Did we want it low, which meant we wouldn't be able to walk upright on the boat, or did we want it high to take advantage of all the outdoor space on the boat?

It took us several weeks and a variety of drawings to finally come down to the actual design we both liked and agreed upon. With the design finally drawn out, we made a pattern, and then cut it out. A friend of mine has a sailrite sewing machine, and she invited me over to use her machine.  Without her help, this project wouldn't have happened. Or, at least, not in the short order in which it did. (See Captain Maggie with me, below.) Thanks also for your feedback on all my sailing questions!  It's helped me understand sailing better.

We now have a rather large shade canopy over our boat, and it's brought the temperature inside our boat down by between 10-15 degrees cooler than it is without the canopy. Quite a significant difference, and a little savings on electric since we don't use the A/C quite a much and when we do, it's at a higher temp. So instead of having to set it at 74 or 75 degrees, we can set it at 76 to 78 degrees. Our electric bill was stable and not as high as we thought it would be this past month, so that was a nice benefit.

Here are some of the pictures with our new canopy on top!

Port side from the front of dock.

Port side of the boat. I like that we can walk through to the front of the boat on both sides.

Here's our "Front Door". We just pulled back the flap and tied it open. 

Looks like a cocoon, doesn't it? Kind of like how the easterners have to cocoon their boats in the in Houston, we have to do it in the summer.

On our Social Security budget, we had to think of ways to cut costs. We bought a shade cover from Home Depot (6' wide by 100' long) for $250. I sewed it myself, with lots and lots of help from my good friend, Maggie.

Here's a picture of my friend, Maggie, and me together by the boat. Our shade canopy isn't up in this picture because we had gone sailing, and planned to go again. Thanks, Captain Maggie for all your help and for being such a good friend!! I enjoyed working with you so much!

Paul bought pvc pipe and made a frame. (Someone asked if we were building a second story..hehe). The cover goes over the frame to hold up the material. We also tied a line down the middle of the boat, and we tied the top of the canopy to the line on top and in the middle and the bottom of it to a line that travels the length of the toe rail. Seems to work ok.

Unfortunately, however, we have found that it takes longer to set up and break down than we wanted. We were hoping to hone it down to 15 minutes to take down (always faster than putting it up) and less than an hour to set up. We haven't made our time limits yet. Hopefully, after practicing several times, we'll be able to do it smoother and faster in the future. You will notice that we are in slip 5, which is close to all the action. We end up visiting with other liveaboards whenever we are taking down the canopy, so that makes it an even longer process! But it's much more enjoyable that way, too. We have so many great neighbors.

One thing we don't want is to let it get in the way of us going out sailing, which is why we're trying to cut our times down. It's easy to NOT go sailing because of all the hassle with the canopy. Tonight, at sunset, we are going to take it down again, and tomorrow we'll be going to the pump out station and then out into Galveston Bay for a day sail. It's always much cooler out in the bay, and if we return later in the afternoon, we may decide to wait until morning to put it back up. 

In these pics you can see that Paul and I were out in the heat cutting out the holes for the shrouds...I think it was one of the more difficult parts, or at least, the slowest. We had to hand sew the holes with binding tape, and that took us the entire HOT day!!! It was very much worth the efforts though. 

Paul cutting and sewing shroud holes.

Me sewing on the binding around the edges of the shroud holes. 

Overall, we were pleased with our project. We kept within our budget, made ourselves a large, shaded outdoor area, and we're keeping the inside of the boat cool with one A/C at 77-78 degrees while keeping our electricity bill down. The only negative would be the time it takes to disassemble or assemble the canopy. But we're working on cutting that back to less time. We believe it was worth the efforts to keep us cooler here in the hot, humid city of Houston.

Happy Sails until next time!

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