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Ullman Sails VA

17467 Gen. Puller
PO Box 297
Deltaville, VA 23043

11 South Mallory St.
Hampton, VA  23663


New Old Sail Project

We just learned that we will be building another set of sails for a square rigged early 17th century replica ship. This will be our second full suit of square sails over the last ten months.  We will be ordering materials soon, getting started sometime in late May, and working on the project over the summer.  Stop by the loft sometime and see how sails were made 400 years ago!


Classic Sailmaking Story in the "Rivah"

Our friends at the Southside Sentinel are running a piece about the sailmaking tradition in Deltaville and talk about a couple of our recent traditional jobs.  Here is a link and be sure to check out the two videos!


Rebirth of a Chesapeake Bay Classic Race

The Down the Bay Race is back after a 10 year hiatus. On May 22, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, the starting gun will send boats off on a 120 nautical mile, non-stop race down the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis, Maryland, to Hampton, Virginia. This race will mark the 60th running of the event and the first since 1999.


For information and entry form go to the website at Event Chairmen are Vince Behm, (757)876-7778 and Wayne Bretsch (301) 332-6773.


The eagle has landed

I am very pleased to report that we have finished up the repair work on the Eagle sails.   The job turned out to be a bit more involved than we originally thought but went smoothly.  We replaced all of the edge ropes on  four of sails, and replaced the sun covers on all five.  We also made a number of minor repairs.  The project was a lot of fun.  the new sewing machine is really proving its worth.  These big sails are almost easy to sew with it.  We are now getting caught up on our regularly scheduled work that is all coming due as the weather warms up.


Eagle Sail Repairs

We recently started a project to overhaul five of the sails from the USCGC Eagle. The sails are about ten years old are in need of new edge ropes and sun covers.  The project will involve replacing all of the ropes on several of the sails, installing lots of small patches, and replacing the sun covers on all five of the sails.  Check out our crew blog for more comments on this project, or stop b y the loft and have a look!


The Eagle is in flight

Lance is on his way to pick up five sails that we will be repairing for the USCGC Eagle. The Eagle is a 295' Barque that is used as a training vessel for Coast Guard officers. She carries about 21,000 square feet of sail. We are repairing five of the sails including the forecourse which is one of the largest sails she carries.  Lance left early this morning to go to New Londoin CT which is a 7-9 hour drive each way. He should be back sometime tomorrow, although I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled an up and back trip in one day. We will have the sails on the floor Wednesday. If you are in the area and want to see some interesting sails stop by the loft during the next couple of weeks. I'll post more once we get started on the repairs.
Photo borrowed from Wikipedia


We are back at it

We had to take last week off from square sails to build a couple of laminate race sails, a cruising spinnaker, and a boom furling main. But we have pushed most of that to the side to put in a good chunk of time on the square sails. Lance and Justin are getting more time on the sails than I am, but in between sail sale calls I have been able to sew ropes, install some cringles and re-cut the mizzen bonnet. We are actually in the home stretch on the first three sails. Things are going much more quickly as we have all become competent at roping and the other basics of making these sails.

I got a shot today of Justin in the act of worming, parcelling, and serving a clew and Lance running the computer driven cutting table. It is amazing to see how much sailmaking has changed in the last 400 years! Not only have the processes changed but the basic structural design of sails has changed.

Square sails are essentially a membrane that floats inside a rope frame. The roping around the edges provides much of the structural strength of the sail as well as providing the 3D shape. When sewing the ropes we gather the cloth so that when the sail is hoisted and the edges stretched the cloth is stretched less and takes a shape. Structurally the sail "membrane" is mostly a single layer with a tabling around the edges and a a double layer along the leeches. These reinforced areas primarily provide a transition from the membrane to the edge rope which carries the heavy loads.

In modern sailmaking the membrane of the sail not only carries the loads but also provides the shape though broadseaming and luff curve. The corners of a modern sail are built up with multiple layers of cloth to transition the loads from the corners into the body of the membrane. The leech and foot edges on a modern sail are merely finish details and the luff is reinforced enough to interface the sail with the spars. Shape is imparted on a modern sail membrane by attaching two curved edges(or a curved luff to a straight mast) to create a 3D shape. All of the seams between panels and the luffs of modern sails are shaped this way. the computer has made 3D shape easily repeatable and sails have become very consistent in shape. One of the great things about this classic sailmaking project is watching the shape being created inch by inch by the deliberate use of needle and thread by human hands.

And today was a very good day as the hands in this loft kept all blood on the inside!


You can tell Jerry is working by the trail of blood

Typical boss, "yeah, I bought bandaids for the employees". Just this morning he was describing to us how you can poke a needle through the gripping gloves, and then the blood pools inside the glove. Thanks, Jerry.

Our forearms are getting a good workout, here's a picture of Justin from this afternoon.