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June 2014 Newsletter

Posted by on May 30, 2014

Dear Friends

If ever you get a chance to work in a sail loft, grab it! Looking back over my entire checkered career, I can’t think of any job that paid greater dividends or provided more laughs than the winter I spent with Crusader Sails in Poole, England. Not only did I learn how new sails were built, I learned how to repair almost anything that could happen to a sail. Even more important, I came away with more idea for protecting and lengthening the life of oursails. I’d taken the job because we needed new sail covers and a sun-awning. I could have earned more doing finish work at the local shipyard, but with winter gales raging, a warm sail loft seemed far more attractive. (Fortunately Larry is tougher than I. He did some amazing jobs, both indoors and outdoors, at the shipyard that winter and topped up our cruising kitty.)  All of this came vividly back to mind when I received an unexpected message on Facebook from Roland Lewis-Evans. I hadn’t heard from him since 1973 when he apprenticed alongside me. His note made me laugh as I recalled our involvement in what is definitely the craziest day that could happen in a sail loft.

1.Larry had spent the previous winter working with Paul at Crusader Sails (Paul is still making sails along with his lovely wife Vicky and brother Roger.) Between us we feel very comfortable doing our own repairs. This is what we call our coconut sail loft. It’s on the lawn of a restaurant near Buzios in Brazil.

1. Larry had spent the previous winter working with Paul at Crusader Sails (Paul is still making sails along with his lovely wife Vicky and brother Roger.) Between us we feel very comfortable doing our own repairs. This is what we call our coconut sail loft. It’s on the lawn of a restaurant near Buzios in Brazil.

It should have been a productive day – no one was suffering from winter colds, the loft was relatively warm and there were more than enough orders on hand to keep Paul Lee’s the owner and master-sailmaker happy. Paul rolled out the panels for a large mainsail that had been sewn together the afternoon before. He let out a roar, “who the h—put these sail numbers on.” We all rushed over to look. Instead of one row of numbers on each side of the sail,  both were on the same side. The four of us turned to look at the culprit, Paul’s brother. “No one could be so stupid, therefore I couldn’t have done it,” Roger replied (His exact words have stuck in my mind to this day.) “Roland, grab a scissors and come help me get these panels separated,” Paul said in an amazingly controlled voice.

I had just begun stitching yet another sail-bag together when I heard a curse, a thump. “I don’t believe it,” Paul screamed. Roland had, in his haste, stepped on a sail as he rushed to help. Working as we all did, in socks, he slipped. He dropped the scissors. The scissors pierced a nearly finished sail. Paul didn’t explode, though we could all see his desire to do so. About twenty minutes later I finished the six sail-bags I’d been working on, carried them over to the big bench and flopped them down. The odor that wafted up to me was instant notification that I’d added my name to the list. Someone had been using the hot knife to trim a sail and I’d put those bags down right on top of the hotspot. I peeled three melted sailbags off the table and tried to appear very small as I snuck back to the sewing machine. Paul just shook his head. Then he kneeled down to align the panels of a sail. He let out a shriek as blood spluttered from his knee, right across across several panels of pristine white fabric. Someone had pulled up one of the awls we all used to pin sail fabric to the floor. The handle had come away, leave the thin, hard to see, metal spike behind. I rushed over with a towel to stench the bleeding, Roland and Roger began scrubbing at the sail. Paul’s reaction was definitely not what I expected. In a tightly controlled voice he stated, “Everyone stop what they are doing immediately. I can’t afford to have you working. Get over there into the tea corner. I’ll pay your wages to sit and not touch one more thing.”  He turned, walked out of the loft. An hour later he came back with hot pasties. We laughed, we recalled other worse days, but we did sit there until quitting time being paid to do absolutely nothing at all. Must have worked, the curse was well and truly broken.

2.When we were beating toward Cape Horn, the clew cringle on our triple reefed mainsail started to pull away from the original stitching. Larry set to work adding extra grommets to strengthen the cringle attachment.

2. When we were beating toward Cape Horn, the clew cringle on our triple reefed mainsail started to pull away from the original stitching. Larry set to work adding extra grommets to strengthen the cringle attachment.

This definitely has been the week for nostalgia. In the two days following Roland’s note, I received two more very nice ones relating to the same era in our lives, one from another sailor we met during our early days in England, the other from Ed Reneham who is creating an audio library of nautical titles. His publishing house, New Street Communications, has just formally released the audio version of our first book, Cruising In Seraffyn which is the story of the first years of our voyaging life right up until the time we reached England. We both find it very special to hear the words we wrote read by a fine narrator. (Kitty is a professional actor and voice artist. She’s already at work on the sequel, Seraffyn’s European adventure and promises to sail mains’l instead of mainsail.) You can listen to a sample of Cruising In Seraffyn here.

3.Here’s the finished product, one I know Paul would approve of.

3. Here’s the finished product, one I know Paul would approve of.

Winter gales are starting to blow down here in New Zealand. We are securing our boats, packing our clothes and preparing to head north to explore inland for once, visiting some of the desert canyons of Arizona and Nevada. We have some special events on our northern summer schedule, including the World Land Sailing Championships in northern Nevada and the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Hope to see some of you along the way.

Lin and Larry

From a very windy North Cove, New Zealand

P.S. Any of you who use wood planes might like to view this 2 minute video tip Larry recorded for the Off Center Harbour website.

8 Responses to June 2014 Newsletter

  1. RichC

    Great video tip Larry … and I sure would like to find a sail loft with the attention to detail (or to learn a little bit of the trade) as the one you mention above — Crusader Sails ( http://www.crusadersails.com/ )

  2. Peter

    Great story, thanks

  3. Pondering

    Very nice handy work on the sails which of course i have been meaning to ask about light air sails. I have a 10ton steel shoal draft gaff rig ketch with ply/glass topsides, which I was wondering about what weight would be best for the light air sails? I do not have a whisker pole and am still learning about the sails option available to this type of rig? I am currently at Mahurangi marina on the hardstand looking forward to the nearing day of getting back on the water this coming summer. Also do you know if a sculling oar would work on this size and tonnage? Kind Regards William.

    • Robert

      Hi William

      We’d always go for 1 to 1 1/2 ounce nylon. If you avoid using white fabric, the sails will last a really long time.

      Yes, a sculling oar will work. I’ve seen women moving 45 foot barges with sculling oars in Japan and the far east. Once a heavier boat gets moving you can keep it moving at up to 2 knots with a scull.

      Stop by North cove, Kawau sometime in the spring – be nice to meet up.

      Best,
      Lin

  4. severancetv

    Hey Larry,

    I am a development TV producer working on a show about self sustainable boaters/sailors who live life on the hook. I’d love a minute of your time and perhaps you could point me in the right direction. Call or email anytime.

    Bryan Severance
    severancetv@gmail.com
    732.673.2456

  5. Project Atticus

    Hi Lin! My boyfriend and I just bought our first Sailboat (1963 Allied Seawind) and we’re gearing up for an around the world trip! We’re also making an adventure travel documentary series as we go!

    We’re working with Sailrite to build our sails from scratch. I’ve never sewn before, but this post was very inspiring, so I’m excited to get started!

    Also, we’ve been listening to “As Long As It’s Fun” in our free time, and we’ve already torn through Storm Tactics. I guess what I’m saying is that we think you’re awesome! Thanks for sharing your adventures with the world!

  6. Rogue

    Lin/Larry by chance do you guys have more detailed info regarding the proper rigging of the Freehand Windvane. I have read all your books, watched all the videos and watched all of Mike’s videos on You Tube. When I watch your videos your vane moves effortlessly and I also noticed you had a line restricting the movement of the wind vane tiller between the two pulleys the line passes through. What size line do you use on the windavne wheel and how do you join the ends to get it to go so smooth. Mine keeps jumping the track.

    Help

    Gary S/V Rogue Bristol Channel Cutter Hull #123

  7. svskye

    Hi,
    Apologies for being redundant if you already know, but I thought I should mention that many of the images in the newsletters prior to, and including, this one are missing (broken image icon.)
    Best regards,
    Jim

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