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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:46 am 
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DIY Expedition Spray Skirts


Warning: Before deciding to make your own Expedition Spray Skirts, you must have a sewing machine and know how to sew or, if you don’t know how to sew, (1) you need to find someone who will do it for you—your wife or girlfriend are your best options, (2) have a friend who will teach you, or (3) take lessons. If you follow instructions very carefully, you might be able to buy a sewing machine and teach yourself—but it is not as simple as it might seem. I bought a Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine from Amazon ($120, http://www.amazon.com/SINGER-4411-Machine-Stainless-Bedplate/dp/B003VWXZKG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366589878&sr=8-1&keywords=singer+4411). Coming with minimal instructions, it sat around for a few weeks until a long-time friend came over and said, “I used to sew all my clothes.” At that moment, I thought, “I’ve hit the jackpot.” In any case, Cindy quickly set up my machine up, and then pointed out I needed to get some thread and material to sew. She came back another time and in an hour or so, showed me how to sew. Since that second visit, I’ve had some sewing problems from time to time. I think the problems were due to incorrect threading, so follow the threading directions very closely. If you’re rash as I was and consider buying a Singer 4411, my impression is that the machine is OK. It got the job done fairly nicely. Of course, I plan to sew other things—time will tell. I did sew 3 sets of expedition spray skirts—one for my wife, one for a friend, and one for myself—so I now have some experience.

Following Hollgi’s report of his Expedition Spray Skirts (http://www.hobiecat.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=45924), I designed and built a few pairs. I describe their construction here.
Kayaking Bob suggests the best material for spray skirts is Coolaroo shade cloth (64-70 % shade) available in the Garden section of Home Depot. If your Home Depot does not have the 70% shade, try Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P7FVX4/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.)

Here is my pattern:

Image

This is the procedure I followed in cutting & sewing a skirt.
1. Using a marker pen, lay out the pattern on the Coolaroo material, all the way to the pointed corners.
2. Cut the material.
3. Cut the points off, that is, make cuts squaring the corners. The cuts will be about 1.5 inches across, but the length is not critical.
4. Make a 3/4” fold on each side. Remember: these spray skirts have a handedness—they are left (port) and right (starboard.) Your fold determines whether you are making a port skirt or a starboard skirt. As this is coarse material, each fold does not stay without help. I set up a little system:
a. Make a fold (about ¾”) and use 5 or 6 spring clamps to hold it. (Spring clamps, http://www.homedepot.com/p/NIL-22-Piece-Spring-Clamps-TGS0073F/203404716?N=c1xy)
b. Using a slightly hot iron (synthetics or delicate setting,) iron the fold—the plastic Coolaroo will hold a nice fold after it has been heated with the iron. Do all 3 sides. Again, this fold will determine whether you are making a port or a starboard skirt. The first one you make can be either one, but the 2nd one must be the opposite.
5. Sew the hem—the fold. Use a double stitch. I used a straight stitch and did it twice, all the way around the skirt. Each squared off corner will be about 1.5” across. I might have done a better stitch if I could sew better. I played it safe and used a straight stitch, and then doubled it.

Here are the dimensions of a finished spray skirt.

Image


Next, I attached a Coolaroo Butterfly Clip to each squared-off corner (Home Depot, http://www.homedepot.com/p/Coolaroo-Butterfly-Clips-20-Pack-301385/100656892?N=bx82). These clips attach easily to a single layer of Coolaroo fabric with the aid of a pair of pliers.

The finished spray skirts:

Image


The starboard skirt deployed on my AI.

Image


Points of attachment:

Cockpit point is attached with Hobie rudder Spectra line to a bungee button (ACK, http://www.austinkayak.com/products/266/Bungee-Button-Each.html).

Image


Bow attachment is with a short loop of ¼” bungee cord looped over a bungee lashing hook (ACK, http://www.austinkayak.com/products/226/Bungee-Lashing-Hook.html).

Image


Aka attachment is with a length of bungee cord looped over a bungee button on the aka.

Image


So far, these expedition spray skirts have worked very well. My wife, Nancy, in her early adult life, did a lot of sewing, but she spends the best months in Florida living/skiing in Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. Nancy, in the lower right-hand corner of this picture, was doing a ridge hike and ski to benefit the Taos Community Foundation. I told her, “I have to do the best I can when you’re not around.”

Image


I did OK. Cindy helped me get started sewing. Cindy’s day job is “Deputy General Counsel, University of Miami.” Cindy is a great kayaker and is mentioned earlier on this thread (See Tiger Key post, http://www.hobiecat.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=7276&start=120).

One caveat: the method of attachment does not allow for folding the amas back. Folding the amas causes serious stretching between the aka bungee and the bow bungee. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have folded the amas back while on water over the years—which is also a rough measure of how many large fish (>5 lbs) I have caught over those years. Since I always have hakas mounted, folding the amas back is not an option for me anyway.

Keith
Rookie Seamster

Update, April 25, 2013: NOHUHU and Kayaking Bob have raised some points in following posts. I will address them here.

Cost: about $25/pair for Coolaroo cloth, Coolaroo butterfly clips, lashing hooks, button hooks, & bungee cord, SS screws.

There is a real concern that as the starboard spray skirt is mounted (see above), that it will chafe the main sheet and the main sheet will wear on the spray skirt. I looked into this and found that the length of the Spectra line connection and the bow bungee can be adjusted to avoid that contact and chafing. Here are the measurements I suggest for this starboard skirt.

The cockpit Spectra line length is most critical. It should be 4.25"-4.5". 4.25" is ideal.

Image


The bow bungee should be 5.25"-6.25". 5.5" is ideal. The measurement is with a relaxed bungee, no stretching.

Image


The aka bungee simply needs to be sufficient to tighten the spray skirt. Lengths in the range of 13"-15.5" are fine.

Image


Keith

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I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


Last edited by Chekika on Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:34 pm 
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Hey thanks Keith. Very nice mini skirt.

Folding would be a plus. Maybe something like a quick connect plastic cam-style buckle on the Aka side would allow this, and also help with dialing in the prefered tension.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:55 am 
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NOHUHU--I never gave any thought to folding the amas on the water, since I don't remember the last time I did that (and I usually have hakas deployed). I guess you social, day-sailors might like to raft up and have an on-water party or something. In any case, it is pretty easy to make my short spray skirts flexible enough to allow folding of the amas. My solution is shown below. I used a white line for visibility rather than stylish black. It still uses the bungee cord to give it some tension. I didn't try to fold the amas back (I forgot, actually), but I think it would maintain the tension so that the amas could be moved in and out as often as wanted--like if you were catching a lot of very large fish. 8)

Edit about 2 hrs later: It was dumb not to fold the akas back to see how the bungee/white line responded. I went out and did that and found that the bungee/white line goes slack, but stays hooked on the bungee button so that it re-deploys when the akas are extended.

Keith

Image

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I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


Last edited by Chekika on Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:24 pm 
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Good work Keith! Well documented and detailed.

Your line for releasing the sprayskirt is exactly how we do it for quick release for fishing, though on my AI I used a cleat. Works well.

You may want to change the shade cloth cut, or tighten the bungee line more on the right side so the sprayskirt doesn't rub against the sheet line. Early on, we had some test Sprayskirts that rubbed there that wore both the sprayskirt and sheetline quickly. My AI Sprayskirt Kits includes instruction to use 2 wire-ties to attach it to the sheetline pully on that side to protect from wear.

On the AI, the expedition sprayskirt vs a full Sprayskirt may help a little with recovery time when submarining, but I don't think there would be much difference on a TI with it's extra flotation.

I may try using wire-ties to bunch together each side on an AI Kit around the front hatch to temporarily achieve the same results as your expedition size sprayskirt. One benefit of my Sprayskirt kits is no drilling or extra hardware mounting.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:02 pm 
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All very good points, KB, especially about rubbing on the sheet line. I'll have to think about that. I do like that 70% shade cloth you suggested--it drains beautifully.

Keith

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I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:59 am 
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All we need now is a video, to see it in action.

I really like the profile of the miniskirt. It looks like it could be 90% effective in stopping bow and Aka spray. with less risk. Those strap hooks on the bow seem like a great addition too. I have concerns about stressing the weaker hatch bungee clips, which are barely mounted in the hull with a single screw.

Folding is no longer a concern for me, but some guys are religious about folding in to land fish.

But now that Hakas can be trained to fold...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:11 am 
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NOHUHU wrote:
...I have concerns about stressing the weaker hatch bungee clips, which are barely mounted in the hull with a single screw.

NOHUHU--how did "stressing the hatch bungee clips" get in this conversation? You've lost me??

Keith

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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:03 pm 
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Sorry - I think KBobs and other designs tie into the 2 small plastic cleats that secure the front hatch down. It's not the skirts main point of support on the bow, more like a midway "outhaul" to keep the skirt tight against the hull, (to reduce venting).

Those hatch clips are already weak connections, and under strong bungee pressure, so I worry about them ripping or working loose should the skirts be highly stressed (submarining, waves, collisions, snags, Aka collapse, getting in and out of the boat, etc). Bob's never reported issues with this, but I am far luckier than him in these matters :roll: and probably would.

I was glad to see that you avoided attaching directly to these points, with the shorter skirts. If you tear these cleats loose, you potentially lose your hatch seal. You can reinforce them, but a dedicated padeye (or hook up front like yours) is built to take more punishment.

Speaking of punishment, I was thinking that adding goop inside the Coolaroo Butterfly Clips may reinforce the material and help prevent tearing of the threads, over time.

Have you estimated your total cost (without sewing machine)?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:47 pm 
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My Sprayskirt connection to the 2 small plastic front hatch cleats is only with light 4" wire-ties rated for 18# breaking strength, so I have no worry of affecting the mount of the cleats. We do break wire-ties there from time to time, but never even loosened the screw. An extra wire-tie is included in each kit.

Also, later year boats seem to have a much better connection at the front hatch cleats than early hulls did. On early boats we did replaced the bolts with a true bolt and lock-nut combo, replacing the odd sized bolt-in-plastic used.

I've learned well from Hobie engineer's examples of being sure cheap sacrificial parts break long before any Hobie parts break or are damaged.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:33 pm 
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Good thinking and good info Bob, cuz I'm hoping to haul a +35lb tuna across them soon. :mrgreen:

The important thing to note, is that these bungee locks are possibly the weakest connection points you will find on the boat, and should not be used as primary attachment point for heavy loads. Just in case anyone was actually considering using them, with mini skirts.

In fact, my preference would be to leave them alone completely, to do their job. Adding a small padeye, with 2 wellnuts would be the conservative way to go.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:15 pm 
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Well, if you want it strong, don't use wellnuts!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:30 pm 
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Really? Hobie recommended...

I was thinking some "flex" and hull protection. But you are right, it's an EZ access area and a washer with nut will do it without snagging objects in the front hatch.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:12 pm 
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NUHOHO--Thanks for clearing up my confusion about attachment at the hatch opening.

Cost--about $25/pair for Coolaroo cloth, Coolaroo butterfly clips, lashing hooks, button hooks, & bungee cord.

The butterfly clips--they are quite tough. In addition to the 2 main fasteners which pass through the fabric, there are 5 secondary rods which also pass through the fabric--these are distributed around the surface of the clip which is about 1.25" square. Frankly, I was not too keen on using grommets with their large single point of attachment, & I couldn't find any stainless steel ones.

KB--your comment about the skirt rubbing on the sheet with damage to both got me going today. I actually attached an aluminum protector (2 really, one on my AI & one on my wife's) using the bolt on the block at that point. However, in looking at the 4 skirts I have--2 for me, 2 for my wife's boat--I found that the rubbing contact could be removed by adjusting the length of the attachments at the cockpit line and the bow bungee. The Spectra line connector at the cockpit bungee button is critical at 4.25"-4.5". The bungee loop attachment at the bow can vary from 5.25"-6.25". The bungee line out to aka bungee button can be varied from 13"-15.5"--it simply needs to tighten up the skirt. Using these measurements removes any contact between the skirt material and the sheet. I was surprised to find adjusting the connections at the cockpit and the bow could remove the contact with the main sheet line.

I'm going to edit my original post to reflect these observations.

Of course, I have to get a video to illustrate how/if these skirts work efficiently. I have used them, but not after making these modifications. And, I have not used them loaded down on a dds (difficult day sailing.)

Keith

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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


Last edited by Chekika on Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:45 pm 
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Chekika wrote:
Of course, I have to get a video to illustrate how/if these skirts work efficiently. I have used them, but not after making these modifications. And, I have not used them loaded down on a dds (difficult day sailing.)

I'll put the popcorn on... :D

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:35 am 
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KayakingBob wrote:
Chekika wrote:
Of course, I have to get a video to illustrate how/if these skirts work efficiently. I have used them, but not after making these modifications. And, I have not used them loaded down on a dds (difficult day sailing.)

I'll put the popcorn on... :D
May I suggest "Stump Pass", on a good day? ;-)

I'll chill the beer Bob.


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