Baggywrinkle: Or what’s that fuzzy stuff on the ship?

It happens quite often. You visit a tall ships festival at a nearby harbor and on all of the ships you see these:

Exy Johnson
Brig Pilgrim

So you turn to one of the crew members and you ask, “What are those fuzzy caterpillar looking things up there?” And they smile and answer “Those are Baggywrinkle. ” (No joke, this is a pretty common question to be asked and one of my favorites)

But What Exactly is Baggywrinkle?

Baggywrinkle is a form of chafe gear that is attached to points on the ship where a sail might rub against it. The goal is to provide a soft surface that will not wear a hole through the fabric of the sail. I have most often seen it attached to the lifts that hold up a boom (example: the Spanker on the Brig Pilgrim) where the sail is going to be blown against the leeward lift.

Weathered Baggywrinkle on the Spanker lifts on the Brig Pilgrim
Weathered Baggywrinkle on the Brig Pilgrim
View from above

How it’s made

Baggrywrinkle is actually made of old rope that has been deconstructed, cut into short lengths and tied to stretched lengths of seine twine. Once it has been made, it is wrapped in a spiral around line or spar in question. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to create enough baggywrinkle to make a difference, but it is a great chance to sit and socialize with your crewmates or (if the place you are making it is open to the public) a great way to engage the public and start a conversation with them about tall ships and sailing.

Rope is first cut into short lengths and then unlaid until you are down to the individual yarns that make up the strands of the rope. We keep a large trash bag full of this baggywrinkle material around for when we start making it.
The individual yarns are tied to pieces of twine that are stretched between two posts. Note the strand in the background that has not been jammed in place yet.
The finished strands of baggywrinkle are fluffed out and then wrapped around a lift.
A completed lift with several segments of baggywrinkle applied.