One thing leads to another it seems, for example, last summer while I was linking the Schooner Chandlery’s Freebag store page to the video of their yachting product, I discovered the Freebag Pro on their Norwegian site. As I read all about it, I became excited by the product. Really excited. The original Freebag was developed by Norwegian yachtsmen to increase comfort and endurance on long voyages in rough waters. Out of that development came the Freebag for Yachting and the smaller Freebag Pro for Industrial Use.
Over the years, use of this Freebag has been explored by a wide range of groups, ranging from archaeologists spending days on their knees, photographers seeking the best image in an awkward situation, and welders often working in cramped uncomfortable positions. I watched the video with guys using the Freebag while kneeling on rebar and then using the Freebag in a pool of water. I saw it used to cushion the worker’s shoulder while carrying pipes and knees while setting floor tile. I thought “I want one of THOSE Freebags!” David and I, like most other DIY boaters have spent countless hours and days on our knees or even contorted into uncomfortable places with stringers and bits and pieces of the boat jabbing us in the side, back, and chest as we try to get something done in an awkward place.
Both David and I thought “Oh, if we’d only had this while doing Mahdee’s rebuild — wouldn’t that have been nice!” We still have our crawl around and contortion jobs — from cleaning the bilges to replacing the raw water impeller on the engine — so there are still numerous opportunities to be jabbed by hard and sharp bits of Mahdee.
While I was working with Freebag to arrange for the yachting Freebag to be imported, I chatted with the Freebag company telling them how excited I was about the industrial product and I learned that, in Norway, the industrial Freebag is sold by a chain of tool stores and pretty much every archaeologist there has one too. The company sent me a few of the industrial Freebags for US DIY boaters, boatwrights, and yard workers to test out. Of course, the first thing I did was check out the product for my own varnishing contortions on Mahdee’s foredeck. David also made use of the Freebag while cramming himself into the lazarette for a project. The lazarette door has an uncomfortable 3″ threshold that jabs you in the ribs, back, or whatever part of you that spans it. Unfortunately we have reason to work in that tiny space with some frequency.
As Mahdee readers know, I’m the varnish person aboard. But I wanted to get some photos. So David demonstrated the Freebag Pro as we have used it so far on Mahdee: kneeling and laying on it to varnish. I also took a quick picture while David was using the Freebag in the lazarette. All-in-all, a great product for our use during DIY projects aboard Mahdee.
Below: The Danforth Anchor blocking includes some very pointy bronze hardware that gets in the way when varnishing the foredeck.
It is much more comfortable to lay on the Freebag than on the pointy bronze hardware!
The perimeter of the boat includes a lot of covering boards and bulwarks that lead to many hours of on-knee time while varnishing. I dislike knee pads and so the Freebag is perfect for my use when kneeling.
This Freebag Pro is smaller than the yachting Freebag and while it is big enough to sit on, it is small enough to hook to your belt to carry it around a worksite.
The lazarette threshold is over 3″ tall and about 1″ wide with sharp corners that dig into your back as you’re halfway in the space to lubricate the worm gear steering, rearrange the mooring lines, work on the engine exhaust or, on the port side, to open and close the generator exhaust thru-hull each time the diesel generator is used.
This Freebag isolates your body from the threshold.
The Freebag also cushions the rest of you because it’s just long enough for the length of an average size person’s torso.
We’ll be putting more information online over in the Schooner Chandlery about Freebags — and the Freebag company will be taking pre-orders for the product here in the USA soon. In the meanwhile, David and I will continue to be among the few lucky DIY boaters who have a Freebag Pro!