Ripped the Reef Point out of my Main Sail - fix or trash?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Jetboy, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    Got caught a little unprepared for big wind. Lake sailing, tacked up wind toward the far end of the lake. Nearing the dam the wind was steady into the low 20's gusts around 30ish. Decided it was time to reef the main. I had added one reef point. Reefed down and trimmed the main. Shifting gusts were up into the mid 30's. I was sailing with my dad - who's not a sailer, and I could tell he was getting a little nervous. It's an 18' trimaran with loads of stability, so on a close reach it wasn't too bad, but I was concerned about the broad reach when we needed to turn down wind.

    So I decided to drop the main and run under jib alone. The little tri sails surprisingly well in heavy wind with just the little jib sail.

    As I got up to release the halyard, we got a big gust about 90* to prevailing and I heard a snap. My reef point at the clew ripped out. Needs more reinforcement obviously. It was a #4 spur grommet set through 5 layers of 4oz dacron. Next time I'm going to add some nylon webbing running through the grommet.

    My question is whether this sail should be repaired or should I toss it and look for a new one? It was pretty crisp prior to this, so I'd like to save if possible. I do have a 2nd backup main sail that's useable but not great.
     

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  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    That can be easily repaired. A home type sewing machine can sew through light fabric like that. Two strips of webbing angling at 30 degrees on one side and along the luff on the other will make the area stronger too.
     
  3. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    if the sail cloth is not weakened from sun exposure, that is an easy fix, and should be done.

    looks like you need to spread the loads from the grommet out over a larger area of the fabric. More stitching, and more layers. You might consider better grommet that grabs more of the fabric. I would also heat sear the raw edges of the sail cloth when you cut a new hole for the grommet. Traditional sail makers use a metal ring that they hand stitch around the opening, with a very tight and varying size stitch, to spread the load out to more of the sail cloth. A lot of work, but might be worth considering.
     
  4. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    To fix the tear along the length of the sail would it be the best idea to patch maybe a 6 or 8" wide strip? Or is there some other way to sew it together that would be structurally sound?
     
  5. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    There are lots of ways to repair it that will work. you want to spread the load from the grommet out over a larger area. traditionally you align the patch fabric main weave direction with the direction of the load, which in this case would be radiating out from the grommet into the field.

    I have put on double patch, so there is three layers total with good results on a smaller sail. the first one is perhaps 8 or 9", and sew the perimeter, add a smaller one about half that size, with multiple rows of stictching through the whole stack up. Than add the grommet, searing the cut thread edges in the hole before I put the groment in to seal the raw edges of the weave.

    The size of the sail and loads on the grommet will determine how large the reinforcing patch has to be. The larger the patch, the more you will spread the load out over more of the sail area. this will make a durable permanent repair. Also, the more and closer the stitching, the more the load is spread out over the fabric. It is each stitch that transfers the load from the main sail to each layer of reinforcing patch, so the more you can fit the better, without cutting or damaging the underlying fabric (which happens if it is stitched too close together).

    Several layers of reinforcing patch spread out to perhaps 10" square, with one intermediate layer, with a number of rows of zig zag stitching (use polyester thread), should give you something much stronger than you have now, and give you many years of trouble free service. I have also sprayed the stitching when I was done with clear exterior grade sealant or finish to protect the stitching from abrasion.

    good luck.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Judging by the quality of the stitching, I think it's junk sail, sewn poorly with poor materials. Single row zigzag on a reef point, with some of the stitches running over the edge of the seams. A single layer of reinforcement, yeah not good stuff, likely a Chinese material and thread too. Just lousy work and can't hold diddly. It can be repaired, though you'll need to move the seam a bit and it's not a simple straight line. If the material is as I suspect, you'll just rip it some place else.
     

  7. Jetboy
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Jetboy Senior Member

    The reef point was added by me. It is an age unknown Elliot / Pattison sail.

    The reef point consists of 3 layers of 4oz dacron from sailrite consecutively radiating outward. The thread was v-92 UV treated.

    The sewing on the reef point was sloppy due to me sewing it with a home sewing machine. It's hard to manipulate a big main sail in such a small machine. Anyway it was the fabric that ultimately failed. So it was clearly not sufficiently reinforced. A #4 spur grommet through 5 layers of 4oz sail cloth was not enough.
     
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