Like many of us, I have a basement filled with old sails in old sail bags and am often asked, “Why?” Finally, an answer that goes beyond, “You never know.”
I’ve been thinking about sewing up a riding sail for some time, not because LIQUIDITY uncomfortably dances around an anchor or mooring, but because, well, because you never know. A riding sail is small, light, stows easily and so there’s little downside to having one on board. Crafting one also seemed a small, manageable project and as I said above, I had no shortage of available material.
Here’s the step-by-step process that turned a swatch of LIQUIDITY’s original 1977 main sail into a riding sail:
Sail cloth, relatively light weight, preferably recycled.
Recycled 3/8” (or whatever) line, sewn on as a bolt rope.
Sail needle and palm.
Home sewing machine.
Step 1 – Measure six times, cut three times:
Measure first with some light line and a tape measure. Create a triangle: tack at the base of the backstay, head at what looks about the right height from the tack and clew led forward until it looks about right. Write down the measurements and take them home.
Stretch a section of sail cloth out flat and recreate the measured triangle on your living room floor. Add a generous margin to the triangle and cut a swatch of sail cloth. (I added a foot or more in every direction before making the first cut.)
Back on the boat, use some light line to bend the newly cut, over-sized triangle to the back stay and lead the clew forward. A marking pen will help you define the proper angles and slowly reduce the size of the swatch, in a series of cuts. Keep going until the proportions looked about right, then make the final, cut leaving about an extra 1” margin all around.
Step 2 – Hem the sail
The home sewing machine will do just fine going through two layers of relatively light sail cloth. No magic in sewing the hem; just folded the edge over and feed it through the machine. Three sides will take just a few minutes.
Step 3 – Sew in the bolt rope.
Using sail needle and palm, sew the hemmed sail to the bolt rope. http://navyadministration.tpub.com/14067/css/14067_73.htm
Seized an eye at each corner.
With a little planning and a lot of luck, I was able to capture the Cape Dory 28 logo.
Figure about two hours to decide on the dimensions if you experiment the way I did. Cutting, sewing, seizing and the like probably took three hours in total.
Riding sails are cut flat; pretty much any suitable swatch of old sail cloth will do. Since it's not a performance sail, pretty much any reasonable size/shape should work for you.