Aboard Astraea

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Playing happily in his new bed
Playing happily in his new bed

Sully’s Bed

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Since Sully was born, he’s been sleeping in our cabin in a Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper that we borrowed from our friends Trent and Brittany. It fit perfectly by our bed, so when he woke up in the middle of the night it was easy to scoop him up and nurse him, or just reach over and rock him back to sleep.

Brand new squish all bundled up in his bed

Brand new squish all bundled up in his bed

He slept in that fine for a while, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking about what to do when he outgrew it. He’s really strong, and at about 2 months, he started arching his back and kicking his legs in a way that made me scared he would wiggle out. So we started to buckle him in at night. That was annoying. I’d get him to sleep and put him in and then I’d have to dig under his butt searching for the straps. When he was around 4 months he would go to sleep in it fine, but after some feedings in the middle of the night he wouldn’t go back to sleep in it. He ended up in our bed a lot. Then a few weeks ago, I put him in it, went to brush my teeth and when I came back he was sitting up!

"Look what I can do!!"

“Look what I can do!!”

So after that Sully was in our bed every night. It was kind of nice because I didn’t have to get out of bed anymore to nurse him, but I was uncomfortable, and so was Nate who slept pressed against the wall because he was afraid of squishing him. Our bed is the length of a queen, but about as wide as a full. Too small to co-sleep!

The plan was to make the lower bunk in the v-berth Sully’s new bed. All I had to do was sew a lee cloth that would make it like a giant Pack n Play crib. I got a lot of ideas from Charlotte’s blog postabout making her daughter Cora’s first berth on s/v Rebel Heart. I liked the idea to use the Phifertex mesh because it’s really strong and you can see through it.

I see you!

I see you!

The first thing we did was install a post in the center of the v-berth for the lee cloth to attach to. Then I needed to choose fabric. I went to the local upholstery shop, UFO, to get the Phifertex mesh, but they didn’t have the color I wanted so I had to place an order through Sailrite. While waiting for the mesh to arrive I picked out striped fabric for the edges from Joann Fabrics. Once I had all the fabric I headed up to the boaters lounge to cut and start sewing. I cut and ironed the fabric to create a pocket binding so that the Phifertex would go all the way to the edge. I wanted the edges to be really strong for the grommets that would go along the edges. I’m so proud of my little $80 Shark sewing machine for making it through four layers of fabric and the Phifertex!

My sewing setup in the lounge

My sewing setup in the lounge

Sewed through four layers of fabric and the Phifertex

Sewed through four layers of fabric and the Phifertex

After the sewing was done it was time to add the grommets along the sides and bottom.

Pounding the grommets in

Pounding the grommets in

We bought bronze pad eyes and cleats from the marine hardware store. It was time to start the installation!

Nate secured the bottom to the bunk using washers and screws through five grommet points

Nate secured the bottom to the bunk using washers and screws through five grommet points

Then he screwed the pad eyes and cleats into the wall and post. The final result is below. We used thin line to secure the the grommets to the pad eyes and then tightened the line with the cleat.

It's done! Just a little too tall...

The line is looped through the grommets and pad eyes and then led to a cleat

The line is looped through the grommets and pad eyes and then led to a cleat

Once we had it installed, I decided that it wasn’t going to work the way I had planned in my head. I thought that when I needed to get Sully out I’d undo the cleat outside the room and push the lee cloth down and out of the way. But when he’s crying, unwrapping the line from the cleat can take a little too long, and the line is not quite long enough so there was a tangled mess that made it difficult to get him out.

Not like I imagined

Not like I imagined

To make it easier to get Sully in and out now while he still can’t sit up on his own, we only strung the line through the bottom two grommets and let the top half of the lee cloth hang in front. Now it’s the perfect height to get him in and out easily. We can make it higher when he starts to sit up on his own and starts pulling himself to standing.

Folded in half for easier access to crying baby

Folded in half for easier access to crying baby

Playing happily in his new bed

Playing happily in his new bed

Happy boy in his new bed

It’s been about a week since we’ve had the bed set up and it’s working for now. As Sully grows and changes we can fix the lee cloth to meet our needs.

My next sewing project is making a fitted mattress protector and sheets for his bed. After that I’ll make another lee cloth for the top bunk so Sully can’t climb up there and escape! Stay tuned…

Comment

12 Comments

  1. I’m so proud! It looks fantastic!

  2. Great!!! I have some of the kids single bed sheets you may have if you would like to use them to make Sully some sheets for his bed! Kids designs, etc ….. flannel and regular sheets. I may also have a mattress protector you could modify! So glad Sully has his own bed now!

  3. Fantastic idea. Cute little bugger he is 🙂

  4. Sully’s bed looks so nice. You did a wonderful job!

  5. I’m sure Sully is happy to have his own bed to sleep and play! He looks happy! Great job!

  6. It looks great, what cozy bed! I was similarly inspired by Charlotte and sewed/created/constructed lee cloths for our vee-berth for our daughter. I was the envy of many at playgroup this morning when they found out that we would never have to do the crib to bed transition. Benefits of boat-living! Ha!

    • Hi Kristen! I saw your lee cloths (through Charlotte’s links or facebook) and I took your design into consideration, too! It’s great that our babies have beds that will always be theirs that they can grow into. What will the sleeping arrangements be once your new little one arrives?

      • When people find out that I’m pregnant and we live on the boat, after gasping, they might say something like “time to get a bigger boat…” Nope! #2 will get the other side of the vee-berth. We made lee-cloths for both sides, thinking Freja would sleep in the whole thing, but it worked better for us to put a big piece of plywood between the two sides, creating a “play” side and a “sleep” side. The main question: what to do with all the books that are on the play side? But #2 will be with us in the aft cabin for many months before Freja has to share her vee-berth! (we’d better stop calling it “her” vee-berth, tho!)

  7. Hello,
    I realize that this is long after the fact, well yes and no.
    Your little Sully has had the most amazing life thus far and I just have to contribute my input. Firstly I have to congratulate you both on embarking on such a grand adventure with a newborn; and for dealing with the regular challenges and the special ones so heartily and efficiently.
    Next I want to tell you that I myself sailed from Cadiz to Mallorca and back when I was 7 and not only have I dreamt of it ever since I have oriented my life entirely around the waterfront as a direct result of my salty experiences; from living on an Island as a teenager to taking up marine repairs and maintenance full time at 16 and running my own marine business ever since. I have owned, sailed, fixed, sold, repaired all manner of boat and yacht and even taught sailing as well and loved the ocean and her wares since that first trip in ’58. I will tell you with all sincerity and knowledge that your son will be forever influenced and motivated by the incredible life you have brought him into. I wonder how long it will be before he starts asking you why you sold the boat and moved ashore AND I wonder how long it will be before he gets his own. (Not too long if not already I bet lol)
    I have found this blog because I/we are searching for a suitable vessel to do the same journey as you have done and I believe Austraea is it. The Island I lived on was north of Sydney in ‘Austrea’ (as the Aussies call it, so there is even correlation there for me. I also wonder if she was in fact named by an Aussie)
    Our intention is to retire onboard and do the Sea of Cortez in varying degrees for the duration with summers on the Sth. Oregon coast where our property is (coming along). I/we will continue to read your adventures and hope to be doing a deal in about 6 weeks if Austrea is still available. Until then I am ,
    Faithfully Yours,
    Rev. Mike Goldsun

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