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post #1 of 4 Old 02-03-2009 Thread Starter
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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Sail Weight Question


We have an older 32' Islander Sloop, weighting in at about 10K pounds IIRC and we are in need of new sails. I am having a hard time digging up information on sail weights.

A little about the intended use of the boat...

We are planning a two year cruise in a year or two, down the west coast of the US from Washington to California, Mexico Central America, then possibly left through the canal or right to the south pacific, depending upon our mental state and financial state at that point. We are definitely operating on the go simple go soon methodology, but also want to be reasonable when it comes to what kind of equipment we need.

One of the next projects coming up is new sails, the ones we have are totally shot. I have been looking at used sails to save money, and I am trying to figure out what weight I need to look at. I have looked at new sails too, and some sites have all there "offshore" sails at 8 oz or above, other tend to break it down by boat size and recommend 6 - 7 oz for our boat size.

I have found a good looking used main sail, but it is only 6 oz, but does have 2 reef points. Would we be just asking for trouble to go with a main in the 6oz range? Do we really need to stick with 8oz range?

We are not performance sailors and are operating with limited funds. If going with a lighter sail just means we reef earlier and go a little slower, I am fine with that, but if going with a lighter sail means we will be in serious danger in a storm, I would definitely hold out for a heaver sail and spend the extra money.

I was a bit surprised to not see more info on sail weight on this forum then I found, so please, if you have great knowledge in this area please enlighten us! (But please refrain from the "You just need to work until you have a million dollars in the bank and can afford 6 separate main sails before you should consider crossing the bay" posts. Thanks :-P )

Edit : Another option we may consider would be a lighter main now, and if we want to go west into the pacific, get a heaver main then, and keep the lighter for a spare. Thoughts on that?


S/V Lilo
1964 Islander 32
Saint Helens, OR

Last edited by IslanderGuy; 02-03-2009 at 07:38 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-03-2009
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If you are going to venture very far offshore, you eventually need to have the strongest main you can afford.
We sail mostly offshore, you may have read some of Paloma's storm adventures elsewhere on sailnet. Our Hood mains have always been heavy duty dacron with glued and double/triple stitched seams, aluminum plates at the attachment points and triple reef points - we had to replace it after the March '08 Force 10 storm she was in and it ran about $2,200.

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Slipped in Bahia Marina, easy access to Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
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post #3 of 4 Old 02-03-2009
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I'm one of the, lighter is better, especially in lighter breezes like here in puget sound. But off shore, I could see heavier.

Try contacting the folks locally at the Puget sound Ullman, which is part of the san diego loft. They have a crusing laminate that is lighter, stronger than dacron, for about the same cost. I am getting a 140 genoa for my 30' jeanneau at the same cost as a premium dacron, about $1500. I know of one fellow that bought a RF 150 for his 41' Morgan and is really happy with how it works vs dacron! Ask for Jeff, but I believe there is a different rep that deals with the south sound.

A main for my rig was just shy of 2G, but went for a carbon at 3500!


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post #4 of 4 Old 02-04-2009
Don Radcliffe
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The main difference in being 'offshore' is that your sails are going to get a lot more sun damage. especially in the tropics, because you are going to use them a LOT more than the weekend warriors. Good 6-7 oz dacron is probably fine for a genoa (our 7 oz genoa lasted a 12 year circumnavigation on a 45 ft boat), but an 8 oz main is going to last a lot longer. Avoid high-tech cloth, as not only does it cost more, it doesn't last nearly as long (our original UK tape drive genoa was shredded after 2 years in the tropics) again due to sun damage. Make sure your sails are well covered when they are not in use, and plan on restitching the seams every 4-5 years, as the stitches will not last as long as the cloth.
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