shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Screens and Shades

November 18, 2013

Keeping the interior of a boat comfortable and bug-free requires some ingenuity. As many of you enter warmer climes and encounter bugs in quantities you may have never imagined, you may find yourself struggling with how to deal with these problems. A couple of little canvas snaps strategically placed may make your boat and your life more comfortable.

Shade (l.) and screen (r.)

As a going away present over a decade ago, we were given some mosquito screen that I soon put to use. Since our companionway has only one drop board it was easy to design a screen to cover it. I draped the mosquito net over the companionway, used a stapler to temporarily mark the two necessary pleats, and cut it long enough to lie on deck around the outside of the hatch. After sewing the screen together for the corner pleats, I cut a five inch wide Sunbrella strip equal to the perimeter of a rectangle two inches larger than the screen. I learned the hard way that you cannot simply measure the perimeter of the screen because extra cloth is required to round the corners. For example, for a 20" by 20" screen, you will need to cut a Sunbrella strip (20+2) x4 +1 (for hemming the ends) = 89" long. I sewed 1/2" hems on each edge. On the inside along the centerline of the strip I sewed half ounce egg-shaped fishing weights every three inches on all but the forward edge. I then folded the Sunbrella in half lengthwise with the screen between the two hemmed edges. I stapled them to hold everything in place while I sewed the pieces together. Along the forward side I installed two canvas snaps with their counterparts on the hatch turtle. When flying pests are about, we snap the forward edge of the screen and drape the other three sides over the companionway. The snaps make it easier to use as we go in and out, and the weights keep it in place.

The windscoop snapped to the headliner

Being flush decked Eurisko has no ports, only the hatches in the salon, V berth, head, and hanging locker. I used a similar method to make screens for these hatches, without the weights. I used Sunbrella along the edge of the screen cuts to fit (don't forget the extra material necessary for the corners) and snaps at each corner to secure them.

In the Caribbean where the trade winds blow, the morning sun comes in the salon hatch directly into my eyes every day at 8 a.m. After listening to me complain about this phenomenon for months, Dave suggested I make a sunshade for the hatch. I used Phifertex and snaps to correspond with the snaps already installed in the headliner for the screens. Since Phifertex does not fray, it did not require a binding, though I did double the edges to prevent the snaps from pulling through. With these covers the breeze still comes through but the sun is mostly shaded. These shades are useful to keep out the sun's heat and fading effects when we are not home, as well.

A windscoop can make or break your cruising experience

When the wind scoops we had purchased finally deteriorated from the tropical sun, I decided to build my own so that I could customize them. Our boom is too close to the salon hatch for a standard wind scoop to be effective, so I built a squatter version and also enlarged the V hatch scoop. Since we are so rarely at a marina and therefore do not have the problem of not pointing into the wind, I eliminated the stick-in-the-hatch accessory that allows the wind scoops to pivot. Instead, I attached the wind scoops with snaps, the same ones I used for the screens and shades. Using the old wind scoops as a starting point, I made our custom ones from baby blue ripstop nylon, having found it on sale.

A few inexpensive snaps, a couple of hours of sewing and a bit of material we either had or found on sale have made a huge difference in the quality of our lives onboard. Now if we could only make our cats sleep at night, life would be good on our boat.

What happens when you want to go sailing but your partner doesn't? MONDAY we'll talk about the challenges of floating relationships and offer a bit of advice (and a warning or two) to those considering taking the plunge.

Recent Articles



People and Places

Yarns and Opinions




Bolger AS-29


Can't find your favorite post?

Did you find something of interest? Consider donating $1.
Thank you.