what''s the weekly cost of sails? - SailNet Community

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Old 01-01-2003
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what''''s the weekly cost of sails?

Most of us are used to thinking that it costs us money when we use the engine to get somewhere, but if we use the wind it''s free.

Considering how much sails cost and how long they last, that''s not really true.

I''m curious to see what people say the weekly cost of sails are.

Let''s say you had a 37ft cruising sailboat and you lived the cruising lifestyle year after year (sailing to a new port every few days).

Every few years, you will need to replace a sail or two, so if you amortize that chunk of money over the years that it lasted, how much would you be paying per week for all the sails you use?
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Old 01-02-2003
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what''''s the weekly cost of sails?


Cruising year in/year out, folks rarely sail their boats as frequently as you suggest. More often, they hippity-hop from one major Point A to the next major Point B with interim stops if they''re available, then spend an extended period in the new location as they did the old one (perhaps for the temperate season, or to avoid hurricane season, or for a refit, or...).

Beyond that, here are some reasons why it''s tough to answer your question:
1. Some of us are far more tolerant of older/tired sails, while others require more optimum sail shape and dedicate their kitty accordingly.
2. Some boats are less able to benefit from good sails (altho'' all boats do benefit significantly) and so older/more tired sails are viewed as more acceptable/less important.
3. Some crew tend their sails less when underway, leading to more chafe, abuse thru late reefing, etc.
4. "Cruising" means many different things to us. Offshore 24/7 sail use is vastly different than summering on the Chesapeake, even with a sail every day (which is atypical). Offshore use itself includes hugely differing conditions (transiting across the trades, variables, sleigh ride crossing the Atlantic, etc.)
4. Some rigs invite more problems than others, with more chafe points, fewer reefing options, fewer light air sails available, etc.

And these are just reasons why this is difficult to compute when assuming full-time use. For 95% of boat owners, it''s probably even tougher.

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Old 07-27-2006
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think per mile, not per week

Circumnavigators have stated that one should expect to use up a set of sails in a circumnavigation. Based on that I once estimated the cost of a set of sails for a typical mid 30-something cruiser at about $0.20/mile.

Think of sails as fuel which depletes as you use it to propel the vessel. So the cost per week depends on how much the sails are aged that week. Of course on a single week basis it is immeasurable by even the best experts. Wear on the sails during that time will be a function of strength of the winds and time of UV exposure of the sails in the sun, as well as the operator exercising discretion in proper handling of the sails. Sails can be abused and aged faster just as an engine can be by operating it incorrectly to various degrees. Sails that are bundled to the boom too tight or left uncovered exposed to the sun when not in use will age faster than those that are treated well.

Realistically the island hopping sailboat will switch between using the sails and engine based on conditions and operator discretion. Using less of one for a voyage means more of the other, so one has to include engine costs in sailboat propulsion costs.

The engine and/or genset also provide(s) power on anchor for services that the sails cannot support, such as electricity, refrigeration, watermaking, heating, cooling, etc.. For non-propulsion power generation one can then think of cost per week. Some of that cost will be a function of such things as the number of occupants or the lattitude and season of the anchorage and use of amenities such as air conditioning. Again the operator's discretion in using amenities comes into play.

Now I'll revisit the original issue about how much fabric sail cost per week considering the boat is moved every few days. On that basis it may take 5 years to circumnavigate. A $5000 set of sails then would be expended at $1000 per year, which is about $20 per week.

Last edited by captnnero; 07-27-2006 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 09-09-2006
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I'll echo the reply about cost-per-mile vs cost-per-week. Sails won't wear if stowed properly and kept covered to prevent UV damage.

I did a quick calculation and came up with a cost-per-mile for sails of 28 cents. ($6k for main and jib, lasting for 7 years at 3,000 miles a year). I sail an Island Packet 38.

Hope this helps,
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Old 09-10-2006
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It also depends on where you're sailing. If you're sailing in the tropics, the UV damage to the sails will be more severe than if you're sailing in the more temperate latitudes.

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Old 09-11-2006
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easy fix, sail at night!!!!!!!. It still works out cheeper than gas or diesel.
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