Looking after sails Page 2

Dacron is a tough, long-lasting cloth that has only two real enemies—sunlight and chafe. There is not a lot you can do to ward off the effects of ultraviolet light except to make sure the mainsail cover is always in place when you’re not using the boat and to check that the sacrificial strip on the leech and foot of a roller genoa is in good condition.Chafe is another matter. It likes to
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
batten_pockets_ends
turnbuckle_covers

It’s a good idea to place full-length plastic rollers on shrouds that come into contact with sails. Dyform rigging wire, with its sharp corners, is especially hard on stitching and sailcloth. Some long-distance cruisers place lengths of split plastic tubing over the shrouds for downwind passages and remove them when they get to their destination. Another bluewater dodge to avoid chafe is to slide plastic hose over reefing lines where they pass over the folds of the reefed sail; this verges on overkill for the average coastal cruiser.

Other lines that can cause chafe over the long term are lazyjacks and the topping lift, which both tend to rub across the proud stitching on the seams. You can go some way toward preventing this by rigging the lazyjacks so that they can be taken forward to the mast while under sail, and by adjusting the topping lift so that it doesn’t rub against the sail.

A headsail suffers a little damage each time it is tacked. As it’s dragged from one side of the boat to the other, it chafes against the shrouds, spreaders, mast, or babystay. As with the mainsail, any part that stands clear of the sailcloth is vulnerable, especially the stitching. The parts of the sail that come into contact with the rig should be checked during the season, so it will pay to drop the genoa on deck once in a while and examine the stitching along the leech.

Damage limitation is simple enough. Make sure the sail has chafe patches where it bears against the spreader tips and along its foot where it passes over the pulpit or lifelines. Spreader tips can be covered with inexpensive plastic caps from chandlers, or you can go all salty and make up some leather protectors.

Go around the foredeck and tape up all cotter pins and anything else that can tear or snag the sail. The forward lifeline turnbuckles can be completely taped up so they don’t chafe or bleed grease onto the sail. Either tape up the cotter pins on the shroud turnbuckles or install plastic covers (make sure covers are loose enough not to trap dirt and water inside).

Sail Care Under Way

cruising_sail_patches

Many drivers develop a sense of mechanical sympathy—they come to recognize the sounds an engine makes when it’s being over-revved or is in too high a gear for the speed. The ability to empathize with sails is not so easily acquired, which is one reason why sailmakers will never be short of repair business.

Step one is to not let the sails flog. Flogging is bad news, because it breaks down the filler that is put into the sailcloth to stabilize the weave and stop it from stretching. Once this is gone, so is the sail’s ability to retain its shape. This will happen over a period of years in any case, but there is no reason to speed up the process.

On short-batten mainsails, the cloth immediately in front of the batten pockets is usually the first to suffer the effects of flogging, which results in a noticeable “hinge” effect. Eventually the dacron fibers will break down. Full-batten mainsails are much better in this regard. When you’re reefing the main, rather than dumping the sheet altogether and letting the sail flog madly, try to spill just enough wind to take the weight out of it so you can drag the luff down easily.

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more