Review: Lunatec Self Cleaning Washcloths

Disclaimer: I am not paid, nor have I received any kind of free item from this company.  Just a happy customer.

After reading about the Lunatec Washcloths on The Boat Galley website last year I decided to add them to my Christmas list, and my family was kind enough to purchase them for me.

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I’ve been using them for a couple months now, and since then have already purchased four more.  To start out I just used them on the dishes, and they worked great. They are the perfect mix of wash cloth and scratchy pad.  And they never really feel smelly or dirty.  They are basically plastic so it feels clean as soon as it’s rinsed out.

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Once I had ordered this 4 pack I got to work trying the cloths on new things. It scrubbed down the stove with ease. It works great on all stainless. It won’t take big rust spots off, but if you just want to give it a quick shine, this is a great tool.  (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

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I also tried the Lunatec Washcloths on my non-skid cabin sole. It worked better than a regular rag, but not as well as a stiff brush. However, it was faster than the brush and still did an ok job.

Cons: Only thing I don’t like about this rag is it won’t dry wet objects or wipe up spills. When washing the floor I had to follow go over everything again with a towel. The Lunatec is strictly good for scraping/scrubbing.

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Installing new acrylic fixed ports

I finally tackled the leaking fixed ports this weekend. Removing the old leaking windows took much more effort than I had anticipated, but other than that, the entire project went well, and I managed not to stain the deck with too much black Dow Corning sealant.

Step 1: Remove old fixed ports.

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The screws came out easy, but the sealant did not want to let go. As you can see, I didn’t manage to get either window off in one piece. Note that the factory method for mounting these windows required painting the edges and the center black, so that you couldn’t see the sealant through the window. However, that means you’re now bonding to the paint instead of the acrylic, so we decided not to do the painting. We also decided not to use screws.

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The center sections were completely coated in sealant. While this made the old windows ridiculously hard to get off, it did nothing to actually keep them from leaking.

Step 2: Scrape and clean the mounting surface.

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Step 3: Apply 3M mounting tape

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Step 4: Level the new plexiglass window and pop it on the mounting tape.

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Step 5: Mask around the freshly mounted fixed port.

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Step 6: Goop it up with Dow Corning 795.

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Step 7: Smooth the sealant into all the cracks, wipe up the excess, and then pull the tape and peel the paper off the plexiglass.

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Step 8: Admire your new fixed ports that no longer leak when it rains.

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Gimme Shelter’s first “gig”

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When the idea of cruising comes around, you start analyzing all of your skills and talents in hopes of identifying something that might be profitable enough to indefinitely sustain your cruising kitty or at least “slow the burn rate” as Patrick Schulte says in his most recent book, Living on the Margin.

Things like sewing and mechanic work instantly come to mind, but Mary and I are also musicians. (Well, at least one of us is a musician … the other is a drummer. #InsertYourOwnDrummerJokeHere #DrummerJokesNeverGetOld)

The idea crossed our mind that perhaps we could supplement our income, or at least lessen our expenses, by playing music at marinas and bars throughout the ICW and the Caribbean.

Recently we met a couple from New York through Facebook who were already cruising and playing music as they went. Their band, Stell and Snuggs, does some interesting stuff. Reading their blog also brought up some important issues. Considering that most bars in the US pay musicians in cash, we hadn’t even thought about needing work permits just to play music outside the US, but apparently you do.

While we were having nice marina jam sessions every weekend, the question still remained, could we get paid? Therefore, we finally booked a show to test both our equipment and ourselves.

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However, most of the bars really wanted something more than just a duo, especially on weekends. Now, in Houston we have quite a few musician friends, so fielding a full band for St. Patrick’s Day was no problem, but I think Mary and I are going to have to step up our game when playing by ourselves.

We prepped about 50 songs, and we ended up rolling through a four hour show with music to spare. My voice was raw and Mary’s hands were swollen, but we did it.

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And yes, we did get paid. For our first show we got $300 cash and a $50 credit on our bar tab. (We also found a whopping $1 tip in our tiny tip can.) Would that help supplement our cruising if we could play one or two shows per week? Absolutely! Is that anything comparable to what a bar might pay in Fort Myers, Florida or Dewey, Culebra? I have no idea.

A few lessons learned:

  • People enjoy top 40, but they get up and dance to oldies
  • We’ve got to further minimize our equipment or we’re going to have to buy a HUGE dinghy
  • Tip jars should be very large, well-labeled and right out front in the middle of the stage
  • We need to record some of our original songs and get them on the blog or on iTunes, so we have somewhere to send people when they ask about it.
  • Don’t forget the important harmonica!

A big thank you to all of our friends, blog readers and Facebook friends that came out to the first show. We haven’t scheduled any more shows at the moment, but if we do, I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. Feel free to post your favorite drummer jokes in the comments!

 

The 2016 Southwest International Boat Show

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The boat show is always one of our favorite things to do in Kemah.  We make sure to go at least one day, but it does run Thursday-Sunday.  We went with our friends Tina and Ray who are power boaters, and so naturally they wanted to head down the power boat row first.

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This Cruisers Yacht 45 was the first one we were drawn into.

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We were mesmerized by all its buttons. The shade outside retracts, the cushions on the back go flat and then recline anyway you’d like, and it has an inside sunroof.

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The next boat we wondered into was the 50 ft 2015 Maritimo M50 offered by Galati Yacht Sales.

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It seems like the fully enclosed fly bridges are the new standard. 2016_BoatShow_10

The downstairs had a somewhat small master, but a really cozy cubby of a VIP room that I sort of fell in love with.  Maybe because of my small size, I have always been drawn to small spaces.

The men seemed to be very impressed with the engine room, although I don’t see why.

The winds were really blowing us around on the dock, and climbing on and off boats was getting a bit exhausting, but we pressed on to the end of the power boat dock, and it’s a good thing we did or we never would have seen this pontoon with a water slide.

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After that we headed over to the sailboat dock. A lot of the boats we have already seen at past boat shows broker open houses in our marina. We just yawned as we walked by the 40+ft catamarans.

I did take a second to step onto the 52 Beneteau Sense though, as it was probably the biggest sailboat there.

Boat Show fever hit me hard looking at a little Island Packet 35 named Missy. No pictures of her as we were too busy calculating what we’d have to sell to buy her.

They had a few more toys and plenty of vendors to talk to. What surprised us most this year is how many people we knew. We couldn’t go anywhere without running into a friend. That was my favorite part.

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For us the surprises didn’t end at the festival, the real boat show started when we got back to the marina. Because of the high winds there was a boat stranded outside the channel and slowly dragging its way into the breakwater. I called the harbormaster and the coast guard, but they both just said to keep an eye on it and let them know if there is imminent danger.

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We didn’t get to stay to watch the rescue or demise of the vessel, but we heard from a friend that she eventually got unstuck and is safely back in her slip.

 

How to: Washing and Re-tufting Boat Cusions

The salon cushions on Gimme Shelter are in pretty good shape, but after three years of dog butts on them, they needed a good washing.

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The problem is that they have all of these tufted buttons, and they are threaded straight through the foam on both sides.  I finally bit the bullet and cut them all off.  On the back side they had these horrible metal pieces that had rusted and stained the fabric.

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First thing I did was pull these out, and cut them off.  I had to put all my weight on the cushion to create enough slack.

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Once you cut them loose, make sure to put the buttons in a safe place.  Unless you have scrap material to match your upholstery, there’s no way to make new matching buttons.

After I had removed all of the buttons I took the covers off and put them through the washing machine.  I used the cold cycle and then hung them to dry to avoid any shrinking. I then took the foam and sprayed it down with Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner, and left them in the sun.

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After putting the covers back on (this was more difficult than you’d expect, I broke a sweat), the real fun began.  Although they looked pretty ok without the buttons, we buckled down and started the re-tufting.

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First thing you need is a huge needle.  I got mine at Joann’s Fabric in the upholstery section.  Also on Amazon.  Needle

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The second thing you need is some upholstery thread (or any kind of heavy weight thread).  It doesn’t need to be UV resistant, but I went ahead and used my UV-92 from Sailrite as I already had a huge spool of it.

For each button you will need a length of thread about two feet long. You can get away with smaller, but it’s a lot easier to just use more. Pull the thread through the needle, but don’t tie any knots.

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Sorry for the goofy face.

If you don’t already have your button spots marked, this would be the time to do it.  There are several different patterns to choose from, but the main ones used are the star pattern I have or the single lines. The upside of having rust stains on my cushions is that it left me a nice guide as to where my tufts should be, so I just had to stick the needle through the back and try very hard to hit the correct spot in the front. Sometimes it took a  couple tries to get it straight. 12499592_10101671285547472_1258353963_o

Make sure that you don’t lose the end of the thread in the cushion when you poke it through.

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On the other side, pass the thread through the button, then push the needle back through the center of your hole. If you didn’t get the thread exactly in the right spot, don’t worry.  It’s just important that you get it through on the way back. Then you can kind of arrange the button where you want it before you pull it tight.

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When you have the thread back through, pull it tight.

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Make sure your button is where you want it on the other side…and then tie it in a knot. You could also put it through a plastic button on the back if you like, although I don’t find it makes any difference.

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And…tada!  New clean upholstery. We’ll see how many years they can go before I do all of that again!  We’re definitely going to scotch guard them while they’re clean!

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Our upgrade to a Stack-Pack

I’ve been working away on our new stack pack that Banks Sails drew out for me, and I (think) I am nearing completion. Although Trent at Banks gave me a good walk through when I picked up the fabric, I am mostly relying on the Sailrite videos, as I have a terrible memory and really need a visual.

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The bulk of the pack is basically just two trapezoids with a rectangle on the end to go around the mast.

One of the features the guys at Banks added that would not be included in a Sailrite kit were these neoprene patches that protect from chafing in the high wear areas.

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I put them on with spray adhesive, and I used way too much.  As you can see I made a mess, and I also caused staining on the fabric. Lesson learned. Thankfully I only messed up one side.

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It doesn’t look as bad in real life as it does in the picture, but I’m still not happy about it.  We will have to work out a solution once it’s finished.

Another mistake I made was to sew two identical sides the first time round.  Fred then forced me to take a few deep breathes, rip out the whole second half and start again.  5 extra hours added to the project.

Here is my current product, it’s not quite finished.  It still needs loops for the lazy jacks, grommets for the sail slugs to attach it at the bottom, zippers to attach the rectangle mast portion, and then a hem up the aft edge once it is measured to the correct length.  That seems like a lot actually now that I type it, but I am excited to get it done.

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We did a preliminary test fitting last weekend just to make sure everything was good. It’s going to be much larger than our current sail cover, but hopefully it will make life much easier as well.

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Removing the radar tower

After literally YEARS of deliberation, we finally decided to remove the radar tower from the cockpit of Gimme Shelter. The aged JRC Radar 1000 still worked but was hard to read, and the tower support poles caused a major complication when it came to designing a new bimini.

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The entire process was relatively painless. I had to clip the plugs off the ends of the cables to slide them down through the helm, but once they were clear, I was able to just unbolt and lift out the pole.

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Then I had to mix up some thickened epoxy to fill the holes.

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I was extra careful to mask around the holes after I got in trouble for dripping epoxy on the gel coat while replacing the winches.

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The only tricky part was bending my arm down through a hole and back up into the transom to tape up the bottom of the big hole, but even that worked out.

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Next weekend I’ll have to add just a little more epoxy to the big hole to build it up even with the rest of the stern. Then we can sand everything smooth and gel coat back over the repairs.

When the budget allows we may eventually add a Garmin radar, but if we do we’ll use a self-leveling backstay mount that won’t take up a bunch of space. In the meantime, the cockpit is now clear for our new bimini project!

When did you last inspect your rigging?

We had several blocks and lines meet the end of their useful lives during this year’s Icicle Series, but it wasn’t until we finished race four that someone on my crew said, “Hey your forestay pin is really bent.

Sure enough, the furler and the forestay had loaded up the pin that held it all together and put a nice curve in it. There was no pulling it out.

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Since I know very little about rigging, I consulted our friend Alex over at Bahama Rigging as to why the pin bent and the best course of action to take, so that it doesn’t happen again.

He suggested adding a toggle and re-tensioning the forestay. Then if there was still a little bit of slack, he could adjust the backstay. It might rake the mast back an inch or so, but it was the most inexpensive option.

Normally I do all the boat work, but we had a huge crew of people coming to sail with us the next weekend, so I let Bahama Rigging have at it.

Apparently cutting out the forestay pin and adding the toggle wasn’t too bad. However, the backstay adjuster was completely frozen. It also had to be cut out. Then the backstay had to be re-swaged with all new hardware.

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Lesson learned: Always check and lubricate your standing rigging!

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But we now have a beefier pin in the bow as well as the correct toggle below the furler.

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And the backstay is once again adjustable.

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I made sure to clean and adjust all the shrouds before we went home. I prefer to keep the mast in an upright position.

Redoing Our Boat Canvas for Spring

When I bought our boat I thought it was very odd that the owner had done very bright blue canvas, and then a dark blue stripe that did not match at all.  Although I know now that the strip color is just how it was made, and the canvas color, Pacific Blue, is the most common on boats, it’s still always bothered me. redfish_island_09

Last year I went about making new lifeline covers, mast boot etc and chose to match our dodger color.  Well now this year thanks to a new sail our sail cover no longer fits, and our dodger is wearing thin.  The canvas on our jib is also coming off.  And as you can see in this picture our bimini is just some weird material we hang from the back stay. So since it looks like I will have to replace all the expensive pieces, I figured I might as well replace it all, and change the color while I’m at it. We had looked at sailrite kits, but I wasn’t convinced of the quality.  When we went to talk to the local sail loft, Banks Sails who did our mainsail, they offered to make us up a superior kit and match the Sailrite price!  They have also provided a lot of extra help along the way.  So then all we needed was the machine. I’ve really resisted purchasing a new sewing machine hoping that my Brother and old Singer could do the job, but they just weren’t heavy duty enough.

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My first impressions of the Sailrite is that it it very powerful and fast.  I’ve had a lot of trouble getting the tension just right, but I’ve read that is common.  When I was adjusting the bobbin tension I also busted the top off the screw.  Sailrite had one in the mail to me before I could even fully explain the problem to them.  Amazing customer service.  I’m hoping that after the machine and I get more used to each other we can be better friends.

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Our stackpack is the first step and it’s currently in progress, so I will keep you updated on the large canvas.  But in the mean time I have completed all of my small canvas projects.  Light blue is old, dark blue is new. I also changed the material from surlast to sunbrella.

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I need a little more practice on that hatch cover if anyone wants to volunteer.

Still on the list for our boat (besides the big things) winch covers, inside window covers, redoing the buttons on the cushions, and curtains.  Oh jeez it never ends.

Also available in my canvas shop if you’re looking to do a full set: Grill and winch covers

Buy a full new set for your own boat!