Monday, December 17, 2012

Sail Repair

In Webb Chiles' excellent book, Storm Passage, he tells the tale of nearing the end of his first solo circumnavigation in a boat that is sinking. In addition to bailing, by hand, about four tons of water a day, the storms of the Southern Ocean have made a torn patchwork of his sails. Day after day is spent bailing and sewing. The water never stops and the sails are never completely repaired.

Sorry Webb, just the thought of all that hand sewing makes my wrists ache. In fact, spending the last few days reinforcing the seams on several old sails with a sewing machine has been slow, tedious, unglamorous work.
But on reflection, I would much rather reinforce the sails before they require it, though I have no immediate intention of rounding Cape Horn. Possibly, all of this will pay off with another season of use from an excellent old suit of tanbark cruising sails from Hasse and Petrich, the original sails designed for the Stone Horse, Belle Starr.

We have spent several years searching for a good used sewing machine that can handle sails, without having to spend big money. A lot of machines will do a decent job on the body of a sail - it's when you have to work on the reinforced corners that you need some real power. The latest machine to tackle this job in the "Doryman sail loft" is a 45 year old Pfaff 230. I highly recommend it.

Please don't look too closely at the stitching, I'm still learning.
Mary is much better at this and I recommend a visit to With Needle and Palm for her take on how this work is done.


Anonymous said...

Wow that is the oldest sewing machine that I have ever seen but they really do a terrific job. Have you ever used a industrial machine for sewing these projects

doryman said...

Yes I have used an industrial machine, but they are cumbersome and space consuming for projects like this. The Pfaff 230 is a great machine and can handle some really heavy work. For an older, well made machine, fifty years is not so much - many newer machines will be outlived by a machine like this one.