There are some important lessons learned in safety here. Very important.
One of the first pieces of safety equipment we bought for Red Ranger was a Life Sling 2. It's a tidy container with hook and loop strips (Velcro™) that fastens neatly to the taffrail or lifeline somewhere.
Most folks have one or so, and they mount it well aft.
At the Whitby Rendezvous I saw Virginia, owner of Morning Light, having her crew deploy the Life Sling before setting out. She carefully removes the vinyl package from the taffrail when arriving. Before departing, she has the crew attach the container to the taffrail so it's available.
"Why does she remove it?" I wondered.
Back on Red Ranger, it was immediately obvious why she removes it.
The vinyl cover rots in the sun. It is — figuratively — eaten by the sun. Figuratively eaten.
Our cover was literally flakes of vinyl. If we so much as touched it, vinyl chunks dropped onto the deck and into Jackson Creek.
CA replaced the top of the LifeSling 2 cover.
The rest of the container was fine. Just the cover had been eaten alive by the sun. Figuratively Eaten Alive.
[I'm amused by the number of things I read where "literally" is literally abused. It's figuratively beaten with a stick. You can download a browser plug-in to fix this problem. Visit downworthy.snipe.net.]
We have an additional issue on Red Ranger. It seems sensible to keep the Life Sling well aft. But this means that a slacked running backstay can — potentially — chafe on the lifesling.
We try to keep the slack backstay under some control. But when running well off the wind, the slack backstay will still rub on anything that's hanging on the taffrail. We have the outboard (port) and the life sling (starboard) in positions where they — literally — run afoul of slacked backstays when running off the wind.
I slapped some duct tape (really) on the LifeSling cover to act as a sacrificial guard from backstay chafe. And it (sort of) worked. The duct tape was a mess and the vinyl cover less torn up than the tape.
We really needed some leather to act as a proper chafe guard.
Where can we get 2′ to 3′ of leather?
The Wheel Cover
Red Ranger had a leather-covered wheel. The leather was showing signs of age. It had fairly big chips missing. There were some flaps where the leather had been dinged or cut and was starting to fall off.
Mostly, the leather was intact. But. Age was taking its toll.
While a leathered wheel is cool — for a sports car — we couldn't figure out what the draw was for boats. I think I read somewhere that it keeps it cooler. But we have a bimini and the wheel hasn't seen direct sun since the first bimini was put on in the 90's. For us, it was just something we had to be careful not to chip.
I took a utility knife and carefully slit the stitching and peeled off the wheel leather. No more worrying about the wheel leather chipping.
Use a knife on stainless — it turns out — is not really the smartest idea. A good, sharp utility knife will score the wheel with a fine stainless steel burr.
The little burr raised by a sharp knife can be an annoying way to cut yourself when spinning the wheel quickly to maneuver in a tight place. It was annoying enough while wiping it down with Goof Off™ to get rid of the residue from leather and fabric strip.
A thorough wipe with some emory paper clears up the burr problem.
But. This reduces the overall level of shine to about zero. At some point in the future, I have to get some jeweler's rouge to restore the original level of shiny finish to the wheel. See this: http://www.swmetal.com/category-s/1865.htm. And this: http://www.swmetal.com/product-p/22997.htm.
Some of the leather has been put to good use on the lifesling case. The rest will go into the spare parts locker behind the settee.
The final cover is a thing of beauty. It echoes the other red design elements. It doesn't have chunks of vinyl littering the creek.
The SailRite LZ-1 machine makes short work of sewing the box corners (with rolled hems: 6 layers of fabric.)
The stitching through vinyl and ancient wheel leather?
CA called the leather portion effortless since there's no complex corners or hems: two straight stitches. One side had leather and vinyl. The other had leather, two layers of Sunbrella and vinyl.
She wanted to preserve the big flap with the Velcro™ closures because it has some safety tips on how to use the sling in the rare event that you actually need it.