hi, we are based permanently in the tropics - Philippines
around lats 9deg N to 9deg. S. My last set of dacron sails last around 3 years - main gaff sail, mizzen and 2 jibs. The sun UV is so strong that they literally disintegrate unless properly protected. Getting new sails in this part of the world is a challenge in itself. There is a British owned sailmaking company in Cebu, but mostly for dinghy
sails and costs about 280 US dllrs for a dinghy
sail. My main sail alone is 175 sq meters. Other alternative sailmakers are in Hong Kong
, and Indonesia
but getting there, either by yacht or air flight is expensive and a logistical nightmare.
I wanted a new sail plan to enhance the character of my schooner. I admired the sail plans of the English
sailing trawlers of the 1890s that sailed to Iceland
dragging a trawl net most of the way. For me it meant extending the bow sprit by 25 ft, figuring a way to fix topsails on the gaffs and fixing 3 jibs sails on the bowsprit
for two stay sails between the main and mizzen masts. In a book ' Sailing Trawlers" by Edgar March ed 1947 ( a bible for owners of traditional gaff rigged sailing schooners) they used a 12oz - 16 oz canvas
and 1/2 inch bolt ropes. Canvas
here in Philippines
to buy - 35 peso (70cents a metre and 36 inch width, but what sailmaker
could copy sail plans from the 1890s sailing rigs. Perhaps in Bira, Sulawesi, Indonesia where the schooner was built, but I feared running the gauntlet of corrupt port officials, immigration, customs
police. By chance, I hired a local canvas maker to make some canvas screens for the heads (astern).He was very enthusiastic, like most filippinos, when I asked him if he could make up a jib
sail, about 35 sq meters using the originals as a template. Wiithin 3 days he and his mates, had it rigged, and flying at the bows, all for 3500 peso (60 dollrs) and a bottle of tanduay rum
. I let him get on with the main and mizzen sails (160 sq mts and 80 sq mts). They were all completed within 2 weeks, rigged and hoisted, all for 12,000 peso (250 dllrs). Making the jibs and topsails meant going aloft with tape measures, etc. No mean feat, as my main mast
is almost 70 ft (guess-estimate). the top section of the main about 25 ft. These guys shin up them like they were coconut palms. They finished the 3 jibs and two tops sails within a month, making almost daily visits to the schooner to check on the cut of the sails. The whole lot coming to about 15, 000 peso ( 400 dlls) - materials and labour. They are still working on the stay sails. This may be a joke tale for guys that have chandlery
etc within an arms lenght, but out here , improvisation is a necessity and way of life. My canvas maker never ceases to amaze me though, for my new year party at my english
pub in camiguin, I wanted a Captain
James Cook lookalike tri-cornered hat which he made with iincredible accuracy, given only a print of Capt Cook from the Greenwich Maritime Museum in London.
To protect my new sails now, I unhook them and they are stowed away out of the sunlight, unless anyone has any good ideas about UV protection.
Apologise for wandering a bit, anyone in Asia
with a traditional phinisi might fiind this interesting, and might save them 1000s of dollars.
RIMA (72 ft with bowsprit
, dwt 59 tons, construction teak
and ironwood), Camiguin Island, Philippines.