A NJ rendezvous would be GREAT! I'd love the chance to meet some of you. And then there are some... (kidding)
I had a chance to get down to the boat today. They still haven't started working on it, but at this point that's not stopping me from trying to get it as ready as possible. So, I installed the new sail cover:
Against the suggestions of some, I went with Velcro for the front closure. The reason I went with it was that, toward the end of the assembly, I realized I had made a mistake. The old sail cover's two sides weren't mirror images; one side was longer than the other because there was a flap that covered the zipper. Thankfully, I had made both of my sides based on the longer side of the old cover. But that then left me with the issue of exactly how big I needed the opening to be so it could fit around the mast. With the old sail cover disassembled and the boat 2.5 hours away, that was tough to figure out. So, I decided on 2" wide Velcro because it gave me some "play", where the zipper would mean I was stuck with the size.
I was very happy with the way it fit. It could probably be 1-2" longer at the aft end, but where it ends is fine. And if I made the collar that goes around the mast a little higher, it would completely protect the exit block for the topping lift, which might be nice. But those are little details that really aren't critical at this point. I was just happy to finally have a cover that didn't have rips and tears in it.
Happy with that progress, I installed a 2nd solar vent today. Last time, I drilled the hole for the vent from the inside of the boat, and went home covered in fiberglass dust (and the accompanying itch). So, this time I decided I was going to be smart and cut the hole from the top. I drilled a pilot hole to make sure everything was in a decent location, then taped a bag to the inside of the boat to catch anything that fell. That was a waste. As I drilled from the top, the fiberglass dust got picked up by the wind and blown all over my legs, so very little went into the boat anyway! As I cut with the hole saw, the "saw" blade would bind up occasionally and I backed off and tried to just let the teeth do their thing. Well, apparently I wasn't putting equal pressure on it, and the guide bit I had in the middle was causing the plug I was cutting out to pinch the blade. Meanwhile, the repeated pinching caused me to literally fry the motor in the drill. Here I am, in a strange locale, with 2/3 of a hole in my boat, and no way to finish it. Thankfully there was an Ace Hardware nearby, and I was able to get a replacement drill and finish the job.
I also made a bimini pattern, for the second time. I realized a few days ago that with my backstay in the way, what I really needed to do was to make two patterns, one port and one starboard, and overlay them. That worked much better than the slit I cut in the original one. However, the heat today caused the heavy-gauge plastic that I bought for use as a patterning material to stretch, so now I'm a little worried. Thankfully, the lines I drew on this pattern pretty well match those on the previous one.