Sail Pack Modifications from Customer Larry Calfee

With all the different types of boats out on the water and the different preferences of their owners, often the projects we feature in our how-to videos are just a jumping off point and our customers use their own creativity to customize projects to their specific vessels. Today we’re letting one of our customers take over and tell you about how he did just that for his boat.


Meet Larry Calfee of Vacaville, California. Larry has been sewing projects for his boat, RV and home for a number of years and recently, with his new sewing machine, he built himself a new sail pack. Larry’s Catalina 42 was significantly bigger than our Seaward 22 so he made a few modifications to our Sail Pack Video Instructions to make the design better suited to his boat.

Here’s what Larry had to say about his project:

“Sailrite crew and fans,

Recently I purchased a Sailrite 111 with the MC-SCR System to do DIY projects for my home, RV and boat.  I love the machine and its ability to handle multilayer material at [a] slow controlled speed.  My first project was to make a sail cover for my boat.  I have watched the Sailrite [How to Make a Sail Pack] video many times going over the details and preparing for my project.  For the most part, I followed the directions on the video with regards to basic construction and measurements.  There were a few areas that I wanted to do differently and I have listed them below.


1. I wanted to use something other than PVC pipe for my battens.  I have sectional fiberglass tent poles, which are linked with thin elastic cords.  I happened to have these from an old tent but I have seen replacement poles at Wal-Mart and I am sure they are available from other sources.  A single pole seemed too flimsy so I used two taped side by side so that the joints did not overlap.  My boom is 15 feet long, so transporting a 15 foot batten section was problematic, but because the tent poles are sectional, I was able to tape them up to a convenient length, folding them at the junctions and finish taping at the boat before installing them into the pocket.


2. Since my sail was much larger and heavier than the one in the video, I felt I needed additional reinforcement for the cover.  At each of the lazy jack attachment points I added a strip of Sunbrella fabric 6″ wide folded to form a double 3″ layer and sewn to the inside of the cover in an inverted V formation.  The strip nearest the mast was a single strip as it was applied somewhat close to the forward most portion of the cover.



Here is the inside of the cover at a lazy jack attachment point. The one inch nylon strap enters through the slits next to the batten pocket and is sewn onto the inverted V reinforcement strips on the inside face of the cover and onto the reinforcement patch on the central zipper flap.

3. I did not want to tie the lazy jacks under the batten so I made a loop so that it is attached to the cover and the lazy jacks are then attached to that loop.  The loop is made from a strip of heavy one-inch nylon strap folded in approximately 1/3” length wise and sewn with the machine.  The Sailrite 111 easily handles this thickness.


4. Attachment of the cover to the lazy jacks is with 2-3/8″ stainless steel carabiners through eye loops in the lazy jack ends.  This makes it relatively simple to disconnect the cover.  Lazy jack line tension is adjusted by using an inexpensive device I found at our local hardware store.  It is attached to the standing portion of a lazy jack line with the bitter end going through the loop on the sail cover and then coming back to the device looping around the end and then snugged through the jamb cleat like end to fasten the end without knots.  This must be similar to the monster tie in function but much smaller.


5. The aft end of the cover seemed to be too open both to sunlight and birds. I added a twist snap to the mid portion of the aft opening of the sail cover to close it. I used a double thickness strip of material folded over the back edge of the cover and sewn in place as the attachment point giving 5 layers not counting the hem.


The finished sail pack installed

This past weekend I used the cover for the first time.  I was able to douse the main easily by myself in a matter of a few minutes.  This chore had become so burdensome that I was reluctant to raise the main without crew on board to assist with dousing, flaking and covering the sail.  I am nearly 70 [years old] and this system is so much easier that it will give me years more to enjoy sailing our boat.

I particularly appreciate Sailrite for providing the detailed videos that made this project so straightforward.  A number of years ago I bought a used industrial sewing machine that was designed for garments.  It would sew and allowed me to do a few projects but can’t compare to the new machine. The Sailrite 111 is pure joy to use and I look forward to many more projects for the home, boat and RV.  It sounds like a paid advertisement but it is the truth and completely unsolicited.”


Thanks so much for your kind words Larry and for sharing your project with us!

Have you made interesting modifications to a Sailrite kit or video project that you think could help others? Send your stories to and we might share it on the blog!

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