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Date: 4 May 2016. Red Fish, Green Fish (visual clues)


I like labels, tags and hints. Especially in times of stress having a visual clue can keep me on the right track. It is also helpful for those new to boating. Everyone can seem salty with the right reminders. Here is what I do aboard Seaweed.


Visual Clues (old style/works but not very nautical)


Hanging by the pilothouse doorways these two are visual clues for me. Port on the left side of the boat is red. On the right is starboard which is green.

The bells are a reminder that "one whistle" is a port side pass. "Two whistles" indicates a starboard pass.

Of course I know that port has one syllable and starboard has two. Still, these visual minders have been hanging in my pilothouse for a long time.


The main problem with my red and green clues is they are ugly. They are not in the least attractive. I have solved that and you can too. Here is what I came up. Directions follow for those so inclined.


First I sketched out a small fish. It needed to be simple. I wanted a small one as I did not wish to overpower the cabin. My boat is smaller so full sized would look out of place. Plus I prefer unobtrusive.

Here is my fish:


White throwable cushion

After years in the cockpit the sun finally destroyed the cover of my cushion. That is when I took the thing apart. Inside are several layers of 1/4" foam.

In the center are two layers of 1/8" rubber. That rubber made its way into my stash of stuff.

When I needed stiffener for the fish project, I knew just what I wanted to use. And best of all, it was free!


Actually the cushion was free too. My friend Lynn gave me a pair of cushions that served me well for many years. I had one in my dinghy back in the days when that sufficed for a legal life preserver. Now I have a ratty orange one that is legal.

One of these days I might pry open my purse and buy one of those $$ inflatable ones. For now I use what I have.

First I cut out a bunch of fish from the rubber. Next I took red and green felt and cut out slightly larger fish.

Don't forget you need two felt pieces per fish.

I next got out my soldering gun. Mine is an inexpensive one from Harbor Freight. Because I do so little with it having a superior one would have been a waste of perfectly good money. It does do the job and that's all one can desire.

The plan is to hang the fish. Thus the hole is top and off center. I want the fish to hang level and this placement works.

To poke the hole I got out my chunk of wood. Every boater has one.

Mine is old, holed, and serves the purpose.

The wood is a surface that can be damaged and not matter.

The holes ended up with SLUGS OF MELTED RUBBER. I took Daddy's knife and scraped them off.

I had some swivels in my fishing supplies. Attached at the hole, they are the hangers. Nautical, eh?

Initially I used glue to adhere the felt to the rubber. That was unnecessary so I eliminated that step.

The next part is attaching buttons to the felt. Because of the rubber I could not stitch straight through and do both sides at once. Thus each button was sewn on individually. Not fun, and time consuming too.

One button became the eye. For the green the second button went near the tail. Remember "two whistles" for a starboard pass...

I wanted my fish to look fine on either side. That is why I made them three dimensional with the pretties (buttons) on both sides. It only takes a bit more time to complete the back.

Be careful. The buttons need to be on opposite sides for the finished product. There is a left side and a right side of the felt fish. Getting the buttons wrong only means making another set if you've got extra felt.

I think the fish make cool Christmas tree ornaments or gifts for other boaters.

Pam who is so kind made a set of fish:

I like the way her green fish has both eyes together. It looks great!

After the buttons are on I was ready to sew. The swivel snap is attached through the hole in the rubber. Then using carpet thread I went around the fish just outside of the rubber. Voila: finished fish. I chose to go around once leaving the fish more rustic. Plus it was quicker.

In retrospect I do not know that the rubber was necessary. The two layers of decent quality felt are sufficient if the fish are not too large.  And too a starch could have been sprayed on them after completion to stiffen them up if necessary.

Definition of "decent quality" felt: The thicker stuff with body versus that thin junk you can see through. If you are spending time to make something that you want to last, opt for the better quality materials.

Note for the boys: Your mom would use starch when ironing. Mixed with water she would sprinkle it on the clothes using a pop bottle with holes poked in the cap. Later spray versions came out. The starch made your daddy's collars stiff and took the wrinkles out of clothes. [Thank goodness for permanent press fabrics. J.]

Seaweed's clues went from old and ugly...

This is the new, improved version:

That is what I did for my Seaweed. If you want to do fish for yours, this is a good project. Without the rubber, putting the fish together is a fun afternoon craft for all ages. At one time I considered making the fish for cash. Marketing is not my forte. I'm having too much fun playing however if you want a do-it-yourself kit, let me know.

Thanks for reading.

What crafts are your favorites aboard?
And, have you seen all the great felt ideas on Pinterest?

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