Sail Lofts and All About Sails
Sounds pretty simple, get a broom pole, a couple of bed sheets, some
line and there you go. Don't we wish! Those of us who have
raced know the annual battle we have with ourselves (and sometimes our
partners, crew and significant other) about getting new sails this year
or can we get by another season with the old ones? Depends on
whether we want to win or not! A good set of racing sails is
important, how they are made, the shape, depth, batten or full
batten. But so is knowing how to trim and what sail to use under the
particular situation. And don't forget cruising sails.
Sturdy and made to hold their shape through the longest cruise, does a
happy trip make....
sails are the work horse of your boat and, like a horse, will
perform better and last longer with a little attention.
Some of the elements detrimental to the shape and material of
your sails include Sun, Flogging, Moisture & Salt, Reefing,
Chaff and Bad Storage practices.
EXPOSURE: That's what sail covers are for!
FLOGGING: We've all experienced the monotonous flop, flop,
flop of sails when there is no wind. We know this isn't
good for the sails, the material is stretched and worn as the
battens rub against it in their pockets and sometimes the sail
will rub against either the backstay or the shrouds.
During a race, this is the cost of competition. But did
you know that the same damage can be done to a main when
powering. Keep your racing main for the races, and if
having to motor any distance, use the back up. It's
probably already seen it's day.
MOISTURE & SALT: Unless you're
sailing in the rain, rinse off your sails and let them dry
before you put them away. And that includes the
furler. Salt crystals will act as sand paper on your sails
and tend to attract moisture (remember the seat of your pants
once they get wet with salt water, YIKES) And mold will
grow on sails, weakening the material and looking really bad if
put away wet!
REEFING: Sloppy reefing can occur for a number
of reasons. The only acceptable one is that is the only
way you can get a reef in! Make sure the clew is tensioned
out and tie the inside points loosely as they are not intended
to be stress points.
CHAFF: That little pin that gives you a boat bite will do
a lot of damage to your sail and so will repeated tacking
against the wire of your shrouds. Consider chafe patches
and plastic shroud covers. And wrap any turnbuckles, pins
and rings with tape. Spreader boots will protect the top
of your sails. Do a "bite" check occasionally
(women tend to find them easier than men).
STORAGE: If you live in a place
where you winterize your boat or if you take your racing sails
off the boat, be sure that they are either flaked or rolled
properly. Mains are best rolled. Even if you keep
your sails on your boat, check for visitors, nothing like
putting up the main and having a nest, baby birds and an irate
mother bird flying out of your sails. And we've heard
stories that mice and other little creatures love to play maze
with home stored sails. And again, make sure they are salt
free and dry.
AND check your sails occasionally for rips and wear and get them
repaired as soon as you can. Little tears can escalate
into huge rips at the least opportune time.
Sails We invite you to take advantage of the
expertise you'll find in our worldwide network of sail lofts, each
locally-owned and operated by master sailmakers. They're ready to help
you reach your sailing goal.
|Sail & Canvas
|One of the most important items on your sailboat is its sails. Sailmakers are acutely aware of the cost of sails as part of the total
investment and operating costs of a sailboat. Just like changing the oil regularly to protect the engine, regular sail cleanings are just
as important to the life of "the other engine" on your boat, even though sails represent a far more significant share of the total
investment and life cycle cost of the boat. The Sail
Cleaners, 4910 N.E. 11th Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334 (954) 491-3327