|Rolling out the Red Carpet|
Photos courtesy of Jim Dangel
One of the hardest parts of on-the-fly boatbuilding, for us, has been sewing up the sails. Finding a big, flat, clean, dry, affordable and empty space in SE Alaska is a challenge. Not all of these are necessary, but each sure speeds the process up, and improves the quality of the resulting sails.
With LUNA, we were lucky to be given permission to use the Tenakee school gym over winter break, only having to pick up once a week for open volleyball.
These were our first DIY sails as well as our first Junk Sails, and took about two weeks. Most of that went into learning to use a machine and beginner's overkill. Since Junk Rig distributes loads so evenly, the massive reenforcement patches, double edge hems, chafe strips, hand-sewn corner rings and such were all unnecessary.
For SLACKTIDE, we were in Sitka, a much larger town... we had no personal connection with custodians of large spaces, so were scratching our heads. Anke suggested checking out rental prices at the community center, the venue for a world class classical music festival, plays, trade shows, art markets and City Council meetings.
"You want to make sails... not sell them?"
"I don't see that we need to charge you anything... Let's see... I can give you three days."
Gulp. Well, sure. But only three days, and only during open hours (about eight per day). Gulp. At least, we figured, we could get the body of the sails sewn up, and finish edges and grommets, later.
We were able to store our materials and tools, there, so got set up and ready to go as soon as the doors opened.
Ready? Set? GO!
First, we rolled out the red carpet. We'd designed the sails to be 2 x 60in cloth, minus 3in (2 x 1in for single fold hems and 1in for overlap between strips), for a total width of 117in or 9ft 9in. Once we'd dotted down the overlap seam with hot melt glue, we could think of the joined pieces as a single strip.
|First parallelogram ready to sew.|
We rolled the parallelograms 'vertically', from both sides, like a scroll, keeping the mid-line exposed. Twice each through the sewing machine, zig-zag stitch.
|Headsail before leech hollow.|
Last step requiring the big space was joining the headsails to their parallelograms. Again, we dotted with hot-melt glue, then transferred to the sewing table to finish up.
[Actually, we futzed around a whole day with chafing strips along each batten... I've come to consider these unnecessary for inshore, as we have seen absolutely no wear on the strips. Next sails will do without.]
Done with time to spare! We actually sewed up a tarp for the boat with the extra day.
As it happened, a teacher friend let us use his classroom (free in summer break) to finish up the edges. This took much less space as we could go a few feet at a time, exposing only the edge in question as we went.
To hold the hems in place, while sewing, we used good quality hairpins as clamps... 150 of them cost about that many cents.
The sails are only 10ft along the booms. We finished up by installing the grommets aboard SLACKTIDE, one rainy day, working along one batten at a time. A friend showed up and wanted to help. A little crowded, but loads of fun!
The hot-melt glue worked great... it helped to press it flat, on contact, or there will be a permenant little bead of glue. With some effort, we could tear it open to adjust, if necessary. It was fast and stuck well... unlike pins you don't get perforated. The hairpins along the edges were faster, yet, and no hot tip.
Sailcloth is Top Notch, woven from acrylic coated polyester thread. It has a nice 'hand', and no filmed coating. After three years, it's looking good, setting well and water still beads and runs off without soaking the fabric.
Rigging the battens, boom and lugs was a project for the docks.
We always tie to the far end, in Sitka (half a dock mile from the ramp). Easy sail in and out, no competition, great view and projects on the dock can often slide, if kept neat and in moderation.
Oiled, red cedar 2x2s have worked well for battens... light going up, but heavy enough to bring 'em down. We use a simple hole at each end (faired), and lash to the sail grommets. Then lace the battens to the sail with marlin hitches. 1/4in nylon along booms and lugs.
Batten parrels work best slippery. We like bright yellow, laid polypropylene... we use light duty tuck splices (slipping the end through several lays to form a loop... this is adjustable and easily removed and redone). The yellow stands out nicely against the red sailcloth.
The rig is usually the last push in building a boat. Once those sails are made and bent, one can almost feel the vessel yearning to be underway. To spread her wings and fly!
And who are we, to stand in her way?
|Early days sailing... working out the kinks (in that mizzen!).|