My Experiments with Sailmaking

The third sail was an orange polytarp larger than the stock one.

I have now put together a small jib for the Skerry. The jib after testing adds a tremendous amount of benefit to the sail plan. I can point higher and go faster.

My fourth sail is based on the Orange sail but made with dacron and built with a bit of shape in the middle. It works very well (after a bit of tweaking) and I probably will not be improving it much.

I have added a boat link page. There is a link to a Javascript triangle dimension calculator that I found online. It is useful when designing a sail and also in trying to figure out the size of mast/boom spar that is required.

making skerry sail nylon sailMy first and most beloved nylon sail was very good in light air.

Up to date I have tried 5 different sails. My first sail was a very pretty nylon sail similar in size and shape to the stock sail suggested by the designer John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft.

The sail was a good size and worked well but stretched out eventually. The Nylon was too soft to last but was a good experiment.


making skerry sail white Polytarp sailWhite polytarp sail.

My second experiment was fabulous in heavy wind but was lousy at pointing in the wind

The sail was made of White Polytarp. It was smaller than the nylon sail.

In heavy wind it was quite good but fairly poor in low wind. The photo is not a good photo. I laced it badly the first time. After relacing it bulged and shaped much better.


making skerry sail Orange Polytarp sailLarger and more complicated this sail worked well and was the basis for the latest red sail.

On this orange polytarp I added some shape by curving the edges. Because it is polytarp, the material stretched and actually gave the sail quite a good shape. It was a good sail and gave me a couple of seasons of good sailing.


making skerry sail Orange Polytarp sailSmall Jib for the Skerry

I experimented with putting a small jib on the Skerry. This is one of the best improvements I have tried. I never go out without it now.


Making red dacron sailRed Dacron sprit sail

Latest Sprit sail is based on the orange sail but has more shape. It is the best so far with great balance when used with the jib.

I found the sail had the best shape but keeping the point properly tensioned was difficult.

After a few outings with the new sail I was having trouble getting rid of ridges that formed horizontally. I lengthened the sprit and that helped but only after cutting and lowering the point was I able to set the sail properly. I eventually cut it down even more so that the point was much lower.


Puddle Duck SailPuddle Duck Racer Sail

I've built a Puddle Duck Racer and made a sail for her.


Each of my sails had qualities and faults. Read about construction and about sailing characteristics of each of the sails. I am not an expert and only speak from my experience. You can avoid all the experimenting by going to a real sailmaker, but the "gradual approximation" process has always been my favourite.


Lulu reads up on rigging for small boats.

Lulu Read up on Small Boat Rigging.


email: Christine

This web site reflects my personal ideas and experiments and doesn't represent anyone else's point of view. If you take up one of my ideas be careful. I don't know everything.