Friday, April 1, 2016

Should Have Listened To Boatsmith

When I made a new front net back in 2013, I expected to get at least 5 years out of it. To my shock and horror, after only 3 years a short rip appeared on the front of the net.

Ripped under the grommet
I was mainly peed off at myself for a number of reasons - I had left the net quite loose out of laziness, which added to point loading - and because Boatsmith had messaged me to double up the number of grommet holes to spread the loads more, or the net wouldn't last. David (Boatsmith) is very generous with his time and advice on the WB & F website, but its only any good if someone is listening, right?

OK. So after all of that work there was no way I was going to throw away the net and start again. The condition of the dacron netting still seemed good, and I think that the rip was from an excessive point loading and not because the material was failing in general.

Red helping to hold the net down

So the sewing machine came out and I added a new layer each side of the PVC Shelter Rite material and sewed it full length along the front of the net (and over the rip).

The Shelter Rite is hard to sew with my 50 year old sewing machine because the presser foot slips on the smooth PVC. In the end I gave up trying to get the machine to "grip" the fabric and just shoved it through trying to keep the stitches even. As usual with my sewing it looks pretty erratic, but I think it is strong. I even added an extra row of stitches along the net side, though the benefits are probably more psychological.

I ordered in a new pile of brass grommets from Sailrite and doubled up on  the number of grommets. Then it was back on the boat and looking good.

Niiiice and tight! Favorite spot for lying in the sun.

Lastly, I took the time to get the net nice and tight. I use 1/8 dyneema and this requires quite a bit of fiddling around to get right. But it is soooo much better tight. Now when I step on the tramp, I can feel that the weight is much more evenly spread over the net, and it is much more comfortable to lie on (very important). If the net now makes it past 5 years, I'll be happy.

Update 5/17

This repair only lasted 6 months before it started to fail again, and I ended up putting my boot through the net a few months later. So, the repair didn't really work. It seems to show that once the net has failed once, the strength of the whole thing has been compromised (I guess by UV rather than wear) and needs to be replaced. I'm currently making a new net using heavier materials.


  1. It's hard when you see your hard work failing; takes the shine off the pride. I've spent two weeks paying for corners cut two years back.

    I made a tramp too and it's the grommets that are the weak points. When I need to make another I will make it with carbon rods around the perimeter, and with half-moon cut outs to all the treading.

  2. Hi Ian. Now that I've doubled up the grommets, it seems super strong.

  3. It's hard to see how the lacing would work for me without new beam holes. However, I think I might have a few more grommets than you already. What I need it some really strong grommets. The best I can get seem a little under spec'd.

  4. I get mine from Sailrite and they seem very good. They are meaty brass and I have had no problems. Can you order from Sailrite in the UK?

  5. Hi,
    I love the Littlecat.... I recently purchased a Wharram Tiki 21 and have noticed I need get on the maintenance myself. Where did you get your beams made? What are they made of? I want to do this same thing... My pulley for my jib actually started tearing up the wood and I think it has caused some wood rot from water getting in. I need to repair this and hopefully get metal beams made to avoid these problems.