Making a sail

  • November 08, 2013 8:52 PM
    Message # 1431184
    Deleted user

    Twenty five years ago we bought a Sailrite Sailmaker with the thought of making our own sails.  Then we learned of Kern and decided that would be a better choice.  While talking to Dave King he said we really needed a smaller head sail than our Super Yankee if we decided  to go to Hawaii, to come home with.  I always listen to Dave and knew he was right, but really didn't want to make the investment for a sail that would probably see limited use. But after giving it some thought we decided it would be a perfect opportunity to finally make a sail, something we always wanted to do.

    Sailrite had the exact size kit we wanted ($800.00) so we ordered it.  It took a week to put together and was a lot more work than we thought it would be, it always is.  But with their instructions and online videos the assembly went well.  The panels fit precisely and I mean exact.  The sail turned out great and we hope it gets some use soon.

    Some thoughts - If someone really needed to save every penny and had a machine that would do the job it might be the way to go.  We enjoyed the project and it was just enough of a challenge not to be boring.  But what we really gained was the confidence to do any sail repairs we might need to do.  We might someday consider making a stay sail, but anything else we would definitely go to Kern. These are heavy sails, 8 oz. and it takes a pretty good machine to do the work. Again, we would leave Yankees and mains to Kern.  




  • November 10, 2013 12:00 PM
    Reply # 1431796 on 1431184


            Nice job on the headsail. I have been making sails for my W32 Patience for a long time, not because i'm cheap, but for the simple reason that there are few sailmakers or repair services in the remote anchorages. All sails now are cut from computer programs so the only difference is the material and who puts them together. Also the machine allows you to make sail covers, dodgers, cushion covers, lee cloths and even repair your shorts.

            For those squeemish about getting excited purchasing a new "sewing machine" I suggest you call it a "power tool".


  • November 10, 2013 12:10 PM
    Reply # 1431804 on 1431184
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jim and Julie:  Nice looking sail - what model of Sailrite sewing machine did you use?  Also why is Julie always doing the work in the pictures?:)

    Lee:  How about a few images and words about your sewing projects?  



  • November 12, 2013 10:11 AM
    Reply # 1433592 on 1431184
    Deleted user

    Jay we have a twenty five year old Salrite Sailmaker which was one of the first machines they offered.  It's actually a modified small commercial Brother and can really sew.  We sewed through ten layers of 8 oz. cloth which is 1'2" thick.  The big drawback is that it's a 90 lbs. cast iron machine so we don't take it with us. It's been a work horse and never had a problem. 

    I agree with you Lee about getting a machine especially if your a serious long distance cruiser.  Some friends of ours tore their new main in the SP and had a hard time getting it fixed.  It turned out to be expensive and a lousy repair. We use our machine a lot. This summer we made cushion slip covers, a padded cover for the V berth and a Bimini.  

    The only thing I'd add is that although sails are cut using a computer CAD program, primarily the one designed in New Zealand,  It's still up to the sail maker to design the sail with the proper cord and draft placement.  This one place that Kern has nailed down for the Westsail. The sails Sailrite offers are almost all from the original plans.  The super yankee they offer is an exception and has an asterisk that states measurements are estimates.  A BIG area of difference is in the main. Kern's full batten main is a vast improvement over the original hollow leach main they offer. The big advantage to  CAD designed sails is not having to broad seam and they can see 3D renderings of the sail shape. 

    We rented a truck and took a ton of stuff off the boat from Southern Calif. including the sewing machine before we got to Mexico. That worked out as we never needed it and even if we did there are plenty of cruising sail makers and canvas people in Baja and a sail loft if La Paz.  Even at that I agree with you and wish we had a machine for all the neat projects that we thought up and would have been fun to make.  If we went any further we would get a lighter machine like the LSZ-1 by Sailrite. 

    The fact that you make all your sails says it all.



    Last modified: November 12, 2013 10:16 AM | Deleted user