Convert sail from bolt rope to slug sliders? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-18-2007 Thread Starter
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Question Convert sail from bolt rope to slug sliders?

I am looking at purchasing a set of good condition used sails for a Cal 20 for cruising. Most sails I see for sale have bolt ropes, but I want the sail to have slug sliders so that I can flake it onto the boom. I also want to add reefing points. Is there anything I should be looking for in the sail to determine whether this conversion is possible, or is this a straightforward process?

Also, what weight of dacron is appropriate for cruising sails? I see North or Ullman sails available the 3.5 to 6 oz Dacron.

Thanks in advance,

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post #2 of 7 Old 01-18-2007
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Unless you're going to do all the work yourself, would probably be cheaper in the long run to just buy a new sail the way you want it.

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post #3 of 7 Old 01-18-2007
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The loft that your buying the sails from should be able to modify them for you, at a price of course.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-18-2007
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Generally, when a sail is converted from a bolt rope to slugs, the luff has to be reinforced, since the load is now concentrated at each slug, rather than being spread out along the whole length of the sail. You're probably better off getting a new sail that is constructed exactly the way you want, rather than trying to retrofit an old sail.


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post #5 of 7 Old 01-18-2007
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My previous boat had boltrope on main luff and foot. Sailmaker converted to slugs at no great expense and no problems with strength.

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post #6 of 7 Old 01-20-2007
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Easy job even for a DIYer

Slugs are added to boltroped sails by adding brass grommets just aft of the boltrope. The grommets are added using a die and anvil into which you set the spur grommet then hit the die/anvil with a hammer (of course you cut a small hole into sailcloth to preliminarily locate the grommet. The grommets are mounted just aft of the boltrope.
To connect the grommets you can either use plastic bails (which either snap-on or are held together with a small screw) or (better) handsew the connection the the slug with some small webbing and waxed heavy sailmakers twine, using a sailmakers needle.

If you have a heavy duty sewing machine available you dont even need grommets as you can simply attach the slugs to the sail with several layers of small webbing and attach that just behind the boltrope with a "box - X" set of stitching. Grommets will give the 'best looking' job.

Go to and look at their online catalogue. If you have any diffuculty in size selection just give Jeff or Jim Grant or one of the others at Sailrite to help you select the correct materials, etc. They also have a 'how - to' or 'instruction' section on their website:
The grommet die will be the most expensive component.

Such modifications are fully explained in the book "Sailmakers Apprentice" .... although adding grommets & slugs at a boltrope is such an easy job, you shouldnt need the book just to do this.

hope this helps.

Last edited by RichH; 01-20-2007 at 01:15 AM.
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-20-2007
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Scott, the lighter sail cloth will take shape better (sooner) in light air, but get blown out faster in heavy air. And vice-versa, the heavier cloth will hold shape better in heavy air, but probably be harder to fill in real light air. And with a smaller boat, the lighter cloth might be all you need.

You might ask both lofts what weight they reccommend for your size, in the wind range that's more common in your area. SF bay sailors might target 25 knots, where LI Sound deals more with *2* knots in the summer.

Used sails are *often* blown out, and while they may work well enough to get you started, simply getting new ones that have all their shape and power available to you can really be a treat.
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