Captains Log :4: Sail Repair

We have been taking the boat out, checking on its performance a couple of times a week until we had our first incident. It actually wasn’t to big a problem, but it did remind us that we are operating an old vessel that will have it’s own issues. We were sailing as close as we could to the wind, seeing how far the boat would keel before losing speed and all of the sudden we started to hear a ripping sound, then in the matter of seconds the boom came crashing down with the bottom half of the main sail attached to it, and the top half of the sail flapping in the wind. The front halyard sail was still full of wind so we did not lose any speed until we turned out of the wind to access our damage. Sure enough the main sail had ripped on seam, and we were stuck with our first sail repair.

After doing a little research on the internet, we came up with the best approach for repairing the seam. We learned that there are a number of different ways to attack the job, fortunately for us we have a production room with cutting tables and heavy duty sewing machines at our warehouse, so we decided to take the main off of the boom and take into our shop.
The next steps were taken as follows:

  1. Insure cloth is salt-free and dry. Treat with alcohol to displace moisture, if necessary. Remove old thread pieces.

  2. Pin out seam in original shape. Use needle holes, wear pattern, etc. to re-establish the original relationship of cloth edges. If the seam is not split yet, but is in danger of coming apart, FIX IT NOW! To do so, run pencil along seam edge, draw strike-off marks, then pull the seam apart and remove the broken threads.

  3. Pin the seam out and put double stick tape on the bottom layer of cloth, pull off paper backer, and lay top cloth in place. When you are sure it is lined up correctly (no ripples in one layer, even tension on both pieces, ends of seams are same lengths as original), press top cloth down firmly smoothing cloth into place.

  4. If sewing by hand, sew / / / / /, then back in opposite direction, using original holes, to form a zigzag stitch. This allows the stitch line to stretch with the cloth. If necessary, punch holes through thick areas of cloth with an awl. Use the awl to mark off holes at regular intervals of 1/4″ or 3/8″ for even stitching. Use appropriately strong thread, doubled if necessary. Pull tension on each stitch as you sew. If sewing by machine, sew seam, using original stitch holes if possible.

  5. Cover repairs with adhesive-backed cloth tape if seam is in a high chafe area.

Once we finished the repairs, we brought the sail back to the boat, put it back on the boom and off we were chasing the wind around the bay again.

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