Sail Cover Repair

The Sail Cover takes a beating so your mains’l doesn’t have to.  From driving rain, to merciless winds to glairing sun, it takes it all, day after day to keep the main bright and healthy.

I built the Christopher-Jin’s Sail Cover about two years ago and she’s ready for some repairs and upgrades.  I’ve also learned some things along the way that could have put this winter’s repairs on the back burner for a couple of more years.

What I learned:

Buy first rate materials.  I bought expensive outdoor furniture fabric for the cover, and that is holding up quite well, however it is sun-fading in spots and so next time I will buy Sunbrella.  I did buy a good grade of polyester thread from Sailrite and that is holding up great.   I bought inexpensive nylon webbing for the trim and that is disintegrating.

Live, and hopefully, learn.

So my mission with this Project is to repair my Sail Cover.

I can already hear the groans but factor this in:  It’s fun!  It’s way less expensive than buying a new Sail Cover ($150 and up, and I do mean up!!!).  It’s way less expensive than having someone else do the repairs ($50 and up).  And, did I mention, it’s fun?

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of your system, here is what you want to do.

Buy some nice heavy duty 2” webbing and 1” webbing from Sailrite.  You don’t need much because most Sail Covers wear where the tire meets the road, or in this case where the cover contacts the boom and the mast, and in my case along the slits in the cover where the Lazy Jacks pass through.

Another common area to take a lot of abuse is the mast flap.  It’s an extra piece of material that covers the forward portion of the mast to keep water and the elements from entering from that direction.  Some covers have a boom flap as well to tighten up the cover at the out-haul end of the boom.  When those start to show stress you should quickly re-sew the seams and you will lengthen the life of your Sail Cover by many years as well as better protect your mains’l.  If you stay on top of these two items they are quick and easy repairs as you can easily follow the stitch pattern and affect easy repairs.

Now for the High Wear Areas

Some Sail Covers do not have webbing around the mast and boom hems, in which case, add them.  Especially if your Sail Cover is brand new.  It only takes a few moments to add webbing and it will not only look sharp but add years to the life of your Sail Cover.

My Sail Cover is light blue so I chose white webbing.

My first mission was to remove all the old webbing.  For that job you need only one tool, a Seam Ripper.  Believe it or not, removing the webbing was the longest part of the job.  Because I had used a good grade sail making thread those seams were tight and strong but out they came!


The following sequence of illustrations show the steps involved with replacing the webbing.
Webbing Colors show for clairity only.
Next I measured and cut the webbing.  Even with sharp scissors good webbing is hard to cut.  I used the 1” webbing just to finish off the ends of the long runs.  You will need two 2” long pieces of 1” webbing for each section that you are trimming.
The only trick here is to Cut, Seal, and Sew these “trim tabs” on first.  Sealing the cut edge of the webbing is simple.  Using a butane lighter or your stove top flame quickly passed over the cut edge so the exposed raw fibers melt together.  Nothing needs to turn black or form pearl sized glumps of nylon, just make a couple of quick pass so the webbing doesn’t unravel.  It helps to turn on an exhaust fan as the fumes are quite bad.
I used a straight stitch to attach the trim tabs going back and forth about 3 times.


Next carefully measure the length of the area to be covered with webbing.  Cut and Seal both end of the measured piece.  Now simply fold the webbing in half, lengthwise, slip it over the edge to be covered and attach with a zig zag stitch.  You can use double sided seaming tape to hold the webbing in place until you stitch but the webbing I used was fairly stiff and held the fold well so I just positioned the Sail Cover into the folded webbing and began stitching.
You can see the edge of the 1 inch Trim Tab just peaking out near the Cover Hook.


You want to start about an inch in, sew backwards, toward the edge and then sew forward toward the far end.  I would stop every few inches to make sure the Sail Cover remained well tucked into the webbing.

Once you get to the far end simply reverse the sewing machine and stitch backwards for about an inch.  Snip off the loose thread ends and you are finished.  Now isn’t that worth $50 to $250?  Works for me!!!

 This is the final, repaired Sail Cover lofted between my kitchen and breakfest room.  You can see a little sun fading on the top edge but the material is still strong and there are many years left in this cover.
The cost of these repairs was only my time as I had the thread and webbing left over from previous projects.
Time spent was about 4 hours over 2 days including setting up and cleaning up afterward.  The longest part was the removal of the old webbing.
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