Liveaboard Sailing: What Sewing Supplies Do I Need Onboard?

Item # X-HT-300584

Diving into a life of living full time on your sailboat sounds breezy and relaxing. Nothing but blue skies and the open ocean as far as the eye can see. While it may be that beautiful, it’s not that simple — or easy. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into the liveaboard lifestyle. At any given moment something can break or malfunction, and there’s no one but you to fix it. Sailing is a test of determination and self-reliance. A sailor must be prepared at all times to make repairs aboard their boat. Besides the typical supplies to always stock up on — water, food, batteries, first aid kit, gas, a tool kit, etc. — there’s something else you might not think of: sewing supplies.

One of the biggest reasons it’s beneficial to be able to do your own sail repairs and other sewing-related jobs is that it saves money. Liveaboard sailing can get expensive. There are dock and storage fees, communications equipment to purchase and maintain, insurance, engine repairs and maintenance — the list goes on and on. If you can save some money by keeping sewing supplies onboard and doing your own patch jobs, sail repairs and more, it will help alleviate the weight of other unavoidable costs.

To find out what sewing supplies every liveaboard needs to keep on their boat, we reached out to Sail Designer Jeff Frank. Jeff has been designing sail kits and plotting custom sails for Sailrite® since 1991. He grew up windsurfing and racing sailboats on Michigan’s Lake Huron. He spent his childhood summers working in a sail loft alongside his father. Jeff has helped countless customers design custom sails for their boats, and more often than not he gets the same question: “As a liveaboard sailor, what sewing supplies do I need to keep on my boat at all times?”

Below are two lists Jeff has put together over the years of working on sail kits and through his own sailing experience. These are the sewing supplies that he considers must-haves for every liveaboard. Jeff highly recommends having a Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ on your boat. If you have the space for a sewing machine and the aptitude, it’s truly an invaluable piece of machinery. The sewing machine will more than pay for itself in repair jobs to your sails, canvaswork, cushions, upholstery and more. And we’ve heard from many customers over the years that they’ll pick up odd sewing jobs on their travels when other sailors see that they have a sewing machine onboard. If you don’t have room for a sewing machine, Jeff has also put together a list of supplies needed for hand stitching your sails.

Read Jeff’s recommendations below and stock up on these essentials before you raise anchor.

With an Ultrafeed LSZ:

  • Sewing Machine Needles Round Point (Sharp) sizes #16-#20
  • Size Tex 70 and Tex 90 UV Bonded Polyester Thread
  • Scratch Awl #2354
  • Gingher® 8" Scissors Right or Left Handed #19104 / #19105
  • Ripstop Repair Tape White 2" x 25' #100089
  • 3M™ Adhesive Fast Cure White #100262
  • Pres-N-Snap Deluxe Installation Package #122169
  • Sailrite® Edge Cordless Hotknife #122177
  • Tape Dacron® 8 oz. White 5" (Not Adhesive Backed) #101024 — approx 10 feet
  • Tape Dacron® 5 oz. White 6" (Not Adhesive Backed) #22110 — approx 10 feet
  • Sail & Canvas Repair Kit in Waterproof Box (Right Palm) #102571
  • Round Ring 1-1/4" (Stainless Steel) #23232 — order 2
  • 1" White Dyneema® Webbing #100PEDYWH-FT — approx 10 feet
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas (50 yds.) #129

Without a Sewing Machine:

  • Scratch Awl #2354
  • Speedy Stitcher® Sewing Awl Kit #20090
  • #4 Straight Needle for Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl Kit #524600
  • 5-Ply Flat Polyester Twine 4 oz. #100035
  • Sail & Canvas Repair Kit (Right Palm) #102571
  • Easy Snap Fastener Installation Kit #122185
  • DOT® Snap Fastener Starter Kit (Nickel-Plated Brass) #104800
  • Tape Dacron 8 oz. White 5" (Not Adhesive Backed) #101024 — approx 10 feet
  • Tape Dacron 5 oz. White 6" (Not Adhesive Backed) #22110 — approx 10 feet
  • 3M Adhesive Fast Cure White 5200 3 oz. #100262
  • 1" White Dyneema Webbing #100PEDYWH-FT — approx 10 feet
  • The Sail Repair Manual #36302
  • Adhesive Repair Tape Dacron White 2" x 15' #2353
  • Ripstop Repair Tape White 2" x 25' #100089
  • Round Ring 1-1/4" (Stainless Steel) #23232 — order 2
  • Gingher 8" Scissors Right or Left Handed #19104 / #19105
  • Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas (50 yds.) #129

Are you a liveaboard? What sewing supplies do you keep on your boat, and which supplies have you found most useful? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments section below.