A nylon piece of webbing.

How to Sew Reefing Dog Bones

“Dog Bones?   We make them ourselves!” So says Professor Williams.  

A “dog bone” in this context is a helper ring assembly that allows one to reef his sloop’s mainsail in the event the placement of a reefing cringle combined with the sail slides prevent the cringle from being attached to the reefing horn at the base of the mast. 

I’ve had “prototype” dog bones fashioned from dyneema line for a couple of seasons.  They look like this: 

I had to adjust (lengthen) them after I installed the Tides Marine Sail Track System.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).  

I had wanted to fashion a more permanent version out of nylon webbing for some time, and now that I have had my sewing machine set up, I figured I would knock out another quick sewing project.  

If one wants to fabricate dog bones, there are plenty of options.  My little dyneema ropes with quick knots worked just fine and were lightweight.  Another option would be to use nylon webbing and sew the webbing with a sailor’s palm and some strong thread or even whipping twine.  The option I followed was to bring the sail home and mechanically sew the webbing together.  

I have found that the best time to turn one’s dining room into a sail loft is while the admiral is at work and the kids are at school.   I measured: 

I designed and considered different options: 

The end result?  Here’s a nice tidy one with white thread on white strap: 

It looks nice, but it’s tough to see how much stitching is present and was difficult to see the thread during the fabrication process.   Sailrite, of course, has a video about how to do this sort of strap sewing: 

After performing the calculations, I decided that a metric truckload of stitches would be in order.  Please under no circumstances put in an imperial/SAE truckload of stitches.  Always use a metric truckload.  

So, about that first dog bone.  The great/terrible thing about it is that you can’t see the stitching.  But you know, I’m on my third sewing project.  Perhaps I should use some contrast stitching to be able to see what is going on.  Well, the great/terrible thing is that you can see what is going on on my second dog bone:

It’s not “pretty” in the attractive senese.  I think it will be very functional.  

The chorus of Jimmy Soul’s 1963 classic, “If You Wanna Be Happy” is: 

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life

Never make a pretty woman your wife

So for my personal point of view

Get an ugly girl to marry you

I have crafted the Jimmy Soul contrast-stitching version of  a dog bone.  It’s ugly, but I think it will stand by me.