It’s the ‘little things’…

18th century sailcraft… and attention to detail…

There is a lanyard sewn into the edges of the sail, and another then sewn into the corner of the sail to hold the metal eye in place for the attached lanyard to connect to either the cross piece, or run down to the winch or lower cross piece depending on the specific sail.

The level of detail above, might seem to be more ‘artistic’, but is, in fact, necessary to keep the sail from ripping the lanyard out under stress. Depending on the size of the sail, and its use, it could have a dry weight of up to a TON, and take more tons of pressure to move a large ship!!!

Sailmaking was a mix of art and science, and many of the ships of the line had crews of sailmakers as part of the crew. Article HERE.

h/t Stretch


It’s the ‘little things’… — 18 Comments

  1. There is no sound more disappointing than the tearing of a sail.
    Because those suckers are -expensive-!
    I do at times miss sailing, did a lot of it where I grew up. There’s just something nice about being able to go places without having to spend money on fuel.

    • Yes, there are places that still teach ‘traditional’ sewing. A lot of them are linked to various historical societies or reenactment groups.

      My experience with insane sewing is seeing reproduction-level cloth armor that’s reinforced with metal. Insane grommetting and ’embroidery’ to reduce strain and stiffen up places, and also to allow a stiff place to flex.

      If you’re interested in sails, I’d recommend looking up some sailing museums or some historical yachts that still use canvas. Heh, those nutters that made a longboat and sailed across the Atlantic may be a good choice. So are the groups that recreated the Golden Hind, or the Mayflower and such.

  2. All done by hand. Used to be, every port big or small had at least one sailing loft where sails were made, often staffed by ex-sailors no longer able to go to sea. Takes a lot of hand strength to do that.

  3. John- Point!!! $6K for a spinnaker that got used ONCE… sigh

    Guy- Shaddap… LOL

    Bob/Beans- See below, and yes they do, both ‘automated’ and by hand with the reenactors/restoration teams as Beans said.

    WSF- Days per corner… And usually a minimum of four, sometimes eight, depending on the size of the sail! That’s why many ships had sailmakers as part of the crew; to repair or make new sails underway.

    Beans- Excellent point!

  4. Royal Navy and U.S. Navy archives probably have information from the shipyards on materials used and time, probably more info from ship logbooks on sail repair as nd making.

    USS Constituion was in drydock, so I saw her afar with lower masts only. Would have been nice to see sails and ask.

  5. Quincy had it right 😉
    I learned to sail as a Sea Explorer in high school and still miss it. Our post had a 32′ sloop and a Sea Scouter – 10′ IIRC for training as well as a couple of assorted rowboats. The sloop had a spinnaker made from 3 panels from an old cargo chute. Good times indeed. Can’t afford sailing now………..

  6. PK- She has ‘real’ sails. 🙂

    John- True!!!

    Skip- Yep, and they’ll split if not handled right!

    Gomez- Nice!!! And no, none of us can afford it now.

    Heath- Oh yeah, he does! Great author!

  7. I don’t know anything about sails but the quality of craftsmanship and detail’s remarkable to me. You see this pretty much across the board in the 18th C. Perhaps we’ve devolved in that respect.

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