A Wing on the Water

Many boatbuilders and boatbuilding books recommend finishing the sail first when embarking on a sailboat project. The chief reason for doing this is that you’ll want to sail right away when the boat is finished. Sailmaking is a good winter project that can be done indoors and a finished sail sitting around is a great incentive to finish the boat. With this in mind, I bought a sail kit for Blue Moon and sewed it together in less than a week in March. Having all of the pieces laser cut and numbered helps speed up the process!

The sail is made of Dacron fabric and sewn with polyester thread. Grommets along the luff (the forward edge) will allow the sail to be laced onto the mast, a very simple rigging arrangement. I added a pair of grommets two-thirds of the way up the leech (the after edge) to attach a small U.S. flag.

The finished sail, just over 12 feet by 8 feet.

Unfortunately, progress on the boat itself didn’t progress at all this summer. I did remove it from the crate I’d built and Emily and I moved the hull into our very large front porch. This is a great space for working on the boat but one project after another pulled me away from Blue Moon all spring and summer. Maybe I’ll be able to work on it some this winter (fingers crossed).

Workshop Remodel

Zipped up shed exterior.

When we bought our property, there were two outbuildings, one of which I tore down as detailed in an earlier post. For the better part of this year, I’ve been slowly rehabilitating the other structure to use as my woodworking shop and I’m happy to report the exterior is finished.

The shed before its facelift.

This shed was built as a dog kennel in 1980 and still had a series of dog doors on the east side. I don’t know when it last housed dogs but when we first visited the property, two rabbits were living in a hutch in the shed. I later discovered, unpleasantly, that raccoons and mice had been using it as a hotel for a long time. The shed had a memorable odor that is now gone!

I began the remodel by slowly working my way around the building as I had time and resources. I removed the steel siding and replaced it with an engineered wood siding over rigid insulation. The roof is steel and in fine shape but I did replace the brown trim with white and added a new ridge cap. To help keep the shed cooler in the summer, I installed a ridge vent and soffit vents to ventilate what will be an attic space. Gutters will keep water away from the foundation and siding and help fill my small rain barrel.

Since this will be a workshop I wanted plenty of light but my window wish list got pared down when I starting pricing options. In the end, I installed a large window on the south side that replaced a door and two small windows on the north side, plus a nine-light door.

The zen phase of the exterior remodel was priming and painting (two coats of Sherwin Williams “Crabby Apple”) with a brush. I spent several mornings before the heat of the day set in painting and listening to the birds and the wind in the trees.

It’s a relief going into colder weather knowing the shed is zipped up from rain, snow, and animals. This winter I shouldn’t find snow inside like I did last year. While there’s no heat or even electricity in the shed yet, I can still use it as an enclosed work space and I’ve already started on revamping the inside.

Summer Solstice

A baby pepper ready to be planted outside in May.

On this solstice it doesn’t feel much like summer: we’ve had weeks of mild temperatures and several inches more rain than is normal. The grass loves it but the garden could use more heat. Our basil, rosemary, and oregano plants seem to be stunted but the strawberries and blueberries are doing well. In the vegetable patch, things are slow-going. We do have at least one pepper on each of the six plants and I recently saw a tiny tomato. The brassicas, carrots, and beets are growing and peas should be ready to harvest soon. At least I haven’t had to do much watering!

On May 22, I got all of the remaining garden plants and seeds in the ground. The next day, I visited a local greenhouse, Barbott Farms, and bought a few perennials for the meadow (Penstemon and Rudbeckia). Seeing many of the vegetables at the greenhouse that I’d tried to start from seed only confirmed my resolve to buy plants next year. It’s difficult to justify the time and expense of starting seeds in our situation.

Our prairie meadow has been an interesting experiment. Unfortunately, none of the seeds I sowed have emerged (not that I can see). The existing grasses and plants have sprung up quickly and I’ve just let them grow. I did plant a few scattered big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) starts that I purchased from Prairie Moon Nursery, mostly along the east side of the meadow. About two dozen of the big bluestems are in pots along with the surviving meadow seedlings I started earlier this year. I want them to grow bigger in a controlled setting before I put them out in the wild.

We decided to plant a row of red oak (Quercus rubra) trees along the west side of our property. I ordered six saplings from the Arbor Day Foundation and planted them 25 feet apart. They’re only about three feet tall right now, so this is an investment in the future.

Our new roof (image courtesy Dennison Exterior Solutions).

Around the house, we’ve been busy with continuing maintenance and upgrades. During the last two weeks of May, roofers removed and replaced our entire roof. It’s a relief to have that done and the results are great. I’ve spent countless hours since December replacing and upgrading as much of our electrical system as I can access. What was here before was, frankly, scary. Recently, the local electrical inspector came to review my work and deemed it a “good job.” There are a few small items to change before final approval but no safety issues. Soon we will be putting up drywall in the laundry room and the list goes on.