Force 10 Sailmaking and Rigging is a small family business on Marrowstone Island in Puget Sound, Washington State.
“The small loft that does big things”
We make exclusively traditional sails. Although we occasionally do a small boat sail, 90% of our work over the years has been for Tall Ships. We are 100% dedicated to preservation of the craft of traditional sailmaking and rigging. It is not about the money, it is about the art, science, and craftsmanship of traditional sailmaking which leads to deeply satisfying lifestyle.
We are one of the few remaining family-run traditional lofts in the country, if not the world. In an age of computer design, cutting tables and overseas production; we still do full on-the-floor lofting and cutting, our own design, always with soft cloths, and a maximum amount of handwork (hand-sewn rings, hand roping, custom hand-worked corners, etc.). We love to teach apprentices and go work on-site at the ship’s homeport with their crew. In over 25 years of business we have never advertised and gain our work mainly by word-of-mouth.
About the Family
Wayne, born and raised just north of Mystic in Norwich, Ct, began sailing Tall Ships in 1978 aboard the Schooner Westward, then went on to the Mystic schooners Voyager, Argia, and Charlotte Ann. From the start his interest lay in sailmaking and rigging. For several years he studied books, talked to sailmakers, and stumbled through building a few sails while on board.
Our big leap came in 1983. While sailing aboard the Brigantine Eye of the Wind in the South Pacific Wayne met George McNiell. “Having just made 4 stunsails and a ‘jimmie greenwater, I was laying out a main t’gallant on the deck, scratching my head about the draft. This guy walked up and said, ‘If I were you, I’d do this, and then that… etc.’ It was George Mc Niell, last of the great Australian handworkers.”
The Eye of the Wind needed a full set of new squares and George agreed to teach Wayne and his wife Nicole traditional sailmaking in his Sydney loft; while they made the sails at night the loft churned out modern sails by day.
This next led to them doing a full suit of sails on our own for the Tops’l Schooner Solway Lass in an abandoned warehouse on the Sydney, Australia docks. During this time George was always available for advice.
Nicole and Wayne operated for a while as a mobile loft that would fly anywhere in the world and set up sailmaking, always big jobs for Tall Ships. In 1987 they were called to Seattle to do all the rigging and sails for the newly constructed Tole Mour. A year later they bought land on Marrowstone and built a shop and loft next to our house. Force 10 “came ashore”… sort of.
Over the years they still pack the gear into boxes and move onto site when necessary. Most recently in 2004 they set up shop in Brunswick, Georgia for the rigging and full suit of sails (17) for the 400-ton Barquentine Avany (now Peacemaker). This was accomplished with a group of previously inexperienced, but enthusiastic crew.
Their daughter Nahja has been in the sailoft since she could crawl, working her way up from small tasks when she could first use a needle, to taking over from her mother, Nicole, when she retired. Growing up in a sailing family, she had her first four birthdays on board the Tole Mour in the Marshall Islands. She has lived much of her life on and around tall ships and smaller traditional craft. Force 10 could have been called “Chimenti and Daughter”, then Nicole retired in 2012. Now Force 10 Sails could be called “Chimenti and the Old Man”. Both Wayne and Nahja help teach the traditional sailmaking and rigging class at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.