Thursday, March 08, 2018

Dusting off an AMC Minifish Sailboat

After living in the same house for over twenty years, you tend to amass TOO MUCH STUFF. In an effort to declutter, I started going through our house room by room to donate or sell everything that we weren't using or couldn't part with. In our basement taking up a lot of space, was this AMC Minifish sailboat that my parents gave to me. They bought it around 1980, and I remember taking it out a few times. We also had a Snark sailboat which I enjoyed a lot more because the cockpit was roomier and the boat was way less tippy, but that boat was long gone. I remember taking a Sunfish out in Disney World around 1987 and capsizing it multiple times, not exactly a good time!

Since the last time I used a sailboat was 30 years ago and I really didn't have much sailing experience, the Minifish just sat in my basement. The hull was propped up against the wall and the sail and mast were tied up and sat on some rafters. For TWENTY YEARS! So it was time to either sail it or sell it. Adam and I took it out in the yard to see if we could rig it up. I was worried that the sail was completely eaten up by bugs or rodents, but miraculously it was in perfect shape. I had long forgotten what my dad told me it about rigging it and was hard pressed to find anything on the internet. There were plenty of videos about rigging a Sunfish, which is significantly more complicated rigging than a Minifish. I had one 3/8" rope with it, which I managed to raise the sail with but it was really tight going through the mast and didn't seem like enough to actually sail with. When the sail was up, I took a few pictures for Craigslist just in case I was too chicken to actually sail it.

After much more research on the internet, I finally found the original instructions for a Minifish in a sailing forum. Even this was complicated to understand, having forgotten all the terminology. Finally, I determined exactly what I needed to rig the Minifish. Here it is in easy to understand language!

Assuming the sail is attached to the booms (lashed) and the daggerboard still has its retaining cord, here are the items that you will need (Amazon affiliate links, thanks):
  1. Two 25' lengths and one 15' length of 1/4" or 5/8" diameter braided nylon rope. One 25' length is used as the halyard (raises the sail on the mast) and the other for the mainsheet (rope you hold on to for controlling the sail). It's possible to use about 20' for these, but 25' is what I used. The shorter rope is used as a tow rope or to attach the optional paddle below. You can get rope at Lowe's for $0.22/foot, or spend more at Amazon
  2. Optional (to attach the main sheet to the bridle): Stainless Steel Swivel-eye Boat Snap 3-1/4". If there is no ring on the bridle, this becomes necessary.

  3. Optional (to get you out of still water): Attwood Emergency Telescoping Paddle. This one is especially nice because it has a hole in the handle to attach a retaining rope, but it is a little tricky getting it to open and close consistently.
Here are some all-important knots to know:

Here are the rigging instructions:
  1. If you have a paddle, tie one end the 15' rope to the paddle using a bowline knot, and the other end to the bow handle (handle at the front of the sailboat) using another bowline knot. If you don't have a paddle, use the 15' rope as a tow rope by attaching one end to the bow handle and tying an open bowline knot at the other end. Leave the paddle or the tow rope on the cockpit.
  2. Attach the rudder. First, put the tiller (rudder handle) under the bridle (rope which goes across the back of the boat). Push the endpin of the rudder upward to expose the shoulder at the top of the pin. Insert the pin, then press down again when in place.
  3. Place the daggerboard in the cockpit. 
  4. Lay the sail to the left of the mast hole, with the ring over the hole.
  5. Use a 25’ length of 5/8” rope for the main sheet. 
    • If you have a boat snap hook, attach it to one end of the rope with a bowline knot. Clip the hook to the ring on the bridle (or just to the bridle if no ring). Feed the free end of the rope through the back pulley of the sail and then through the front pulley. Tie a figure 8 stopper knot on the end and place the rope in the cockpit.
    • If you do not have a boat snap hook, tie a figure 8 stopper knot on one end (leave in place for future use). Feed the free end through the front pulley of the sail and then through the back pulley. Tie the free end to the bridle ring using a bowline knot.  Place the stopper end in the cockpit.
  6. Use the other 25’ length of 5/8” rope as the halyard (the rope that holds up the mainsail). Tie to the upper beam of the sail just above the 7th plastic sail attachment with a clove hitch followed by two half-hitches. Slide the free end of the rope through the hole at the top of the mast to about halfway down the rope.
  7. Insert the mast into the sail ring and into the mast hole. Raise the sail by pulling the rope and attach the free end of the halyard to the deck cleat with a cleat hitch. Place the remaining rope in the cockpit.
  8. Insert the daggerboard, with the longer straight edge to the back, and tie the retaining cord to the metal loop on the deck.
  9. When sailing, sit on the stopper knot of the main sheet so it doesn’t get away.
Our first outing was to a small lake in New Hampshire, with a beach launch. I was extremely nervous, but put my phone on dry land and set off. This is where you really need a phone! No way to call for help if something goes wrong! It was slow going at first with little wind, but once into the middle part of the lake, there were a few gusts. The only thing I remember from sailing as a teenager was that if things got out of hand, loosen the main sheet. It was really nerve-wracking at first when the sailboat started to tip, but it wasn't too bad once I gained confidence that I could actually sail again. Coming to shore was a bit of work since there was only the slightest of breezes going offshore, so I had to wave the rudder back and forth to get the boat moving (here's where the paddle would've come in handy, didn't have it yet). It was actually, dare I say it, fun!

After that successful first sail, I got Adam into the boat. I gave the briefest of instructions on how to sail (because I knew so little myself) and pushed him away from the beach.  He immediately crashed into a nearby dock so I waded into the water to pull the boat away, and set him in the right direction. When I got to shore, I realized that my iPhone 6 was in my shorts pocket and it was completely soaked! I tried to get it quickly into a bag of rice, but it didn't look promising. The screen kept flickering on with the Apple sign then fizzing off and it was extremely hot. The sailboat ended up costing me a phone!

Adam also had a successful outing with no capsizing. He mentioned that sail turned all the way around the mast, but he managed to get it back. The next week, we went back with a new iPhone 7 and this handy pouch.  The iPhone 7 may be waterproof, but it certainly doesn't float! I performed a float test with this pouch before going again and it does work!

3 Pack Cambond Universal Floating Waterproof Phone Case

Since then I've got an iPhone 7 Plus, and that is definitely too big to float in this pouch! I may try this one next year:

Temdan iPhone 8 plus / 7 plus / 6s plus/ 6 plus Floating Case

On our second trip the following weekend, I relaxed a bit more and explored around the lake. I attempted to take some photos with my new phone when there was no wind, but the pictures don't capture the beauty of the boat and the feeling of freedom and empowerment derived from traveling solely through wind power.

It's so quiet and peaceful when there is no wind. And then it gets exciting when there is wind. Lean to the side! Watch the water splash over the deck! Whoosh! How fast am I going? And getting around relies completely on your understanding of the wind in the sail. In the end, we decided to keep the sailboat. To many more sailing days ahead!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Knitting an Abercrombie & Fitch Scarf

On a Black Friday shopping trip last year, Dova spotted this chunky cable knit scarf from Abercrombie & Fitch.

The regular price was a $44 (ridiculous!) and at half price, it was $22. I immediately dismissed her wish to buy it because I could easily knit her one for less, even at half price! I snapped a quick photo to capture the stitch pattern and we left. It looked pretty straightforward with a cable stitch in the center and moss stitch on the sides.

The first task was to find the appropriate yarn. With Michael's coupons, I picked up 4 skeins of Bernat Mega Chunky yarn 7 oz. in color Aran. In order to maximize coupon usage, this is technically 4 trips to the store at one coupon per type per day. Thankfully there is a store on the way home from my work (I actually did it in 3 trips, the cashier allowed me to ring up twice on the last day). At $6.99/skein, with two 50% off and two 40% off coupons, the total for the yarn was $15.38. Not so cheap after all! Full price for the yarn would be $27.97, so the Abercrombie scarf is actually cheaper at half price.

Here are the yarn and needles with an Amazon affiliate link (if you don't have a yarn store near you). Get 3 skeins of 10.5 oz (big ball) or 4 skeins of 7 oz (regular ball).

Bernat Mega Bulky Yarn, 10.5 Ounce, Aran

Darice Size 19 15mm Jumbo Knitting Needle

I picked up these knitting needles for the unbelievable Amazon Add-On price of $3.70. You can find size 19 (15mm) in other brands for under $10 on Amazon or at your local craft store (another trip with another coupon!). So my cost for creating this scarf ended up at $19.08, which only saved me $2.92 for my labor!

Before embarking on the main scarf, I practiced on smaller scrap yarn to get the pattern right. I restarted it several times and graphed it out in Excel before I got something close. Dova was worried that I was making the scarf way too tiny and I had to assure her that I was just testing the pattern and that we could give it to one of her dolls or one of our cats.

In the beginning, I got so frustrated with the edging and the look of the cable that I sent Doug to buy the scarf so that Dova could actually have what she wanted for Christmas. At that point, I had little hope of finishing in the right pattern in time for Christmas. Finally, I could do some side-by-side comparisons.

Hey, not too bad at all! But the flip side (which I had not photographed and the scarf was not yet available online) had issues. Note to self: when photographing a pattern to emulate, take pictures of both sides!

With the real scarf in hand, I was able to correct the weird rib on the backside next to the cable and see that there is a slip stitch that rolls to the backside for the edging. Since the scarf knits up so fast, I frogged it back to the ribbed section and started again. Now the backside is much better, look at that beautiful edging!

The pattern may not be an exact replica, but it's super easy to remember while knitting. All the knit rows are basically the same and there are two types purl rows, one for the ribbed section and one for the main scarf. It's possible to use slightly smaller needles, somewhere between 10 and 15 mm.

Abbreviation C4B: Slip next 2 stitches onto cable needle and leave at back of work. K2, then K2 from cable needle. I believe they did C4F (front), but I'm just used to the back, either way, it's just a cable in one direction.

Cast on 16 stitches
Row 1: K2, P, K2, P, K4, P, K2, P, K2
Row 2: Sl1P (slip one purlwise), P, K, P2, K, P4, K, P2, K, P2
Row 3: Sl1K (slip one knitwise), K, P, K2, P, K4, P, K2, P, K2
Repeat rows 2 & 3, 5 times
Row 14: Sl1P, P2, K, P8, K, P3

Row 15 (cable): Sl1K, K, P, K2, P, C4B, P, K2, P, K2
Row 16: Sl1P, P2, K, P8, K, P3
Row 17: Sl1K, K, P, K2, P, K4, P, K2, P, K2
Row 18: Sl1P, P2, K, P8, K, P3
Repeat rows 17 and 18, then go back to row 15 and repeat this block for the main part of the scarf.

When the scarf reaches 6.5 feet or so, end on a cable row and then switch back to Rows 2 and 3 for 13 rows (end on a purl row). Cast off on the knit side in pattern. The Abercrombie scarf is actually about 8 feet long, and this one is a bit shorter, but still long enough to be stylish.

On Christmas, Dova first opened my scarf which she saw me knit and was actually impressed with my knitting abilities. Then Doug gave her the surprise gift of the actual A&F scarf. She loved them both!  Here they are side by side:

Mom's handknit scarf

Abercrombie & Fitch scarf

I prefer my handknit scarf myself! The yarn is shinier and silkier than the Abercrombie yarn, but it a bit heavier. She's worn the Abercrombie scarf with the ends tucked into the loop so it looks like an enormous lifesaver. They could put her in the ad!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shipping up to King Richard's Faire!

King Richard's Faire Family

Hear ye! It's time once again to head to Carvershire for King Richard's Faire! This was our second year visiting the enchanted forest. Watch our whole visit below in only one minute and 20 seconds! In case you're wondering how I managed to stitch iOS live photos together, I used the Google Motion Stills app to export the videos and then Videoshop to put all the still photos, live photos and videos together (there's no one magic app to handle live photos). Click the sound on to sing along at the end!

This time, we tried to see shows that we missed last year and also try new foods. Here are the shows we watched:
  1. Draiku aerial show (breathtaking, see video clips)
  2. Daniel Duke of Danger (watched again for my mom)
  3. The King's Tournament (can't miss the jousting!)
  4. The Mud Show by the Sturdy Beggars - this is clearly the loudest show in the land so I wanted to check it out. And true to it's name, it's muddy and bawdy, and somewhat entertaining if you like getting dirty.
As usual, here's the rundown of the money spent. Clearly I didn't read last year's post about starting with less food tickets and started with more! Here's how 70 food tickets were spent this year:
  1. $12 for a turkey leg (tasty, smoked and tender, shared by all)
  2. $12 for water bottles (3 bottles at $4 each)
  3. $10 for Caesar chicken wrap (a bit too much dressing)
  4. $10 for chicken gyro (pretty tasty)
  5. $12 for chicken fingers and fries (Adam doesn't like to try new things)
  6. $8 for Blue Moon pumpkin ale with a pumpkin spice dipped cup (very tasty!)
  7. $5 for root beer float (had to have this again, made with soft serve ice cream)
  8. $1 as a souvenir:
    King Richard's Faire food ticket
Notice that we only really had four meals and drinks split between five people (I snatched bites of everyone's food), so your food dollars may vary. But I was glad to actually get a beer this time and chomp on a turkey leg.

Here's what we spent on other games and goods at the Faire:
  1. $5 for a ring for Lady Dova (she remembered to wear her flower wreath from last year)
  2. $7 for bartender and performer tips (well deserved)
  3. $4 for Dova to throw ninja stars (one stuck, see video!)
  4. $8 for Adam and I to ride the Sky Chair Swing (too dizzy for me)
In the end, we spent less than last year because we kept Master Card and Lady Visa at bay for the pricier merchandise.

Now it's your turn to visit King Richard's Faire. The knights are waiting!

Photo by Tim Rice.

Disclaimer: I received admission tickets courtesy of Dennehy PR, thank you Lady Julie!
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