Bosun School

Introduction to Sailmaking – at Bosun School…

Introduction to Sailmaking at Bosun School

The day here on Lunenburg’s waterfront comes in cold, wet and snowy. The sky is gray and rivulets of water flow under the mushy slush in the gutters. A few boats in the harbour heave at their moorings in the raw buffeting southeasterly sea breezes coming in off the winter North Atlantic. A big fishing vessel scheduled to sail for the banks tugs at her moorings at her wharf outside our windows here. Maybe she is waiting for a better day to head out.

Sailmaking at Bosun School is in full swing.

With the very able Gabe (former chief mate Picton Castle, brigantine skipper and soon 2nd mate in Schooner Bluenose II) as sailmaking foreman, thus far we have been focusing on fundamental definitions, tools and construction and getting into basics in hand work: sewing palms, needles, knives and sharpening same – materials: cotton canvas, flax, duradon, oceanus and dacron sail cloth, twine and thread, bench hooks, sailmaker benches, keeping it all clean and dry and well lit – then onto: ropework, knots and splices (short splice, long splice, sailmakers splice, rope grommets, back splice), measuring, marking, cutting canvas, hand seaming, marline grommets and sticking them in.

In practice we have taken an old, very old, and worn out royal sail and patched and patched and patched it for practice – any sail can sail again! Almost. This one though, not likely. We have worked in new canvas measuring, cutting (with both sharp knife and scissors), seaming in different ways. We are making various canvas bags to practice our new skills on.


Yesterday we went to our local North Sails Loft and had a great tour with much explanation from the able sailmakers there, Jennifer and Susan. A great loft built as a sailmaking concern a hundred years ago.

Today we are taking a stab at roping as well as tool care.

Soon I expect we will be getting more into design and then laying out a couple new sails and make them finished before we return to emergency sail repairs at sea – which, of course, is of the most practical application when we set off and head across an ocean.

And we are nice and warm and dry in our little sail loft overlooking the harbour.

More to come…..