Measuring for new sails. 

How complicated can it be?  Answer – very.

The Endurance 35 is a standard design and has its sail plan logged in all sail manufacturers databases. Easy then let’s get the sails made up to those sizes. Unfortunately the existing sails are smaller than the database sizes and as sails which are too big would be a disaster we need to confirm what the rig actually can cope with.

All the info on t’internet talks about measuring the spars and rigging when up but mine is down. So point number one is “is the length the same as the height?”

Well, yes but you have to think harder.

For instance when the mast is up you just fix a tape measure to the halyard and haul until it goes no further. Then you take the clever end and read the measurement at the point where the sail fixes to the boom. You can do the same for the outer end of the boom to measure the hypotenuse which is the leech length and you can raise or lower the boom with the topping lift depending on what you fancy your head clearance in the cockpit should be.

When the mast is acting as a ridge pole for a boat cover and the boom is 15 miles away at home those measurements become more problematic.

Firstly the head of the mast is a metre forward of the pulpit which sits on a one metre bowsprit, four metres up in the air.  Secondly you have to decide where the head of the sail will actually finish up. Thirdly you have to calculate the position of the boom as it is not on the boat with the mast.

Ok I can do that but what about the boom?  I have removed the sheaves because they are corroded solid so have no exact position to start from. Establishing the point where the tack fixes to the boom is pretty easy unless like me you have dismantled the boom and gooseneck. The position of the clew is also a challenge because I have removed the sheaves through which the outhaul runs.

Then you have to measure the distance back from the mast to the tack and the distance up to the start of the mast track. The sail is not cut at right angles here because the tack is not necessarily in line with the mast track so there is a slight wedge taken out.

Then you have to measure the distances to the reefing pulleys so that the reefing points can go in to the right location on the mainsail.

All this has to be repeated for the mizzen.

Lastly you need to measure the roller reefing fore-stay taking into account the position of the upper and lower swivels. All well and good if the top swivel actually moved along the track rather than stubbornly refusing to budge at the lowest point.

Now I realise that the sail maker will take the measurements, information, photographs and drawings and then they will look at the old sails, and then the computer data and they will come to a conclusion.  Hopefully this will result in a beautiful set of sails cut perfectly which fit like the proverbial glove.  On the other hand I might mess up a decimal point, fail to understand the subtleties of sails and end up with sails that don’t fit and that is a lot of money to risk.

i am trusting all this to Moatt Sails in Portland. A great bunch of skilled people.

Published by

Anne Marie (aka Mike Stephens)

I am a well traveled, globe-trotting vessel with great lines. I am told I give a comfortable ride for my years. Although a little worn out I am looking forward to getting back onto the water after a full service.

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