What people say about us…
Dave, I just pulled out some of your white polytarp sail material that I have well used in a number of day sails and in the Texas 200 in high winds…just to check the condition. They are as I remembered…perfect with no signs of stretch or deterioration. They look like they would last a thousand Texas 200’s. The sails are in perfect condition. Nothing like what I saw in the picture….was that 3.1? Chris’s analysis of the market is spot on. I know that polytarp for my and our “purposes” is equal to dacron and in fact superior considering my sewing machine deficiencies. Much cheaper and quicker considering the half day against a week+ that I would spend in construction. I would love to see and participate in a head to head test…. but the non believers are not going to believe that polytarp is as good if not functionally better than dacron for our little boats, and , therefore will dismiss it as bias and not properly conducted. There was(is) a controlled study done some years ago on the different types of sail plans on a dingy and it is dismissed by those that do not want to believe… The Scamp Sail was a perfect testimony and proof that the polytarp sail properly constructed will perform and last in harsh treatment in a real world environment. Your work and teaching have given us the tools and knowledge to use the material. Your kits were a breakthrough for me to understand the correct methods and materials for this wonderful sail material. You have made my sail boats a lot more fun for a lot less investment in time and money. Thank you, Dave. JIB
[John in Bastrop (TX), otherwise known as John Wright]
I would like to say a few words about the sail Dave Gray made for our SCAMP. It worked great and held up very well in some very strong winds. We used it with both one and two reefs and it held its shape very well. At one point we were hit by a thunder storm with high winds (25 mph with gust to 30 mph) and we had to let the sheet fly to keep the SCAMP on its feet. The sail flogged for about 15 minutes until the storm passed without any damage.
I did not realize when we rigged the boat that the two sails Dave made were different. Andy and I decided to use the blue sail on the red boat because we wanted red, white and blue.
I hope to finish the Blue SCAMP in May and rig it with the red sail. The Red SCAMP will be here until after the Sail Oklahoma event in October so we can sail the two side by side. I hope to take Brad up on his offer to help fine tune the rigs and we can sail the two SCAMPS.
All in all I love the Poly Sail.
Sorry I am late to this party: I agree with Mike’s statements without reservation. In fact, for my homebuilts I’ll never use a ‘production” sail – they are just too expensive.
That said: Dave, I think you are urinating up a tree, here. It has been my experience that there are far more people who talk about sailing than actually sail, and far more people who talk about building than actually build, and far more people who talk about racing than actually race.
You’ll never convince those people EVER.
If I were you (and I ain’t) I’d be happy being a big fish in the small pond of of the home builder people. The dock snobs are going to be dock
snobs and there is nothing you can do about it. Idiots will scream and fluff on the internet and there is nothing you can do about that, either. Let your products and your friends do the talking. I know I am always promoting you.
I am sending you a picture of the Northwind that will compete in the Watertribe NCPC. The sail has been out twice now and is perfect thank you so much. I still have to make a yard and boom for the 30 sq ft sail.
More pictures to come!!
-Christine W. Cochran
Thought I should write and let you know how the sail works–GREAT!
I may not have the rig perfect, but didn’t realize at the start just how long a mast I needed. The 10 1/2 foot I started with was woefully inadequate (was in too much of a rush putting the boat together to even look to see if it’d work). Still, was good for running reefed on Flathead Lake for about 3 sea miles. Cut a new mast (12 ft) and while it’s almost enough, I probably will make another mast (14 ft) to suit the sail properly. Even so, and with the boom rather low, the sail, fully sheeted, is great up to about 10 mph, then it’s a bit much too handle and time to drop it down to the reefed position. Even at 45 sq ft. there’s enough power to dump the boat (no fault of the sail though).
Sail is laced, lower boom is attached to mast and downhaul rigged per Storer. Should have the luff more vertical, but boom would drag on the deck (hence a longer mast) Upper yard and parrel beads are Michalak. Never have had a problem of the yard hanging either going up or coming down. Outhaul and sail tiedowns will be refined this winter, namely to improve ease of reefing. Sail will work pretty good down to 1/2 knot, after which the boat doesn’t steer well (except downwind).
Very happy with the purchase and will happily recommend you to others.
Thanks for making up these sails for us who don’t want to jump into “heirloom” sails (sailcloth) right off the bat.
— In email@example.com, Seth Miller wrote:
> This is a public confession to Dave Gray of Polysail International.
> Alright Dave, I have a confession… I bought a white tarp from
another online supplier. The price difference between your kit and the
other guys was just too much to resist.
> I should have purchased from Polysail! My tarp came with a seam down
the middle, which is to be expected on large tarps, but the two pieces
that were seamed together didn’t match! One side was kind of a bright,
opaque white, the other side was kind of a “translucent" white. I’m sure
Dave would never send anyone a tarp that looks like that.
> For some reason it never occured to me until too late to try to return
it for a refund or exchange it for a good looking one (yeah, right). I
ended up cutting the tarp into pieces and made my own seam down the
middle of my main sail. I did a flat felled seam like:
http://www.backpacking.net/makegear/tarptent3/ffseam2.jpg only stitched
along each edge of the seam rather than just where the arrow points. I
hope it holds! My boat is going to have two sails (main and mizzen), so
one is going to be the bright white (main) and the other (mizzen) will
be the “translucent" white (small enough to not need a seam). Less than
desireable, but not as bad as one sail with both ‘colors', half and
> So now I’ve learned my lesson. Next time I’ll buy from Dave.
> P.S. Dave, feel free to post my experience with the “other guys” on
your website along with whatever ‘promise of quality’ you might wish to
> P.P.S. The sewn seam down the middle wasn’t too hard to do, got me
wondering if it possible to purchase the tarp material by the roll or by
the yard rather than as finished tarps.
The biggest thing you missed out on beside the quality of the tarp was the opportunity to do business with Dave Grey. That man should give lessons on how to run an online business. A very satisfied customer.
1. Re: Polytarp Sailmaking
I have been sailing with my first PolyTarp sail for the last year and I can say I am very happy with the results.
What do I base that statement on?
I started sailing some 40 years ago, worked for Bludworth, North and Banks sail lofts, sailed with Smyth, Taylor, Cameron sails, owned boats from 14 to 36 long, 3 Olympic campaigns and built my latest 2 boats within the last 3 years, a Goat Island Skiff and Hapscut. The GIS has a Sailrite kit and Hapscut has a PolySail kit.
I had problems with both kits and each manufacture was helpful in suggesting corrections or pointing out that I missed something in the instructions. Correcting the Sailrite kit cost more than the kit, while correcting the PolySail kit cost my less than $10 and some of my time. Which one am I most satisfied with when it comes to cost and my time involved? Well, it is the PolySail kit.
I have seen some of the newest cutting edge sail making materials degrade in one season or with horror on the owners face watch a brand new sail vaporize in a cloud of threads streaming for the mast head however; both of my sails have provided hundreds of miles of carefree sailing. The GIS now has over 800 sailing miles and Hapscut has some 400+ miles. I have no doubt I can get more miles out of each sail and while I am sailing, it doesn’t matter what material the sail is made of because I am out on the water doing what I like best, sailing.
I selected a PolySail kit for Hapscut in order to try out a different sail making material. It fit my budget easily and the time invested was well worth the savings. The sail can drag a fully loaded Hapscut, 1500 lbs., anywhere I want to go upwind or downwind. This was only my second balanced lug sail to build and I know I can do better next time, but I can also grab my seam ripper and modify the sail until I get it right while I sit at my home sewing machine. I will build another sail for Hapscut one day and yes I’ll stick to a PolySail kit.
The best materials, brightest minds and highly skilled labor will not guarantee success. Just read the latest sailing news.
1. Re: Polytarp Sailmaking
Todd is right to emphasize the difference between composite racing sails and well-built dacron cruising sails, etc. But I think there’s certainly a problem with holding that Dacron is the only “real” sail building material, as some folks have implied. In taking the conversation in this direction, the members of this forum have missed the opportunity to learn more from Dave about strategies for making serviceable sails out of alternative, economical materials. We’ve also not paid much attention to the distinction in polytarp grades.
I’m not sure about the economy of paying a professional sailmaker to construct sails for me out of polytarp. But having built leg-o-mutton and a balanced lug out of tyvek and heavy-gauge white poly, I want to insist there are some good points to this material and method. This might be particularly relevant for home-built boats because of their affinity for traditional sail cuts.
It does seem silly to compare the durability. I just sold a 1967 FJ with original sails that still held their shape quite well. I sailed approximately 500 hours on them myself, in light to moderate winds. A Tyvek leg-o-mutton with taped seams on my puddle duck began to lose its shape after 100 hours under similar conditions. My sewn, white polytarp lug sail (Dave Gray’s heavy grade) saw 150 hours of sailing last year and has become supple but has not noticeably bagged out. For a cruising sail, this is obviously not a brilliant testament to durability. But look at the scum at the waterline of some of the boats in your local marina — do those boats see 15 hours of use a year? A well-built polytarp sail might last a decade under those conditions! I sailed with it on my Michalak Piccup Pram in 25 knot winds at Champlain and Cape Cod without a failure, though I am now wishing I had followed Dave Gray’s reinforcement advice more carefully at several grommet points.
Which brings me back to my real point. When I’m thinking about a new sail, I consult books by David Nichols, Todd Bradshaw, and Emiliano Marino — then I pop on over to Dave’s website or send him an email. He has some very useful strategies for reinforcing polytarp at high stress points. This economy of his method allows for a kind of experimentation that amateurs like myself can’t otherwise afford. I’ve now “upgraded” to a custom-built dacron lug. The reason was primarily aesthetic. I also paid for increased durability, but I can’t really say there’s a marked difference in performance.
When I get around to playing with a batwing design or a chinese lug, you can bet it will be made of polytarp. And this, frankly, is the spirit with which I approach wooden boats — not with the aspiration, budget, or ability to build a gleaming, teak-trimmed classic but with an enthusiasm to mess around in sail boats.
Ken Sherwood, PhD
Thanks for the email informing me of a gents interest in my canoe yawl.
The canoe is a Burmarsh 13.5 ft available from Stanley Small Craft. They sell kits and plans at www.stanleysmallcraft.com.
It was an unfinished project when I bought it. The leeboard and thwart is from sailing canoe specialists Solway Dorey in Cumbria UK.
The rudder is taken from a GP14 dinghy and seems to work well mounted on a support bracket I made.
Stabilisers are from US suppliers sailboatstogo.com and are amongst the best made accessories I have ever seen.
The accessories, mast and sails etc, will fit any canoe.
When I get more pictures or video I will send you a few showing the swift progress on the water in a fair breeze.
Attached are some photos of the test sail with the boat I built and the 62 sq ft PolySail you made for me. The boat and sail performed flawlessly. The boat sails and handles incredibly well in the winds and also with the gusts.
Thanks a bunch, the sail is the perfect type and size for this boat.
Thanks for all your help with plans and ideas on a sail for my old boat. My wife and I really appreciate your details and thoroughness. Will be in touch with more questions, I’m sure.
“We’ve been very pleased with our three PolySail sails (one from a kit, and two ready-made). Also very pleased with the rigging kits you sold us last year.”
A couple years ago, I was dying to sail something (anything) and all I had was a canoe. After a few weekends of work, and some Internet research, you folks helped me greatly with excellent sails kits, and my sailing trimaran canoe is awesome!! My girls really fell in love with sailing on the lake!! You guys rock!!
Got the sail yesterday, it’s beautiful, thanks. Now I just have to sand the hull for a few days……..
My kit arrived today. I am shocked by the fast service and the quality of the kit. Including all the tools needed to do the job really goes above and beyond good service.
Finally had time to test my new sail – Thanks It is great- superb quality
-Perttu Kornonen, Finnland
Christine Cochran: I used my Poly sail this past weekend, I like to think I am very picky about my equipment. I have yet to find anything I don’t like about it. I am actually trying to push the limits of my new boat before a upcoming race . So far my 25 sqft balanced lug rig is perfect !! Thank you.
Thanks for such prompt service. Sail looks great!
Thank you so much for making our sails! They just arrived in the mail today and they look awesome! Can’t wait to try them out 🙂
–Neome Ray Hollis