Friday, November 30, 2012
off season work, new sails
On a beautiful day for sailing Spartina looked a bit forlorn sitting in the driveway with no masts, sails or lines. With a three day weekend that will probably be the nicest (warmest) weather that we will see for a while I decided to start the winter maintenace.
The masts are on the front porch as are the dock and anchor lines. The booms, gaff, sails, and other gear are up in one of my daughter's rooms (wonder what she'll have to say about that when she comes home from school).
I unscrewed the bronze half oval from the mahogany rub rails. The silicone bronze screws and four lengths of half oval are now soaking in a ketchup bath where they will remain until Sunday, a nice trick that I picked up along the way to clean bronze with little or no effort.
With 60 grit sandpaper I started sanding down the rub rail. Overly ambitious, I expected to do the sanding today, clear epoxy tomorrow and then the first coat of varnish on Sunday. Now I'll be happy to just get the sanding done by the end of the weekend.
I did spend a good part of the morning taking sail measurements and going over the Pathfinder's sail plan as I put together an order for a new set of sails from Dabbler Sails. The loft, a one-man operation just south of the Potomac River in tidewater Virginia, specializes in traditional small craft sails. I have seen some of his work and it is all first class. Above you see a Dabbler sail on one of Barry's Melonseed Skiffs, which I have only seen in photographs ( I need to fix that next year).
And here is a screen shot showing tanbark Dabbler sails on my friend Tom's Pathfinder - again I've only seen photos of Tom's boat but don't the sails look great.
My only chance to see the workmanship first hand was a few years ago when we met up with Kevin on the Navigator Slip jig at Dividing Creek in Maryland. You can see Slip Jig's beautiful cream sails above.
I remember thinking back then that I would love to have a set of sail's like that. Well, it's time. Spartina's current sails, made by a loft in main, have seen seven seasons on the water. I'm happy to say that those sails have carried us a lot of miles in some pretty windy conditions. Last summer I had a schooner captain out sailing with me on Spartina and I asked him what he thought of the condition of our sails. "They look a bit tired" he said. There is some stretching in some of the panels and a tear in the jib. The tear cold be repaired, but replacing the stretched panels is, I'm told, is too expensive - I might as well get a new set.
Dabbler sails does a steady business. I'm told by Stuart, the sole proprietor and sailmaker, that he is booked solid with work through February. But an early spring delivery for Spartina is possible.
Something to look forward to over the winter.