Time has flown by since we took Nirvana’s mainsail home at the beginning of December. But we’ve not been idle. We’ve had a lot going on; a few visits from family and friends, an Atlantic coast boat delivery, the holidays, the bathroom remodel, yardwork, life, etc. But I think I’m almost ready to start repairing the main.
I’ve made a scale drawing of the sail and all its detail (including seams, layers of dacron, batten pockets, luff and leech tape, direction of the warp & weft/fill – or weave – of each piece of the sail’s construction, etc). On top of that, I marked the location of the damaged areas that need to be repaired. Using this, I can figure out a strategy of what pieces to replace, the dimension of each piece, and then lay them out on scale drawings of 54″ wide dacron yardage so I can figure out how much I need to cut out all the pieces with the weave in the required direction.
Nirvana’s sail is a bit unusual – at least for a US boat – in that it has a furling boom (a Forespar LeisureFurl furling boom). It’s a very nice upgrade that is reportedly prevalent in Australia and New Zealand sailboats. We like the convenience and the fact that our furling boom allows us to have full battens in our main. As I’m preparing to repair the mainsail, I’ve learned that sails for LeisureFurl booms are built with multiple layers, or plies, toward the leech end of the sail, which is required to ensure proper furling of the main. It just makes things a bit more interesting (complicated), as that is where the majority of the damage is. I’ve also spent time on the phone with Sailrite and Forespar to ensure I use the right weight of dacron for the replacement pieces.
The repairs I plan to make to the mainsail include:
– Replacing the bolt rope tape on the luff of the sail. This goes into a track on the aft-side of the mainmast as the sail is raised and lowered. It is well worn due to wear and UV damage.
– Replacing the dacron tape along the leech of the sail. This is well worn and cracking due to wear and UV damage.
– Replacing areas of varying widths along the entire leech of the sail where UV damage has degraded much of the top ply of dacron. The previous owner neglected to replace a worn sail cover before selling her, probably for a couple of years, resulting in a wide swath of cracked and torn dacron that remained exposed to the sun when the main was furled.
I’ve been taking my time, as sail work is new to me, and I have a lot to learn. The first 2 sets of repairs are straightforward. The third set of repairs is non-trivial and essentially requires replacement of much of the top 2 plies of the sail.
The picture below shows the drawing I’ve made of the port-side of Nirvana’s approximately 13 1/2′ x 38′ mainsail. The brown lines represent the batten pockets that are on top of all the layers of dacron and the luff & leech tape. I essentially need to remove and replace the pink and blue layers of dacron on the aft-end of the sail.
Because of the order in which the parts of the mainsail are sewn, I’ll have to pull up the existing batten pockets to remove the worn pieces of the sail, then sew in the new pieces of dacron, and then sew the batten pockets back down, before sewing the luff and leech tape on. I’ll also have to replace a couple of the numbers on the sail when all the repairs are done, as some of the sections that need replacement are under the sail numbers.
This is definitely more complicated than the repairs I made to the jib a few months back. But, I’m cautiously optimistic that I can do this. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.