Saturday, January 14, 2017

It's in the Bag!

Getting better at Marine Canvas Work

Our Lifesling2 is 19 years old, although we have only owned it since 2015 when we purchased Eximius. The bag was failing, literally falling apart.

The Old Bag

Sun has done a number on the material of the old bag. The top has started to disintegrate, the sides are getting crispy.

Considering the bag is nineteen years old, it's not that bad and I have seen worse.

The instructions are practically useless as when the bag is attached on our boat, the instructions face outwards, so they cannot be seen from the cockpit where the crew will be frantically deploying the LifeSling that is inside the bag.

I cleaned the LifeSling with OxyClean and it looks like new.

So we needed a new Bag.

Not designed for our boat

The bag attaches to the Rails on our boat, so the lower central velcro strap is useless. If the LifeSling is attached to a Lifeline stanchion, then that design is great, but when mounted on the rails at the side of the stern, the bag is only attached with the two upper velcro straps.

You can see the red horizontal marks that I made while the bag was attached to the boat indicating where the lower rail was located.

Of course,That's close to the wear mark from side to side.

Yes, the top did leak!


The bag is stiffened with plastic inserts on the sides and front and back. The insides were pretty bad, I guess years of dark damp un-ventilated conditions encouraged the moldy growth.

The good news was that it washed off the plastic with just some soap and water, the old bag was not so lucky, it's pretty ingrained on the inner surfaces.

Mold is something all sailors want to keep off their boats. It smells, nasty to touch and has health related issues. Get rid of it.

My Workshop

My garage is now setup with a nice work table 8' long with overhead lighting, Tools like the Hot Knife and Material Press are hanging overhead in easy reach. And my SailRite LSZ-1 is setup.

Nearby I keep a Yard stick, Tape Measure, and 6" Sewing Gauge, a Right Square, and Steel Tape Measure.

I use an 8" by 30" piece of 1/2" Plywood as a backer when I'm cutting Sunbrella using the Hot Knife (a must have tool!)

There's also a selection of Marking pens, pencils, and sharpeners. Of course some really good fabric scissors. And my notebook.  
On the floor is a box fan that sucks away the fumes when using the Hot Knife.

Getting started

After cutting the side, front and back panels open and pulling the plastic inserts out, it's time to measure the old bag.

Adding 1" to all the measurements to allow for the seam joints and measuring at least twice, I keep a notebook just for project measurements.

The new bag will be made out of SeaMark Royal Blue Tweed 60" Waterproof Fabric and Phifertex Vinyl Mesh White 54" Fabric. I purchased 5 yards of the Royal Blue Tweed fabric a year ago in anticipation of a list of projects for Eximius.
The Phifertex is a mesh matarial and that will be used for the inner bag that holds the LifeSling Line and also for the bottom of the bag to allow it to breath, hopefully that will prevent milldew and mold buildup.

Cutting out the panels

The bag consists of 4 side panels (Inside & Outside, Left & Right) 2 Front Panels (Inside & Out), 2 Back Panels (ditto), Bottom Panel (Phifertex), Inside Bag, Top Panel and Boxing (the sides of the top extend down over the bag) and the Plastic Stiffeners that I recovered from the old bag.

Not visible in the picture is the fact that I marked each Panel with it's name eg. Left Inside, Left Outside etc. using a white fabric marking pencil. I made the marks on the inside of each panel. That was an early lesson in previous projects - make any marks on the Back or Inside of the material - just in case they want to be permanent.

Front Panel

I had to start somewhere and this was the simplest panel to make. 
The velcro at the top outside of the panel is for securing the top when the bag is closed (realistically, it'll only open for inspection, MOB practice and if someone really does fall overboard)
Here's a pic showing completed front panel - it's two layers that will be separated by the plastic stiffener.

The Line Bag

The mesh line bag keeps the line neat and tidy inside the LifeSling cover. It will be sewn to the back inside panel. 

The inner bag is not sewn to the front panel as the LifeSling has webbing that is attached to each side of the sling. If the Inner bag was sewn to the front panel, that webbing would prevent the LifeSling from being inserted in the bag.

I triple checked the measurements of the inner bag. The top edge of the mesh is set down from the top of the LifeSling bag. That is to allow the flotation packs of the LifeSling to sit above the inner bag.

Bag Complete

After making up all of the Panels and sewing them together, my first LifeSling bag is complete except for the top.

The cutout in the top of the back panel is to allow the end of the LifeSling's line to exit the bag and be secured to the boat rail. Just imagine the crew frantically opening the bag and tossing out the LifeSling to a crew member that is now disappearing off the stern of the boat - Now is not the time to find out the sling is not attached to the boat!

Inside the Bag

Here's a view looking down into the bag. The Inner bag is plenty big enough to hold the LifeSling line and you can see the mesh bag bottom. 

Top Done

The top is a departure from the example shown on the SailRite website. My design has the top boxing running all the way around the Bag, I really want to try and keep the water out. Of course that means rain! I hope never to be in seas big enough to douse the top of the bag.

The LifeSling is now in the bag, fits great.

Back Panel with Custom Mounting Straps

The mounting straps are made with Sunbrella and Velcro.
They wrap around the Stern Rails on Eximius.

The LifeSling line is hanging out of the cutout and gets attached to the Rail before the boat leaves the dock!


This turned out really well. Like every sewing project so far, I learned a lot.
-- Measure - Measure - Remeasure
-- Before cutting - Measure - Measure - Remeasure.
-- Check the Bobbin before sewing a long seam.
-- Think through about how the project is going to be used.

We installed the newly Bagged LifeSling on the boat yesterday, fit - Great, Looks - I know pride is a sin, but it looks really good.

Very pleased.
Thanks to SailRite's How To Videos, I must have watched this one a dozen times.

Note: The SailRite video shows a Tab for opening the top of the cover. I figured that as the bag opens from outside on our boat, that the user will be ripping the lid off from the cockpit and won't bother looking for a Tab to open it, they'll be scratching, grabbing, ripping anyway they can. It's not that difficult to open, and the tab is really not required.

I will add Man Overboard routine to my 'Welcome Aboard Eximius' document that I read to any new crew that come out with us. 

Safe Sailing.

See you on the Water.

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