Ask Sail: Time for New Sails

Author:
Publish date:

TIME FOR NEW SAILS?

Q: I have had the same Dacron sails on my boat for five years, and the previous owner had them for a number of years before that. I know that they are getting old, but how do I know when it’s time to replace them?

Pat Chandler, Chardin, OH

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

I like to say that you should measure the life of a sail by how long it has a decent shape, not just by how long it holds together. That’s definitely true for racing sailors or anyone looking for good performance out of their sails. For cruisers just putting around sail shape is not as important, but all sailors should remember that good equipment upkeep on a sailboat is always good seamanship. You don’t want to blowup your mainsail on a lee shore, for example. I would suggest giving your sails a close inspection. Start by checking out the seams. That’s usually where sails come apart. Look for chafed or missing stitches. You can also do a fairly basic test on the fabric itself. What usually happens is that the fabric becomes brittle from UV degradation. Take an awl and poke it through the fabric. Don’t worry, a small hole in the middle of the panel in the middle of the sail is not going to be a problem. Now try and pull it sideways. If the fabric rips, get rid of the sail right away. It’s done. If the yarns arrest the awl and the fabric doesn’t rip then the fabric is probably in fairly decent shape.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

August 2017

Related

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A Helping Hand  This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more

shutterstock_698968441

Cruising: The Bahamas

“The ‘Explorer’ chartbooks. All three.” “An unlocked phone. But good luck with BTC.” “Spam. It’s ‘spensive there!” These were just a few suggestions we received from fellow sailors who had cruised the Bahamas when we asked how to best prepare for the trip. In fact, several ...read more

windsensor

Gear: B&G Wind Sensors

Sense the Wind B&G has launched a new line of wind sensors, including the WS320, a wireless system that is suitable for masts up to 80ft. Wireless wind sensor technology has been hit-and-miss, with some users reporting intermittent signal failure on tall rigs, but B&G, citing ...read more