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Old 10-12-2010, 02:59 AM   #1
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The local sailmaker, upholsterer, and jack o all trades, made me a full set of sails earlier this year, using the old sails as a template - using heavy grade canvas , made me 3 jibs, main gaff sail and topsail, mizzen gaff sail and mizzen topsail, and currently getting on with two staysails between mizzen and main.

Canvas was the only material I could find here in the Philippines without shopping around Hong Kong or Singapore, and as a traditional rigged sailing (phinisi) - indonesian schooner, but rigged to the sme sail plan as an 1890 Hull sailing trawler, that sailed and trawled North Iceland, and Greenland in waters that make the Dangerous Catch look like sunday afternoon punting in Hyde park pond, I was not that concerned. Just a bit heavier to raise than the old poly sails, but with three filippino crew men used to heavin 50 kgs bags of coconuts, it wasn't an issue.

Nows me sailmaker says to me that we oughta coat the sails wid a rubberiszed weatherproofing paint. Now in the !800s it was normal to coat them with tree bark resin, but chimical engineering has moved on a long ways since then.

Has anyone any experience or opinions on this.

Jib
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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Quote :-

"using heavy grade canvas , made me 3 jibs, main gaff sail and topsail, mizzen gaff sail and mizzen topsail, and currently getting on with two staysails between mizzen and main."


Need to know what is the 'heavy grade canvas' made of ??? Was it dressed ??

If cotton was used it is unlikely that the sails will last two summers

Surprised that Hongkong was not to supply polyester material of appropriate weight for the Philippino sailmaker.

Presume that the professional sailmakers on Mactan Island were not able to supply?
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post

Quote :-

"using heavy grade canvas , made me 3 jibs, main gaff sail and topsail, mizzen gaff sail and mizzen topsail, and currently getting on with two staysails between mizzen and main."


Need to know what is the 'heavy grade canvas' made of ??? Was it dressed ??

If cotton was used it is unlikely that the sails will last two summers

Surprised that Hongkong was not to supply polyester material of appropriate weight for the Philippino sailmaker.

Presume that the professional sailmakers on Mactan Island were not able to supply?
Didn't really want to sail up to Hong Kong, or go thru search into supplier there and the problems to get the material shipped down to Philippines. It costs me 10 pounds stgerling to geta packet of Colmans Mustard sposted down, so god knows the cost of 800 sq metres of sail material. Maybe a balikbayan box but even from HK takes two months and don't have a representative there in HK.

I spoke to the Sales Repr at Hyde Sails in mactan Island, but they are only intrested in doing sails for Hobie cats and at about 180 USD, maybe for a small jib that would be the size of a flag pendant on my boat, we dropped the enquiry.

I'm happy with the results, just need some protection for the sails which I can get locally or in Cagayan/Cebu..In Butuan they made some very nice sails for three traditional style Balangays ( more like Viking ships than oriental and they were sailing to Madagacascar without an engine
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:52 PM   #4
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Regular canvas (heavy or not) isn't the same thing as sailcloth. There are cotton and flax sailcoths that are still available for use for historic vessels. The mold-proofing processes used for canvas (including painting things) are inappropriate for canvas/sailcloth used for sails. The common process used for canvas/cotton/flax sails was tanbark and STILL IS. You can research tanbark processing and sailmaking by reading the Sailmaker's Apprentice. The process of "tanning" sails was costly, smelly, and difficult. I'd not suggest it for you. Your sails, if properly cared for (kept out of UV light! and kept dry...) will likely last about 5 years. If not properly kept in a sail loft (where they can dry properly between sailing) they might last two years. You really can't just leave cotton sails on the spars under a sailcover when not in use. They will mildew. Fresh water washes are more important than with Dacron/polyester sails. Natural material bolt ropes were commonly soaked in Stockholm tar as a preservative as well.

The construction of cotton/canvas/flax sails is very different than that of Dacron sails. The above mentioned book is a great resource for you to understand the history of sailmaking and how sails are made of different fabrics and how they are maintained and repaired. I am hopeful that your sails were sewn with construction techniques appropriate to the natural fibers used. In particular, size and shape of clew, tack, and head reinforcements, direction of seams (vertical work-boat type panels rather than diagonal or horizontal "yacht" type panels) as well as choice of bolt-rope materials and methods are very important. And, the sail needs to be properly bent onto the spars and the seams set (e.g. must sail the boat in specific winds a specific way when the sails are new) in order for the performance of the sails to be as desired.

It is nice that you've got a set of sails (the cotton ones) that you can now use, but I'd suggest that you immediately obtain proper sailcloth for long-term use and have the sailmaker sew you up a set of proper sails for long term use sooner rather than later.

Even how you used your boat in heavy weather is significantly impacted by the decision to use natural fiber sails rather than Dacron/polyester. Your sails (if made from appropriate weight cloth for use in regular winds) will very likely fail in heavy weather even if you are reefed down and you must be prepared for this and have a set of heavy storm sails available (which can be natural fiber if that is all you have available) to use rather than the sails you use day-to-day.

There are several excellent sailcloth suppliers world-wide. You should not have a problem getting cloth though you may not like the prices that come with high quality sailcloth. A good sail will last 10 to 30 years. This summer I learned that my favorite jib for our boat was constructed in San Francisco by an excellent sailmaker back in the early 1970's. The sail is about 40 years old, the cloth good. I recently rebuilt the clew and have restitched a bit of the bolt rope around it. Good sails are a good investment.

Fair winds,
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