Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Five Stages of Sailmaking

 (My apologies to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, whose five stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It was noted in her study that people, when faced with any traumatic life event will pass through these stages, in a certain order, although the person may jump ahead and then repeat these stages. Sailmaking is no exception.)


Even after many discussions and cost comparisons of making vs buying a ready made sail, when it was determined that making a sail would save us nearly $1000, I pretty much blocked the decision from my mind.

The kit came in this unassuming box, was placed in the basement and promptly ignored. 

For at least a month.

Maybe longer...

this box sat unopened for about a month


When at last it was noted that sailing season was less than a month away, we opened the box, sorted out the supplies, and set up the workspace.

Note the smile. This is what psychotic looks like.

This is the enormous spool of thread. It had to be threaded around the leg of the table as the actual machine spindle is entirely too small. 
This should be a warning. 

Note the two shades of fabric. This is an example of the layering technique used to make the sail.
The sections are numbered 1-8. This is section 8 attached to section 7. Moving from smallest to largest. Except that there is a need to skip sections and attaching 'relatively smaller to relatively larger' until all you have left is two ridiculously large sections that in NO WAY are easy to manage. The sections are sewn one on top of the other rather than along a layered seam line. It would be impossible to open and crease a traditional seam. These seams are sewn with two lines of zig-zag stitches. This not only locks the fabric twice, sort of hems the dacron and most importantly looks Super Cool 

Once the sections get too large to handle flat - which would be about one double section - the excess fabric is rolled and secured in any manner you can think of, including but not limited to double sided seam tape, masking tape, rubber bands, chip clips, paperclips and heavy duty clamps. 

Be warned - none of these methods will stay secure and will release at the most crucial moment of sewing thus causing the excess weight of the fabric to unfurl and pull from under the machine needle leading to missed stitches, broken needles and Stage Three

At this stage you must resign yourself to the fact that two people are not going to manage this task and if you want to save the marriage you will call someone unrelated to act as mediator and fabric wrangler. In this case it was our friend The Fireman. (Our son had assisted on some of the smaller portions but for some reason became 'unavailable' by phone, text. email and search warrant.)

 The Fireman has entered into the ACCEPTANCE phase. 
Where as I am hovering between the stages of Divorce and Justifiable Homicide. 

However, the fewer giant pieces of dacron left lying on the furniture and floor of the basement gradually placed me into 
I have ceased any inner dialogue. I am openly praying to any and every deity available to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't break another needle and make me resew the last three feet again....

Apparently my prayers were answered as when what I thought was my last needle snapped into fourteen tiny shrapnels, I found an entire new pack of heavy duty needles in my supply dish. 

Once the sail is completely pieced together the sides must be finished which involves encasing the raw edge in double fold fabric. This went much easier that any of us expected. 
The final sewing machine task is making the channel for the bolt rope. The bolt rope stiffens the leading edge of the sail and allows a more firm edge to the hanks which will attach to the forestay. 
(In layman's terms - this hooks the front sail to that front line as noted in every cartoon drawing of a sailboat.)

Now we enter into possibly the saddest moment of this sailmaking process. Or the most optimistic depending on your mindset. Note that tiny string extending from the bottom of the sail? This is the waxed cord that is enclosed in the rope channel. Ideally it does not get sewn down or stuck to the seam tape because it is going to be attached to the bolt rope itself and then very carefully pulled through the channel by the guy in the garage as The Fireman and I quietly pray and take bets on just when and where the cord is going to either get stuck or break. 

a close up of the cord and the attached rope

Which now leads us to the final official stage of Kubler-Ross's stages

Because, if you hadn't figured it out yet, the cord broke exactly ONE FOOT from the opposite end. There may have been some light cursing and an exchange of money. 
We had a cheese and cracker break and after a group vote it was decided to make a small incision into the channel itself, reattach the cord and work that %$#$%$ rope through to the end. 

Thus ending the Five Stages.
I would like to amend these stages with one final stage


I have now come to the realization that I NO LONGER have to sew anything on the machine! 
There are just bags of hardware left on the supply table and this is NOT my job.

Except that I have just been informed that the metal rings have been attached to the top and bottom of the bolt rope and now I have to HAND SEW them securely. 

Commencing re-entry into 

This will make it all worthwhile, once that sail is complete....

At this writing I have successfully ignored my hand sewing duties for a week. The picture above is of St. Frank with the too small jib sail from our much smaller wooden boat. Thankfully, although sadly, the month of May has not cooperated weather-wise or life schedule-wise to allow us to get to the boat. 
I have managed to get the cushion covers washed up, purchased some surprisingly cheap non-breakable dishware, and planned the cabin curtains. Although the fabric for same is still lying downstairs waiting to be cut. Oh, and the bimini still needs to be measured for fabric purchase and creation. 
But that will be another, less hateful post.
I hope....

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