Ten Most Popular DIY Projects of 2014

Merry Christmas to all you stingy sailors out there!

I hope you are enjoying a warm celebration of the reason for the season with family and friends. That’s what’s going on here at The $tingy Sailor home port, but this is not the time of year for being stingy to others. Instead, I try to be especially generous when I can.

Let that other car have the choice parking spot. Tip your waiter at the restaurant too much. Pay for a stranger’s cup of coffee or meal. Shovel the snow for that single mom, widow, or shut-in neighbor down the street. You get the idea. Look for ways to be radically kind to people who least expect or deserve it. Do it anonymously. You might enjoy it so much that you start doing it year round. What if everyone did?

If you’re fortunate enough to live where you can sail on Christmas, I can’t think of much else I’d rather do. Go for it, and leave a comment below telling us what you did so the rest of us can fantasize.

I’ve got several restoration and improvement projects going on Summer Dance right now. I’ll be sharing them with you in the near future, but the pace is slower now than in summer. Some are more complicated than usual and just take more time. Others take longer due to the cold weather and the short days here up north. Still others aren’t worth getting in a hurry about since it will be months before they can be used. But stay tuned here. I’ll continue to publish posts on a regular basis and you won’t want to miss them.

This is the time of year that I always reflect back on the months gone by, the progress and the mistakes made, and set goals for the next year. Twenty-fourteen was a very productive year on Summer Dance and this blog. I published 48 posts in the past year. Dozens of you subscribed to follow along and I’m humbled and motivated by that.

Some of the projects were surprisingly popular. Following are the top ten most viewed blog posts of 2014. The greatest hits, as it were, presented in classic Tonight Show style for your perusal and enjoyment. If you started following this blog part way through the year or even if you’ve followed all along, I invite you to go back and read any that you missed. I’ve updated some with new information since they were first posted.

Top 10 DIY projects of 2014

#10 Exterior teak restoration

This project delivered more beauty per buck than any other. Sure, it took a lot of free elbow grease but if you do it over the winter while your boat is on the hard, it’s well worth it. Next to sparkling fiberglass, nothing beats sparkling brightwork. Learn how to use Oxalic acid to even the color and bleach out the mildew, teak oil to restore the natural colors, and varnish to seal and protect your work. You can resurrect your brightwork no matter how bad it is.

Gotta love a foot-deep finish
Gotta love a foot-deep finish
#9 Lines led aft

No other project makes single-handed sailing easier or safer. Find out how I squeezed my lines beside the C-22 pop top in a way that works slick and looks elegant. I also discuss what hardware you need, some alternative hardware ideas, and some tips on installation. Do this project and you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

AFTER - Double cam cleats and stanchion mounted clam cleat
AFTER – Double cam cleats and stanchion mounted clam cleat
#8 Mainsail outhaul solution

Get rid of that clew lashing and pull some of the belly out of your mainsail. This 5:1 setup literally makes it a snap to connect to the clew and is easy to trim for varying conditions. I also show how to mount the hardware for the outhaul, jiffy reefing, and topping lift on the end of the boom without interfering with each other or the main sheet.

AFTER - Easy to attach and trimmable
AFTER – Easy to attach and trimmable
#7 Boom vang solution

Stop your boom from rising and spilling air that could be pushing you along. I tell you what parts you need and where to install them so that the vang is at the correct angle. It also makes a replacement main sheet in an emergency or a handy portable tackle any time you need to do some heavy lifting.

4:1 boom vang connected with snap shackles
#6 Single line jiffy reefing solution

If you don’t have a reefing setup and struggle with keeping the shiny side of your boat above water, you need one. Learn the differences between a double-line setup and a single-line setup that you can reef without getting out of the cockpit.

Mainsail reefed with a single line
Mainsail reefed with a single line
#5 Tiller lock solution

Forget bungee cords and install a real tiller lock. It’s the next best thing to an autopilot and you’ll still find uses for it even if you do add an autopilot later. See how I installed mine without the cost of cleats and drilling holes in the transom. I also show how to mount a flat-bottomed tiller lock on a rounded tiller handle.

Port side tiller lock cleat
#4 Budget bimini top solution

If you’ve dreamed of having a bimini but thought they were too expensive, this is the post you’ve been missing. You can add a complete basic top for about a hundred bucks. For a little more, you can make it adjustable for different uses.

Budget bimini top solution
Budget bimini top solution
#3 Mast gates solution

If you’re going to add a jiffy reefing setup (#6), you’re going to need gates to close the slug slot in your mast. They’re not hard to make yourself. The money you save could pay for your reefing setup.

DIY mast gates open and closed
DIY mast gates open and closed
#2 Boom topping lift solution

That backstay pendant you’ve been using is good for one thing only. A true topping lift serves several purposes, including making it easier to reef your mainsail. It’s easy to install and not expensive.

Starboard side of the two-part boom topping lift
Starboard side of the two-part boom topping lift
#1 Cabin cushion covers solution

The most frequently viewed project of the year. We love how they turned out and you did too. They still look great, by the way. I started as a sewing neophyte and wound up with cushion covers that are hard to tell from professionally made. This post has all the tips and advice you need to do it too at a price that’s affordable.

Classic colors and a fresh look
Classic colors and a fresh look

The year 2015 is shaping up as another busy year working on Summer Dance. I have a healthy to-do list made up of projects left over from this year and some ambitious new ones that I’m looking forward to. I also have some interesting upgrades planned for this blog that I think you’ll appreciate.

Take a cod to the party

As I sign off for 2014, I want to leave you with the most interesting quote that I read this year about Christmas. It’s by C.S. “Jack” Lewis, author of the immensely popular book-turned-movie Chronicles of Narnia and widely considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century.

Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.

I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers. – From “What Christmas Means to Me” in God in the Dock

See you in 2015!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Chris Torres says:

    And Best Wishes to you too.
    I have enjoyed reading all your posts throughout the year and appreciated all the great ideas and cost saving tips that you provided for us.
    Well done!

    Sent from my iPad


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