Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Snug as a Bug in a...Lee Cloth?

Falling out of bed is something that, on land, is usually reserved to children under age five.  When you are at sea on a monohull with pretty agressive heel angles, however, the threat of falling out of bed is very real and knows no age limit.

Our two "bedrooms" - the forward cabin and aft cabin - both have self-contained beds that will allow the sleeper to roll from side to side without falling out.  Because we have two wonderful crew members here to help us on this upcoming passage we need to utilize other bed space in order to give everyone a place to sleep comfortably.  Namely, the two settees (the couch-looking things) in our salon area.  Unfortunately, the nature of the settee is to have one side open and as such, falling out can be a real probability depending the "angle of the dangle"...

Despite this, the salon (or "main cabin") is often the best place to sleep in a rough sea because the motion is the least in the center of a boat.  When sailing into the wind (as we will be), there are two predominant "sides" that we deal with almost always:  the high side, and the low side.  The high side, also known as the "windward" side, is where the wind is pushing from and the low side, or "leeward" side,  is the side where the wind is pushing the boat to.  Typically it's more comfortable to sleep on the 'low' side since gravity wants to take you there anyway but when you can't go low, a lee cloth is your friend.

A lee cloth is a piece of fabric (or mesh, or canvas) that is attached to the "lee side" of a bunk to keep the sleeper in that bunk.  One of my pre-departure jobs was to sew lee cloths for our two settees as well as rig up a type of barrier for Isla in both the v-berth and aft cabin.  I must admit, the temptation to just buy some lee cloths online was there.  But I persevered and decided to bust out my trusty Sailrite sewing machine and get my sew on.

Not gonna lie - there were a lot of incredibly frustrating moments in this process and a couple times I almost lost my marbles.  Expletives flew freely as I jammed my machine for the umpteenth time or ripped out bad stitches.  The fault, of course, was solely my own and due exclusively to operator error.  As usual I went without a pattern and just made it up as I went along (I mean, how hard could some simple lee cloths be?) which caused a few hiccups along the way.  Nevertheless, we have lee cloths - and pretty nice ones if you ask me.  Here's hoping they do what they are designed to do.

Particulars (skip this if you don't care about how I made these):  Because I am not a seamstress, I will leave the pattern-making to someone else out there in cyberspace.  But in case you are curious, I used phifertex vinyl mesh on the suggestion of a fellow boat mama for breathability and ease of cleaning.  Dimensions allowed for a one inch hem around the entire piece as well as ten inches to lay under the body with an eighteen inch height.  The hem was for added strength (these cloths will potentially hold a lot of weight) which I beefed up some more by adding facing along the top edge where the grommets would be.  I relied heavily on my Press-n-Snap tool to add grommets and snaps where needed.  Basically, I just eyeballed the whole thing and winged it.  Luckily, it worked.  Phew.  Here's the photo evidence that I actually did it:
My cockpit sewing area, not the most comfortable, but a nice view!
The Beast.  This machine is AWESOME
We mounted these pad eyes to bulk heads to attach either end of the lee cloth to.
These screw in button bases were SO useful.  This is how we attached the undersides of our lee cloths to the bunks.
Half the lee cloth is under the sleeper, snapped into place under the cushions.  This ensures a nice, tight fit.
Installing my first snap was way cool.  Not sure why, but it was. The Press-n-Snap tool made it easy.
Fixtures for easy in, easy out.  We have hundreds of caribiners on board.  Very useful. 
Here you see the super sweet pocket I added!  Plenty of room for a book, a phone, a camera, head lamp...etc.
She's not so sure how she feels about being contained in the v-berth.  She'll come around. 
The aft cabin lee cloth.  Technically, it doesn't need one - but if/when Isla and I co-sleep back there, it's necessary.


Unknown said...

Brittany - Thanks for keeping my boyfriend (crew) safe and snug-as-a-bug when he is sleeping. :-)

Anonymous said...

Very nice work Ace!

Jenny A.

Nikki said...

The lee cloths turned out great!

redhedrach said...

I'm so glad you posted the pictures of the screw in button base. I didn't know those existed!!

I hope you have safe travels on your journey!!

redhedrach said...

I'm so glad you posted the pictures of the lee cloth sewing experiment. It looks great! And I can now find several uses for the screw in button bases aboard my boat.

Safe travels!

Anonymous said...

I am curious to know if you have any second thoughts about the fabric used. Nice to have that open weave for air circulation, but what about the feel against one's skin?

Anonymous said...

Love this. I have been thinking about what to do on our boat. Not a sail boat but a tugboat. I'm thinking of using a kidco pea pod but during anchoring, docking and meal prep I'll need a safe zone for our little boy. I love this idea. Thanks for posting the particulars! I'll be making these this spring.

Jens C. Kruse said...

Thank you so much

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