From December to April, I avoided a full-time job and focused on boat projects, which I supported with part-time non-profit development consulting. This gave me a great opportunity to take care of some vanity projects.

I started on the curtains immediately. We had a few design ideas, but the final and best idea was to use high-strength velcro on the fabric and the fiberglass. Picking the fabric was a little more challenging. I knew I wanted maroon, to bring out the subtle maroon in our cushions. After a few days of checking our local fabric stores, I found a fantastic fabric. My lovely friend LB let me take her sewing machine back to the boat for a few weeks.

The measuring, ironing, and sewing process was exhausting, but fantastically rewarding. When I finished the final curtain and hung it, midday on a warm late December day, the boat was suddenly so cool and dark, and they looked beautiful!

Brightwork & Exterior Projects

Manzanita’s exterior is sleek and striking, and I was very ready to do the brightwork. As soon as the weather calmed down in January, I set aside a few days to work on the exterior wood. Nearly all of it was peeling, and despite little damage, I prefer to protect than to restore!

The first day consisted solely of taping around the edges of the wood. I can be a little obsessive, but still somehow end up lazy with paints in general, so I wanted to really protect the deck from potential oblivious dripping.

The second day, I managed to sand everything, and get the first coat of Cetol Light on nice and thinly. The third day, I repeated my work from the day previously, and felt like I had made fantastic progress. I finished on the third day closer to sunset, and the dew descended before the Cetol fully set. When I woke up on the fourth day, some of the latest pieces painted (largely handrails on the foredeck) had a mottled look. I was devastated, and afraid that I had lost all of my hard work! But with just a little more elbow grease behind the sanding, then completing the final Cetol coat nice and early in the afternoon, the final coat set perfectly.

Next, I tackled all of our sunbrella covers, which were all in decent condition, but with seam issues or size issues. I got sunbrella fabric, in our exact color, from Quantum Sails up in Richmond. The mainsail cover had a huge seam issue, which I was able to fix in an hour or so. Each of the winch covers was losing its seams as well, which were also fortunately a quick fix. I definitely needed to buy a thimble halfway through the project, as I was hand sewing all of this and quickly losing feeling in my thumb.  

The helm cover, unfortunately, was a much larger issue – we needed to make it much larger to accommodate our beautiful deck table, which could not fit under the existing cover. It took about a day and a half, but I successfully added a panel and extended the cover just far enough to comfortably fit them helm and the table.  

Interior Decorations

In a nearly manic state of boat project efficiency, I decided to repaint the back closet. I had scrubbed the heck out of it, and knew that it was clean, but some stains were driving me crazy. I waited until the next sunny day, opened up all our hatches, set up a fan, and knocked it out in 2 days (including drying time). Nobody fainted from fumes, and the closet looks great now, so I called this a success too!

The Catalina 36 has a startling amount of interior wood. This can be frustrating, because a lot of it is cosmetic, and hides nooks that we need to get at. Still, as the daughter of a carpenter, I am a sucker for wood! It feels warm and welcoming, in a way that fiberglass cannot match. Over an extended weekend in February, I took lemon oil to all the interior wood to help brighten, clean, and preserve it.

Finally, we started to get to decorating. I collected photos important to me, photos from our travels, and photos with our loved ones. I also pulled out my collection of cards, mostly sent by my aunt Dawn, but including letters we have received from around the world. It made the boat feel so much more like home!