Michele Stevens Sailloft Ltd.

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4th Generation Sailmaker
Makers of Mainsail for Famous Bluenose II





Most Common Sail Repairs
(and how we can avoid them!)

Preparing for Spring in the Autumn
Expert Advise

As sailmakers, we know that conducting a sail repair must be a methodical process.

First, we check the luff to make sure all slides, hanks or tapes are secure, and not worn and then we check along the foot for any chafe to the rope, the tape or slides, if applicable. Second, we check the leech for batten pockets, leechline, and any spreader patches or U.V cloth damage. Finally, all the stitching, rings and header boards are checked.

Over the years, we have found that with a little extra care taken when making a new sail, the following common repairs could be avoided:









corroded rings:

use Rutgerson stainless steel rings

threads wearing at the leech:

reinforcement patches over the leech seam as well as an adhesive patch to protect the stitching in the tabling

worn batten pockets:

stitch a sacrifice patch on the sail near the end of the pocket

worn stitching under full batten pockets:

stitch a full length tape from luff to leech underneath the batten pocket as well as patches at each end of the batten

leechline chafing through entry or exit points:

insert an adhesive strip above or below any exit or entry points for the leechline





“As much as I do not look forward to fall and the all-too-sudden end of the boating season, experience has taught me to start preparing in autumn for spring in regards to storage of any sail inventory. So please feel free to try any of the following suggestions when "packing up" this fall.

When removing the main sail, always take out the battens (if they are not sewn in). Damage may be incurred from folding the sail in the bag with the battens intack. This is a good opportunity to see how much elasticity is left in the pocket ends and to look for wear spots such as chafing or thread stress. Inspect each slide as it is being removed from the track and mark any suspect ones with coloured yarn for easy identification when performing repairs. This trick is also applicable for jib hanks. So, stow the sails in bags when transporting them home.

If the sail shows signs of accessive salt, then wash it down with fresh water. The bath tub is a good place to start if the sail is not too large, or try the lawn and a garden hose. For stained areas on the sail try borax or hydrogen peroxide to help bleach the area. Rust and blood make very stubborn stains and are difficult to remove. If mildew is a problem, then try making a paste from lemon juice and salt, or vinegar and salt (rinse thoroughly). Hang the sail up to make sure it is completely dry before folding and storing.

For closer inspection, spread each sail out in the livingroom, on the lawn or paved driveway. Make sure the area is fairly clean so the sails do not pick up access dirt and leaves when refolded. Check over the sail for tired threads by running a thumb nail along each seam. You will notice that the stitching will pop up if the threads are rotten. Place a one-inch patch of masking tape or duct tape beside that area on the seam for easy detection when restitching. Inspect any "add-ons" such as webbing, leechline, uv cloth, spreader patches,etc for the same wear and stress problems. Be methodical so the whole sail and components have been covered.

Quite often, major sail repairs required at the sailloft may have been avoided if a small problem had been detected earlier (ie: a leechline chafing threads or wearing through the leech). Areas of the sail that are of a concern should be attended to before the sails are hoisted in the spring.

If the sails do not require attention from your local sailmaker, store them in a ventilated and pest free area. Then, sit back with your favorite beverage and wait for the first signs of spring.”

... Michele Stevens



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Michele Stevens Sailloft Ltd.
1602 Second Peninsula Road
Box 507, Lunenburg, NS Canada B0J 2C0
902-634-9338 phone
902-634-8665 fax


4th Generation Sailmaker
Makers of Mainsail for Famous Bluenose II


This page was last updated on March 31, 2009.
© 2000-2006 | Michele Stevens, The Sailloft | All Rights Reserved