recycling sails

Don’t Be So Quick To Trash Your Old Sails

Raritan Engineering Company your marine hot water heaters specialists would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding finding new uses for old sails.

Your marine hot water heaters experts talk about how upcycling is a bit of a buzzword these days, but the concept is nothing new to the cruising sailor. While ­traditional recycling involves breaking down used ­products to create new raw materials (think old water bottles made into a new fleece vest), upcycling refers to the creative reuse of an item without so much processing (more along the lines of a table made from an old door). 

After we trialed our new main to make sure it fit properly, I looked for a spot to store the old one, planning to keep the damaged sail as an emergency backup. All I found was the settee in the main saloon. Keeping it as a spare was not an option. 

Sails, like all equipment, eventually need to be replaced, but major damage doesn’t have to take the wind out of your sails forever. With a little imagination, not only can you get a return on your investment, but, more important, you can save most of the material from ending up in the landfill. 

Made for the Shade

A boom tent is a basic ­rectangle, an easy project to start with. Here’s how I went about it:

  1. To determine the width of the boom tent, I measured the distance between the center of the boom and the bottom wire on the lifelines and multiplied by two. 
  2. Starting from the tack, I measured the needed length along the luff of the sail. By incorporating the grommets that were at regular intervals along the luff (and removing the slugs), I already had strong points on one side of the boom tent to use for tie-downs.
  3. I measured the width of the tent out from the luff and marked a dot every foot or so. By connecting the dots with a straight edge, I had a cut mark for the other side of the tent.
  4. After double-­checking my measurements, I made the cut and hemmed the raw edge. This particular sail had a fairly flat cut, so I simply used the foot of the sail as the other short end, with the added bonus that the large grommet at the tack worked as a strong tie-down point.
  5. I now had three edges of my big rectangle complete. The clew had too much reinforcement to do much with (quite heavy and near impossible to sew), so I cut it off, effectively squaring off the fourth side.

Playing the Angles

Breathe New Life Into Your Sails

The awning for the foredeck was more of a triangle than a rectangle, but the theory was all the same. I planned to use the spinnaker pole as the support, and I needed tie-downs at the two outboard edges, as well as one fore and one aft on the centerline.

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  1. Instead of working from a straight edge, this time I measured out from the center, drawing a capital I that was as tall as I wanted my awning long. 
  2. I measured and drew the top and bottom lines to the correct lengths, and then connected the four corners to create the outline of the awning.
  3. Since this was a much smaller piece of material, the tie-down attachments didn’t need to be quite as robust; a loop of strong webbing, well sewn at the corners, would be good enough.

Bug Off

We had been sleeping with a standard off-the-shelf mosquito net draped over the V-berth, but it wasn’t quite the right size. No matter how much tape I used to stick it up, the net came falling down after a few nights of tossing and turning. Instead of surrounding us with netting, I wanted to build a wall that enclosed the whole V-berth.

While the sewing machine was hot, I whipped up a storage bag for the dinghy, both for the offseason and to protect it when we store it on passage, rolled up and strapped down with ratchet straps.

Tools For the Job

  • Most industrial-strength sewing machines with a walking foot can handle sailcloth and other heavy fabrics. Sailrite, Juki and Adler machines are popular options, as are older Pfaff and Singer models. 

  • Sun exposure for a given project will inform your choice of thread. “We use a 200-denier PTFE or Teflon thread because it’s impervious to UV or any chemicals, and lasts the life of the fabric or even longer,” says Mark Hood.

  • You’ll need a sharp-point needle in the 20- to 23-gauge range to punch through sailcloth. Increase the gauge if you’re planning to sew through more than a few layers. 

  • Sailcloth is tough stuff, so you’ll need a large, sharp pair of scissors to cut patterns. To get through multiple layers and reinforced panels, try a razor blade.

So don’t forget these great reminders on which tools you will need so that you can find new life for your old sails. You will need an industrial-strength sewing machine, thread, sharp-point needle in the 20 to 23 guage range, and a sailcloth.

California Police Officer Saves Dog From Burning Sailboat

Upon reaching the burning boat, he realized that in order to save the dog he would have to earn the scared animal’s trust first. As a horse trainer and all-around animal lover, Ruggles knew he was the right man for the job, and did what he could to calm the dog as the crowd watched tensely from the harbor.

“When I first got there, I reached out for the dog and he started barking and growling. So I tried to talk to him in a soft voice, and see if that would help,” Ruggles said. “He was very wide-eyed and his ears were up, so you could see how scared he was.”

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Be sure to watch our latest video on marine hot water heaters below.  

via Upcycling Your Sails

via California Police Officer Saves Dog From Burning Sailboat