Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Sail for the New Year

Salutations from the great Pacific Northwest to all my friends the world over.
Calendars confuse me. Where I live we call this the first days of winter. Some people never see winter and today my good friends far south of the equator celebrate high summer. I prefer to look to the sky and see the axis turn on our lonely planet and contemplate the millenniums of our universe. On a long night with the constellations turning slowly over my head, I can forget that I live in a country where my own government despises poor people like me.

Today was short. In the same vein as the above comment, I think of a day in terms of sunlight, which was easy on the ground today at 48 degrees latitude north, 122 longitude west.

Being an aging mariner, who still prefers to live each day outside, in nature, these short, cold days are hard on my bones. Despite natural inclination, sometimes I have to stay inside, by the fire.

Today was such a day. Fortunately, there was plenty to do. We are sewing a new mainsail for Belle Starr. The wooden Stone Horse had to sit out a sailing season due to lack of funds for moorage, but soon (I promise) she will return to her natural element and the voyage ethereal she loves will commence.

 Suddenly help arrived. (never know when she'll appear).

Belle Starr was built in the early 1980's, here on the Puget Sound. Her sails were (are) very a finely constructed cruising design executed in the early years of Hasse and Petrich Sailmakers. Carol Hasse is still in business here in Port Townsend, but I know without asking that I can't afford to have her replace her aging set. And, it goes without saying, our new sail pales in comparison, but then I probably don't have thirty-five years of sailing left in me, even if I have the good grace to live that long.

Besides, it's good experience to make your own sails. I remember well the days when I could not figure out how to drive my boat to windward, let alone understand  the physics of sail theory. Nothing brings all the elements of sailing theory together better than building a sail.

I cheated.
Belle's mainsail came in the mail, as a kit from Sailrite. Those guys are awesome. A custom, precision cut mainsail for pennies on the dollar. All the pieces you need, minus the tools. Believe me, building the sail is challenge enough without having to cut it from raw materials.

Heather is a pro with a sewing machine and we have an old Phaff made to sew through metal. (don't mean to sound too elderly, but stuff was made better back in the day.) Still, the large bits of slick fabric were a challenge and took up the entire front room of the house for days. The main body of the sail is now complete and the task of hand sewing is underway.

I learned to sew from my mother and grandmother at a very young age, but have never mastered the delicacies of the job. My sewing is strong, but able-seamen of old would blanch at the quality of my work. I'm trying very diligently to make the grade.

My bible for hand-sewing technique is Emiliano Marino's "Sailmaker's Apprentice", an exceptional book, by the way. I've recently had the pleasure of meeting Emiliano and it's likely he will one day see my handiwork.
Hopefully, he will be kind.

Love and Peace to you all.


Clark said...

We hope your help and your family has a great New year!

doryman said...

Same back atcha, Clark.

Anonymous said...

There's something special about an old sewing machine. And although I've watched how it works, I'm still impressed each time.

doryman said...

New computer operated machines are very finicky and require constant maintenance by professionals. Not to mention exorbitantly priced. It might take a while to find an old machine that's been taken care of, but they're out there.

Tweezerman said...

My sewing machine has been disabled for several years but I may have to get it back online as there is a talk of a group build of Classic Moth sails.