Atlantic Ocean World Voyage 5

Sailmaking Continues…

Saturday May 22, 2010

The crew are really embracing this sailmaking project. We’re working on a mainsail for the Carriacou sloop Mermaid, owned for the past 33 years by John Smith. The Mermaid is currently in Panama, so our intention is to have the sail done in time to hand it over to John there. The sail will be made of dacron, a synthetic material, and we’re accustomed to working with cotton canvas, so this sail is a bit different than the sails we usually make. It involves far more machine sewing than we usually do on our own sails (many of our sails are sewn entirely by hand) and the material is much thinner and stiffer.

This afternoon the quarterdeck was full of people working intently on different bits and pieces that will go together to make the sail. The largest group of people were making grommets, using synthetic line twisted together to form small, tight rings that will be sewn into the sail. The sail will need more than 100 grommets, so there was plenty of opportunity to practice. Some of the crew were working on the panels of dacron that were sewn together in Anguilla, cutting along the lines we marked in the second layout. Tabling, the extra material that reinforces the edges of the sail, was also being cut and prepared. Where a seamstress will often iron seams flat before they’re sewn, we prepare pieces for sewing by folding over the right amount and rubbing a seam rubber or a fid (a wooden baton-like tool that tapers to a point at one end) along the fold.

Just before supper, we got the small sewing machine going, sewing corner patches onto the sail. While medical officer Dr. Krista was sewing, Julie, Tiina and Dave were helping to maneuver the rest of the sail around so she could sew the curved line of the corner patch. Some of the other crew were practicing sewing grommets into scraps of dacron. The grommets will be sewn in by hand and, as I mentioned before, working with dacron is new to most of us, so doing a few practice grommets before actually sewing them into the sail is a good idea. This sail will have three reef points, which will allow the sail to be set at less than its full size, so there will be plenty of grommet sewing to do.