Blue Water Sailing: Why You Need a Sewing Machine
Blue water sailing is not just a sport, it's an adventure and a way of life. It's the rare opportunity to ditch the hectic tasks and responsibilities of day-to-day life for the peace, tranquility and freedom of the open ocean. It's a detox from technology, social media and the stressors of modern life. You're participating in one of civilization's oldest and longest remaining pastimes.
Preparation is king for blue water sailors. The liveaboard sailing lifestyle is a test in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Things will go wrong, and you need to know how to fix them. A liveaboard sailor must be well-practiced in engine repair, marine communication and navigation equipment, safety procedures and more.
If you're a blue water sailor, you know all too well the toll that storms, heavy winds, saltwater and sun can take on your sails. A bad storm could rip holes or split seams in your sail. Sail repairs are not a matter of if but of when, and it might not be possible to make it to the closest port to have your sails patched.
A blue water sailor spends anywhere from one to three weeks on the open ocean between ports. If something goes wrong, you need to be able to fix it yourself. That's why you need a sewing machine that can tackle rips, holes and tears in your sail. Having a sewing machine on board is as vital as having a toolbox.
The Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 was designed with sailors in mind. This heavy-duty sewing machine has robust, all-metal internal components and a cast-iron body. It is tough enough to endure a sea voyage, yet its portable, compact size won't take up too much room in your cabin. The Ultrafeed LSZ-1 sews both straight and zigzag stitches, offering versatility when needed. We recommend it for sailboats up to and around 35 feet in length.
The zigzag stitch provides more flexibility and stretch than a straight stitch, which is ideal for sails. Zigzag stitches also distribute stress more evenly along seam lines. This is helpful for simple overlapping seams made from two sailcloth layers. Having a zigzag-stitch machine is imperative for anyone sewing their own sails.
The straight stitch on the Ultrafeed will come in handy when repairing or sewing canvaswork projects, including bimini or dodger tops, sail packs, awnings, cabin and cockpit cushions, and more. The Ultrafeed machine's easy portability means you can make repairs both on your boat and on the dock once you arrive at your next port.
Another huge advantage of having a sewing machine on board is that it provides an opportunity for a source of income at the various ports you visit. When you reach port and unpack your Ultrafeed to work on any sail or canvas repairs, more than likely you will be approached by fellow sailors asking if you would be willing to do some repair work for them. We hear from our sailing customers all the time that the cost of the Ultrafeed has more than paid for itself in commission work. The liveaboard lifestyle can get expensive, and being able to offer sewing and repair services can provide a much-needed revenue stream.
In addition to the Ultrafeed LSZ-1, here are some other sewing materials and supplies we recommend keeping on hand:
- Sailmaker's palm
- Hand sewing needles
- Waxed thread
- Extra sewing machine needles in assorted sizes
- UV treated polyester thread
- Non-adhesive backed Dacron® tape
- Sewing awl
- High-quality shears
- Sailrite® Edge Hotknife (either the original Edge or Edge Cordless)
- Tear-Aid® Repair Kit
- Seamstick basting tape
If after reading this blog you're interested in doing your own sail repairs and sewing your own sails, be sure to check out our blog on the topic. "What Do I Need to Start Sailmaking & Sewing Sails?" (#300460XHT) details the tools and supplies we recommend for anyone wanting to become a self-reliant sailor.