Sail care

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  • 30 Aug 2012 17:25
    Reply # 1060679 on 1045154
    I think your approach is eminently sensible, Graham. Your sail, of black Odyssey with PTFE stitching and black webbing, isn't going to deteriorate in the sun, but ought to be kept clean.
    My plan is similar:
    • Only take the sail off for repairs that I can't do in situ.
    • Put a sailcover on if I'm staying somewhere for more than a week, or if I'm in a dusty harbour with gulls around.
    • In open roadsteads, leave the cover off in  case I have to put to sea.
    Extreme cold won't do any damage, but a temperate cool and damp climate will encourage mildew - how many abandoned boats do we see around with the decks, ropes and canvas work all covered with green growth?
    In Australia, the swallows were for ever trying to get inside the sail to nest, cover or no. I've no answer to that, except to go sailing.
  • 30 Aug 2012 12:18
    Reply # 1060393 on 1045154
    It seems there are two issues here.  One, do you put a sail cover on the sail, and two, do you unbend the sail when laying the boat up?  

    I have no experience with snow - saw it once far away on the top of Mt Lewis in NZ - so cannot say what damage extreme cold and wetness can do to a synthetic sail (not much I would have thought?), though I suspect ultraviolet degradation may still be an issue (depleted ozone near the poles?).  Perhaps it is more a question of keeping the sail clean and dry, which is fair enough - but like Annie I am tempted not to have a cover.  Arion's Oddyssey 111 sail has been exposed to the intense tropical sun for the last 8 months and the sailcloth itself seems to be entirely unaffected.  Birdshit is another matter, in particular since my sail is black!  I am a bit concerned though about the black nylon webbing used for boltropes and sheetlet attachment loops, which have faded to grey in some places.  I also wonder how the Goretex type stitching will withstand ultraviolet degradation, even though it is used for sunshades and is supposed to have a 10 year guarantee.  One side of me wants to cover the sail and protect it and one side says let it be and see how it fares in the interest of science.  I will probably compromise, make a simple cover that I put on when spending long periods moored in a safe port but leave it off when I am making coastal passages where I get underway every day or three, especially since I then tend to lie in open roadsteads much of the time.

    Taking the sail off when you lay the boat up every year seems like a lot of work to me.  I took my sail off 5 times in 2 months last year during teething troubles and I am not too keen to do it again any time soon!  I'd only take it off if I needed to repair it.  Even if there was the likelihood of hurricane strength winds I would just lower the furled bundle to the deck and lash it down rather than unbend it.  To that end (given that I have weathered 5 cyclones in the last decade)  I have made my topping lifts and mast lift adjustable even though I usually just leave the sail sitting in its lifts.
    Last modified: 30 Aug 2012 12:21 | Anonymous member
  • 19 Aug 2012 02:45
    Reply # 1050606 on 1045154
    Deleted user
    Thanks!  I should then just learn how to clean any mildew that may collect.  Any suggestions?  

    We already have learned how to clean off wasp nest mud (or hornets, can't ever get that straight.  Whatever they are, they are 2" long airborne stinging machines here that can make small clay nests overnight, inside sail covers and folds of sails.  
  • 17 Aug 2012 18:13
    Reply # 1049864 on 1045154


    I did burn some holes with a solder iron, but I figure that in a tropical rainshower/ storm, anything will be unadequate. Arne made a cover for broremann that does not have a bottom. Any amount of water will escape from that.


  • 17 Aug 2012 16:46
    Reply # 1049822 on 1045154
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

                                                                               Stavanger, Friday

    I usually get things right after having gotten it wrong 2-3 times first. So it is with sail care. Neither Malena’s sail (1994-2011) nor Johanna’s (2002- ) have ever seen a sail cover.

    Even though UV radiation is not our worst problem in rainy Stavanger at 59°N, it still appeared that the top panels of Malena suffered from some sunrot plus, in the later years, neglect to secure the sail from flogging in the wind.

    The other problem with our sails is of aesthetic character. The sail gets very mouldy, in particular on the coated side. This side is quite a bit sticky so collects dirt which again attracts moisture.

    Today I was on board Samson and we fiddled with the sheets of the foresail. I then noticed that this sail (2000) also was covered with black spots, this despite the use of good sail covers. I therefore now put much of the blame of the look of Johanna’s and Malena’s sails on that blue coated nylon.

    The new, white sail of Edmond Dantes is of Odyssey III, a coated polyester cloth. This coating is not sticky at all and the maker says it has some resistance against mildew. They may well be right.

    On Broremann’s little sail from uncoated nylon I now put on the sail cover after each sailing trip. It’s too early to say after only 3 seasons, but the sail still looks spotless and like new.


    Last modified: 17 Aug 2012 19:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 17 Aug 2012 15:25
    Reply # 1049751 on 1045154
    Deleted user
    It seems more are concerned with UV damage than water...a question Ketil:  I like your sail covers/catchers.  Are there drain ports for water to escape out the bottom?  We have hurricanes here and there and our thunderstorms seem to get water into my sail covers, although mine are low-tech tarps from Home Depot and bungee cords.... picture here
  • 16 Aug 2012 15:14
    Reply # 1048868 on 1045154


    And thank you Roy. I am not any good with this electronic thingy. Sending a picture will be in a resolution that will take a day on a slow connection as I dont know how to "shrink" a photograph. Mind you, I was running a photoshop for 25 years, but when I saw the ghost of electronics apearing in the horizon, I took the money and ran. Needless to say, most of my colleagues went bust.




  • 16 Aug 2012 07:34
    Reply # 1048514 on 1045154
    Ketil's article, complete with photos, is in Newsletter 53, August 2009, pages 18 & 19.  Found this via David's Index in the 'JRA Magazines and Newsletters' section, then doing a 'Find On This Page' search for "Ketil".  The newsletter can then be downloaded from the website.  As I keep pdf copies of the newletters on my netbook, and on my home computer, I can look things up immediately.  Of course bandwidth is not an issue for me yet!
  • 16 Aug 2012 06:28
    Reply # 1048431 on 1045154
    Deleted user
    Ketil, Is there any chance of a photograph of your sailcovers?  Apologies if there's already one - our slooooooooow connection means I can't easily access the photographs that are on the site.

  • 15 Aug 2012 15:42
    Reply # 1047697 on 1045154


    There is a desciption and photos in one of the Newsletters a few years back, but it is rather simple: make a sailcatcher, hanging from the Lazy jacks. To get it behave right I used large and long sailbattens sewn in at the upper edges. To protect your sail you have to make a cover. In front of the mast it is like a bag to be put over the sailbattens and sail. I made an opening for the mast lift, rear of the mast I made it to go around the sail, with the opening downwards. I use welcro to shut and fasten the cover to the sailcatcher. The rest of the cover is more like a lid to lay over the sailcatcher, with an opening for the Halyard. The Halyard opening is raised so I can shut it and make it almost watertight. I do not fancy getting wet when hoisting the sail, but the main thing is sun protection. I made the sailcatcher first, to see that it really worked the way I wanted. I had the uppersides welcroed and ready for the "lid". Second I took the no. 1 genoa and made a template for the cover, (you can use a plastic piece, of course). It is a bit of fiddeling and cutting, but as you say, doing it right, you only have to do it once. Having made a lot of bits and bobs in my life, I say that you only have to make it right the last time. Dont talk about how many times you made it wrong, it a bit depressing.

    Good luck



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