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Hey guys I recently pulled my main down whilst heading downwind (first mistake) and tore the main sail towards the very top. It has a horizontal and vertical tear metting at a right angle. Each tear is about 8" long.

Can I repair this? How is it done? I want to take my time and do it right and learn a new skill from this mistake. I thought it would be sewn but have read about some people using a special tape?

What should I do? Thanks! I'm a college kid so focusing on inexpensive!







 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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It looks like a pretty light sail cloth and if you use it lightly this should work (you need access to a sewing machine. Get some sail repair tape. and apply a layer to the front and back of the tear after getting the sail back into as close to the original shape as you can. Then sew it with polyester thread not cotton. It should get you through the season if you are careful but sail cloth looks pretty much done so don't be surprised if it tears somewhere else.
 

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Because of where the tear is, on the seam and the luff. If you were to be able to effect a repair it would have to be sewn. Tape is not going to fix that imo

A sail loft , if there's one near you, might be able to repair that to keep you going for a little while. Barring that, find someone who is really good with a sewing machine and polyester thread and maybe some basting tape:

 

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You can fix it yourself, but to do it even semi-properly, you will need a sewing machine that can stitch multiple layers of sailcloth. That means a serious industrial machine, or a Sailrite one. A home machine won't cut it.

As you probably don't have access to one, I suggest finding a sailmaker. Shouldn't charge more than 1 hour labour, maybe less.

It looks to me like that area on the sail has been fixing to fail for a while.
 

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You can fix it yourself, but to do it even semi-properly, you will need a sewing machine that can stitch multiple layers of sailcloth. That means a serious industrial machine, or a Sailrite one. A home machine won't cut it.
I just finished a Sailrite kit on my wife's inherited 60-year-old Singer Featherweight. If you can believe it, that thing punched through seven layers of cloth!

 

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Campbic, ouch! Ugly! I estimate this as a do-it-yourself-job-starting-with-no-tools-or-supplies to cost a little over $100 and a bunch of blisters. Getting a sail maker to do it will be a little problematic because the sail has some issues.

The good news is we know the contributing cause for the tear. A previous owner converted from a bolt rope luff to slugs by hand sewing the slugs with webbing. He overlapped the webbing by 4(?) inches to distribute the load but unfortunately did this on unreinforced Dacron. That's why the tear migrated from the webbing. A reputable sail maker will want to rip out all the webbing and replace with grommets in addition to the repair. Probably less than a two hour job. You might talk him into doing just a patch, one hour).

Starting from scratch and doing it by hand you will want a sail repair kit (see link). A sewing awl (or blister ointment), spray 777 adhesive. To fix the slug issue, a grommet set kit and a number of slug shackles. And a flat floor as a working surface. Some spinnaker repair tape to use as a basting tape would make your life easier as some of that Dacron was beat to threads.

This is what I would do: 1) Lay the sail out on a flat surface. 2) Carefully apply the spinnaker tape across the horizontal tear (This is to stabilize it while you do the next steps). 3)Flip the sail over and rip out the seam on the leech and bolt rope end. Go out several inches beyond the repair site. 4) Cut a piece of the repair tape several inches longer than the repair (you will trim later). 5) Spray the adhesive on the repair tape and press over the repair. 6) Using the sewing awl (cross-stich if doing by hand) sew around all edges. Cross stitch might work better around the tear edge owing to all the fraying. 7) Trim and re-sew the leach tape. 8) Cut two pieces of repair tape four inches longer than the damaged bolt rope area. 9) Use the adhesive and sandwich over the damaged area. 10) Do the sewing awl thing again (no need to sew the leading edge together as reattaching the bolt rope will do this part 11) re-sew the bolt rope 12) Re-attach the slug(s) (I'd use grommets in the bolt rope seam, myself)

Hand Sewing Supplies - Sail Repair Kit
 

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I've done repairs like that while out at sea by hand, but it is a tiring and boring job. That said, if you take your time, have a good sewing plan, and some extra dacron, and take your time, it is doable.

I'd like to feel the sail before I declare it worn out. I've torn sails on protusions from spreaders that made me think the sail was done, when it wasn't.
 

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Dude,

Don't listen to the naysayers. Go to Sailrite.com. They have all sorts of videos and all the supplies needed to make the repair. And mom's sewing machine will probably be just fine for it. Consider a pair of blue jeans or sew in a zipper. MUCH more cloth than a sail. Sails are about twice as thick as the nylon for a winter coat. Even if you sew in straps for the sail slugs, you'll do fine. Just get a heavy duty needle and upholstery thread with UV protection. You'll do fine. Zig zag stitch, back up the tear with more material. Might cost you 1/8 knot. Other than that, get good grades and make us proud. Now, if this were a 50 footer, my advice would be different.

Guys with big boats and deep pockets, get off your high horses and consider who's asking. He's a college kid with a sailboat not a well-to-do middle aged guy with huge income and a yacht. A sail loft? $500 repair? Tired sails, buy new? Really?
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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OK doing it yourself on the cheap.

Go to Harbor Freight and pick up a Quick Stitch Sewing Awl. $6.29 If you are a ******* also pick up a roll of HD UV resistant duct tape. Sometimes they have white!

If not a ******* go to a chandlers and pickup a couple of yards of sail repair tape, however it may well cost more than that big roll of duct tape you passed up..

Tape sail as described above. Use the awl to stitch around the edge of the tape. In Nelsons day it was 8 to the inch but 6 will do.

READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO USE THE AWL FIRST or WATCH THE VIDE0.

 

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Of course you can fix it, if you know how to sew. It can very easily be fixed either with just about any sewing machine (it's pretty light cloth) or by hand. You will need a sail sewing kit (needles, waxed thread and a palm) and be able to do the herringbone stitch, if you intend to do it by hand.
Of course, if you took it to a sailmaker, you'd probably get a much better job, in a lot less time, and I doubt it would cost that much, probably around us$150.00 or less.
 

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Panel replacement is the best course.

The head area where torn is where most of the stress/strain toward the head board is located.
If this is 'patched' Id put a patch ACROSS the whole area of damage not just a patch along the tear. Right angled tears are a problem to repair, but can be done. A BIG patch in this area is not a big deal as any broad seaming of that upper panel will be minimal and thus more easy to 'reconstruct' to the original 'curvature/shape' cut into that section of the sail. I might add a small 'auxiliary batten' at the leech to help vs. any 'sewing errors' and to keep the leech 'flat' with the extra thickness due to the patch.

Before patching, etc. Id attempt to push an awl or other sharp implement 'through' the adjacent sail material ... to test for its residual strength. If it easily 'pushes through' (an experienced push) then RIP and new sail.
 

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Yes, the best of all worlds would be to replace the entire upper panel and then reattaching the head board. That would entail sewing/sail making skills beyond the novice level. I was trying to find the cheapest solution to work on an old, small sail with relatively low loads. Instead of buying repair tape, the OP would need one or two yards of Dacron and know how to match the warp and weave of the load patch with the original sail. I saw this as two separate tears, one horizontal and the other vertical at the bolt rope seam. That’s why I suggested repairing the horizontal first and then attacking the vertical repair. When the OP opens up the bolt rope seam, I think that he will find a quarter to half inch of salvage that won’t be usable anymore. That’s why I thought about sandwiching repair tape on both sides. If he overlaps the tear area by 4-6 inches on the vertical, that should be sufficient to carry the load of the sail especially when you consider the boat rope is also distributing the load.
 

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Sail repair tape usually results in a larger tear when applied to high stress (corner) areas. Its only real usage is in the middle of central panels where all the loads are 'distributed', not concentrated such as near a corner ... the head being a major corner.
 

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Perhaps I'm not being clear. The "vertical" tear is along the bolt rope seam and the OP should overlap the first repair with the second. (looking like a "T" and not an "L"). If the OP uses the 5oz tape in the repair kit, and doubling on it on the luff (vertical) and sewing the bolt rope over everything, I think it will hold. The repair tape is of equal or higher weight than the original Dacron. His other alternative is replace the panel as I also suggested but the resulting $200 repair on a $300 sail might not be worth the expense.
 
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