One of the things on our behemoth Ready, Set, Sail To-Do List was building a sail repair kit. We’re approaching many tasks with a divide-and-conquer mentality these days, and I was tasked with this particular item. Sail repair is something that Neil and I have absolutely no experience doing, so we attended a sail repair workshop at the Seattle Boat Show last winter and spent some time researching sail repair supplies. We’re hopeful that since we will be departing for the South Pacific with new main and jib sails that repairs will be unnecessary (or at least rare and minimal) during our voyage. Nonetheless, we want to be prepared to address issues that commonly arise when sails are hoisted for extended periods of time, including: chafing, weakened stitching associated with prolonged UV exposure, and minor tears.
One of the things I learned by making inquiries to various sail makers is that you can spend as little or as much on a sail repair kit as your budget will allow. In addition to other materials that are fundamental to a sail repair kit, one sail maker recommended that we purchase a yard’s width of enough Dacron cloth to address a tear from the leech to luff of our mainsail, which requires enough cloth to place a patch on both sides. For the non-sailors among our readers, I’ve included a sail anatomy tutorial (see diagram at right), so these foreign words make some sense. While we might sleep better at night with a surplus of Dacron of that magnitude, our conversations with other sailors and sail makers led us to believe that was likely far more than we’d need, especially given the health of our sails. At nearly $39/yard, it also would’ve been roughly $400 for the sail cloth alone, not including the other items that are staples of a decent sail repair kit. Yikes!!
After speaking with a few sail companies and getting the input of multiple sailors, we decided to work with Joe at Ballard Sails, a local sail loft in Seattle. He was friendly, highly responsive, and forthcoming with tips and ideas on how to best utilize our new supplies for various repair purposes.
Sail Repair Kit Inventory
- Sailmakers palm
- Stainless scissors
- 2 yellow awls
- 3 seamrippers
- 15 hand-sewing needles of various sizes
- Prewaxed 1/8 ” hand-sewing thread
- 8 stainless rings of different sizes
- 20′ 1-inch tube webbing
- 20′ ½-inch tube webbing
- 1 roll 1-inch super seamstick tape
- 1 roll ½-inch super seamstick
- 1 roll insignia tape
- 15′ lengths of 2″,3″,4″ and 5″ Dacron cloth
- Assortment of telltales
We also purchased a small canvas bag for just over $10 that comfortably holds our supplies. I am absolutely certain that lack of organization can cause a crew to unravel into madness in moments when tensions are running high, so I wanted to be certain our sail repair supplies would not get scattered in one of the dozens of bins and tubs that are stored in various places around the boat. All-in-all, we spent $260, and are very pleased to have one more to-do checked off our list. Anything else you’d include in your sail repair kit?