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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-25-2003
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Sail Fabrics

I just want to get peoples opinions on Dacron vs. Acrylic Canvas. Which do you think makes a better sail? We will be using our sailboat for long cruises.

Thanks!
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Old 09-25-2003
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Have never heard of acrylic canvas. Are there other names for it?
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Old 09-26-2003
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We got the material name from the book Voyaging on a Small Income. We haven''t seen it. We have also looked at canvas as well.
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Old 09-26-2003
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Sail Fabrics

Yikes! The best known acryklic canvas is Sunbrella (http://www.sunbrella.com/usa/boating.html) a fabric used for dodgrs and mainsail covers. It would make a terrible sail - too heavy, stiff and porous - plus nobody with the skill to stich a sail would be dumb enough to cut one from Sunbrella! So there must be some confusion.

Canvas is not used for sails either - Dacron owns the market, plus a variety of expensive plastic man-made laminates.

Good luck with your cruising - don''t try to go too far, too soon

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Old 09-26-2003
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Sail Fabrics

Our sailmaker loft is 90 years old and started with canvas. The sailmaker told me that the traditional canvas sails only ever lasted for a couple of years due to rot. The advent of dacron eliminated this problem. There is no question which is better.

Mike
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Old 09-26-2003
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Sail Fabrics

So, Dacron must be easy to patch? It looks like it is easy to tear. We just want to be prepared on the long cruises should something happen.

Thanks!
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Old 09-26-2003
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Sail Fabrics

Yikes again! Dacron can best be described as a very bullet-proof materiall when sewn properly. You won''t tear it easily other than with heavy abuse, such as backing a jib against a spreader or grossly exceeding the designed wind-strength. If you are reasonably careful (and knowledgeable) you are more likely to need to repair splits brought on by chafing, where the sail has rubbed against something for an extended period of time.

Dacron is easy to sew, get the right needls, thread and a palm whatisit.

You might want to put the book down for a while and get some sailing in.

Good luck.
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Old 09-26-2003
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Have to agree with sailingfool about dacron. It tends to last a VERY long time, and can hold up for well more than a decade. Some dacron sails end up having to be restitched because the stitching holding the panels together wears off due to chafe. The cloth is woven so tightly that the stitching doesn''t sink into it, and sticks out above the sail''s cloth surface. Whenever the sail rubs against anything, the stitching gets worn down first. The problem with dacron comes from stretch. Over time and useage, (years) the sail stretches and changes shape. The cloth may still look good, clean and without worn or frayed spots, but it has lost the aerodynamic "perfection" that it had when it was new. The less you race your boat, the less of a problem this is. Racers go for the lightest possible sails that have to hold together only about as long as they hold their shape. If the shape isn''t perfect, it''s time for a new sail anyway, as far as racers are concerned. If you''re not racing, go with Dacron. It''s cheap(er), stays serviceable longer, and looks good even in old age.
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Old 09-29-2003
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Totally agree. Also, however, keep dacron out of the sun. UV degrades it over time, and in the tropics "time" seems compressed. Use covers.
I also can''t imagine using Sunbrella for sails. Unless it was a home-made thing. But Sunbrella is not cheap either, so where''s the benefit.
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Old 09-29-2003
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Thanks for the information. We have been obtaining fabric samples from sailrite. That''s where we discovered how easy dacron is to rip, crease and burn. Of course, a little 2 x 2 patch of fabric isn''t enough to get a good picture of how the full sail will react once sewn but it was a place to start.
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