Looking to upcycle sails
September 10, 2019 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Where can I purchase used / damaged / retired sails from boats or paragliding, kite surfing, etc? I am looking to upcycle and create some customs bags for my customers. I know there are companies like mafiabags who already make such bags but none are appropriate for my business. Also, what should I expect to pay?

I was going to purchase new Dyneema and other materials but upcycling seems like a much smarter way to do this.

I'm in Toronto, Canada, but am fine shipping them in. Coincidentally, I will be catsitting on Kite Beach in the Dominican for October and am wondering if there's anyplace there I could approach?

posted by dobbs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does Seabags in Portland, Maine, have a better selection? I don't know where they find sail material.
posted by theora55 at 8:21 AM on September 10, 2019

There are a fair few marine sail repair places down by the lake in Toronto (east and west of the city) why not just call them and ask what they do with the unrepairable sails or off cuts? That would seem an obvious first step to me.
posted by Brockles at 8:39 AM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

You could contact sailing clubs in your area. I know our club has recently offered members the opportunity to donate old sails to a non-profit, but I'm sure some people would be willing to sell them. And plenty of these guys have an old set (or several) laying around somewhere.

The price would really depend on the condition and type. A nice set of sails for a small boat can anywhere from $500 to a couple grand brand new. But at the point you've decided to pay for a new set anyway, any money you can recoup from selling the old ones would be nice.
posted by thejanna at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2019

Hang Glider wings are called 'sails'. The sail construction and material is the same as used on small sailboats. Sails wear out, especially on training gliders. Google shows several hang gliding operations in and around Toronto. They could be a source, or they could point you to pilot forums. Older 'single surface' beginner gliders are close to worthless because of advances in design have made for better and safer gliders. Odds are somebody on a local pilot forum knows who has an old glider that hasn't been used in years.

If there are no local forums, I'd try a wanted ad on http://www.hanggliding.org/classifieds/ or http://ozreport.com/freeClassifieds.php
posted by Homer42 at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Often, the way that people get used sails as donations is to offer a credit for a newly (re)made item from the store. Sometimes mail-in, but often more useful to go to regatta's to pick up.

I would look at what regattas are held in the toronto area yacht clubs this fall and see if they'd be willing to include a notice that people can bring sails for recycling , and get a voucher for a free bag.
posted by mercredi at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I donated a couple sails to Seabags and got a couple of very nice bags in return. They solicit donations through yacht clubs and sail racing organizations. The local organization collects the used sails and Seabags picks them up.

The typical sailboat owner uses his sails until there is not much left of value. Sailboat racers get new sails much more often, and the cloth in their discarded sails may still have a bit of life to it. A lot of racing sails are weird plastic laminates, however, which might not be what you want in a tote.

There are also active markets in used sails to be used as sails.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:15 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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