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Ullman Sails VA

17467 Gen. Puller
PO Box 297
Deltaville, VA 23043

11 South Mallory St.
Hampton, VA  23663



The first thing I had to do today is buy band-aids. For some reason these guys keep poking themselves and I don't want blood all over the sails. Stuart bleeds more than the others each time he breaks open but the other two tend to poke themselves more often so its probably a wash. Anyway the rope dried and the roping got underway today. Since I am paranoid that I have grossly underestimated this project I am scrambling to sell sails and letting the other guys do the heavy lifting today. Lance and Justin did a really nice job roping the sprits'l today and will be continuing work on it and the mizzen bonnet tomorrow. Tomorrow we will get to more places on the sails that will have cringles and splices. It should be fun. Hopefully we can reduce the bleeding tomorrow.

The left hand picture shows the sail and rope strung up together and being sewn together. The one on the right is a close-up of Lance sewing the rope. He is wearing a palm and a glove. The palm is used to push the needle through and the glove provides extra grip for pulling the needle on the backside.



Black Sabbath
Beastie Boys
90s Alt
80s Hair Metal
Lynrd Skynrd
Democratic National Convention
Employees complaining about the Democratic National Convention




, ropDyeing the Rope

It seems every time there is a dirty job to be done,
I get it.


"Lance, there's a huge stain on this sail", "Lance, the boat ran aground", "Lance, can you help me get rid of this body". It never ends. Jerry (our fearless leader) comes in this morning and says "what do you say we dye some rope". Our concerns of whether we're dressed for this or not were met with the typical "you worry too much"; and within the hour he'd rigged up a system using state of the art equipment for the task.


The process consisted of a 50 gallon drum and a plastic shipping tube left over from an order of battens. The tube was cut down to 6 feet, then filled with the paint/dye mixture and placed inside the 50 gallon drum. One person fed the rope into the tube, another pulled it out the other side while squeeging off the excess, and a third pulled the slack of the rope and laid it out for drying.


The process took about 3 hours and we ended up doing two runs of over 400 feet. It turned out beautiful. Now we're just hoping it doesn't rain before the lines dry as one of our technical advisors sent an email telling us that if it gets wet, it can take days to dry.




We spent the day friday sewing grommets. In modern sailmakaing few people sew grommets at all. We use two-part nickel plated brass grommets that are quickly set by first punching a hole and then applying three good strikes to a forming die. Hand sewn grommets are made-up using a round formed piece of line that is sewn to the sail around a punched hole. The liner is made of 1/4" three strand line that is spliced into a circle. The thread is passed alternatly through the hole and then passed over the liner and through the sailcloth in a circle about a half inch larger then the hole. At left is a picture of the top two grommets on the luff of the mizzen.
The grommets are sewn along the head of all of the sails and along the foot of any sail that will use a bonnet. So we are sewing grommets across the head of both the mizzen and the sprits'l and along the foot of the mizzen. On these sails we are sewing two 5/8" grommets per panel. The next step will be to rope the edges. The rope is being made now and is scheduled to be here this week. It will need to be dyed before it is used so it'll probably be another week before we resume work on these sails. In the mean time the crew will be practicing the neccesary splices and knots and catching up on modern sailmaking projects.


We're making sails

Construction is now underway! We have done the first layout on the sprits'l and the mizzen and mizzen bonnet. The sprits'l is the smallest square sail on this boat. It measures 22' by 13' and the layout is quite simple. The mizzen (sometimes called a spanker) and its bonnet are a triangular lug type sail that fly from an angled yard on the aft mast. A bonnet is an extension that is laced to the foot of a sail to increase its area for light air. On this ship both of the courses and the mizzen have bonnets.
The picture at right shows the mizzen and bonnet being layed out together. The bonnet will be cut off after the combined sail is seamed. They will then have tablings cut and sewn along their edges and roped. The tablings are strips of cloth cut from the edge to which they will be applied. The tabling and sail edge are turned under so there are no raw edges and then they are sewn together. Luckily we are able to do all of this initial sewing of seams and tablings with a machine. On modern sail we use seperate strip or tape of dacron to finish the dge rather than using a turned or cut tabling.

Lance and Stuart can be seen walking across the mizzen with a section of the sprits'l that is about to have the seams sewn. Hopefully their shoes are clean. Tomorrow we'll get the mizzen and bonnet cut around and the tablings applied(and hopefully catch up on some service work).


Training Day

We are still waiting for rope. It will take about three weeks to get the rope that we want in the sizes we need. It is a special order item and has to be made by New England ropes. So in the mean time we have started learning and practicing the techniques we will use in the making of these sails. Our friend Stuart Hopkins came to the loft today and shared some of what he knows about roping, splicing cringles, and hand sewing grommets. It was an interesting day and all of us learned quite a bit. These three tasks will take up the majority of the time in this project and we will surely be quite good at them by the time we are through. I estimate we will hand sew about 375 grommets in this suit of sails, and will rope over 600' of sail edge. Each of these sails will get ropes around all four (three in the mizzen) edges.

Stuart has agreed to work with us on this project as our "special projects consultant." He has a loft, named Dabbler Sails, that is about 20 miles from ours and he specializes in making sails for small traditional craft. He has a nice website: In the picture above at right he is showing Angie and Justin about siezing a clew once it has been wormed, parceled, and served. The siezing holds the loop in place and creates a transition from clew to sail.


The cloth has arrived

A truck pulled up to the loft late last week with a 700 pound delivery of sailcloth! The order consisted of 1300 yards of Oceanus cloth in both #10 and #13 weight. This is a cloth that has the hand and look of a natural fiber cloth but is built of polyester (Dacron) so that it has great durability and of course won't rot. The smaller sails will be built of the lighter stuff and the main topsail as well as the two courses and bonnets will be built of the heavy. So the cloth is all here and we are now in the process of selecting the rope for the edges. It is not such an easy thing as the stretch characteristics of the rope must work with the cloth, and the rope must be able to take a dye to give it a tarred look. We will use a polyester three strand type rope but there are many from which to choose. Our first pick is not available in the 1" diameter required for the heavier sails. Hopefully this will be resolved shortly and we'll be making sails in the next week or two. In the mean time we have several modern sails to build so the loft will stay plenty busy.