Have you ever wondered how they make those giant sails on sailboats? No, I hadn’t either, until I heard a recent conversation about a sail manufacturer, Schurr Sails, in Pensacola. Knowing that Bob and I would be staying in Pensacola for part of our vacation, I put a visit to Schurr Sails on our itinerary.
Schurr Sails is owned and operated by Hunter Riddle and his wife, who bought the business from Alfred Schurr in 1998.The business is located in a quiet part of Pensacola, on L Street. It consists primarily of one very large room with a super large floor area. The floor is varnished every year so the sails glide over the floor easily. The floor is pockmarked with ice picks that hold a sail to the floor when necessary.
The most fascinating aspect of the process is the way the ladies sew the sails from inside a depressed “pit.” The sewing machine is flush with the floor, so the sail can spread out over the floor. Gina has been sewing sails for 30 years. Here, she sits in one of four pits and sews some large banners for the city.
Gina’s sister Sue also works at Schurr Sails. She’s been in the business since 1974.
The Riddle’s son Derek helps out by “plotting” the sails. Using the assistance of a computer, he draws diagrams of the sails and makes templates for the material, most often Dacron.
The company makes approximately 100 sails a year. They also do sail repairs. For more information, see their website here.