The History of Canvas Sails

It’s no mystery that the basic element of “real sailing” is the sail.sails, canvas, boat cover, custom

All vessels have decks, and rudders and you can “sail” with outboard or inboard engines, just oars and paddles; but what identifies a true “sailboat“ are the sheets of white canvas “sheets” that can be seen from distances. Regardless of what you “sail” in; what make a sailboat a sailboat is its sails. Even after centuries of sailing, modern sailboats function fundamentally the same as they did in for the Nina, Pinto, and the Santa Maria.

Canvas is a heavy, closely woven fabric used for making sails, tents, covers, awnings and other functions where sturdiness and resilience is a major requirement. Oddly, the word ‘canvas’ is derived from the Arabic word for “cannabis”, and certainly sailing certainly give one a “high”; but in reality “canvas” but it is merely a be Latin word meaning “hemp”, which was used to make canvas. Today modern sails are made out of synthetic materials, generally known as “sailcloth”. The Saracens and Moors brought cotton from North Africa to Europe in the eight century, and eventually cotton was made into cloth for the sails of ships In Barcelona and Venice, and cotton canvas sails was quickly adapted by boat builders throughout Europe.

The oldest American company to make sails was J. E. Rhoads & Sons, was founded in 1705, which started making canvas conveyor belts for water mills. The company is still in business today, as “sturdy as canvas”, you might say.

But canvas is not just used for sails. The same qualities that can keep a sailboat able to deal with wind and weather while on the water also protects any size and type of boat when moored. CMC Canvas LLC specializes in protective canvas covering for all types and sizes of boats.