It’s Curtains for bad Curtains

Posted in: Boat Improvements, Featured on Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Psychedelic fish patterns aren’t for everyone…

and they weren’t for us.  These curtains were hanging when we bought Tygress and as much as I love bright colours I had trouble loving these. I feel bad saying that because obviously some one did love them at one point and took the time to sew them and hang them with pride in their home. But Ben couldn’t stand them and became increasingly determined to get rid of them.


Quirky and fun but not for us

Quirky and fun but not for us


Here they are in place, bright and colourful.

Here they are in place, bright and colourful.

One day after taking the time to wash them and painstakingly feed the elastic back through them Ben declares that he can bear them no longer, that they must go and I must make new ones. So despite my protests off we go to Spotlight where we became mired in indecision. Should we get that pattern, I like the spots. Or maybe this one with the curly swirls. But what about this colour. Oh this one over here is a bit cheaper. We settled on two fabrics and after going away and coming back we chose the taupe curly swirls.

Because he has a better head for it Ben took care of taking all the measurements and figured out how much fabric we needed which at under $7 a meter worked out very cheap. It’s thermal fabric designed to keep out 30% of heat from the windows without blocking too much light. The cabin still feels light and airy even with the curtains drawn.

To make the new curtains I simply used the old ones as a template. There’s a slight curve to the windows so all the hard work of making them fit the curve had already been done. The thought of redesigning them from scratch made my head hurt. The only issue I had and that held the project up was the lack of a large flat surface to spread the fabric out and trace the patterns. Lack of space is always an issue on a boat.


Our stylish new curtain fabric.

Our stylish new curtain fabric.


The new curtains hanging in the saloon.

The new curtains hanging in the saloon.


Eventually I got the fabric and curtains over to my folks place to take advantage of my mums huge sewing table. Patterns were made and my old Pfaff sewing machine (which incidentally is almost as old as I am) pulled out and set up on the saloon table. My Pfaff fits on the table perfectly and even though it weighs a tonne, and i’m pretty sure it causes the boat to list to starboard when I store it, i’m so glad I brought it with me.  Once I remembered how to thread it and fill a bobbin I was on my way. It wouldn’t have taken more than four hours in total to sew them up, and as straight lines are easy to sew I must say I’ve done a great job on them.


Tied back with matching fabric ties.

Tied back with matching fabric ties.


Tied back revealing our lovely big windows.

Tied back revealing our lovely big windows.

They are now hanging in the saloon generally just looking great and classin up the joint!

What do you think?



Gardening on a Boat

Posted in: Living aboard on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

We weren’t that interested in gardening in our land life. Our yard maintenance efforts were sporadic at best, usually done when weeds were knee high and the house hard to see.  There was this one time that we grew a real jack-and-the-beanstalk weed that reached over one story high and had to chopped down with an axe. We were proud in an odd kind of way of how high that one grew. I joked that if it lasted until Christmas I’d hang some fairy lights on it.

When we started planning our life aboard Tygress we knew that we wanted some herbs and plants aboard, ones that wouldn’t need mowing, trimming or chopping down with an axe.

While we’re cruising we may not always have access to fresh veggies and herbs so we wanted to have some self sufficiency, a little green luxury in our diet. Like fresh chives with our scrambled eggs. Lettuce and sliced tomato with our canned ham sandwiches or maybe in a salad. Fresh basil with pasta sauces or some fresh parsley and dill for our fish. You get the picture.

Since moving aboard we’ve been experimenting with different herbs, pots and containers and places to keep them.

Fluffy amongst the herbs

At the moment we have basil, flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, tomatoes, chives, olive herb and aloe vera and today I planted some lettuce and rosemary.

The first of our ripe tomatoes, they were delicious!

Space is an issue on a boat along with salt spray and budgetary constraints so one has to get creative and seek out of the box solutions for growing a garden.  And I’m pretty proud of mine! For the price of a two litre bottle of milk you can make your own hanging containers for growing herbs that hang perfectly on the life lines, plus you get the luxury of fresh milk!. In the photos below I’ll show you how you can make your own.

Materials: One two litre milk bottle, stanley knife, a pair of scissors, a marker

Step 1: Assemble materials (not shown: scissors and marker pen)


Step 2: Use marker to outline section to cut, use stanley knife to make an incision in plastic, insert scissors and cut out as marked


Step 3: Repeat process for other side


Step 4: Mark out and cut a smaller sized opening on the third side


Step 5: Mark out and cut opening on the last side.


Step 6: Mark out a circle at the base of handle, cut, then slice through the handle half way up, turning the handle into a hook.

Some things to note:

  • I’ve probably cut the openings of this milk bottle too low. For yours you’ll want to leave enough depth for a good amount of dirt and space for root growth. For this bottle I’ll plant a shallow rooted herb such as thyme.
  • Don’t forget to poke some drainage holes in the bottom at the lowest points in the plastic where the water will collect the most.
  • Don’t cut too close to the sides, you’ll want thick support struts so the bottles don’t buckle.  If they do buckle while hanging just set it down somewhere for a few days and it should right itself.
And here’s how they look after a few months growth.

Here are some I prepared earlier.

We’ve gotten quite a few comments from fellow liveaboards and passers by about our little herb garden, in particular my bottles.  Opinion seems to be split 50/50 between “Wow, what a great idea, they’re coming along nicely” and “Won’t work, they’ll die, salt in the air will kill ’em, give up”. The latter just make us more determined to see our little garden thrive. True our plants haven’t been sailing yet, so maybe they’ll struggle, but we plan on hanging them on the towel racks in the head and keeping the others under the spray dodger while under way.  We think their odds of survival are good. So check back and watch our garden grow.




A Spot of Sunday Pressure Cleaning

Posted in: Living aboard on Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Sundays for many are days of rest, reflection and recuperation. Ha! Who needs that?

Sunday for me was a day for cleaning floors, granted they’re not very large floors, but i’ve discovered just as labour intensive. And what girl doesn’t like to have cleaning fun with a pressure sprayer?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts our flooring consists of an odd shaped cut of carpet in a fetching shade of grey, above creaky wooden floor boards.  And although I vacuum it almost daily (some days I’m slack) I’m consistently shocked at the amount of crap filling up the little hand held vacuum cleaner I have.  Shocked and slightly disgusted, and maybe even a little secretly ashamed.

This is our lovely carpet in the shape of our floor space.

So while having a lovely hot shower this morning (where I do some of my best thinking) I thought why not give it a good going over with the pressure cleaner. And so our story begins.

By the time I got the pressure cleaner out of the car and back to the boat, both of the closest taps were being used.  Not to be deterred I negotiated extension lead and hose length to try and reach the third tap at the very end of our finger, only to fall a metre short, so close!.  I did a little jig of frustration with slightly more maturity than a two year old.  Just then the lovely gentleman from the cat next to the tap rescued me with the offer of his hose extension piece and hey presto I was ready to go. (of course not 5 minutes later one of the closer taps freed up, Murphy’s Law in action again!)

If I thought I was shocked and the vacuum cleaner payload of grit and dust,  then I was horrified at the colour of water that I was blasting off the carpet.  It was brown and it just kept coming! The two worst spots were where I stand at the sink and where we feed Fluffy.  I’m a little obsessive compulsive and would probably still be cleaning it now trying to make sure I got every last speck of dirt out if I hadn’t forced myself to stop, drop and walk away.  Pressure cleaners are loud and I was concerned I was disturbing peaceful Sunday afternoons all across the harbour.

While the carpet was outside drying I took the opportunity to scrub the floor boards inside which yielded another bucket of brown water. I don’t know where all this dirt and dust is coming from, surely we can’t be trekking it all inside. In all honesty this is the first exhaustive clean the flooring has had since we purchased the boat and moved in full time, so I guess it was bound to be dirty…so dirty.