Skip to main content

Ask Sail: Repairing Small Tears on Sails

DEALING WITH SMALLER SAIL TEARS

Q: I recently discovered a small tear in the Dacron mainsail on my Pearson Ensign. Not sure how it got there, but I can only assume the sail snagged on something at some point. The tear is roughly L-shaped, about 3in to a side. What’s the best way to repair something like this?

Kevin Seals, Ambrose, MI

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

I am afraid you have left out the most important bit of information, the location of the tear in the sail. If it’s in a low-load area, like the body of the sail, you can probably get away with just covering it with a small sticky-back patch. On the other hand, if it’s ripped in a high-load area, like close to the leech, you will probably want to do a more substantial patch and you will definitely need to sew it. For a sticky-back patch, you can either have a square patch that covers the rip, or you can do two rectangular patches. Either way, make sure that the sail is clean and that there is no salt on it. Use soapy water, or even water with a little ammonia added. Patch both sides and—this is important—be sure to round the edges of the sticky-back patches, since a pointed edge is much more likely to start to lift if something chafes against it. Finally, make sure that you rub the patch as hard as you can to get that adhesive to warm up a little from friction. It will stick better that way.

If, on the other hand, the rip is along, say, the leech you can still use sticky-back, but I would do at least two layers to a side: the first one just covering the ripped area and the second one a little larger. Your local sailmaker could also run a sewing machine over the patch, or if that’s too much of a bother, you could do some hand-stitching

January 2018

Related

05-DSC_0638

Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the ...read more

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more

ntm

Notice to Mariners: U.S.A! U.S.A! (Well, sorta…)

Some thoughts on a couple of recent developments on the U.S. racing scene that are more than a little at odds. To start with, congratulations to the US Sailing Team (USST) and its outstanding showing at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, France, with not one but ...read more