Sail Tent




Introduction: Sail Tent

About: I make and create anything that comes to my mind from skateboard hooks to garden rooms. And I footle around with electronics and instruments at night....and I have a passion for reducing waste packaging by mak…

Summer is here and it is time for camping.

Here is an easy bivy tent made from an old sail...

...perfect for festivals, campsite or the garden.

A bivy tent is a basic tent shelter, often a light weight tarp tied between poles or trees.

Step 1: Get It Together!


An old sail, I used a Jib sail, the smaller front one!

10 Metal fencing stakes

Braid on Braid marine rope for splicing, about 12m for the tent guys + 8m for the additional sun shade guys

An adjustable paint roller handle

Bolt + nut to go in the end of the paint roller handle

Waterproofer, I used fabsil universal silicone waterproofer

Strong sewing thread

Ripstop fabric strips

A scrap length of timber

Silicone mastic

Lump hammer for driving in the stakes

Large tough bag for storing


Fid for splicing

Heavy weight sewing needle/machine


Angle grinder/hacksaw


Some general wood working tools


The rope and Fid are available from a great company called Rope Locker, they are local to me though are a small internet based company, super helpful and hold a great range of product.

I have no connection to Rope Locker except I am a happy customer and I really like what they do.

Step 2: Cut Up Your Sail

This tent is super simple, just a single layer of sailcloth, and so it may be a little draughty and a small amount of water may seep in in heavy rain. This is why it is a bivy tent. Having slept in it at a wet and windy mountain bike festival, I slept really well and was no more damp than our family tent...and so much more funky!

Lay out the sail

Fold the sail into a tent shape, you may need someone else to hold one side to do this.

The sail I used had some large eyelet holes and I was able to use these for the end pole stakes to poke through

Mark and cut the top section off.

Step 3: The Doors

Work out the sizes of the triangular door openings to both ends.

Cut out the two triangles from the off cut sail.

I made sure that they had the sail numbers on them for that cool image.

Sew the door triangle to the main tent sail along the bottom edge of the door panel.

Sail cloth is tough and a strong needle and thread is required.

Sew on some ripstop fabric strips up both sides of the doors to tie shut the doors with simple bows, I like the fact that they are like the tail tale tabs from a sail.

Step 4: Get Some Guys!

The end poles are metal fence stakes, the tent hooks over the top through the eyelets.

If your tent doesn't have eyelets, then your local chandeliers should have a kit.

Hammer them into the ground to work out the height and mark the distance with a shallow marking cut at ground level. This helps for erecting the tent in the future.

Whilst you have the angle grinder out, cut the rest of the fence stakes to a shorter length to make beefy tent pegs.

The sail I used came with two large metal rings which fitted perfectly over the top of the metal stakes.

Attach the marine rope to the ring, two per ring to make one set of guys for each end.

I decided to splice the rope around the rings as it looks great and I wanted to learn a new skill.

Check out this YouTube tutorial to learn how to do it, it taught me all I needed to know.

Alternatively you could just tie a bight [loop] half way along the rope and hook it over the top of the stake.

Tie thinner guys to the sails eyelets as needed.

Sailcloth is not waterproof, it is a tightly woven fabric and so will shed water. To improve the fabric apply by brush a waterproofer.

Go around the tent and add silicone mastic to any eyelets that you don't require.

In use I always put down thick plastic under the tent to stop ground water coming up into the tent. I do this for all our tents as I have yet to find a groundsheet that is waterproof.

Step 5: Pitch the Tent

Get out into the great outdoors and pitch your funky tent.

Lay it out flat.

Hammer in the two end stakes.

Hook the sail over the stakes.

Hammer in the tent pegs and tie off the guy ropes.

Peg out the tent base.

Support the mid way point of the tent...

...cut a length of square timber to fit inside the tent against one wall of the tent, cut a notch in it so the paint roller handle will fit against the other tent wall. The bolt on the end of the handle pokes through a small eyelet in the apex of the tent.

All ready for a good nights rest.

Step 6: Sun Canopy

This tent is great in the day too...

Un-peg the side of the tent and use an adjustable [telescopic] paint roller handle to make a long tent pole.

Add a bolt to the end of the pole [removable so that the handle can be used to paint a ceiling!] so that it can poke through one of the sail eyelets.

Attach some more guy ropes and peg out...

Now you have the perfect place to chill out on those sunny days.

This project is part of my YouTube series where I try to make cool and interesting things out of the stuff that we throw away. Please check out my channel if you want to see more of the projects, if not there will be more coming to Instructables.
Why not check out what I am up to with

And also catch me on Facebook + Twitter

Summer Fun Contest 2016

Participated in the
Summer Fun Contest 2016

Trash to Treasure Challenge

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Challenge

Outside Contest 2016

Participated in the
Outside Contest 2016

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    This is a great layout. It looks easy to follow!


    4 years ago

    looks pretty cool! I plan on checking out your YouTube channel


    Reply 4 years ago

    Hey thanks Jam - More YouTube videos and Instructables to come as just returned from the Arctic with 'found' stuff.