Thursday, 24 November 2011

zen and the art of sail maintenance

Erratic winds, and a flogging sail hugging the spreaders. Unfortunately, a little too eagerly.

Perhaps I should have combed my
This happened before we got smart and finally added spreader boots to the spreaders.1 The sail maintenance kit had to come out. Luckily the sail itself did not tear, but the strip of fabric that acts as UV protection when the sail is furled did get a good size tear in it. I got a large needle, waxed sail twine, and the palm, (what Rick cheekily calls a manly-man’s thimble). After piling some cushions on the cabin top, I made myself comfortable and started sewing, while Rick tackled wiring and installing the antenna of our new Shortwave Radio receiver.

My Zen perch
When living on a sailboat, it is pretty much a guarantee that whatever task you undertake will demand a serious time commitment on your part. Laundry is a multi-hour hand-wringing affair, groceries can take all day, (rowing, walking, carrying, cleaning, stowing)… Hand-sewing a foot-long tear on a sail and other minor repairs, can take 3 hours. At least that’s how long it took me.

Not bad for a beginner
Yet, I enjoyed sewing tidy little herringbone stitches along the tear, occasionally pausing to stretch my back while glancing toward shore where ant-sized figures busied themselves. This particular chore was relaxing. Mindfulness while doing menial tasks can be pleasant. The conveniences of land are no longer a part of our daily reality. This means we do things by hand, often with simple tools. As clichéd as it sounds: A job well done is well worth the effort and the sense of accomplishment. (Okay, I might leave fixing the head out of that equation…)

1 In this case, they are rubber boots that cover the tips of the spreaders, (the cross bar on the mast). They can also be made of other materials, such as leather. These are useful in order to protect the sails from wearing and shafing on hard edges.


  1. Of all the places I imaged a zen perch it wouldn't have been the foredeck. Did you at least bring a back rest or was it a hunched over for 3 hours sort of affair?

    I know you guys are Canadians, but happy Thanksgiving anyway! Dani and I appreciate being about to read and communicate with people like you that are out there cruising. Thank you.

  2. The mast makes a decent back rest, but I am also guilty of hunching... sigh

    Hope you guys had a lovely American Thanksgiving! Glad you like the blog, it's fun to share the ups and downs of our life as sea gypsies... You'll see! :-)



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