Sewing Project – “Virgin Cage”

We have a full cockpit tent that we use when at anchor on rainy days, but it is too restrictive to use while sailing.

In 2018, when we went sailing in Denmark on Frivaerdien, we were impressed by their cockpit enclosure which zipped together to make a cosy space for 2-4 people to sit out of the rain while underway.  When we asked what it was we were told it was a “Virgin Cage”, or jomfrubur in Danish.

This year we finally got around to looking at getting one made for Rusalka.  After gasping at the quote we were given by a professional, who couldn’t start working on it for a few months anyway, Alex decided to have a go at making it himself.  He bought some off-cuts of Sunbrella fabric from our local sailmaker and spent some time thinking about how to do it.  While he has done some simple sewing projects on the boat since he was gifted an old (1902) hand-cranked Singer sewing machine last year (Thanks, Anne!), this was a big step up in complexity!

The design includes 3 panels of clears that zip onto the Sunbrella frame and zip together, allowing for easy entry/exit.  It also means that we can make a sunshade version to replace the clears  in summer.  (Plans for this are underway!)

For the last month the kitchen table, spare room, and shed space have been given over to the project, with many trips down to the boat for fittings and adjustments.  I was the apprentice, employed when three or four hands were needed to hold fabric in place, crank the machine, document the process, etc.


Alex didn’t want to alter our existing spray dodger by attaching the enclosure directly to it, so he devised a clever way to attach the Sunbrella “frame” using straps going forward to attachment points on the windscreen frame and hooks that grab the back of the dodger.  It should hold firm in squally weather, but we shall see!

Finally, it was ready for its final fitting.  It looks great!  I am almost looking forward to our next rainy day to see how it works!

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 January 2021 23:13

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