Two Sheets to the Wind

I just got back from a trip to the Boston area where I spent time with my Aunt Mary, who hasn’t been feeling that well. I had this idea that I’d enjoy some brief visits and have a cheerful impact, then maybe read the NY Times, watch some playoff baseball, enjoy the fall foliage and keep it simple…while managing to show up for the daily 5PM cocktail hour.

But Mary said she had a project for me, something a bit more nuanced than digging up perennials in the garden, and it looked like this, an old, damaged model sailboat:

Back when my cousin Michaela passed away in 2009 (read more here), her cats were living in Mary’s home. During their stay, the cats ate the sails on this treasured old model sailboat my paternal grandmother gave to Mary many years ago. Mary got the first boat he made, but eventually, all of my dad’s siblings got a model boat (the one that was in our family was lost years ago). I guess Mary was tired of looking at the shredded sails, and my task, if I accepted it, was to repair them.

And just to be clear, the leftovers were really ripped apart. I couldn’t tell a scrap of sail from rigging. I actually know nothing about model sailboat sail repair.

But I set to work using some imagination and looking at what was left of the original pattern. I used my cousin Megan’s dining room table, her sewing machine and iron; and I picked up supplies–canvas and several hemp twines–at a local fabric shop. I made my own pattern:

Here’s the job sail. You can actually move it around, too:

The main sail was a bit bigger and trickier. I was apply to keep the original waxed twine that was attached to the mast and boom. Here I am trying to get a somewhat straight seam on the main sail:

The whole project turned out much better than I anticipated. It took a while, but apparently I am able to channel my ancestors–when needed–to come up with some basic sailboat design principles.

The boat was well-received: here I am posing with the refurbished boat with my Aunt Mary:

I don’t know if you’d want to try and sail this on a pond anymore. It was once meant to be utilitarian, but I think it’ll need to serve a decorative purpose now….and ideally one with no more cats!

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