Blown sails? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-29-2011 Thread Starter
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Blown sails?

I have a 36 year old boat with a suit of sails of various unknown age and usage. Is there an objective way of knowing if they are past their useful life? Not racing, just daysailing, and weekending.
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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No choice but to lay'em out, hoist'em up, and look. Even better if you have a knowledgeable friend who can help you. You can use most any sail, but the analogy is driving a Ferrari with bad shocks and bald tires.
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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You don't specify how many sails you have, but there are sail cleaning and restoration services that can evaluate each of your sails and quote you a price to restore those of value. Here is one for example: Sail Care for sail cleaning, sail repair, new sails, roller furlings and sailing equipment but there must be many, maybe one local so you don't have to ship.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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With blown sails you will find you will go from drifting to actually sailing in light wind with better sails. You will heel a lot less too. Sail loft may be able to recut the sails, or have some good used ones. Eventually there is nothing like a new set of sails cut for your boat.........i2f

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post #5 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
With blown sails you will find you will go from drifting to actually sailing in light wind with better sails. You will heel a lot less too. Sail loft may be able to recut the sails, or have some good used ones. Eventually there is nothing like a new set of sails cut for your boat.........i2f
And to clarify, with old blown sails in a breeze, you will have much more trouble flattening and de-powering them. More than likely you won't be able to at all. The end result will be more heel, and more leeway, not less.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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Go sailing and take pictures. If the sails have a belly when you stretch them out...

My current mainsail looks like it was cut for Santa Claus.

1981 Tartan 33 #168
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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From the Quantum Sails website:

"As a triangle, sails will last for a surprisingly long time. It is not uncommon to find sails still in use that are 10-15 years old. Structurally, they gradually lose their integrity over time, principally as the materials and stitching fail under the influence of the sun. UV causes woven polyester materials (referred to generically by the trade name Dacron) to gradually lose tear strength. If you can take an existing tear and easily extend it by pulling with moderate pressure, itís over. You can fix the tear with a patch, but it will just keep on tearing in other places, often at the edge of any repair. Likewise, if you can run your fingernail across the stitching and pick it off easily, the sail needs re-stitching. It is normal for the stitching to rot before the material in the sail, so it can be re-stitched, and should be periodically during its lifetime."
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-29-2011 Thread Starter
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Can I just measure (eyeball really) maximum draft, and the position of maximum draft? Is this a good indication that the sail is servicable or not?
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-29-2011
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As I recall from earlier posts you are not yet in the water, is that correct? It will be difficult to see if your main is bellied out unless you can hoist it and adjust the clew out haul and have it oriented on a beat. If you can accomplish that with the boat on the hard, then yes, by sighting up the sail to determine where (fore to aft) the draft is greatest. It should be in the forward third of the sail and should be moveable (somewhat) with the clew outhaul.
Other issues include, do your sails fit your boat? What are their condition with respect to wear and tear? In addition to what JimsCAL posted above, take a pointed tool (not a needle but something like a phillips screwdriver) and see if you can easily press it through the fabric, if not then the fabric probably has some life left in it and might be worth having reconditioned. Do the sails have any stiffness to them, or are they like an old bed sheet? If they have some body left and are not rotted then refurbishment is whorthwhile.
I'm not talking about racing sails, but what you need for just messing about in your boat. You after all don't want a sail to blow out when the wind pipes up and you are a little slow to put in that reef. Like anything else on the boat, it is best if it does not fail when being actively used.
Have fun with your boat,
John
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-30-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips ccrider. I did manage to get the boat in the water this summer. I haven't actually had a chance to sail a ton. The main seems to be crisp. The 100% jib flaps a bit on the foot, and beats like a helecopter (in 10-12 kn) on the leach. Next time I go out, I will see where the max draft is, and see if I can move it forward... how do I do that again? Increase halyard tension?
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