All summer I planned on taking pictures and writing about our sails in the backyard. When I had time it wasn't the right time of day to take pictures and when it was the right time of day I didn't have time. Then there's the constant mess on our patio that I really wanted to clean up before exposing to the world how "non minimal" we really live.
Fall has arrived. The rain and winds came so down went the sails and I never got to fully capture their magnificence. So here is their story and some very non glamorous shots of them and the reality of our backyard.
Almost three years ago we took a family trip to Key West. Our best meal was at an outdoor restaurant behind a house. I can't remember the name of it to save my life. It had a hole in the wall, hidden shack kind of feel to it. They had chickens roaming around freely. I could see Hemingway or Jimmy Buffet eating there. Above the umbrella tables, they had huge sails that cast a lovely shade down below. It was brilliant! In a place were there are more boats than cars, the sails were so appropriate.
When we came back home to 100 degree weather. I wanted shade and I wanted to replicate the "feel" of that restaurant. I wanted our very own, backyard shangri-la. Our backyard faces west. In the summer the sun beams directly into our kitchen/dining area all afternoon. The patio, with all it's concrete turns into a frying pan. It's not a small area either. Getting shade sails would have been a fortune to cover. I thought finding thrown out or ripped sailing sails would be an easy and economic option. It wasn't. I searched for months and couldn't find anything on Craigslist. I called boatyards and marinas and came up empty.
Fortunately, a friend of ours once sailed in the America's Cup. He knows the right people and to my giddy surprise a heavy box of sails arrived at our door one day. They came from Texas and they insisted nothing was expected in return! I put them up immediately. P was just starting to walk at the time. I remember what a juggle it was to watch her and climb up and down a ladder as I figured out how to hang these sails. Geometry was not my forte in school so just imagine how many times it took for me to place three large triangles in the right place at the right angles!
I love the sails! I especially love the one with the racing numbers. We can put them up and take them down easily. They go up sometime in May and come down sometime in October. During the winter the sun moves to a more comfortable place on our landscape and we don't need them anymore. If for some reason they are still up past October it's the Santa Ana winds that make us take them down.
Here's what I did not factor in about sailing sails. They are meant to catch wind, unlike shade sails that are meant to let wind pass thru. The first year we put them up, when the winds started blowing it felt like the whole house was going to take off for Kansas! One of the beams where the sails were anchored actually broke in two.
Second, because sailing sails are meant to catch wind they are not flat. They have a droop to them when hung horizontally. No matter how hard we pull at the ends the droop will always remain which means they need to be hung up higher than the roof line. Every summer we experiment with their placement. D says he's putting in poles for next summer so they hang up higher and have a more permanent location.
My original thought was something more stylish to give us shade. Something along these lines. These are from the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs.
However, I also love things that are original or things used in a non conventional way so I do love the sails because they are a very non conventional forms of backyard shade. What I don't like is how they droop so I hope with the placement of tall poles I'll be fully won over. D loves them because they could have once been a part of the Stars and Stripes and because they're here and they were free.
What I really did not factor is that it's not the shade that makes shangri-la, it's the trees that create that feel. So, we need more trees. However, the job of putting in trees in a concreted, narrow area along side a pool will be a big, big job.
Labels: outdoor living, pool