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  #1  
Old 05-11-2008
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What do you tell your sailmaker?

I'm looking to the future and planning to buy new sails for my boat. This looks like it will be the largest investment in the boat between now and the big departure date besides the original purchase price. I've been trying to educate myself and to find out who's got the good reputation but I still have a long way to go.

My question is this? How do you approach a sailmaker who is going to build your offshore cruising sails? What kind of conversation do you have? What specifications do you lay out and what do you leave up to the "experts?"

Do you say, "I'm going to sail down the west coast and to the Med. I have X type of boat and I want good sails."

Or do you say," I'd like a 123.5% yankee cut genoa made of challenge HSX cloth, crosscut, triple stitched, with a clew height of 8 ft 16.5deg of camber at 25kts of apparent wind....."

Or something in between? If I buy a new sail I want it to be custom to my needs but I don't want to tell the cook how much pepper to put in the soup.

MedSailor
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  #2  
Old 05-11-2008
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Mentioning triple stitching, a third reef, and things like that would probably be a good idea...since you don't want to get the sails from him and say, "but I thought you were... ". Be as clear as to what your intentions for the sails and what features you REQUIRE the sails to have... and let them do their job. Don't specify construction techniques or design the sail, unless you have the expertise to do so properly.

Most of all...communicate with them on a regular basis.
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Old 05-11-2008
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Hmmm....

Its that fuzzy line that I'm not sure about. If I tell them I want 2 reefs will they just put them where you would on a sloop or will the alter for the split rig? I guess I'm still not clear about when to specify and when to let them do the design.

One big issue is how big to make the roller furling/reefing genoa. I've had some makers want to build me a 110, others a 125 and some a 130%. I'm not sure which will be best to drive my undercanvased boat but not overpower me when I roll in the max 25%.

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Maybe you need to clarify in your mind what sails and sizes you want in various conditions such as you expect to encounter.
This will depend somewhat on the boat and your knowledge of it.
As a working guide your standard sails would be set for about 15 knots say may be 12-18. A number one may go 0-6 and a number 2 7-11 roughly.
As the wind strength doubles the force on the sail goes up as the square ie 4 x.
Therefore reefing a 130 extends the range from 7-18 max.
If your sail area is say 800, by 30 knots you want to be down to 200 sq ft. Maybe it could take a little more but remember there will be gusts to 40.
If you have a staysail you may prefer to use this with the mizzen in strong conditions and in preference to a reefed genoa because of better shape and because in the 20-25 range you will have cut sail area substantially.
You may then find a single deep reef in the main may be enough.
Some boats may only reef at 25 others at 15. It depends on how much you want to stretch the sails, how stiff the boat is and how much you want to fiddle.
Once you are clear in your own mind you can then go over it with the sailmaker bearing in mind you are cruising not racing.
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Old 05-12-2008
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I guess the sailing wind "range" of the sails is one of the big things I need to work out. Currently we only have 100% jibs (375sqft) that came with the boat. I don't think this is enough canvas for most conditions as we have a heavy 28,000disp (dry) boat. In 18kts of wind we could have the full working plan up without feeling overpowered.

One of the main goals for my sails is to try and increase sail area as much as possible, thus I am trying to make my headsail as big as possible but still usable up into the wind ranges where I would switch to the 125sqft storm jib.

Since I'm on a ketch the headsail isn't reefed first, the main is. This increases the upper range the genoa will see and thus hinders it's lower range (I think). Finding that sweet spot is what I'm having trouble with right now.

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I guess the sailing wind "range" of the sails is one of the big things I need to work out. Currently we only have 100% jibs (375sqft) that came with the boat. I don't think this is enough canvas for most conditions as we have a heavy 28,000disp (dry) boat. In 18kts of wind we could have the full working plan up without feeling overpowered.

One of the main goals for my sails is to try and increase sail area as much as possible, thus I am trying to make my headsail as big as possible but still usable up into the wind ranges where I would switch to the 125sqft storm jib.

Since I'm on a ketch the headsail isn't reefed first, the main is. This increases the upper range the genoa will see and thus hinders it's lower range (I think). Finding that sweet spot is what I'm having trouble with right now.

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Thats why I suggest a staysail. You may want a bigger genoa in the light but can't really expect to go from 500 sq ft to 125. My understanding is sails are designed for limited ranges. A 130% may be ok in the light but even reefed to 100% is unlikely to have a range 5-20 without stretching. 18 knots with a 100% plan is not unusual. My query is what is your plan at 25, 30, 35 and 40.
I know the main is reefed first but there is a limit both to sail design speed and boat balance.
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Also, just remember that roller furling will only let you furl about 30% of the sail area before it starts to get too baggy for heavy air use.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 05-12-2008
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Here's what I went through when buying my new sails. First, we discussed where I would be sailing primarily, along with a discussion of the boat, and how it sailed on the current sails, as well as what I expected from the sails. That gave us a base to work from as to what cloth and how heavy. Then we got into reef points, cunningham, and loose footed or not. Since I was getting a StackPak, full battens were part of the deal.

We spent a good hour or more, just going over this and the options available. By the time we were done, I felt satisfied that I was getting a sail that would be what I wanted, for what I intended to do. After that, he came out to the boat and THOROUGHLY measured the rig. Did I say thoroughly? When the sail came in, he mounted all hardware and the sail, and it has been everything I wanted.

Went through a similar process with the headsail, though that loft, in my opinion, was not nearly as meticulous as the other one. As a result, I'm not quite as pleased with the sail as I was with the main. It's still a good sail, but there were some little issues (like putting the UV cover on the wrong side).

It's the loft that makes the difference, not the brand so much. That's my experience.
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Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
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IF you liked the guys who did your mainsail...you might want to say who did the work...
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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