Take a look inside the magic that happens when community, career, passion, and a conscious approach to capitalism collide! Meet the literal sailmakers of Latell Ailsworth Sails, a trade that employs both traditional sailing skills and the latest yachting industry technology. In a marine industry moving more and more toward globalization and remote consulting–Latell Ailsworth is a brand and business that prides itself on it’s partnership overseas, as well as a strong local and regional East Coast presence. Is it any wonder Latell Ailsworth Sails, of Deltaville, VA–a small yachting center on the southern Chesapeake Bay–is a division of a Kiwi Company?
I loved New Zealand and have pretty much just been trying to get back there ever since. By yacht of course. I told Latell I’d get the Evolution logo tattooed on me (which he did not endorse…yet) as a testament to my commitment endorsing this opportunity to low key partner Evolution Sails–I mean maybe the parent company wants to sponsor my return to Aoteaora (New Zealand in Maouri, literally translated to Land of the Long White Cloud).
Now I’m day dreaming again.
Sometimes it feels like I have a goal, I chase it, I get the opportunity, and then I have to do the actual work and the entire time I’m just dreaming of the next thing to chase. So before I get back to New Zealand I’ve got to just get back to my boat eight hours east of my current locale, and well, go finish my new Genoa furling headsail a few hours south of my boat, and then bring it to my boat, bend it on, photograph it and send it in on time for the deadline to SAIL Magazine to meet my contract for the October 2022 Issue and the Annapolis International Sailboat show.
Ha, and then sail my boat down of course. To where I have to finish refitting her and launch some entrepreneurial endeavors.
Can I pull it off? I usually do, in some way or another. It always works out in the end.
If you enjoy this video please check out @dinghydreams on YOUTUBE + Instagram! Help keep this site afloat please consider a donation.
DO realize it’s all in the prep. You’ll be grinding through the ‘ole anti fouling, gelcoat, and fiberglass to create a bevel 8 x 12 times the thickness of your hull.
DO pre cut fiberglass cloth and pre measure epoxy resin before beginning.
DO text your boat neighbor every time you mix and lay up a new batch of resin and fiberglass, especially when things have gone horribly wrong.
DO point to your freshly laid and perfectly placed fiberglass patch and say “No, I don’t think so,” when someone comes over unsolicited and says “I saw your repair on the other side and thought you could use some advice.”
DO ask anyone and everyone in the boatyard to touch your fully cured resin just to “make sure it’s actually hard.”
DO cover up any poor craftsmanship until you can sand. You don’t want anyone to see your quality of work unless you’ve invited them to.
DON’T mess up your resin to hardener ratios or you’ll have to sand off all of the thickened epoxy you mixed to a perfect consistency and laid on as filler for the holes.
DON’T lay on your patches big to small after someone in the boatyard tells you to do so. Even though some of the books says big to small is structurally more sound, small to big is equally as solid and is much easier to work with. Trust me, I’m a proffesional.
DON’T over saturate your fiberglass cloth. Make sure you squeegee excess resin out before you lay a piece onto the hull. If you don’t you will have a huge mess that is very hard to clean up, especially after it’s cured. I spent two hours sanding and grinding off excess epoxy resin in a full body suit, in 90 plus degree heat.
DON’T forget to put a finishing cloth on top. If working with bi axel fiberglass cloth, which is the recommended kind to use, you will want to put a layer of thin woven roving on top for a perfect finish!
DON’T get discouraged. That item on the to-do-list that reads “Glass in Through Hulls” actually has about 1,000 bullet points within it, so…
DON’T fart in your Tyvek suit when comes time to sand. Just don’t.
Want more info on how exactly I glassed in my through hulls fittings? Stay tuned for “How Not to Glass in your Through Hulls.” A step by step guide on what I did, so you can avoid it.
My heart was so full from everyone and all I encountered in Oriental that it felt heavy the night before leaving. My lines did not tug at their cleats. There was not a breath of wind or current pushing me off the dock. I thought, for what must have been the hundredth time, ‘I don’t want to leave.’
I’ve always said this and it remains–life moves pretty fast on a boat that goes an average of five knots.
I showed up at the free dock in Oreintal, NC with a broken lower shroud and a completely drained battery from lack of sun and freezing temperatures. With the help of a young 20-years-old Quebecoise couple that pulled their battery charger off their engine room bulkhead, and several extension chords later, I was charging my battery with power from the public restrooms. Miraculously it was nursed back to health and I should be able to limp it along as my primary ship’s power until I reach warmer waters and stop to work.
My forward, starboard lower stay was completely cracked at its swaged end. Miles earlier in Elizabeth City I’d scored some 1/4 inch rigging cable to replace my aging, cracking, original standing rigging but knew I needed to at least consult a professional before moving forward. Even having gotten the cable for free, the end fittings I need for each stay are still expensive. Around $40 and I need eight. I could only afford to replace the one broken one for now. It was getting to the point where I could not continue to sail, until that one was fixed. So I came to Oriental, the sailing capital of North Carolina to do just that. In between was some of the best sailing this whole trip! Except I was kind of playing Russian roulette the entire time.
The series of events are as follows:
-Hunted through town to find a Sta-lok —the fitting needed for DIY rigging replacement to no avail
-Hunted through town to find a rigging shop that could swage the correct end size fitting for me. This came up successful but it was Saturday.
-Found a mobile rigger on the phone who answered (on said Saturday after thanksgiving) and hunted for a part for me but came up short. It kinda sounded like the best idea to have him just come look at the whole thing.
-Had an internal crisis about paying someone to do work on my boat instead of doing it myself. Rationalized that I know nothing about re-rigging a sailboat and that I will be able to learn first hand. He was coming at a moments notice in order to help me get underway again, and it required a more professional eye than mine. At least the first time around.
-The rigger was awesome and charged me half price to remove the broken stay and measure exactly for the new one, inspected my current and new (free) rigging, instructed me precisely on next steps of where to go to get fitting swaged and install it myself, and just generally provided merriment, tips, and knowledge to me and another young sailor on the dock.
In the meantime I found a climbing harness to borrow from Austin, a crazy 23-year-old sailor on a Sabre 28 who was told to look out for me by the folks on the Bonnie Boat, a sister ship on the Chesapeake Bay. Rode around town doing errands on his dope folding bike (thanks, dude!). Drank far too much wine and sang karaoke with some of my favorite sailors I’ve been seeing along the blue highway. Shared meals and tools and trades with my neighbor. Helped pull two different people up two different masts. Learned that a sailing friend from the best boatyard in the world had indeed sent me the sta-lok he had found in his boat that was exactly the right size I needed and it was waiting for me at the post office ready to pick up first thing Monday morning (Thank you Charlie and Meg)!!.
My good fortune continued. I met a couple, Herbie and Maddie around my age on a 1968 Morgan 45. They’d just been through a gale off Hatteras and were here waiting on parts for their electric engine. I told them I needed someone to pull me up my mast and it turns out Herb is a rigger! Not only that, but I’d read their blog The Rigging Doctor, when I first ventured into this crazy idea to re rig my own vessel from 1968! He knew exactly how to cut the cable and fit the sta-lok (more complicated than you’d think. Keep an eye out for their upcoming video about some DIY-rigging filmed on my boat)!
I was hoisted up with the right tools and instructions. After fiddling with the tight fitting pins for far too long the first part of my new stay was installed! Herb looked through binoculars on my foredeck to confirm it was indeed installed correctly! Then we cut the cable, fanned its individual wires ever so rightly into the new fitting, tightened it, attached it to the turnbuckle and re tuned the rig.
It was a whirlwind–but my rig is whole again. The boat looked slightly sad with her missing stay but it didn’t last long and I could not have been marooned in a better place waiting for all the pieces to come together. As soon as I am somewhere warm and am earning a much needed cash injection, the rest of my stays will all be replaced using the methods I learned in Oriental.