Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Sail Covers And Deck Bags"
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Thread: "Sail Covers And Deck Bags"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Sail Covers And Deck Bags

Aaron Norlund

Hey all,

I'm working on making new deck bags for all of my sails, as well as a stackpack for my main.

Do you have any things you've seen that you really liked about a sail cover or deck bag? A special feature, or method for constructing? I'm sewing from scratch using 46" wide Sunbrella and PTFE/teflon thread (solarane - like Tenara or Profilen).

I already plan to include for my jibs/stays'l:
• RIRI zippers with sun flaps held down with velcro.
• Brass clips/rings at the top and bottom of each zipper to take any strain the bag has on the stay/keep it of the zipper.
• Lifting straps at the front and back of the bags.
• A strap with brass d-ring at the after edge to attach a halyard for keeping the bag off the deck.
• Maybe a little pouch on the outside of each for keeping a few dedicated sail ties.
• Clear labels for identifying the sails.

As for the stackpack, well...I'm just going to wing it. I'm going out to measure for it this afternoon and am going to put together a sketch and plan for building. It shouldn't be too tough, but I've never made something like it, or this big before, so it will be a learning experience. Actually, I have only recently learned to sew, so this is all a learning experience!

Any comments, photos, features or ideas you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and happy holidays to all!

Aaron N

Norm Rhines


I have had success with standard chrome plated brass toggles (the quarter turn kind "got them at the local sailmaker Hogan sails in Alameda") in place of the zipper. I am not a big fan of zippers but they do sometimes provide a solution.

On the Sunbrella (you are using a hot knife or wood burner right) the edges need sealing or they fray.

Don't forget to install a drain grommet if the bag is hung outside.

Stack Pack? (I would like to see what you come up with) I use a std type mainsail cover and regret not using two layers thick for more protection for my old sails (it works, it looks ok, but the stack pack looks easyer?) .

Best of Luck and happy sewing

Jeff Matthiae


I'll second the toggles instead of zippers.

I haven't made new bags yet for the Westsail. But on my previous boat I had a bottom panel of Phifertex Mesh that was about 4 inches wide and ran the length of the bag. If I remember correctly there was that heavy black webbing sewn on the inside of the seems for reinforcement.

Good luck,

Michael Dougan

Really interested in seeing your finished stackpack setup. Not that it would help me much, as my gaff-rig setup has completely different dimensions, but I like the concept!

Someone told me that they highly recommended using an open mesh for the bottom of the stackpack to maximize the amount of drainage (and possibly air circulation) to the mainsail when furled. For what it's worth.

Aaron Norlund

Mike and all,

Thanks for the comments. I've also posted on Cruiser's and SSCA forums, as well as that of SLM and the upholster's discussion group. There has been a lot of feedback

I've decided to do the exact opposite with my stackpack - I have it "sealed" along the bottom; at least, it's topstitched together and will attach to the boom with hanks, with my main being loose-footed. I'd like it to be able to double as a water catcher, so I'm putting a hose barb on the goose neck end. In addition, I've been on boats with open-bottom stackpacks and when it rains, it acts as a catcher alright - you wind up with a extra-drippy boom during and after the rain. I'm not worried about it staying soggy inside the bag - Sunbrella vents well, as long as it's not in a puddle or on a deck.

I've been taking photos of my construction process and, assuming I can get it all to work on the boat, I'll post the photos and maybe write a little something - Maybe for Spring Windblown.

I've been sewing all night and just connected the two sides of the stackpack along the foot - real time consuming to get all of the hank webbing (which I've covered in Sunbrella to preserve it) sewn in as much has to be done by hand cranking the machine (going through 3/4" of material). When the rest of my materials show up today and tomorrow, I should be able to finish my jib and stays'l bags, as well as get the zipper/support tubes on the stackpack. I'm still trying to decide between bronze clips and zippers for the foredeck bags. I'm leaning toward both; a zipper the length of the stay with three clips across the front, and a clip on the bottom and top directly to the stay (like a hank) to take the tension of the halyard holding the bag off the deck. I'm concerned that clips only would let the bags "pucker" along the stay and admit light. Seems like a zipper guarantees (while working) that the sacrificial flap takes the UV.

I'll likely put a section of net in the bottom of both foredeck bags. I have some PVC coated Phifertex style stuff, but it's blue and my bags are green. Doesn't really matter as it's on the bottom, but it might annoy me since I'm going through all the motions to make these buggers!

OK all, bed time. Thanks for your comments!

Safe stitching,
Aaron N.

Aaron N.

Norm Rhines


Hope you don't have to sew all night (bad for you eyes : )

For the bottom of the bag drain you just need to let out the puddle (I used a grommet)

as for the lime less pucker, the snaps allow a 2" overlap (if you use a 2" fold over) which did work ok for me. When you pull the halyard up the bag does not pucker so much (I have 9 snaps on my old Jib bag. FYI)

From your description you don't have a vang? or jiffy reefing?
Do your lazy jacks (pack system) stay deployed when sailing or do the lines fold away?

In any case I look forward to the sew sew article ; ) with canvassing details of the coverup in Florida presented in full color.


Monday you know.

Aaron Norlund


I have slab reefing (line from gooseneck to a cheekblock at clew end, up through the reef clew and back down to pad eye on opposite side of boom.) I use the reef horns for my reef tacks. I'm trying to figure out how to reeve my reef lines through the bag - a few people have suggested webbing-lined holes through which the line can run. Someone else suggested a zipper that could be opened to allow the reefing line to move freely through the cutout.

The problem I see with the zipper is that, when you need a reef, you'll have to get to the zipper; not the best time. But I'm not sure how else to get the line through the stackpack without the risk of a hockle tearing it. Perhaps a PVC tube or something, seized to the pack to act as a fairlead could work.

Another thing I'm considering is creating a sleeve for the boom and sewing it to the bottom of the stackpack, then cutting a long slot for the section where the reefing lines have to run through the bottom of the pack. It'd be a big gap, so hockles probably wouldn't hurt it. Also, my reefing lines would be contained within the boom sleeve so they wouldn't dangle.

I wish I would have thought about the reefing lines a bit more before I started sewing. If I had, I probably would have installed an aluminum track the length of the boom to which I could attach the starboard (reefing) side of the pack. This would be below the cheek blocks and allow the stack pack to contain the lines, while allowing a lines fair leads to the reef clews.

Alrighty, off to sew.

Aaron N.

Aaron Norlund

Hey all,

I broke the lift bar for my presser foot a couple of days ago and just got it fixed this morning (had to weld a part back on). I'm aiming to have my covers and stackpack done early this week; maybe Tuesday, depending on how much time I have. I don't "seam" to get sewing until after 9:00pm, so my progress seems to putter. Plus, the hardware I ordered was lost and stolen in the mail; I received an empty envelope that had been taped together with masking tape. Luckily, the seller is resending the stuff with no charge.

You can see some detail photos of the bags/stackpack. Once I'm done, I'm thinking of putting together an article to send to a few magazines (Good Old Boat, Latitudes, etc) called "Stitching for the Stingy" or "Sewing Your Own Sail Covers" or something like that. It might be fun to put together.

Sail Covers

I have made significant progress on the bags (they're nearly done; just waiting on the lost bronze clips). It's looking like I'll have three jib bags (stays'l, yankee, genoa), stackpack, three hatch covers, and my interior upholstery for under $600, including the sewing machine purchase. So I'm happy.

Aaron N.

Ken and Debra Bridger

Be careful of the stack pack not draining. A boat on my dock had one and the mildew was really bad. Stained the sail badly. Ken

Aaron Norlund

Hey all,

I have my stackpack and foredeck bags finished and installed. I do have yet to make a cover for the luff of my mainsail, to be attached to the stackpack, but I wanted to finish and install the pack before making the attachment. I'll try to get it done this week.

You can see detail photos of the sewing, as well as the installed products at:

Asia Marie Sail Covers

Thank you for your interest and support!
Aaron N.

Edward and Susan Crawford

Aaron try going to www.tendervittles.net/ he just built a stackpack and tells how he did it pretty cheaply

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