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Thread: sail window material

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Falmouth, Maine
    Posts
    31

    Default sail window material

    A while back I saw some really nice advice on how to put a window in a sail. Now that I want to do it, I can't locate the post.
    So, what I need to know is what material to use for the window - how thick, and how large a window.
    I do remember the trick of sewing the window in place before cutting the opening in the sail.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    50,665

    Default Re: sail window material

    Browse the Sailrite site at https://www.sailrite.com for materials suitable to the size and fabric weight of your sail.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,251

    Default Re: sail window material

    It kind of depends just how fancy you want to get and/or how much you want to invest in the material. For most small boat windows the 20 gauge Plastipane vinyl is the best low price material. On sails for bigger boats, they also make a 30 gauge version. Then there are some grades and brands of window plastic with better clarity, more dimensional stability and a higher price. Good stuff, but pricey (you might end up paying $25-$30 for a moderately sized piece, instead of under $10 for the Plastipane). Some fabric stores sell clear vinyl, but I have never seen one that was heavy enough to work well on a sail.

    On Mylar sails or stiff Dacron racing sails I always used a Mylar X-Ply, which is excellent from a dimensional stability standpoint, but lacks a bit in terms of clarity. Vinyl has better clarity, but won't have that sort of stability, so it is best to keep windows as small as possible and avoid crossing panel seams with your windows as much as you can (sometimes there is no choice). Be sure to have the proper basting tape to stick them down with before sewing. The tape is actually doing more work to hold the window on than the stitching will be. Vinyl is sticky to sew, If your sewing machine has a roller foot attachment it is probably worth using with the vinyl side facing upward.

    Finally, sometimes it is a really good idea to go out sailing with a pencil and figure out exactly where you need the window to be. It's really annoying to install a nice new window and later find that out on the water, it is totally worthless because it's not really where you actually need it to be. Been there - done that.

    Plastipane, total cost, maybe four bucks.

    Attachment 86144

    Mylar X-ply - very stable, but not particularly clear

    Attachment 86145

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    50,665

    Default Re: sail window material

    Todd's point about checking placement is sound. In the '60s I put a window in our Narrasketuck wrong. Below is a stock photo of some 'Tucks in calm weather showing that window placement (for those who care to look) needs to be high when the wind is up and you don't want to climb down from the high side for a peek.

    I learned to locate the window by making a horizontal line from my eye at the helm in a good blow, boat heeled well over.

    https://cdn.newsday.com/polopoly_fs/...1280/image.jpg

    'Tucks are a sort of '30s vintage Sunfish on steroids. Very little hull depth. Seating on the wash decks, one of the first sailboats designed to plane. Even with a window, the view to leeward is problematic and the aggressive racers in those days had many port/starboard interactions going to weather. The hulls were designed to ride over fishing gear easily and the bow was proud of the water. Often the boat to leeward would simply slide up the other boat's lee rail with no harm done except for choice words as the crews wrestled the boats apart.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Falmouth, Maine
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: sail window material

    Great information. Thanks all!

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