(Editor’s note: In our October issue, we presented the first part of an interview with Charles “Butch” Ulmer (“75 Years of UK Sailmakers’). The article, which can be found at windcheckmagazine.com/article/75-years-of-uk-sailmakers/, contained a bit of erroneous information on the subject of accidental puncture wounds sustained by sail loft handworkers.
First, thank you for making me a household name in the Long Island Sound sailing world. I’ve never gotten so much press.
Second, somewhere in our conversations about the sail making of yesteryear, we got our signals crossed because the sailmaker’s palm is worn on the right hand. There is a whole story about how the palm is used but for the purposes of this article, I suggest we just correct what was said.
Here are a couple of photos that may help clear things up in your mind. First a photo of the palm itself with a big hole for the four fingers and the one hole for the thumb of the right hand. You can also see the metal thimble used to push the needle.
Second, when being used, the needle was held by the thumb and forefinger of the right hand (as shown in the second photo) with the back end of the needle seated in the thimble. Once the needle was stuck into the correct spot on the sail, the sailmaker’s wrist was flexed to push the needle through the material.
After the needle was through the sail, the needle was grasped again in the fingers of the right hand and the right arm was extended to pull the waxed twine through the sail. The left hand was sometimes used to pull the twine tight. I should have done a better job of expelling this.
You’ll find Part 2 of this interview on page 35.
Correction: In our October edition, the boat pictured on page 13 in the “From the Herreshoff Archives” feature was incorrectly identified. She is in fact Resolute, the last America’s Cup defender to be designed and built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, RI.