Taking Time to Tinker

Dinghy ModelsOne of the things I almost regretted giving up when we went cruising was a workshop—a place to fiddle about with building this and that; a place with tools and a workbench and room to make things.  Part of the reason I didn’t really miss it was because for six years I’d been building this and that like crazy: fifteen dinghies, three molds, sailing kits, furniture—not to mention our cruising boat—all of which involved a lot of time and effort going up blind alleys, altering some things and re-doing others completely.  In short, I was exhausted of building and fiddling and having to invent stuff that I couldn’t afford to buy.

Rigging InspectionAs we cruised, though, and things needed re-doing or repairing, or necessity made me wish for something I hadn’t thought of before, I regretted the absence of tools, a shop, easy mail-order supplies and handy hardware stores.  Over the several years of our cruise, by lamplight in Ganymede’s cabin after the girls had gone to sleep, I compiled a list of things to work on when again I should have a workshop and leisure.  Now that I have at least a workshop, if not that much leisure, I’ve started chiselling away at my list.


One little shop or another...Some items are on the way, way back burner: an indestructible, corrosion-proof titanium umbrella—an idea born of the struggle to keep umbrellas from immediately disintegrating during the rainy season of southern Panama; a telescope with built-in compass and rangefinder (Danielle hates binoculars); acetylene ship’s lamps, to negate the need for smelly kerosene.  But three or four others are front and center, all being worked on at once.

Sailboat Rigging: Toggle in use.One of the aspects of boatbuilding that I enjoyed most was the rigging.  It was not only the greatest design challenge that I faced while building Ganymede; it was the most fun.  The rig is also the part of the boat I’ve tweaked and altered the most since we set out.  Even though everything was designed for maximum simplicity, over the five years of our cruise I managed to make things ever more simple: replacing blocks with fairleads here and there, eliminating excessive runs of line, and mostly, getting rid of metal clips and shackles and hooks whenever I could replace them with Dyneema lashings of soft shackles.

Sailboat Rigging: Toggles and StropsOne of the things I tried that worked best—I don’t claim it’s invention; these have been around for hundreds of years—was a toggle and a loop to replace metal shackles, which are expensive, given to corrosion, heavy, and apt to get sticky with time.  I started out with one or two, but before long was using them all over the place. The wooden ones I spun out on my small lathe worked so well, that I made it my first major project to make them in aluminum.  In a previous blog posting I’ve talked about going into business, with all that that involves.  It’s a slow process, but finally we have an actual product to sell, and a website to sell it on:  Abednegomarine.com  The site’s a little rough around the edges yet, but soon I hope to have more and better pictures of the many uses for toggles, perhaps a video or two of how to splice them them on and use them, and hopefully some more products down the road.  You see, the more I fiddle about with this and that, the more ideas keep cropping up, and the more new things I want to try.

Will I ever reach the end of my list?  Looks unlikely, if it keeps growing faster than I can keep up.  Perhaps my titanium umbrella will never be a thing, but having a little shop and starting to make new things again sure feels good.

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