TSPS member Warren Fraser explains his bucket.
The weather this season in southern Kanagawa has been wildly unpredictable- warm and sunny one day, then cold, wet, and miserable the next, followed by sun, then rain, then wind. Spring winds from the south have been ferocious, rolling through at speeds of up to 55 knots (27 meters per second) making sailing, well, improbable. And so I, we, my fellow Tokyo area sailors, wait for fairer winds.
This past winter I spent a lot of time working on Voyager doing mostly big little things– installing ratlines to climb the shrouds; making, then installing new three-strand lifelines to replace standard wire ones; mounting bronze Murray winches on the mast, and scores of other odd jobs. It got to the point when everything that could be done in a few hours got done, and all the items on ‘The Quick Jobs List’ were checked off. What was I going to do with the remaining ‘few hour’ bits of free time I had available?
One rainy afternoon while leafing through a book on gaff-rigged cutters I noticed a nicely-aged canvas bucket in a photo of a boat’s cockpit. The sun and the salt water, and perhaps the years, had turned it gray. The canvas was crumpled to one side but the brim remained round and firm, with the fibers of the three-strand line standing proud under the canvas. It looked quite dignified and then it occurred to me a bucket would make the perfect little project. So I bought a couple meters of #8 canvas at Yuzawaya in Kamata and began planning my work flow. I came across a fairly detailed description in Lin and Larry Pardey’s book ‘The Cost Conscious Cruiser‘ and listed out the parts I’d need. I made the decision early on to do it all by hand, which for me was the beginning of the adventure. I’d never sewn anything before. Ever.
Having gathered up the materials, I began by making an 8” circle, or grommet, of 3/8” three-strand rope. Then using a sailmaker’s palm (a thimble worn on the palm of the hand), I sewed the canvas to create a 20” tube and then folded it over on itself to get double-sided bucket walls. I slipped the grommet up in between the doubled walls to create the rim. Next was the doubled bottom made of two 9” canvas circles sewn together 3/4 of an inch from the edge I’d selvaged to stop any fraying. The bottom was sewn on with some difficulty as I had to get it to fit the tube walls without too much puckering. That completed, I turned it all inside out and had the beginnings of the bucket. To keep the three-strand brim in place between the walls, I sewed all the way around the underside of the brim using a sewing awl. Next came small grommets sewn under the bucket rim to form holes through which I spliced some rope to form the handle. I added the BCC sail mark by rubber cementing on letter cut-outs I‘d made from a length of leather. Finally, I spliced on 12’ of rope to form the line the bucket is hung from when scooping water, adding Matthew Walker knots every 12” to help with grip under load. In the end, my ‘few hours’ project took well over 15 hours to complete. And to be honest, it’s the best boat bucket ever built. It better be.