I just had to take some pictures of what we have been playing with.  Still early days, but these bags have been out and about and we have already had some positive feedback.  Logos are arriving this week so expect to see some glossy pictures later this week or next week.     We have also looked at the ‘festival trolley’.  A great piece of luggage for carrying your kit to the Isle of Wight festival or the isle of Wight Bestival.  We of course support sensible drinking, but just imagine how much drink and food you can get in one of these – and still look good!!

Anyway, much, much more to come.   The website will be finished this week (won’t it John:)).  I will introduce John when the website goes live, but he is a bit of a guru and I am lucky to have his support so I will be shamelessly plugging his talents along the way.

I also need to thank Paul Newell Sailmaker and Medina Sailcare of Cowes who are big supporters of Wightsails and have provided material that would have otherwise been thrown away.  I have had a chance to look at these businesses and I can say that if I needed a new sail making I would not hesitate to visit one of these sail lofts.  Great guys and great sails.  Thanks !

More experimenting and I must say I like these.  I showed them to the very nice lady from the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce and she wanted one.   Still working on designs, but edging closer to a range of bags and windbreaks, but if you are reading and have a design in mind, we can make it.  In fact, we can make anything :)  ’A royal we’ !!

Wooden poles that is!  Taken from a mighty oak that was blown down in gales recently, we have sourced from our good friends at whitefield wood yard,  a few poles for our windbreaks.

Whitefield woodyard  are a great company with an ethos similar to Wightsails.  All their wood is sourced locally from fallen trees and sustainable managed forests and they are based on the Isle of Wight so we are also supporting local business in our own little way.

The oak is of course a strong wood that should last a lifetime.  It may bend a little, but we are hoping this will only add character to our windbreaks.

We will be machining these ourselves and not using metal tips, which tend to fall off and in any event are hardly eco friendly.    So whilst some of our competitors promise a windbreak made out of recycled products most of them are using wood that may lead to the increase in the destruction of forests and creating ‘new’ products in the form of metal tips.   I am hoping all our products will be 100% recyled material, right down to the cotton (although the cotton is proving tricky at the moment).

Watch out for more hilarous pictures of me trying to make a square pole round (ish).

Still early days, but here we are working on some early design windbreaks and I must say they look rather good.   The poles are not the oak ones I mentioned, just cheap ones taken from a Chinese made windbreak.

The strange looking orb is a solar lamp that is ugly but effective.






Note the attractive looking beach scene with accompanying greenhouse :)

This is not our first product, but it is the first sail cloth we have sewn together and made anything from that is usable.

I needed a dinghy cover and we had some very old sails that we thought we could experiment on.   It was so good I thought I would try and spray paint a quick logo on it so all at the dinghy park would be able to see.    All a bit of fun, but it has taught us a few things already.   It is down at the Folly Dinghy Park, on the Medina river, Isle of Wight.  Incidentally, the Folly Inn (pub next door) is one of the best pubs on the Island and can be access by boat or by land.

We have a new machine and what a beauty she is?   I never used to be into sewing machines, but this one really is the business.  It is purpose built for sail making, making easy work on the thicker sails.  I have mended a few sails in my time and have used some of the large sail loft machines which was, quite frankly, scary, but even a complete novice like me can use this machine (not that I will be allowed to!).

Marcia loves this machine and it is now a new member of the family.  Her old Toshiba machine is still going strong and I see a day when we have a whole range of machines (lucky us).

Anyway, back to cutting and sewing sails.

For the sewing machine nerds out there, some tech spec:

  • Shuttle: oscillating (cam & rocker arm driven)
  • Power: 1/10th hp, 110 volt, AC motor, 1.5 amp
  • Max. sewing speed per min: 600 stitches
  • Max. straight stitch length: 6mm
  • Max zigzag width: 5mm
  • Needle bar stroke: 34mm
  • Bed: 14 1/2” x 7” Underarm: 7” x 4.5”
  • Thread take-up lever: link type
  • Instrument Quality Case: 21 3/8” W, 14 1/4” H, 10 3/4” D
  • Carrying weight: 44 lbs.
  • Seth Godin is a marketing guru and I (along with many others) have followed much of his advice throughout my journey.

    I want to pick up on one of his marketing ideas in respect of wightsails marketing strategy and that is simply if you can find 10 people who trust you/respect you/need you/ listen to you… then those ten people love what we sell, we are in with a shout.  They will tell ten more and they tell 10 more and this is an old scenario many of us are familiar with.

    Seth goes on to say that we no longer market to the anonymous masses, you can only market to those who are willing participants.

    ‘…The timing means that the idea of a ‘launch’ and press releases and the big unveiling is nuts. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. Organize for it and spend money appropriately. The fact is, the curve of money spent (big hump, then it tails off) is precisely backwards to what you actually need.

    Three years from now, this advice will be so common as to be boring. Today, it’s almost certainly the opposite of what you’re doing…’

    Seth wrote this one year ago!

    It was a lovely day to start chopping up sails.   We pulled out the old machine and begun experimenting with the poorest sails.   But what to make?  We decided to start small and make a dinghy cover :)    I actually needed one and it would also act as a good advertisement down at the dinghy park.   Just a one off as an experimental product because as we began we realised the amount of sail cloth needed to build what is a very large sail cloth sleeping bag.

    I am loving this and it makes a change from trying to stow a huge sail whilst being lashed by sea and having cold sea water trickle down your neck.

    Lessons already learnt?!   We need a new machine (we sort of guessed this anyway), we need a nice high table, we are getting to love sails (weirdos), and we believe we have a knack for this :)    Pictures to follow as now complete and on the dinghy, just waiting for another sunny day.

    Sails have started to roll in from only a couple of locally placed adverts – people love the idea and I have been to see many people to hear the story of their sails.  They all have a story which makes each product derived from these sails even more unique. continue reading…

    Cleaning sails

    1 comment

    Now this is a challenge.

    If you know anything about sailing and sails the general advice is if you have to clean your sail (and this is really only if you have to) then use a brush and some warm soapy water.  Anything else will destroy the sail and they are precious.  But we want to chop them up and make them nice and bright.  yes, we considered industrial bleach and other chemicals, but this somehow doesn’t ring true to a recycling company.

    I must confess that we did try some hard strength chemicals, but what actually worked best in the end?  lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda!  Brilliant.  Not exactly slick manufacturing process, but we are not about that.