Saturday, January 14, 2017

Project report - new canvas on S/V Liahona.

Our bimini, deck shades and cockpit cushions were all getting long in the tooth so we made a decision last season to replace them if funds would allow after our summer work. So last spring we met with the local canvas geru Hector Escalante based in La Paz, BCS. He came aboard, talked about our projects and then measured for material purchases which we would buy in the States and bring down with us 3 months later, saving the 30% import and sales tax that would be due if Hector imported the materials directly to Mexico himself.

Work went well during the summer so we purchased the needed materials to go forward with the job once we arrived in La Paz sometime in Nov. 2016. Sunbrella, Stamoid, zippers, thread (wow, UV Tenara thread is expensive at $115 per roll. We needed 2 rolls.), grommets, twists and a few other things set us back about $2000 which included all of the materials needed less the cockpit covers and foam that we bought from a distributor here in Mexico.

Projects that we tackled were new foredeck and midship deck shades, new bimini with complete side and rear enclosures for total protection from the elements with the side and rear panels being somewhat convertible as they tie out to the side rails to provide sun protection while still allowing for air flow. Not originally planned but added in as we went along were all new cockpit cushions, including new covers and new foam. And for the finishing touches we also had Hector make all new winch and BBQ covers.

We arrived in La Paz just ahead of the Baja Ha Ha fleet in mid November and got on Hector's schedule to get the project started. We were thinking that 2-3 weeks would be sufficient but that turned out to be a bit unrealistic as the project lasted about 6 weeks in all.

 It was a windy day in La Paz when Hector came out to make his patterns for the sun shades.

 Getting around halyards, shrouds, bimini tubing and all the rest of the crap on a sailboat is quite an ordeal.  Hector is the master!

 Making patterns for the hard dodger window covers.

 Adjustments to the foredeck cover.

Installing the hard dodger covers.

 Completed aft bimini section.

Hector's help for the day.  I am not convinced how much help she was but she had a great smile!

Hector has been touted as probably the best canvas man in Mexico and a couple of cruisers said that his quality of work would be in the top 10% of work done anywhere in the States. Although I have never had any canvas work done Stateside, I will simply add that his work is near impeccable. He is very bright, extremely insightful and creative and he is definitely concerned with the fit and finish of his work. On top of all of that, he is an extremely nice guy, very positive and a joy to have onboard as he worked. The ONLY comment that I have that is not anything but positive is that he is extremely busy, which delayed finishing our project in the estimated time. However, he is busy for a reason...he is VERY GOOD.

Pictures of finished product.
 This shows the side panel propped out to the rail for shade.

 Hard dodger window shades with a view of the side bimini panel bungied to the rail.

 Detail work of window cover following the curves of the cabin top.

 Looking aft from the front of the cockpit showing side shades.  All side and rear bimini shades roll up and stow at underside of bimini making them very easy to use when needed.  In this picture, the aft shades are rolled up in place and not even noticeable.

Looking forward into the hard dodger area showing the fold away, clear center windshield stowed in the open position providing great air flow.

Hard dodger window cover...perfectly fit.

In conclusion, we are beyond satisfied with our finished project, all of them. The engineering and execution of the work done on the Liahona was nothing less than impressive and we are extremely happy with our new canvas. There is no doubt that we have added much aesthetic value and a great deal of utility to our home. As for a total cost, I won't reveal that publicly without permission from Hector but I am quite sure it is a fraction of what we would have paid in the States. I will say that labor cost was in the neighborhood of material cost to give you a general idea.

One of 7 new winch covers.

 Looking forward through the cockpit at the new cushions.

 Captain's chair and aft deck behind.

A close up look at the Phifertex material used on the cushions.  Very tough and 100% water proof. I might add that they are extremely comfortable and never show water or drying salt.  A huge improvement over our previous ocean blue Sunbrella covers.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Hector Escalante in La Paz, BCS for his skills in improving our home and catering to my somewhat meticulous desires as the project progressed along. If you have further interest in knowing more about our project you are welcome to place a comment below this blog post and I will do my best to respond or give you my email for contact.  Hector can be contacted directly at

 A view from above showing the foredeck cover (no midship cover) and aft biminis.

 The foredeck shades.  At a height of 6'5", I can easily walk under it without ducking.

Until next time,

SV Liahona

Bret and Marne


  1. Can't wait to get my sleep on, on the cushions, when I retire each evening, during my stay in May. The Liahona cockpit provides the best sleep ANYWHERE!!@