Capt'n Pauley
Small Craft Advisor|May - June 2020
Normally, I talk about hard items like fiberglass, wood, steel or aluminum. Today, I’m offon another tangent—marine fabrics.
Paul Esterle

Exterior Fabrics When thinking about exterior fabrics, you immediately think of sails, the engines of our boats. Two main types of cloth are used in most production sails. The first is ripstop nylon, starting at .5 oz./yd. The second is polyester (Dacron), starting at around 2 oz./yd. and going up to as much as 10 oz./yd. for heavier sails such as storm jibs.

A word about that sailcloth weight. It is expressed in ounces per yard. You might think a yard would be 36 x 36 but you would be wrong. A sailmakers’ yard is 28.5x 36. (Evidently sailcloth was woven 28.5 inches wide back in the day.) Sailcloth comes in a wide variety of weights, sizes and colors.

Production and custom sails are assembled from precut panels. By controlling the taper in panel ends and panel orientation, a sail designer can build in desirable sail features, such as sail camber, twist and shape. In addition, the sail designer specifies stitching, reinforcements, bolt rope or lufftape size. Some sailmaker suppliers, such as Sailrite (www.sailrite.com) can supply DIY sail-making videos online. Make sure to view these before buying a sail kit.

New nylon or Dacron sails tend to be a bit pricey. For a lower cost option, investigate a used sail loft. There are several companies, such as Bacons in Annapolis, that specialize in selling used sails. Most have online websites listing available sails, their size and estimated condition. I did a recent search of the Bacon site for a used genoa for Ternabout, and found 22 sails that matched her dimensions. Prices ranged from $150 to $275. A comparable new sail would be around $650.

Don’t give up on your old sail, either. The Sail Care company can professionally clean your old sail, do any needed repairs and apply new resin. I had the sails cleaned for Bryn Awel; they came back like new and are still in use.

Before we leave the subject of sails, we need to talk about another sail material, polytarp. Polytarps are tarps made from polyethylene plastic. We are all familiar with those ubiquitous blue tarps. However, the tarp material used for sails is a heavier, more UV-resistant type, usually white but also available in a number of colors. Polytarp suppliers can provide the tarp material, accessories, sail kits or even completed sails.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM SMALL CRAFT ADVISORView All

POTTER WITH A LATEEN RIG?

Our editor-at-large Larry Brown is 75 now…an increasingly ancient mariner. He’s sailed various Potters since the early 1990s.

4 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

Vintage Lightning

Reborn as a Camp-Cruiser

6 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

The Joy of it All

Choosing a Boat Design

10 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

OPENING DAY

Sitting hove-to in 30 knots of wind was not how I anticipated spending my opening day.

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

RECONSIDERING ROSIE'S RIG

It was a typical hot Mississippi day when I walked into the Ocean Springs Yacht Club to cool off. I had just spent two hours bent in half while working inside the cabin of my West Wight Potter 15. I was stiff and drenched in sweat but feeling proud of myself. I had just turned Rosie into a lateen-rigged catboat.

4 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

SHALLOW DRAFT

When we were kids, we had a cocker spaniel aboard during summer cruises. The dog apparently had a massive bladder, but we kids were happy to row her ashore when nature called. We thought boating with a pet was terrific…but did our folks have a voice in the matter?

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

TECH BIGHTS

Some fiberglass boats, like Boston Whaler skiffs and MacGregor power-sailers, are built with integral flotation foam between the inner and outer laminations. Roger MacGregor was willing to flood his water-ballasted boats just to prove that they would not sink—and you can still find his old sales videos if you want to see for yourself. (youtube.com/ watch?v=hemNdJmzQBo)

8 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

MAKING THE SWITCH

Following are some methods for adding a Lateen rig to a Potter 15. Most of the photos are of my boat, but some clever ideas from others are included as well.

3 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

FIVE QUESTIONS: Richard Woods

Sailing experience with Richard Woods

2 mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021

Core Sound Cruising

Hmmm. I’m in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a nifty camp-cruiser sailboat on a trailer. I have a daughter on a sailing lake in Michigan, and another daughter on Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

10+ mins read
Small Craft Advisor
July - August 2021