Lee Cloths – Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Lee cloths seem like an easy project…a rectangle and some grommets right?  But wait,  how will the lee cloth really work to provide a restful spot during an overnight voyage?  Will it be strong enough and positioned to hold the person off watch as desired?  This blog post will give ideas on what to consider when planning an off watch sleeping berth and construction ideas.

Magnolia inherited a set of very nice canvas lee cloths.  The corners have webbing reinforcements to strengthen them as well as heavy rings as attachment points.  There is webbing on each side edge and down the middle for some stability.  While I didn’t make these, we had to reinstall the starboard settee one after the removal of a fuel tank located under the starboard settee.  The starboard lee cloth is attached in place with screws through small grommets to the base of the settee/the wood cover over the tank.  It is stored right under the settee cushion with lines ready to go.


The port side lee cloth is removable with snaps to get to the storage cubbies underneath.  It is stored in a large zipper top bag with a dryer sheet in a cubbie behind the settee back.


There are some primary considerations in your planning and design stage.  How will you attach the lee cloth? Velcro? Snaps? Screws?  Bolt rope track?  To what will you attach the line or webbing to hold it up?  Pad eyes? Overhead hand holds?  Take a look at any possible existing attachment points.  If you don’t have any, what and where can you add them?  What fabric will you use?  Canvas? Phifertex mesh?  Sail cloth?  Where do you want to attach the line and through what – rings or webbing?  What size covering works for comfort and getting in and out?  Do you want a pocket for eyeglasses or a red lens flashlight, and if so, on the inside or outside?

To hold up the top of the lee cloth, we use pad eye rings installed above the settee.  I’ve set up line on each lee cloth with clips or carabiners so that they are set to use.  When you are tired and getting off watch, just clip the lines to the pad eyes and climb in.


Here are several articles, books, and blogs that show how to make lee cloths:

Good Old Boat – November/December 2013  Recommends a small quick release tackle at one end to make it easier to adjust the top lines or get in and out.

Canvas for Cruisers – Julie Gifford’s book gives good, practical construction steps.

Morgan’s Cloud – http://www.morganscloud.com/2011/03/20/the-perfect-seaberth-2/ What goes into a good sea berth?

Cat’s Paw IV – http://annoeboat.blogspot.com/2006/05/lee-cloths.html  They used sail cloth.

Wind Traveler – http://www.windtraveler.net/2013/05/snug-as-bug-in-alee-cloth.html.  Brittany tackles a lee cloth and adds a pocket for miscellaneous items.

Stella Blue – http://www.wbryant.com/StellaBoat/Projects/canvas/leecloths/ She adds zippers to aid getting in and out.

Adagio – http://www.home.earthlink.net/~sv-adagio/AboutAdagio.html  Check out this different design shape for a lee cloth.

Tenaya – http://www.tenayatravels.com/Equipment%20Comments%202.html Clever idea to make a lee cloth for the v berth to add more space and comfort.

Honey Rider – http://wildcatsailorgirl.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html  Lee cloth made of mesh with a detachable eye-glass holder.

Cantare – http://sailingcantare.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html Interesting and unique mounting system.

Rebel Heart – http://rebelheart.squarespace.com/charlottes-blog/2011/4/7/baby-proofing-the-boat-custom-lee-cloth-part-one.html  Charlotte makes a lee cloth for the baby.

Other ideas for lee cloths?  Leave a comment.

See more pictures on the Pinterest board for Lee Cloths

2 thoughts on “Lee Cloths – Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

  1. Fascinating there seem to be as many approaches to lee cloths as there are boats! Thanks for the ideas. Our latest saloon one is different again – attached underneath the cushions using lines tied to three eyelets in the leecloth and to corresponding padeyes fixed on the wood (one at each corner and one in the middle. This enables us to move it easily for access to the lockers underneath the bunk. The other side is only fastened at either end via a line running through the length of the “top” hem through pad eyes situated behind the top of the cushions quite wide apart then tied back to eyelets in the canvas as the saloon seating is curved. Yet to be tested in heavy weather it seems quite comfy.
    In our aft cabin the lee cloth is actually a lee board of solid teak running the full length of the bunk. Known as the “passion killer” the board enables 2 people sleep in comfort beating to windward without landing on top of each other!
    One final idea from another boat I used to sail on – some bench sofas have a fiddle on the outer edge to stop the cushion sliding off which is jolly uncomfortable if you end up lying on it in the lee cloth – simply take the back cushion or deck cushions and slot them in along the lee cloth to avoid the pain.

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