Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fixing Your Sails in Exotic Locations

Actually, I believe the phrase is.... "Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations."  But sails are part of the boat so this counts. 

The stitching on sacrificial Sunbrella on the headsail shredded on the way down.  Each time we flew the sail, more and more came loose.  I guess it did what is was supposed to do - it sacrificed so the sail would survive.  Of course I had every other color of Sunbrella onboard BUT black.   We popped into Doyle Sails in Roadtown last week and I bought a yard of black Sunbrella just in case some of it needed to be replaced. 

It turned out that all I had to do was re-stitch a bunch of areas....this time.  But it worked.  We flew the headsail today on our way to Peter Island today. 

I also did a small repair job on the staysail.  I double checked ALL the stitching on both sails.

Tom fired up our little Honda generator to run the Sailrite machine and it worked like a charm.  Thank you Wayne and Jan for the generator!!!  Both repair jobs turned out pretty good.  All in all, it took about 6 hours from start to finish including dropping the sails and re-rigging them.  It was hot but the pay off was jumping into the cool, Caribbean turquoise water after the job was done and admiring them while floating around the boat.   REFRESHING

Repair wise -the same cannot be said for our mainsail.  I bought a yard of Dacron so I could repair the sacrificial there as well.  However a bigger concern was looming.  We have been having issues for some time getting the sail in and out of the furler.  I really thought something was wrong with the mechanics of the furler.  We discussed this in depth with the guy at Doyle Sails.  Then he hopped in his dinghy and came out to our boat in person.  Furler is fine. Sail is not.  Seems it is past it's useful life.  Sigh.  It's stretch and misshaped.  From this point on, it will only get harder and harder to furl in and out.  Of course we all know it will become near impossible at the most inopportune time so we decided to bite the bullet and order a new one.  Our new one should arrive sometime around Xmas.  "Santa, all I want for X-mas is a new mainsail."  Santa = "Yeah, you and every other southbound cruiser!  Cough up the $$!"


  1. Cruising = Fixing things in exotic places...

  2. Remember when you are dumping all that money into a hole in the water you are buying a lifestyle. It's the only way to stay sane.

  3. Perfect timing with your post! I have to fix a small tear in our mainsail but I don't have a sewing machine. Have you ever done sail repair by hand? If so, how did it go and any tips? Cheers - Ellen

    1. Ellen - The Complete Guide Sail Care and Repair by Dan Neri is a great book to help with repairs and such. I have not done any repairs by hand. You will need a hand palm, big/thick/strong needles, ice pick (for making holes through multiple layers of thickness) or steel awl, seam tape (I use tons of this ordered from Sailrite - keeps stuff in place as I sew) UV thread, Dacron for repairs (you can buy rolls in certain width which really helps) Also - you might look on Craigslist for old, heavy Singer sewing machine. The old heavy duty ones handle the thicknesses needed for sail repair.

    2. Thanks Sabrina - great tips, much appreciated!