How to Repair Sails

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How to Repair Sails

As a consequence of regular use and exposure, sails are susceptible to damage in the form of stains, holes, or tears. The surface of the sail, its leech edge, bolt rope, and batten and pockets are typically the most susceptible to damage. When at sea and trying to repair a hole or tear, a specific tape can save the day.

Repairing small holes or tears occurring in a low-tension segment of the sail is relatively easy and requires fewer repair items. When repairing large jagged holes, sail owners must know how to do the right patching and stitching. Understanding the steps in repairing sails allows owners to turn into savvy DIYers capable of tackling problems on board.

Emergency Repair at Sea

When a sail requires repair at sea, especially in low-tension areas, users can useDacron tape or, for spinnaker type of sail, nylon sail tape. Use at least 5-cm-wide sections of tape to cover both sides of the damaged area. Remember to ensure that the damaged area is clean and dry before repairing as tape does not adhere to salty, wet, or dirty material. If drying is hard, apply rubbing alcohol to dry easily.

Repairing Small Holes or Tears

Begin by cutting sail tape that is at least 5 cm larger than the damaged area on all sides. Align the adjacent sections of the sail exactly to avoid an improper patch job. Ask someone to hold the area while positioning the patch.

Next, put the first section over the defect. While in position, press the tape into position while peeling away the backing. Turn the sail over and repeat the procedure on the other side. When the sail tape on both sides is on, press down and rub firmly for a secure repair. The method works well if the hole or tear occurs in low-tension segment of the sail.

Repairing Large Holes or Tears

When the large tear is straight and has no jagged edges, the sail tape placed on both sides should be straightened with stitching. The sail tape should also be at least 8 cm larger on all sides than the tear.

Repairing Large Jagged Tears

Jagged tears require replacement of the torn section of the sail with a piece of new fabric. Start by bringing the sides of the tear into direct opposition and, if necessary to hold the segments in place, put pins. Place tape around the tear edges on one side of the sail. Make sure to align the tape either towards or against the weave direction of the cloth. Next, cut the fabric inside the taped area using a pair of scissors or a hot knife.

Place the repair cloth over the sail tape around the tear and then trace with a pencil to guide how much repair cloth to cut. Then cut the cloth, remove the tape backing, and lay the cloth over the tear. Firmly press against the tape until all the cloth edges adhere and the cloth itself lies flat against the sail.

Sewing the Repair Section

After setting the repair cloth firmly on the sail, sew it into position at the outside edge. For this step, use a white Dacron or polyester thread for the repair as it is UV resistant and lasts longer than dark thread; users can also secure its end by melting instead of knotting. Also, a triangular needle punctures with less risk of creating a tear than a round sewing needle.

To begin, hand stitch by using a zigzag pattern, being sure to push the needle through the repair cloth as well as the sail. The stitches should have 4- to 5-millimetre intervals along the repair. Make sure to pull the thread taut at each step but not so tight as to crimp the sail material. Continue stitching until covering the whole side of the repair. Then, through the needle holes already present, stitch in the opposite direction in a way that counters the flow of the previous stitching. After covering the whole side of the repair, secure the stitching by tying the two ends together and melting them for a more permanent closure.

Other Sail Concerns

As a consequence of regular use, owners can encounter parts issues that they need to address as well. The common sail concerns include wear and tear of the leech edge, batten and pockets, and bolt rope.

Parts

Details

Cause

Stains

Includes rust marks and fish blood stains

Regular use; exposure

Leech Edge

The back edge of the mainsail; usually the first part of the sail to show signs of wear

Wear and holes; difficulty in setting or trimming the mainsail

Batten and Pockets

Batten and the pockets are important in shaping the mainsail

Changing direction causes batten to flex and bend, making the cloth weak or tear overtime

Bolt Rope

The rope can vary; nylon material is popular because it has stretch but it also shrinks

The rope has drawn up or shrunk, making it difficult to lower or raise the main

Solvents and cleansers such as rust remover can remove stains on sails. For blood stains, soak in a solution of 2 litres of cold water and 235 millilitres of ammonia. Professional repair can make sails look and feel new; however, owners can repair many holes and tears with sail tape.

How to Buy Sail Repair Items on eBay

eBay lists a wide variety of sail repair items. Buyers should keep an eye out for listings that offer free postage as well as listings from eBay's top-rated sellers. Buyers can still get more value for money by visiting eBay Deals page, which updates regularly.

The sail of a boat is susceptible to damage such as stains, holes, or tears. Emergency repair can be as easy as slapping a Dacron or sail tape on a dry surface or repairing with sail cloth and stitching. Knowing the types of damage to sails and the best methods for repair helps enable sailors to do repairs on their own vessel.

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