Results 1 to 30 of 30

Thread: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    883

    Default Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    After several weeks of correspondence going back to before Xmas, my local sail maker declined to make a new set of sails for my boat out of the (any) tanbark material. He stated that tanbark "just weather[s] too much here in Texas."

    Does that make sense? Or does he just not want to mess with a specialty cloth order?

    I never had a problem with my old set and I would think that a darker cloth has greater resistance to UV penetration than white. I was specifically asking for Hayward Dacron.

    Thanks

    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Albany, New York
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Hi Tom,
    To me that sounds a wee bit odd! Or maybe he just doesn't want anything in his loft but white. Your paying for it so why wouldn't he make them out of what you want? I would give Sailrite a call for the sails chances are you will save a good bit of loot. They can make you a kit to sew your self or they can sew them up for you. Either way will be a big savings. Hope that might help.
    Paul

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    magnolia springs, alabama u.s.a.
    Posts
    10,441

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    If there is a lot of extra handwork involved he may just not want to fool with it, which IS odd because my friends who are sailmakers are not exactly buried in work right now. As far as the material goes, dacron is dacron and he should have no trouble working with it, but he does have to make sure that he orders enough to cover any mistakes that get made and maybe he winds up with extra sitting on his shelves?

    I have always trusted my sailmaker buddies in this kind of thing because honestly, they know a lot more about it than I do, but if you really want that color then either insist or find another loft.

    It is sort of odd. Remember when they were making IOR/IMS sails out of that black cloth? At the time it was considered cutting edge. I have seen a lot of Finn sails made from dark gray kevlar.

    Mickey Lake

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Chesapeake Beach, Md 20732 U.S.A.
    Posts
    28,477

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    The tanbark won't blind you after a couple hours sailing offshore...less sunburn/glare.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Rockford, IL
    Posts
    6,423

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    I've been sailing with "tanbark" sails for the last 27 years, and now have three boats with tanbark sails.

    They will show the effects of UV (fading) more than white sails will. Obviously, how much lighter in color can a white sail get when it "fades".

    Moby Nick

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area- Richmond
    Posts
    13,289

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    He's probably had a bad experience or three with some earlier versions of dyed dacron. Some of the tanbark / red dacron I've seen does fade to an unlovely color of poop brown in places, with the corners retaining more of the original tones. Not a great advertizement for the sailmaker after a few years.

    Easy enough, find another sail loft. As above there are plenty around...
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Anacortes, WA
    Posts
    10,083

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Get a new sail maker. He works for you. If he can't/won't build what you want, find someone who can.
    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    34,087

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Some sailmakers have their own notions, perhaps based as much on reason as on prejudice not to mention convenience and comfort. It's a good thing when an artisan declines doing a job in a way he or she is not totally happy with.

    A friend got enthused at how my use of Oceanus tan bark for Granuaile's foresail and jib turned out. He also liked my camber spar forestaysail (camber spar is totally fantastic) and commissioned a local branch of a major loft to make his camber spar staysail in tan bark Oceanus. Wow did they have trouble! The fabric bunched and puckered in the stitching and even with brown thread blemishes in stitching showed up horribly. And they had real trouble tabling the leech.

    Sometimes a pro should not use a customer as part of the learning curve.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Whidbey Island
    Posts
    13,991

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Quote Originally Posted by paladin View Post
    The tanbark won't blind you after a couple hours sailing offshore...less sunburn/glare.
    Good point! I am suprised more sails arent buff or off-white colored. mine are, but thats just incidental
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    West Boothbay Harbor, Maine
    Posts
    22,170

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    I've seen Herreshoff 12 1/2s and Doughdishes with faded and splotchy dacron 'tanbark'. Not very attractive.
    "Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." ~ Mark Twain


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    St. Augustine, FL
    Posts
    5,807

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    If someone doesn't want to do a job, it's good that you found out before they were half-way through. Frustrating surely, but good that you found out early.

    It looks like my gentleman sailmaker is a couple of hours from you.

    http://www.uksailstexas.com/whoweare.htm

    Pedro Gianotti has done phenomenal work on SARAH's sails (main and mizzen last year and a genoa on order for spring). There's also a fair portion of the St. Augustine fleet at large sporting Pedro's "Made in the USA Texas" logo.

    If it's not a job that he could/would do, maybe he could come up with another local recommendation.

    Feel free to use my name (and let him know I'll be calling him about SARAH's new head sail)

    - Margo

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1,251

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    When assembling the sail from cut panels, many sail makers rely on being able to see the lower panel on the overlap / joint shine through the upper panel to adjust and even out the overlaps. They tend to use double sided adhesive tape then to fix the joints before sewing.

    That doesn't work with dark colored sail cloth as you can not see the lower panel shine through. Now, as sails are not cut flat but with a bit of belly, and it is the panels that are cut with slight curves in the edges to give this belly when assembling the sail, the overlaps have to be very precise to get the right degree of belly.

    Get it wrong and your sail is either too flat or has too much belly or the belly is in the wrong place ... It seems to be a matter of just a millimeter or so on adjusting the overlaps of the panels - as the panels today are often laser cut, they are precise to 10th of a millimeter, the problem for the sail shape is the accuracy of the assembly which means the accuracy of adjusting the overlaps.

    How do I know? Had a dark stays'l made years ago. The sail maker explained in advance this problem and the likelihood, that the shape would not be as good as on a white sail and that if it had serious shape problems, he would have to disassemble and reassemble. He was right, the trailing edge had a tendency to "bite" a bit when close hauled. It was good enough for our boat, a somewhat heavy and slow converted fishing boat, so we left it, but for a racer, it would have been unacceptable.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    34,087

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Henning 4148's remarks show the differences in techniques and training. The sailmaker who supervised me had me using a white pencil to make registration marks on the seams. And like him, I found it easier to staple the seams rather than use double stick tape. For one thing, handling the long heavy rolls of fabric in a 500 square foot sail tended to pull the tape loose. For another, on those long seams the tape caused things to gum up in ways that did not happen on shorter seams in different fabrics, like bimini's.

    Another disadvantage of taping the seams first becomes apparant five or ten years down the road when the gum begins to gather dirt.

    G'luck

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,996

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    It shouldn't be gathering dirt - unless you have it hanging out of the seams (it should be slightly recessed). In this day and age, it's nuts not to tape seams because it makes them about four times stronger than sewn seams and immune to falling apart if the stitching thread gets UV damaged. Use tape, but get it back about 1/16" or so from the edges and you won't be picking up dirt. You will notice that the big production lofts often cheat on this step to save money. Instead of tape, they baste seams together with small "melt-pricks" every few inches from a hot-knife with a needle-sized tip. Then they hand it off to one of the drones who runs it through the 3-step sewing machine before it comes apart. Quick and economical, but nowhere near as durable as a taped and sewn seam.

    Henning, That's how computers cut sails (with curved panel edges and a constant overlap at the seams). Modern traditional sails and just about every sail built before about 1975 are/were built conversely, with constant-width panels and the curves formed by increasing or decreasing the panel-to-panel overlaps at the seams (broadseaming). Two different ways to essentially arrive at the same result but the broadseaming method is easier for those of us without mechanical brains to keep track of. The margin for error is about the same for both methods and usually more than a couple milimeters, but not by a lot in stiff fabric.

    Given reasonable care, I find that most tanbark sails look better ten years down the road than most white sails or Egyptian Dacron sails do. They will fade some, but about the only reason to expect uneven fading is poor storage where parts of the sail are getting more UV and weather than other parts. However, there are certainly a bunch of fabrics that I refuse to work with and most tanbarks are among them. If I couldn't get Hayward tanbark, I wouldn't build tanbark sails at all. But......it only comes 36" wide and from a small distributor so you have to set up another account. It costs quite a bit more than the tanbarks offered by the other, bigger companies (Challenge, Bainbridge, Contender). You can't get pre-cut strips for luff-tapes, batten pockets, etc. - so you have to cut them by hand, and you can't see through tanbark cloth when it's on the floor, so working over traditional lofting is more difficult. In return, Hayward gives you the only tanbark that comes with good UV absorbers built in, a better color, and a slightly softer hand with less resin and a slightly fuzzy texture on the surface - so that it doesn't look plastic like the others. You can actually build a sail with the Hayward fabric that looks good and rich up close, which is pretty difficult with most tanbark Dacrons. The reduced surface resin coating is also fairly important from a building perspective. Less surface resin makes the cloth less slick when you're assembling pieces (which is nice) and less prone to nasty creasing when you are working with it. It is still Dacron and will certainly still crease like Dacron, but resin turns whitish when fractured (or stretched and bent too far). The less resin you have sitting on the surface of a dark-colored sail, the less any creases will show. Most other brands of tanbark Dacron actually look better a few years down the road, after UV has burned off some of the resin.

    I was at the Chicago boat show about eighteen years ago, about the time I was switching from building modern Kevlar and Technora radials to traditionally-styled sails from Dacron, and was amazed at just how crappy the tanbark sails looked on the display boats. Up close, they were slick, shiny and plastic-looking, the burgundy/brown color was pretty uninspiring and nobody there was making much of an attempt at all to trim them out in any sort of fashion that even resembled traditional sailmaking or traditional sails. They were basically just ugly brown sails made with stainless rings, white thread, pre-manufactured, white luff tape and even in some cases, radial corner patches. These modern touches just look silly on a sail that's supposed to at least resemble one that was boiled in a vat of tree-bark tea. I don't remember what year I stumbled upon the Hayward fabrics, but suddenly it allowed me to build a tanbark sail that I was happy with and I started offering them.

    If you're gonna' do a tanbark sail, you might as well at least make a decent attempt to make it look believable. Otherwise, it just looks stupid and you look like you don't know what you're doing. If the extra work involved doesn't fit into your standard operating procedures, it might indeed be a better bet to say "no, I don't make those". From what I can tell, you don't enter this business for the money, so you might as well build what you enjoy building and feel comfortable with. Trying to build anything and/or everything for everybody just tends to make the job more of a struggle. As a sailmaker, I may work for you, but I build the sails for me - otherwise, the wages would be better flipping burgers.

    I started here:


    and wound up here:


    What a long strange trip it's been. I think I'm de-evolving......

    This one is a mixture of Hayward tanbark and Hayward Egyptian Cream Dacrons.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Nelson, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    2,089

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    So Todd….does colour make any difference in a sails longevity and resistance to UV degradation?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Northern NSW Australia
    Posts
    47,755

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    It's certainly more visible to merchant shipping .
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    East coast of England
    Posts
    3,232

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post

    and wound up here:

    That looks a bit like the Drascombe Scaffie we used to have, although the rig is different (ours was a standing lug too, though)

    A friend who came sailing with me in it described it as "biblical", which was pretty much on the ball, I think. I loved the simplicity of that boat. Needed a bit of "technique" to get it to windward.
    "Mozart is the heart's touchstone" (Edwin Fischer)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,996

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    It's a CLC "Skerry". The owner had the original rig but wanted to try something different so we rigged it with a balanced lug built to a profile that is similar to many of the Oughtred lugs and one of my favorite lug shapes.



    That very rectangular, flat-topped spritsail profile is common on a lot of Norse boats, historically correct and can look pretty neat, but there is something about the proportions that they arrived at for the stock Skerry rig that has always bugged me big-time. It's too high, maybe a bit small and just doesn't seem to compliment the hull. Get it right and those old sprit rigs really look like they are supposed to be there. Get the proportions wrong and it never will.



    Don, color might make a difference in UV life to some extent, but I haven't seen any evidence that I could draw any conclusions from. I suppose the place to check would be one of those resorts where they leave Hobie Cats and Sunfish assembled on the beach for the guests. Those rainbow sails would be a good test platform. As far as I know though, I wouldn't pick one color over another one for UV on my sails. Judging from the old sails that I've worked on though, most old tanbark sails tend to look better than a similar white one, mostly because they don't show the typical dirt and stains that old sails tend to get as much and I haven't noticed any major differences in tear strength.
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 01-23-2010 at 03:29 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Nelson, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    2,089

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Thanks Todd! Much appreciated. I’m starting to think about ordering new sails for my boat and the issue of colour keeps cropping up. So, now, at least I know that it doesn’t really make a significant difference in UV resistance. Check! Next….

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Gabriola Island, BC (formerly) ...
    Posts
    418

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Our sail-makers are very focused on performance, as you would expect from a sail-maker! Their reason for not liking dyed dacron is that the weave on dyed material has to be eased slightly in order to get the dye to set. Sounds reasonable to me - nobody wants a loose weave! I have no idea if this is actually the case - I am not a dacron expert.

    The long and short of it is that they went ahead and ordered cream dacron for us in keeping with the design of the boat. If we were cutting sail for a contemporary boat, they likely would have told us to go elsewhere if we wanted dyed sails.

    I do like it when someone is good enough at what they do, and has enough self respect, to say no to a client.

    Alex

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,996

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    I don't know where they came up with that idea, but I haven't ever heard it and the catalog specs and thread counts from the sailcloth manufacturers don't seem to support it. What they do support is that the colored Dacrons are all made to fit into the "cruising" range of fabrics in terms of weave, thread count and yarn weights and more importantly, the way they are finished - which gives them a stability factor that tends to be in the middle of the range. Racing and performance fabrics tend to be firmer finishes for greater bias stability and sometimes have more exotic, less balanced weaves to aim their strength and stability in certain directions for more exotic panel layouts. Radial cuts, for example, usually use fabric with most of it's strength woven lengthwise on the roll (warp-oriented). In use, the pieces are cut with that heavy weave oriented vertically along the sail's major stress lines.

    The typical cruising sailor doesn't want a sail that sounds like he's hoisting a big hunk of sheet metal when he raises the sail and it flaps a bit, or one that cracks if he bends it too much (I've actually worked on some big, Dacron racing scow sails around here that are finished so hard that they will literally break if you fold them). Since the cloth manufacturers are aiming the Egyptian and tanbark fabrics at the traditional boat market (like most of us in our woodies) as sort of a modern replica of the old cotton cloth, they usually try to give the cloth a slightly softer hand. Most of the fabrics that are available in cream or tanbark also have a similar counterpart in the company's line of white cruising fabrics. About the only difference is the price, with the white running a few bucks cheaper per yard.

    So it might certainly be logical for a sailmaker to say "we specialize in high-performance sails and like to work with more exotic weaves and firmer finishes for maximum performance" but the idea that any good Egyptian or tanbark is loosely woven is basically bunk and any porosity tester or diagonal stability tests would confirm that they are just about the same as the same cloth offered in plain old white.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Nelson, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    2,089

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Todd…..I’ve heard the term Genoa cloth used to describe a softer, less resin rich fabric as desirable for cruising sails. Something developed by or for Ted Hood by Bainbridge, I think. That’s sort of what I am interested in. My boat is a 34’ gaffer, so I have plenty of strings to pull to adjust the sail shape and neither want nor require a stiff fabric. But I do want good performance, longevity and UV stability. What am I looking for?

    Alex….who is your sail maker?

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,996

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Genoa cloth is designed for medium and low aspect sails (not just genoas) where in-use stress tends to be spread over large portions of the sail, rather than being mostly concentrated up and down the leech area (as it tends to be on high-aspect sails). Genoa fabric is usually a "balanced" weave, meaning that the yarn weights for weft and warp yarns are pretty similar and the crimp (the amount that each yarn veers off to pass over or under another at warp/weft intersections) is usually pretty even. It's usually finished with a medium hand (not overly stiff compared to most racing Dacron, but it does vary a bit).

    Some fabrics, like high-aspect Dacron, are made quite differently with much heavier yarns going one way and almost all of the over/under being done by the lighter yarns crossing them. This unbalanced, directional cloth reduces stretch on highly stressed areas of high-aspect sails, but tends to be less stable (resists parallelograming less) when the stress tugs at it from a variety of directions. Genoa fabric, on the other hand, won't have quite as much stretch resistance in highly loaded directions, but will offer more overall stability (resists paralellograming more) for areas and situations where the stresses tend to be more spread out (like sails with more moderate aspect ratios). This high stability helps keep your genoa or other medium aspect sail from getting too drafty or having its draft migrate around (aft) as wind pressure on the sail changes.

    Unless you're sailing some sort of high-aspect racing machine, the balanced fabrics that fall into the genoa category tend to make pretty good all-purpose sails.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Plainfield, Massachusetts
    Posts
    16,504

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    What I have been given to understand from various sources that I can't remember right now is that dark colored fabrics degrade faster than light fabrics because the dark colors absorb more of the radiation from the sun, while the lighter colors reflect it. This is not so much a question of which color looks better after a few years in use, as which fabric will degrade faster to the point where it is no longer strong enough to do the job. Realistically, given the relatively light use that most small boats see, assuming the sails are stored out of direct sunlight when not in use, my guess is that the difference in lifespan might well be academic in most cases.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Nelson, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    2,089

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Thanks again Todd….your knowledge is truly encyclopedic and I greatly appreciate your willingness to share it so generously.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Whidbey Island
    Posts
    13,991

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Sailrite has dacron in cream and tanbark

    http://www.sailrite.com/Dacron-Super...6-4oz-Cream-36
    Last edited by TimH; 01-26-2010 at 05:34 PM.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    There is NO difference between any coloured Dacron as far as construction and longevity goes(assuming similar construction of teh materials). All Dacrons are solution dyed now, so the colour does not come out, it fades.
    There are some very nice softer weave dacrons available now that are very well suited to teh more traditional rigs, Challenge sailcloth make aruguably the best cruising/semi performance Dacrons I've used. I particulalry like their Egyptian cream cloths for gaff sails, it looks very period.
    I once made a number two headsail for a steel Roberts Spray for a friend's father, it sailed to South America from Australia, then down into Antarctica and back at various stops. It came back with a worn out head ring liner but no other damage. The shape was still excellent, a great testament to Challenge sailcloth.
    Once made a gaff sail for an older gaffer that was given some modern touches to make it competitive in mixed fleet racing, traditional hull, but carbon main mast, gaff and boom for less weight aloft and ease of handling. We matched it to a semi performance Challenge dacron (but a cream colour, so it looked old) and she'd whip many newer boats of similar length around a course. I really enjoyed making those sails, we used sewn in corner rings with brass liners etc, but modern materials (like synthetic ropes)when it was easily disguised.
    But, back to tanbark. Seams are EASY to mark and glue to, just use a ballpoint pen. I've certainly never had issues with it.
    And some Dacrons do pucker, it's the nature of a cloth that has had less heat setting and finishing and uses a coarser yarn (yeilding less threads per inch, but similar strength). Why is cloth like this? Well, it makes a material that whilst it stretches more initially and has more bias stretch, is longer lasting and much softer to hand, which is important when flaking a gaff sail 30ft long onto a boom. A sailcloth that has been finished (resin impregnated into the finished woven cloth) is not as strong once the finish breaks down. Finished cloth is weighed after it is finished. so you start with say a 6oz cloth, finish it and it's a 7.5oz. The specs are all for when it has the finish in it, but it flogs out and you end up with a stretchy 6.5oz cloth. That's why racing Dacron sails die so young and stretch like crazy after one or two seasons. So on a cruising boat, you use a cloth with very little, if any, finish and the sail stays as strong as when it was made, within reason, although it stretches more. A good sailmaker will allow for the stretch in both edge dimensions and seam shape.
    Most all Tanbark materials tend to be more cruising oriented, it's the market that wants the material. It also doesn't make sense to use a hard finished Dacron on a wooden boat as generally speaking, they can't develop the rig loads to take proper advantage of the firmer sails and a bit of give in the material helps the sail set well if say halyard tension is not quite right.
    A Dacron sail with a puckered seam is not a sailmaker issue, it's the nature of the material, and setting the sail in a good stiff blow will sort it out almost immediately.
    Any sailmaker that won't use Tanbark just doesn't want the job, I personally quite like using it and making traditional sails. I'm one of the last sailmakers I think that's learnt proper, traditional roped and leathered corners. Everyone else turns out a "traditional" brown sail with webbed corners etc. It just looks wrong! We had apprentices leave because they wanted to "make racing sails" We couldn't tell them that they'd learn more useful skills with us than at one of teh multinational franchises.
    For what it's worth, I worked in a loft that would be turning out the gaff sail above right alongside Tape Drive and Technora tape sails, to large cruising sails for steel boats, to class leading skiff sails.
    Any sailmaker that specialises in one area is missing out on learning a lot from other technologies and also learning from history.

    Regards, Andrew.
    Last edited by Typhoon; 01-26-2010 at 03:03 AM.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Hampstead NC
    Posts
    367

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    I have learned more about sails and sail cloth right here than in a lifetime sailing.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,996

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    I think that at least for this thread, it all boils down kind of like this:

    If you have a traditionally-styled boat and want tanbark sails, start shopping around. Any sailmaker who routinely builds sails for such craft will surely be used to working with tanbark fabrics and be comfortable doing so - because it's part of the job on a continual basis. He should be familiar with the selection of available materials and how to assemble them to get the proper traditional look and reasonable strength. When you ask for tanbark, the only answer should be "Can do".

    On the other hand, traditional sails are far from being the focus of a lot of lofts. Their interests (and often their expertise) lie elswhere, and traditional-look sails are a pretty small corner of the overall market. If you want a tri-radial main with a light, very firm Dacron luff and a Technora Mylar leech and tack spike, they may be a perfect choice to build it. But if you want an old-style tanbark main, they may not even have anybody on their staff that knows what one is supposed to look like. They might be excellent sailmakers, but very well may not be the people you really want building that particular sail.

    It's tough to cover all the various types and cuts of sails used over the past 300 years or so, especially during a recession when every penny spent on materials and every hour of work time is critical to the bottom line. You try not to price yourself out of the market and at the same time, often have to compete with somebody in China or on an island somewhere who will work a twelve-hour day for a couple of bucks. Specialization and having a clear idea of what you can or can not build efficiently can be an important factor in staying in business.

    I just started a tanbark sail for a customer (something I do quite frequently) and for the first time in 30 years of making and selling sails, the 50% deposit didn't even completely cover the wholesale cost of all the materials. This likely means I'll be working for McDonalds wages on this one, yet there is very often a limit to how high I can raise prices before the potential customers walk away. If I allowed myself to stray away from the stuff that I do best and most efficiently at this point, or try to build sails that are a bit big to comfortably fit into my workspace, slowing the building process, even if it's something that I know how to do and have done before, then I stand to lose even more money on the deal.

    If your sailmaker balks at making you an Egyptian or tanbark sail (or any type of traditional sail for that matter) he simply may not be the best person to be building you one in the first place and may have good reason for not really wanting to build it. Look elsewhere for someone who specializes in what you want. The little ads in the back of every issue of WoodenBoat are a pretty good place to start.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    883

    Default Re: Local sailmaker refuses to work with tanbark

    Thanks everyone. I have exchanged a couple of emails with the sailmakers who advertise in the back of WB and may end up going that route. Although I'd like to stay local so I can have alterations made if needed.

    Also, thanks Margo, I'll give Pedro a copy of the sailplan and see what he thinks.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •