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Sailing

If sprucing up the cabin in your boat is on your spring to-do list this year, this is the post for you. If you’re going to re-do your boat interior, it’s important to start with a game plan of which fabrics you’re going to use and the feel you want for your home aboard. Today we’ve rounded up three different cabin “looks” to help get your ideas flowing.

Before we get into the designs, we should take a moment to talk about fabric fiber choices. In a boat cabin you want the cushions to be comfortable but also to not allow mold and mildew to grow. To do this, avoid cotton fabrics and opt for acrylic, olefin or vinyl instead. You’ll also want to use a durable fabric for settee cushions and berths, but accents of occasional use outdoor fabrics are a fun way to bring in different colors and patterns. All of the recommendations we make in this post are fabrics that are appropriate for use in a boat cabin.

Classic Nautical

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

A perennial favorite, the classic nautical color scheme and patterns are still the first choice of many boaters for their cabins. This includes traditional colors like true red, navy, royal blue and white. This looks remains a classic for a reason, these colors look great alongside a traditional teak and holly interior. Our look imagines using a traditional navy blue as a base color with added pops of a red fabric with a knot motif. The fabric with sailboats and burgees is also a playful nod to the sailing life.

Light & Neutral

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

Boat cabins don’t always get a lot of natural light and with the abundance of wood finishes, they can sometimes feel dark. A great way to brighten up your saloon is to use a light-colored upholstery fabric on your settee cushions and other fabric finishes. A soft neutral like this Light Oyster Ultraleather® (#1 in the image) makes a great base for cushions. Then, other colors can be brought in with throw pillows and other accessories. If solid beige isn’t your looks, think outside the box! Neutrals don’t have to be solids; patterns in soft colors will also brighten your cabin. Also, gray is a great neutral with a modern feel.

Tropical & Bright

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

Another way to brighten up your cabin and infuse it with personality is to incorporate vibrant colors. Bring the colors of the Caribbean to your cabin with bright, tropical tones like in this popular Sunbrella® fabric. Balance out your punchy colors with either a darker coordinate color like this dark navy or a light neutral like a beige as accent colors for curtains or pillows.

You can find more fabrics for your cabin in these looks and many more at Sailrite.com.

Which design idea is your favorite? Do you have any of these themes in your boat? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments.

How to Repair Sails: A Video Series

Our sail repair posts and videos have been so popular that we recently decided to go all out and create a comprehensive video series on the topic. We filmed all of our techniques as we inspected and did regular maintenance on the sails from Sailrite founder Jim Grant’s Islander 37 sailboat. The series is broken into 13 videos and walks you through a variety of different repairs as well as inspecting and folding your sails. Watch all 13 videos or jump right to the one you need!

Sail Repair Video Series Includes:

  1. Inspecting Your Sails for Next Sailing Season: For seasonal sailors, the end of sailing season is a good time to inspect your sails so you have all winter to make repairs and get them ready to go for the spring. In this video, Jeff Frank, our sail designer, inspects the sails for the Islander 37, sharing as he goes what issues to look for and how to approach common fixes.
  1. How to Replace a Sail Window: If the window material in your sail is cracked or just hard to see through, we’ll show you how to replace it without causing performance issues in your sail. This video also demonstrates how to add a brand new window to a sail.
  1. How to Repair Sail Luff Tape: This video will show you how to repair a rip or a tear in your sail’s luff tape without having to replace the entire tape. Also included is a quick fix for when the end of the luff tape is shredded at the head of the sail.
  1. How to Restitch Damaged Sail Seams: It’s not uncommon for the seams on your sail to fail from UV damage, stress or abrasion—even new sails have this problem. This video is a quick demonstration of how you can fix those seams that are coming apart by sewing right over them.
  1. How to Patch Holes & Rips in Sails: If you find you have holes that need patching after your sails have been in storage or from a rough day on the water, this video will walk you through the process step-by-step.
  1. How to Remove a Spur Grommet: If the grommets on your sail are corroded and failing, you can easily remove them and replace them with new grommets. This video shows you how to use a Dremel tool to remove an old spur grommet and how to set a new one.
  1. How to Repair a Sail’s Batten Pocket: This video demonstrates two different batten repairs. In one, we replace the elastic at end of the batten pocket and in the other repair we replace the Dacron on the pocket because the batten has chafed through the original material.
  1. How to Repair a Sail’s Spreader Patch: A spreader patch is used in sails, especially genoas, to combat damage that the mast’s spreader tip can cause to the sail when they brush against each other. This type of damage is common and on our sail it was pretty extensive. In this video we demonstrate how to remove old patches, replace the damaged sailcloth and install a new Insignia Dacron Spreader Patch.
  1. How to Repair a Leechline Cleat or Tensioning Device: This video will show you how to remove a broken Leechline clamcleat and how to install a new one. We also replace worn out Velcro on a Velcro tensioning device.
  1. Re-cutting a Sail’s Leech and Foot Edge: The genoa on Jim’s Islander 37 is an older sail, and when used it was clear the leech had stretched out because it was fluttering terribly. To get a few more years out of the sail and improve performance we decided to cut down the leech and foot to provide a better shape.
  1. How to Re-Install a Sail’s Corner Ring: When cutting the leech and foot of the sail to enhance the shape the sail’s corner ring had to be removed. This video will show you how to use Dyneema webbing to install a new D-Ring at the clew corner.
  1. How to Fold a Sailboat Sail: This video will show you the proper techniques for folding (or flaking) a mainsail, a dinghy sail and a genoa sail.
  1. Using the Speedy Stitcher to Sew Webbing and Canvas: In this bonus video we demonstrate how to use the Speedy Stitcher® Sewing Awl, which is a handy tool to use for sewing projects and repairs when a sewing machine is not available for practical. To demonstrate the tool we also show how to make a “dog ear” to help the sail reach the tack pin.

We hope these videos will be a help to you the next time you need to make a repair on your sails. You can find all the materials needed for your sail repair including the Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 Sewing Machine at Sailrite.com.

Did you learn anything new from these videos? Share your thoughts on this new video series in the comments.

We’ve discussed before the various considerations that go into selecting the best fabric for cockpit cushions. Today we’re going to take that conversation a step further by looking at how the decision making process for your cockpit cushion fabric compares to choosing a fabric for your cabin. Each area of your boat has its own unique challenges and concerns and we’re going to break down what to look for in a fabric for your cockpit and cabin cushions.

In the Cockpit

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

The cockpit is exposed to much more moisture and sunlight than your cabin cushions so creating cushions with good longevity in the elements is the main goal of selecting a cockpit cushion fabric. Look for a fabric with excellent UV resistance and good water resistance. The exact level of water resistance in a fabric can vary based on what foam you intend to use with it. For example, closed cell foam can be covered in any fabric, because the foam itself is waterproof, but Dry Fast foam is designed to let water run through it, so covering it in a waterproof vinyl isn’t the norm.

For cockpit cushions we recommend using a marine vinyl like Morbern® Seabrook or Naugahyde® All American; a weatherproof woven synthetic like the acrylic Sunbrella® Marine Grade fabric; or a sturdy vinyl mesh like Phifertex® Plus.

In the Cabin

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

Since your cabin is more protected from the elements than your cockpit, moisture and sunlight are lesser concerns for cabin cushions. The two main things to think about when selecting your cabin cushions are preventing mildew and feeling comfortable. To keep mildew at bay, avoid natural fibers like cotton or any cotton blends. Choose a synthetic material instead like acrylic, olefin or polyester. These fibers won’t allow mildew to grow. Also, you won’t need a waterproof fabric in your cabin, but depending on how you use your boat, you may want a water resistant fabric, if your cushions get wet from time to time.

Comfort is definitely the second biggest factor for cabin cushions. If your boat is your home or home away from home, you’ll want to feel relaxed and cozy aboard. For many, this means cushions with a softer feel than can be found on traditional marine grade materials. Breathable woven fabrics or engineered faux leathers are popular for boat interiors. Examples of these fabrics include: Sunbrella® , Geobella® and Ultraleather®. You can also use a home décor if it’s made from synthetic materials and has a high double rub rating (we recommend over 50,000 double rubs).

These guidelines still offer a lot of room for personal style and preferences, and hopefully they will free you up to choose fabrics that you love and that function perfectly for the spaces they live in.


If you’re ready to start making new cockpit or salon cushions, be sure to watch our how-to videos on each of those projects to get you started. You’ll also find all the fabrics and how-to blogs discussed here at Sailrite.com.

What do you look for in cockpit or cabin cushion fabrics? Share your opinions in the comments!

How to Repair Torn Batten Pockets

Rip in a beach cat sail

It’s not uncommon for sail battens to rip through their pockets and sometimes they even go shooting off into the water. As distressing as this might be to witness, it’s a pretty straightforward fix to make. Today, as a part of our Sail Repair Series, we’re going to show you how to fix your sail when a batten pocket rips including demonstrations of how to install three different types of batten pockets.

The first step to repairing your batten pocket is to inspect the rip and see which part of the sail is torn. If only the pocket is ripped, you’ll want to remove the pocket and replace it with a new one. If the sail itself ripped you’ll need to remove the pocket, patch the rip on the sail, and then install a brand new pocket. If your batten has elastic in one end and the elastic has gone bad, it is possible to remove only that end of the pocket, install new elastic, and then add a new pocket portion that connects with the original.

When it’s time to create your new batten pocket, you’ll want to take a close look at the other intact pockets on your sail. There isn’t a set standard for how to make batten pockets, so you’ll want to model your new pocket after the others.

How to Repair Torn Batten Pockets

Example of a patch at the elastic end of a batten pocket

Common types of batten pockets include: triangular batten pockets, which are wider at one end to keep the batten more secure inside; standard batten pockets, which features a straight shape and an elastic strap in one end; and sewn-in batten pockets, which have the batten stitched to the sail at one end.

For this repair you’ll need:

  • Patch Fabric— Dacron® Sail Cloth
  • Basting tape
  • Outdoor fabric
  • Scissors
  • Zigzag sewing machine
  • Elastic (if your batten pocket utilizes it)

In this video you will see how to patch the hole in the sail and how to repair a permanently sewn in batten pocket. Visit Sailrite.com to learn more about sail repair.

Have you ever had to do a repair on a batten pocket? Share your experiences and techniques in the comments.

Here at Sailrite®, we want you to be well-prepared, self-reliant sailors. Rips and tears happen in sails, battens fall out, and hardware comes free. With the right knowledge and tools, you can make repairs and fixes to your own sails, both in emergency situations and carefully on the docks. We’re going to share a multi-part series here on the blog with repair techniques for fixing the most common problems. Today, we’re focusing on small rips and holes.

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We’re defining a “small” rip or hole as a hole 6 inches or under and a rip 12 inches or under. Small rips and holes like this can easily be patched. If your sail has a large rip, you’ll want to consider why the rip occurred before patching it. If the rip was caused by damage, you can use a large patch or even replace the entire panel of the sail. If the rip was more spontaneous, it’s likely that your sailcloth is getting worn and it might be time to consider replacing the sail altogether.

The instructions below are for making permanent repairs to your sail. If you’re in an emergency situation and you need a temporary repair until you can take the time to sew a proper patch, we recommend using adhesive backing strips. Sailrite stocks Dacron®, Laminate and Ripstop repair tapes that you can affix to both sides of your rip as a fast patch. Patches should be sewn on later to better secure and more permanently fix your tear.

For your patch fabric, use the same fabric (or a slightly lighter weight) that your sail is made out of. Non-adhesive backed tapes can be convenient for patch applications. Their smaller size makes them easy to work with and easy to store.

For this repair you’ll need:

  • Patch fabric
  • Scissors
  • Basting Tape
  • Thread
  • Zigzag sewing machine

How to Patch a Rip or Hole in a Sail

  1. Cut a patch that is 1” larger than the rip on all sides.
  1. Using Seamstick basting tape, baste the patch in place. If you’re repairing a rip, try to keep the ripped sides as close together as possible.
  1. Sew around the perimeter of the patch with zigzag stitches.
  1. Turn the sail over. Carefully cut out the frayed, ripped edges of the fabric so a clean edge is left next to the stitches. Doing this step last helps to maintain the shape of your sail.

Here’s a video that shows this same process being done on a rip in a spinnaker. Since the rip is close to the edge of this sail, you’ll notice we add extra stay tape along the edge of the sail to nicely finish that side of the patch.

You can find all the necessary sail repair tools and materials, including our Sail Repair Manual written by Sailrite founder, Jim Grant, at Sailrite.com.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the subsequent posts in our sail repair series that will be coming out in the coming months. Subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss a post!

How to Recover a Horseshoe Buoy

An important piece of boat safety equipment is an easily tossed floatation device like a throw ring or horseshoe buoy in case of a man overboard situation. To keep these safety devices ready-to-go all the time, they often are sitting out exposed to the sun. If your horseshoe rescue buoy’s vinyl covering is starting to look worn out, you can reuse the foam inside and sew up a new cover for it.

Most safety buoys like this are covered in vinyl. We decided to also use a vinyl fabric for our horseshoe buoy cover, choosing a Naugahyde® Universal fabric. You’ll want to use a bright color, like yellow, orange or red, so your buoy will be easy to see in the water. You could also use another type of vinyl or even other water-repellent fabric like Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric if you wanted.

Sewing this horseshoe buoy is very similar to sewing a box cushion, just with a few more curves. If you can sew a box cushion, you can sew a new cover for your horseshoe rescue buoy.

In this video you’ll learn how to pattern the fabric, create the zipper plaque, add the webbing and D-rings, and assemble the cushion cover.

Find all the materials needed for this project, search (#200569XHT).

Have you ever re-covered a buoy? Do you have any tips to add to this process? Share your suggestions and ideas in the comments!

You may recognize Desiree Golen from videos we’ve shared on our Facebook page. We heard about Desiree, her boyfriend Jordan Wicht, and Project Atticus just as they were starting to refit their boat a couple of years ago. We admire their ambition and DIY spirit and we thought you would too. Sailrite is sponsoring Project Atticus as they learn how to sew canvas and sails. I recently chatted with Desiree about their ongoing adventure and the nature of DIY. Here is their story.

The DIY spirit has grabbed ahold of Desiree Golen and Jordan Wicht and it’s not letting go. This young couple is the dynamic duo behind the blog and video series, Project Atticus, where they are documenting the refit of their 1963 Allied Seawind and will ultimately share their adventures sailing around the world. The motto of Project Atticus is “know your world” and that is exactly what Desiree and Jordan intend to do.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Jordan & Desiree on the deck of Atticus, their 1963 Allied Seawind

For Desiree, the desire to travel started at a young age.

“I grew up traveling with my family and as soon as I had money of my own, I was out the door traveling again,” she said.

Desiree was working at a start-up she owned in Silicon Valley when she met a girl who crewed on super yachts. When she heard stories of traveling the world with free room and board and other great perks, Desiree could hardly believe that was a real job. She read a book about being a yacht stewardess, sold her company and moved to Fort Lauderdale to get a job on a super yacht. After working as a stewardess for 2 years, she got a job aboard Limitless, the largest American super yacht in the world. It was on board Limitless that she met Jordan, who was working there as a deck hand.

Desiree said a big attraction between her and Jordan right away was their mutual love of exploring.

“What I had always wanted to do was backpack around the world,” Desiree shared.

She hadn’t been dating Jordan long when he shared his dream to sail around the world.

“Jordan asked me to sail around the world with him and I thought, ‘hmm, let me think about that one,’” Desiree laughed.

The couple decided to test the waters and see how they traveled together by taking a trip backpacking and climbing in Southeast Asia. The trip was a success and together they decided to quit their jobs, buy a sailboat and see the world.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Celebrating their first day on board Atticus

As they were looking for a boat and preparing to start their journey, they got the idea to document their travels and their process through videos they would share online.

“We were thinking of a way to contribute back to society and to motivate ourselves to be creative,” Desiree said.

Jordan studied filmmaking in college and Desiree had worked in marketing so they pooled their skills and founded Project Atticus, a travel and adventure documentary series and blog.

“It’s really a way to document our travels and to showcase our experiences,” Desiree said.

They started on their video series right away, before they even had their vessel. In the first four of their video episodes, you can watch them search for and purchase the boat that will become Atticus.

Their boat was a diamond in the rough and needed a lot of work to make her the perfect home for Jordan and Desiree’s world expedition. They are currently deep into a complete refit of Atticus.

“It’s taken longer and is more difficult than we expected,” Desiree said of the refit.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Desiree paints the Project Atticus logo at the boatyard

The pair has been working on their boat nearly full-time for two years now, doing all the work themselves. They decided to DIY originally to save money, but have found that it has added benefits.

“[Doing the work ourselves] also makes us more capable sailors and boat owners. The feeling caught and now we do everything for the boat ourselves,” Desiree said. “It’s cool to have the empowerment to do things that people think you can’t do.”

Projects on their list included making curtains for their cabin, as well as sewing new settee and v-berth cushions. While looking for v-berth cushions online, Desiree found Sailrite’s How to Make V-Berth Cushions Video and decided to try her hand at sewing. She got an Ultrafeed Sewing Machine, Sunbrella fabric and set to work on her first project—curtains.

“I was super anxious for sewing and I was intimidated by the machine at first,” Desiree admits.

But after her first project, Desiree started to feel differently about her machine.

“I used to enjoy the prepping more, but now I enjoy the sewing more,” she said, describing sewing now as being almost a tranquil, zen-like feeling.

After completing her curtains and new settee cushions for their saloon, Desiree is now working on the v-berth cushions, which is purposely saved for her third project because she knew they’d be tricky. After that she’d like to make a sail, a sail cover and an awning for their cockpit.

While doing her canvaswork Desiree has learned that “there is a lot of finesse in sewing” but she loves the pride that comes from completing her projects.

“It’s cool that I really only know the bare minimum about sewing but I can make functional lifestyle projects,” she said.

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Look at that Ultrafeed love!

She has also been really pleased with her Ultrafeed Sewing Machine.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s like having a MacBook Pro. It’s reliable and strong. My favorite part is the Sailrite videos. I can take it right out of the box without having to call anyone for help.”

Desiree advises other new sewers to find a mentor, an individual or a group, to ask questions of during the process. She found a lot of help from Sailrite and the Facebook groups “The Sailrite Users Group” and “Sewing On Boats.”

“Get a seam ripper,” she added, laughing. “Don’t be intimidated to do things over again to get them right. Also gorge on Sailrite videos.”

After two years working on their refit, Jordan and Desiree have put their hearts and souls into their boat and at time things have been really challenging.

“The emotional cost of cruising—the time you never get back—that’s the hardest part,” Desiree said. “When we’re just working and working and not sailing and not living a beautiful dream.”

Desiree, Jordan & Project Atticus: Seeking Knowledge & Adventure

Desiree’s finished curtains & settee cushions

Desiree thinks that throughout their refit they have learned valuable skills both about their boat and about life that will help them on their adventure. They’ve had to take odd jobs and learn how to sustain their dream financially (neither is independently wealthy) but Desiree now feels that they will be able to make money anywhere they go to maintain their lifestyle.

“It’s made us more self-reliant and more resourceful. We’re also better at managing expectations,” she said of their refit. “It’s made us more humble about learning and that to learn, you have to fail.”

All in all both Jordan and Desiree feel that their DIY efforts have been well worth it.

“Jordan and I have been talking a lot about the pros and cons of DIY,” Desiree said. “We realized that even though sometimes you spend the same amount of money, we are the kind of people who like to know how to do things for ourselves. The amount of happiness it brings is worth knowing.”

And it’s that same love of knowledge that lead them to this adventure in the first place. That drive to see things for themselves and to truly “know their world.”


You can follow along with Jordan and Desiree through their video updates and their blog posts. Visit their website, ProjectAtticus.com to see and learn more.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 marketing@sailrite.com and we might share it on the blog!

When installing hardware on the deck of your boat or when you’re adding new portholes, hatches or windows, it’s important to properly bed the hardware to ensure that water can’t get into your screw and bolt holes and cause rot and other problems. Bedding is the process that seals water out of the hole in your deck by using a silicone or rubber sealant. Today we’re going to compare and contrast the two most popular sealant options; marine silicone and butyl tape.

Marine Silicone

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Marine silicone, like our 3M™ Marine Mildew Resistant Silicone, is a readily available bedding and sealant compound. It is clear in color, works on fiberglass, wood, metal rubber and vinyl surfaces and cures in 24 hours. Silicone is great for use as a galley and head sealant, gasket adhesive, or bedding compound for portholes, hatches, windows, and marine hardware. Silicone seals and waterproofs while remaining flexible and is especially great for Plexiglass or Lexan surfaces.

Silicone does have a few drawbacks that you’ll want to consider. Many sailors find silicone messy and difficult to clean off your boat. To make matters worse, your boat’s gelcoat is prone to absorb leftover silicone that squeezes out from under the hardware and then the silicone attracts dirt. To prevent this, the best way to clean up the silicone is to wet sand it off, rinsing your sandpaper frequently to prevent grinding the silicone deeper into the gelcoat. If your hardware ever needs to be changed out, you’ll need to completely remove all of the old silicone before re-bedding, which can be a lot of work.

Silicone has a mediocre shelf life. Once a tube has been opened it will last for a year or two before drying out. A 3 oz. tube of marine silicone is comparable in cost to a 45-foot long roll of butyl tape.

Butyl Tape

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Butyl tape is a non-hardening, elastic rubber that is great for bedding applications on boats. It can be used to waterproofing holes made for bimini and dodger frame fittings, snaps, awning track installation, stanchions and much more. Butyl tape is a soft, malleable material that can be easily trimmed, pressed and formed to create a water and airtight seal. It also increases adhesion with age after it’s applied, so it creates a long-lasting seal. Go ahead and really tighten your screws; you won’t squeeze out all the butyl no matter how hard you tighten the fittings.

Butyl tape is easily removed from hard surfaces without damaging the surface, even after years in the application and the same roll of butyl tape will last for years and years on the shelf.

Butyl tape also has some drawbacks and applications where it shouldn’t be used. Butyl tape will get hard in cold weather and will need to be warmed with a hair dryer if it’s below freezing before applying. Most importantly, Butyl tape can be broken down with mineral spirits, so it should not be used to bed fuel fills or vents as the fuel can damage the butyl and the seal.

Conclusions

We recommend using butyl tape for bedding deck hardware due to its ease of use and cleanup, longevity (both in an application and on the shelf) and affordability. However, there are applications where marine silicone is preferable like bedding portholes, bedding on plastics, or for other areas where butyl is not recommended. Additionally, marine silicone can be painted over, which may be a plus for you. Ultimately, it’s a choice of what you’re comfortable working with and what compound will best suit your application.

You can find both marine silicone and butyl tape at Sailrite.com.

Which is your preference for bedding deck hardware? Have you had positive or negative experiences with silicone and butyl tape? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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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 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, Sunbrella®, trampoline mesh and more.

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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.

For the full video tutorial and materials list, visit Sailrite.com and search #200654XHT.

Have you made a lee cloth before? Do you have any tips on attachment methods or design? Share them in our comments!

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