Category Archives: Products

Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine

Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1

Well, my Singer sewing machine had to go in for repairs. After twenty years, it finally needed work. Since I have been sewing a lot more heavy things using canvas and upholstery material, I think the poor machine couldn’t cope so Dennis suggested that I get a new one and he just happened to know of a good sewing machine called the Sailrite Ultrafeed. So, I ordered the Sailright Ultrafeed LSZ-1 from Mason Sewing in Vancouver and it arrived within a week. It is portable, so I have it set up where the old machine was. It is really tough! I’ve had it sewing through eight layers of canvas (attaching straps to bags) with no problem!

The machine is quite simple – it does not do anything fancy except that it has a zigzag feature which works really well. Other than that, it goes forward and it goes in reverse. It also has three positions for the needle which is great for trying to get really close to the edge of the material or for doing zippers. Its best feature though, is the walking presser foot. This really makes a difference when you are using heavy, bulky material – it doesn’t pucker but just slides along and creates a beautiful stitch.

In order to learn how to use it, a series of video tutorials came with it and they are excellent! I’ve learned about the tension, how to change needles, the bobbin, maintenance and oiling and a number of other important things.

My only criticism of the Sailrite Ultrafeed is their crummy light. It does come with the machine but it is not worth even attaching. I had to buy a better light (the Bendable Bright LED Light) which can be moved around and adjusted so that you can see details such as the stitches or even threading the needle. I think that the company should scrap the old light and just include this one because it is a really powerful light.

I’ve made a bunch of different things already and have also hemmed Dennis’ heavy, heavy work pants without any trouble at all. I even sewed some fake leather and it turned out beautifully! What I also like is that I can sew light materials too. All I needed to do is change the needle and adjust the tension.

So, in all, it is a great machine, very tough and easy to use. It sews through anything and is well built – made of metal. The other machines that I looked at in comparison had many plastic parts and didn’t look as rugged or as tough. I think I’ll be able to make good use of the Sailrite Ultrafeed for a long time. I am using it a lot for making bags and you can check out some pics of the bags that I’ve made on our other website: Bowls and Bags.

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Products


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Garmin Forerunner 310XT

The reason I am writing about the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is because when I am on the boat, I like to get exercise and unless I can track my distance, I tend to cheat. So, I got this tracking device 18 months ago from Mountain Equipment Co-op and it has been very reliable.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

I have used the Garmin for kayaking, cycling, running, walking and even for swimming (although I’ll need to go over the pitfalls for underwater) and its accuracy is amazing. You turn it on and wait for it to find the satellites. If you’re moving around, it does take quite a while (sometimes five minutes or so) to find the satellites, but if you’re holding still, then it usually only takes a minute. Once the satellites have been located, you press Start, and away you go! Your distance as well lap speed is recorded.

I find that it is clunky because it is so big, so if I am running, I don’t keep it strapped to my wrist. I just hold it in my hand. Probably someone who is a bigger person would not have a problem with it. When I use while I am kayaking, I just lay it down on the kayak (in the cup-holder) and watch my progress. As for biking, I just attach it to my front bike bag. I did use it for swimming, but it was not that great because every time the Garmin goes underwater more than a foot or so, it loses the satellite and has to find it again so it was not terribly accurate. Also, I worried about it falling off my wrist and if I lost it in Georgian Bay or the North Channel, I’d never find it again.

The battery time for the Garmin is pretty good, about 4 – 6 hours. It is a good idea though, to check the level of the battery after each use so that it can be recharged as that takes quite some time – well over an hour if it is drained.

As for uploading the data, that works well except again, it takes quite some time. What you have to do is plug a little USB device into your computer, turn the Garmin on and then put it near the USB. The Garmin will sync itself and upload the data onto the Garmin website (you have to create an account). You do need to have Internet to upload the data and it takes about ten minutes or so. However, everything is stored – all my info is there since I bought the device in June 2010. You can download spreadsheets and also check out your routes on Google Maps, so there’s a lot that can be done.

The Garmin failed on me twice – once while I was kayaking at Covered Portage Cove – the screen went a little wild so that I couldn’t read it. I turned the Garmin off and on but that did not help. After about half an hour, it fixed itself and I don’t know what it did. I also had an incident in the fall where the Garmin would turn on but not show anything on the screen and I thought it was broken. I then thought I should sync it with the website, and it downloaded new software which made it work again, so I guess it is important to keep the software updated. It hasn’t let me down since and I’ve used it quite a bit for running and for skiing.

All in all, I do like it and it works everywhere we’ve been, so I would recommend it if you need to know your distance and speed. It is very accurate and does let you set goals. It is pricey but it really helps, especially if you are getting cabin fever because you’ve been on the boat too long and have not been getting enough exercise. So, it is worth it!

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Everything Else!, Products


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UP by Jawbone

I am going to be very interested in knowing how much exercise I will get on the boat during a regular day. I found the most amazing gadget that tracks my daily activity and sleep patterns. It is called the UP and it is made by Jawbone. Click this link to get more details.

So, I bought it from Apple for $99 and synced it with my iPhone. Then, I put it on my wrist and I wear it all day and during the night. It is supposedly waterproof but I have been removing it for my shower or for doing the dishes. I have tracked my activity and as you can see by the pictures, it does a great job of tracking. Now, I haven’t done any biking, kayaking or swimming but it seems very accurate. 

I also have a Garmin 410 Forerunner sport watch which actually sends a signal to a satellite, so it is great for serious training outside. I will write about that next week. What I like about the UP is that it tracks your activity inside, so I discovered today that in addition to my run, I also walked over three kilometres. 

The UP looks fairly attractive as it looks like a bracelet. I bought the black one and it has a bit of silver coloured metal on it so it matches my earrings! I do find though, that when I am at the computer typing, I have to take it off because it elevates my wrist and it feels awkward. I have found that when I am trying to change my clothes, it is best to remove it because it catches on the sleeves. Of course in the summer, I won’t have to worry about that as I plan on wearing my bathing suit most of the time!

In order to sync the UP, it is really quite ingenious! You take the end of the bracelet off and a headphone jack is revealed. Then, you insert the headphone jack into the phone and press the sync button. It takes about 30 seconds to sync. Then you can track your activity. It is really very simple to do. I also sync it to the iPad so that I can actually see my progress more clearly. It will update both the iPhone and the iPad without having to physically sync each one. 

I am not really using the food tracking. I find it a bit ridiculous as all you do is take pictures of your meal and then it asks you how you feel – full, happy, sleepy… So, that part does not get used much.

All in all, I think it is going to be a lot of fun! As long as I keep using it and tracking my activity, I think I will really enjoy it. Like all my other gadgets though, this is the “honeymoon” stage and I’ll use it like crazy for the first while until the novelty wears off. By then, there will be a new and improved activity tracker on the market and I’ll be able to wear this as jewellery!


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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Products


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Nexus Wireless Wind Instrument – Part Two


Our Nexus wind instrument 😦

After two years of having very poor performance of our Nexus wireless wind instrument, and many phone calls, emails and sending the instrument to various places to be repaired, the company has finally confessed that there were problems with the first models (which apparently we own – of course!). So, we are now (hopefully) exchanging this model for a wired Nexus wind instrument. The gentleman we are dealing with said that he just had to finalize details and would send us a new one. Now, that is absolutely wonderful but we have learned our lesson! Also, we are out over $1000 for shipping and buying parts for the instrument, but I guess we can’t do much about that.

I also emailed the Nexus company in Sweden, and they too admitted that they had problems with the earlier products.

Here’s what they said:

Hello Jane,

I’m so sorry for all your problems you had with our products.

I don’t know which version you have/ had. We had some issue when we first
released the product. There were issue with charging the battery, radio
strength. And we also have some units were the radio broke down close to a
lightning strike. We have done some improvements on our latest version of
the wireless wind transducer. We have fixed with a new version charging
issue, radio strength and added an overcharge protection (lightning strike).

We are happy to replace your wireless transducer to a wired transducer. We
can send it directly from Sweden.

Please let me know if Fogh Marine is able to help you otherwise we will deal
with it from Sweden.

So, I wonder how much it will cost to send the Nexus to Sweden? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out!

Stay tuned for Part Three of the Nexus saga…


Nexus Wireless Wind Instrument

Our Nexus wind instrument 😦

I have to admit that at the 2009 Toronto Boat Show, we went a little wild and bought three expensive pieces of boat equipment – the dinghy, the kayak and unfortunately, the Nexus wireless wind instrument. I guess we got spoiled from our last boat – a Hunter 33 – it had a great wired wind indicator and we loved it! It made boating even more fun knowing the speed and direction of the wind (something to brag about in the anchorage). Anyway, we bought the Nexus wireless wind instrument for $1300 and it has only worked for two weeks. (Notice the year – it is now 2011). Here’s what happened.

Mast on the Killbear Marina lawn

Since the mast was lying down on Killbear Marina’s lawn, (this was our first year with the boat – we’d had it shipped from New York)  Dennis installed the Nexus himself. It didn’t work, so he brought everything home and called Fogh Marine (that’s where we bought it) and they told us to call ComNav in BC. So, Dennis called them and went through the steps with the technician. He acknowledged that it was not working and told us to ship it out to them for repair. We called Fogh Marine and they said they could send it or we could. So, to make things easier (as boating season was arriving soon), we packaged it up and sent it off. Insurance and postage was over $100.

It came back fixed and by now the mast was up on the boat, so we had to hire someone to climb the mast and install the instrument. Gerry, the owner of Sound Boat Works climbed the mast for $100 and put the pieces on the top like he was supposed to. Everything was great!

We set off on our trip and used the wind instrument quite a bit as we found it very interesting to know the wind speed and direction. About two weeks into the trip, the Nexus kept stalling out – it would work for a while and then stop. Finally, it stopped working altogether and for the rest of the summer, we were without it. I have to say though, that we tried many times to get it working and even called ComNav again and the technician helped us but it would not start. They suggested that it was the battery (the one on top of the mast). We gave up at the end of the sailing season and thought we’d tackle this in the spring.

In the spring of 2010, we bought a new battery and had it shipped up from the US at a cost of $90. Then, Dennis had to climb the mast himself and  bought a really neat mast climber (this cost $400) and install the new battery. Of course, it turned out not to be a battery problem because the Nexus would not work. We called ComNav and they referred us to Ocean Equipment. We called Ocean Equipment and had the Nexus shipped out there (another $100). Dave, the man we dealt with repaired it but told us that there was water damage in the WSI box. Since it was always under the dodger and inside a plastic box, we found this hard to believe. To make a long story short, the replacement WSI box was $300!

Dennis preparing to climb the mast

I paid Ocean Equipment their $300 and didn’t tell Dennis because he was already upset. I had the Nexus shipped to our friends’ house in Wisconsin for $60 because to ship it to Canada would have been over $150. Our friends were going to meet us at Beaver Island so we thought this was a good idea. When we arrived, Dennis climbed the mast and installed the Nexus. It didn’t work and we thought that maybe the solar panel needed to be recharged. We left it out in the bright sun for a couple of hours and when we checked it again, it worked! We were very excited about this!

There he goes!

We left the next day and happily set off for Petosky. We turned all of our instruments on and the Nexus worked…. for ten minutes.

So, for the entire summer of 2010, we were without a wind instrument. We are now at the mercy of Fogh Marine (we saw them at the 2011 Boat Show but didn’t buy anything from them this year!). We have asked to have this resolved and after spending $2000 (I am not including the cost of the mast climber), we have had enough of Nexus and everyone else. All we want now is to give this thing back and to have a wired wind instrument in its place. We shall see…

Stay tuned – Fogh Marine has been emailing us and trying to get everything in order. Hopefully they will!



Walker Bay Dinghy

Dinghy at Killbear Park

The Walker Bay dinghy was purchased at the Toronto Boat Show in 2009 for $2300. We’ve had many different dinghies before, including several inflatables but have never had much luck. So, we chose the Walker Bay because it look solid and was one piece. We wanted to put the dinghy on the davits, and that has worked out pretty well. The first year we had it, we actually kept the 4 horse Yamaha right on the dinghy and hoisted everything up onto the davits. That was ok but the second year (2010), we decided that we didn’t want to do this and Dennis removed the inflatable sides (for stability) and left them at home. He also stored the motor in the locker at the back of the big boat. We found that we really liked having the dinghy so lightweight. We found that we hardly ever put the motor on it, instead we just rowed around. The dinghy was excellent to row – really fast and steady. And, hoisting it up on the davits was a breeze!

Now, the dinghy has a self bailing mechanism which is absolutely useless! We thought that we had a defective one because the boat was constantly full of water. We ordered another bailer and it was no better. Our dinghy, within an hour of sitting in the water, would fill up and we were constantly bailing it out which defeats the purpose! We have a much simpler remedy now and the dinghy is nice and dry. Dennis bought a bathtub plug and before we put the boat in the water, we put the plug in!

Dennis in the dinghy - rainy and cold day

We met a couple of other people who had the same dinghy and one couple did not have this problem. Their dinghy worked well but another man in Gore Bay did the same thing as we did – used a bathtub plug. So, I think the design of this mechanism could be improved.

In all though, we really like the dinghy and will definitely use it this year again without the motor and without the inflatable stabilizers. We found that we really didn’t really need either one and it just made the dinghy heavier. Actually, one of the dinghy’s eyes broke – that is the piece that holds the dinghy to the line on the davits. The weather was very rough and it was bouncing around. Dennis bought a new eye and it is fine but he is always careful when he secures the dinghy to the davits – he doesn’t let it bounce around anymore. We’ve had enough disasters losing dinghies in stormy weather!

Dennis fishing in the dinghy

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Products


Hobie Cat – Mirage Sport Kayak

Jane in the Hobie Cat Mirage Sport Kayak

We bought our kayak at the 2009 Toronto Boat Show from Fogh Marine for $1400 and it has been a lot of fun to use. First of all, it is quite lightweight so Dennis can pick it up easily and store it on deck. I can lift it, but it is pretty awkward and unwieldy for me so I let Dennis do the work. I really like it because it is very safe and sturdy. I tried to deliberately tip it – just to see what it would do – and it took considerable thrashing about to get it to tip over. I really had to rock back and forth hard.

The kayak has foot pedals as well as a paddle and you can do both at the same time but I usually pedal for a while and then paddle – just to exercise my arms and legs. I really like the foot pedals because it is quite like riding a recumbent bicycle. You get a pretty good workout in it, especially if you are heading into the waves. It also goes into very shallow water – I guess about a foot so you can go close to shore.

What I don’t really like is getting it ready. We store the paddle, seat and pedals in a storage locker at the back of the boat, so it is a big pain to have to set the seat in as well as putting the pedals in. I am always worried that I will drop the pedals into the water and then I know I’d never get them back. They are very expensive to replace.

Overall though, I would highly recommend this boat. It is great for getting away and checking out the anchorage as well as getting some exercise. I have had no problems with it whatsoever. I would recommend though that you secure the paddle. I lost mine at Harbour Island near Gore Bay. I had the kayak tied up to the big boat and had hooked the paddle into its elastic snaps, but a strong wind was blowing and it must have carried it away because I never found it again.

For more information, check out this link: Hobie Cat – Mirage Sport Kayak.

One more thing, there is dry storage available – there’s a place for your tackle box if you want to go fishing but I use that place for my camera. There is also a water bottle holder which is great because you do work up quite a thirst on the water.


Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Products