The ship's blog for SV Nelleke out of Shelburne, NS

The challenges of getting sails!

When we bought Nelleke she came with almost a full set of sails (main, mizzen, No 2 headsail or 130%, No 3 headsail or 100%, and a No 4 headsail or 75%. Of course none of them were new and in fact some of them were quite a way from new. The main, for instance, was something that our first step to prolong its life was to get it made into a full batten sail. There was also a storm jib to hank on to the inner headstay (the only sail that does that), and we also had made a storm trysail, and acquired a mizzen staysail. Then we discovered that a sailbag that was labelled to contain a second old mainsail in fact held a 170% genoa, a happy surprise except that it too was past the first flush of youth, so to speak. After blowing out one of its panels as well as the heavy weather jib, we have decided to repair the heavy weather or #4 and to have a new 170 made up for us. So you can see, we have a fair repertoire of sails, but there is one obvious omission - a spinnaker. In spite of the fact that there was a spinnaker pole with the boat and track on the leading side of the main mast, there was no corresponding sail which we thought was odd. Maybe a previous owner had planned to get one, or maybe he had one but didn't like the work involved and got rid of it. Regardless, Nelleke was spinnaker less which, since all the other sails were designed and made on the heavy side, was a definite disadvantage in light airs. This year we got very lucky and were able to come in to two used symmetrical spinnakers - one at a very good price and the other kindly donated to the cause by a good friend. The latter was not in quite as good shape so we have decided to get it recut to an asymmetrical or cruising spinnaker. Although technically you can fly a symmetrical with one fixed clew on the foot like an asymmetrical but the sail isn't really cut for it and will not set as efficiently as one that was designed for the purpose would. Even a recut one isn't as good but hey, the price was right. The problem is getting a sailmaker to do the job. They all want to sell us a new one. I can't blame them. There is the whole business of their reputation and quality control etc., but at the end of the day if we have to we will do it ourselves. From what I have seen when I've watched others do it and from the several books that we have on the subject, the process consists mostly of opening the seams of a couple of panels and cutting them into a gradual wedge shape before taping the seams together again and running them through the sewing machine. In our case it will also be required to raise one of the clews about 3 feet. However, it looks like the Stevens Sail Loft will be doing the work to save us that trouble. It'll be nice to pop up a light air sail when on a broad reach to downwind run. Of course, in our experience, it doesn't really matter which direction you are going and what direction the prevailing winds are, it always seem that the winds are on the nose. Maybe with our new philosophy of waiting until the right conditions we will be able to get more favourable winds.

Barb also has a number of other sewing projects including redoing our sail covers. We recently had new ones made but they weren't exactly what we wanted. I am looking for the sort of cover that kinda hangs over the sail and boom semi-loosely like a horse blanket and which clips underneath. My theory is that the easier it is to throw the covers over the furled sail, the more likely you will be to cover them up at the end of every day. We have some good friends aboard their boat Finn McCool that religiously cover their sails every time they stop for the night. We used to watch in absolute awe as they would go easily through their routine in about 5 minutes while if we were to do it there would be a 20 minute struggle with shock chords and clips. She is also working on our splash cloths fixing some tears and adding lettering, and finally we have a joint project to finish our shade awning. She has already done all the sewing, we just need to add grommets.

Looks like we are going to try to find a tenant for as soon in February after the boat show that we can, and get on down to Deltaville.