Sunday, August 14, 2011

When is a sailor a seamstress?

My boat has a lot of old canvas on it.  When we bought Brigadoon, a lot of it was worn and full of holes.  The binnacle/wheel cover in the cockpit was a mess, along with the mains'l cover.

I had done a little bit of sail repairs in the past so I thought I could tackle this job.  With the help of tools I had long owned but rarely used, and a copy of the Sailmaker's Apprentice by Emiliano Marino, I decided to tackle the job of the canvas repairs.

First off was the mains'l cover.  It had multiple holes in it, much of the stitching was pulled out, and it was basically falling apart.  Could I have bought a new one for a couple hundred bucks?  Sure.  Can I buy a replacement sail, piece of new canvas, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?  That is unlikely.

So, why not practice on this old cover and try to give it a few more years of life.

This is some of the damage I had to deal with.  The cover was worn in many places.  So I spent hours and hours of time in the evening, locating and repairing the multiple holes and tears in the cover.

You just basically have to work your way along, stitch by stitch.  At first your stitches are uneven but, after a while, the get better.

It's just one stitch at a time.

The two caterpillar looking stitches are a variety of herringbone that is used to repair tears in sails.  I figured I'd practice on this sail cover along with applying patches.  I don't really care how the cover looks for now. I just want all the holes and tears closed.

I also needed to restitch the inner chafe liners to the main cover.  I'm not proud of these stitches but, one excuse I had is you are looking at the backside of the work.  I can't see how these look when I'm applying them as I had to do this from the inside out to position the cover properly.

This is one of my first patches on what was to become the wheel cover.  It's an old sail bag as the old wheel cover was beyond saving.

This is fun work, moving the needle though the canvas.  I can see myself in the future, noticing a tear in a sail (*GASP*), or a piece of canvas, and knowing I can deal with it.  I reach for my palm and needle, some waxed sail twine, repair it and move on.  It's no big deal.

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