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How to Make Dinghy Chaps

When you’re on your boat, your dinghy is like your car; it’s how you get to shore or to neighboring boats for sundowners. As an important piece of your boating equipment, you’ll want to keep it in good working order. Inflatable dinghies, which feature rubber inflatable tubes, are a popular style. Protect the tubes from harmful UV rays and chafe with dinghy chaps, which are like a leave-on cover on the topside of the tubes. Every dinghy is slightly unique, so the best way to get a precise fit is to have them custom-made. We recently sewed up a set of dinghy chaps for Jim Grant’s dinghy for his Islander 37 sailboat. Watch our step-by-step video to learn how to pattern and sew your own custom dinghy chaps.

The key to getting well-fitted dinghy chaps is careful patterning. We used 12-gauge Plastipane vinyl as a pattern material for this project. The clear vinyl was a little sticky against the vinyl of the dinghy, so it stayed in place well while patterning. We also let a tiny bit of air out of the dinghy when we patterned, to ensure a snug finished fit when fully inflated.

We used Sunbrella® Marine Grade fabric for the main body of our dinghy chaps, with Shelter-Rite® for chafe protection patches. At the aft end of each tube we switched the material to Phifertex® Mesh to help promote water drainage at the rear of the boat. This is an especially good idea for dinghies that plane at faster speeds.

The chaps are secured to the dinghy via a leech line drawstring around the outer edge of the cover that is cinched in place. On the inside of the dinghy, we attached the cover with snaps and YKK® SNAD® fastener studs installed directly onto the side of the dinghy.

To watch the full video and see the materials list, visit Sailrite.com and search (#200682XHT).

Have you made your own dinghy chaps before? Do you have any tips to share on the process? Leave us a comment and share your experiences.

2014_April-Weather-Cloth

Do you want to stay a bit drier in your cockpit? Or maybe just have a little more privacy at the dock? Then you might want to install weather cloths. Weather cloths are fabric panels that attach to your lifelines and pushpit rails.  Although they don’t seem like much, weather cloths can significantly add to the comfort of your cockpit when underway or at anchor. These panels not only help to protect against rain, wind and sea spray they also help to block sunlight glare off the water’s surface. Today, we’re going to show you how to make your own weather cloths.

We made our weather cloths out of durable, UV resistant Sunbrella® in Jockey Red to match the rest of the canvas in the cockpit of our Islander 37 project boat. If you want more visibility, you can add clear vinyl windows to your fabric panels. We recommend using an affordable 30-gauge window material, like Plastipane.

Making weather cloths yourself is great because it allows you to customize the design to fit around stanchion poles, winches and other obstacles. You can also customize how you attach the cloth’s base to your boat. Depending on your set up, you can attach the weather cloth to your boat with leech line, shock cord or Velcro®. Basically anything that holds the cloth in place but that isn’t too strong to break away if necessary in a storm.

To see the full video and material list, visit Sailrite.com.

Do you have weather cloths on your boat? Did you make any special modifications to them? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

2014_February_jim-boat-finished-cushion-2

If you spend a lot of time on your boat, either during the season or year round, you want your boat’s cabin to feel like home. A small way to soften the look of your cabin’s salon is to add a tablecloth to the main table. We designed a tablecloth that looks sleek and is functional even when underway. Today, we’re going to show you how to make your own tablecloth for your boat, with a bonus quick tutorial for making placemats that are perfect for use on your boat or even your patio.

This boat tablecloth is a little different from a traditional tablecloth that would be used inside a home. We wanted our tablecloth to not slide around as the boat moves, so we made it to fit snug to the table and wrapped its edges over the table’s sides. We chose to use a Naugahyde® Universal fabric so the tacky texture of the vinyl will help keep items on the tabletop in place better when underway.

Our table on the Islander37 is mounted to the bulkhead with hinges, so we accommodated for that in our design. If your table is free on all four sides, create the fourth side in the same manner as the 3 shown in the video.

For the placemats, we used a Sunbrella® Sling fabric but Phifertex® Plus Mesh would work just as well. These simple no-sew placemats can be made just by cutting out a shape from the mesh and running a hotknife along the edges to seal them.

To see the full video tutorial and materials list, visit Sailrite.com and search #200637XHT.

Would you use a tablecloth in your boat? Tell us what you think of this project in the comments!

 

2014_March-Hatch-Cover

Weather can be a fickle friend and with all the variations of cloudy, partly cloudy, and scorching hot sunny days, sometimes you need a variety of weapons to keep your boat’s cabin perfectly cool and well-lit. For the hottest days, you can cover the outside of your hatch with a Sunbrella Hatch Cover that will block all the light and protect the glass. But for those in-between days, why not use a lighter cover that will help shade your cabin while still letting a little light flow in? Today we’re going to show you how to do just that by making an Inside Hatch Cover.

Using an inside hatch cover allows you the freedom to attach or remove the cover from inside your cabin. Our inside hatch cover is made with Phifertex Mesh which has an open weave that allows air to pass through and has about a 70% shade factor. If you wanted more shade, you could use Phifertex Plus or Sunbrella Sling fabrics, which have a 90-95% shade factor.

We attached our hatch cover using YKK SNADs. These adhesive backed snap studs are great for this project because they adhere really well to surfaces and they don’t require you to drill a hole.

This project is simple to sew and great for beginners. In this video, you will learn how to pattern, sew and install an inside hatch cover.

 

Materials List:

Find a great selection of mesh materials along with all of the other materials needed to complete this project at www.sailrite.com.

Do you have covers for your hatches? What style are they? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments!

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