A lee cloth is a great piece of equipment to keep on board your boat. During long passages or rough seas it’s often best to sleep in the center of your boat in the main cabin (or Salon). However, with the heeling of a monohull, you want to make sure that you’re snug and secure in your berth, even when you end up on the high side. This is where a lee cloth becomes your best friend. A lee cloth is a piece of fabric that acts like a safety net to keep a sailor in his or her bunk. We’re going to take a closer look at lee cloth designs and show you how to make one.
Making a lee cloth is a simple sew project, but it does require some critical thinking when it comes to attaching it to your boat. This is going to be slightly different for everyone depending on the set up of your boat and which berth your lee cloth is for. In the video, you will see that we created a webbing strap for each upper corner of our lee cloth and attached it to the woodwork in our Islander37 sailboat. Another common attachment method is to use line to secure the lee cloth to strap eyes or handrails above the berth.
For the fabric choice on this lee cloth, we chose to use a Phifertex Mesh fabric to allow airflow. In a tight bunk, it can be nice to use a fabric that breathes well for more comfortable sleeping, but really you can use any strong fabric like Cotton Duck, soft trampoline mesh, Sunbrella or polyester bag mesh.
As an optional addition to your lee cloth you could add storage pockets to the outside to hold small electronics, glasses or other small necessities. We’ll outline a couple different pocket methods for you in the video.
In this video you will learn how to pattern, make pockets, add binding, make straps, and install your lee cloth.
- Fabric (we used Phifertex Vinyl Mesh Sand)
- V-92 Polyester Thread
- Sunbrella 2” Facing (we used Linen)
- #2 spur grommets
- 1” polypropylene webbing
- 1” Stainless Steel Fast Eye Snap Hook
- 1” Side Release Buckle
- Stainless Steel Strap Eye
- Polyurethane Foam with Fabric Backing 1/2” (optional for padded pocket)
- Sunbrella Acrylic 1” Bias Binding (optional for pocket trim)
You can find all the materials needed to make your own lee cloth at Sailrite.com.
Want to see other lee cloth designs? Brittany Meyer, the blogger behind Windtraveler, made a couple lee cloths using her Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine for their part-time crew and for her and her daughters’ bunks. Check them out!
Have you made a lee cloth before? Do you have any tips on attachment methods or design? Share them in our comments!