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Old 08-31-2006
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Coastal vrs. Offshore

Is there a definitive definition for the terms Coastal and Offshore? What do they mean when it comes to buying sails? I have to replace a jib on my boat and I am a coastal sailor (who doesn't race) in my view. However in saying that, our average wind that we have been sailing in these past few summers has been between 20- 25 knts with gusts to 30knts. This has become the norm these days. As well, we are typically sailing about 1 mile from shore, but it is not uncommon to be between 5-10 miles from shore. So what class of sails should I be looking at, Coastal or Offshore?

Last edited by Ronbye; 08-31-2006 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 08-31-2006
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You should probably be looking at coastal sails, which are usually a bit lighter than offshore sails. The main reason that offshore sails are heavier and more durable than coastal sails are many.

First, coastal sailors will often be able to get out of heavy weather or reduce their exposure to heavy weather far better than someone who is in the middle of a transoceanic passage. So the total exposure to heavy weather is often less.

Second, offshore sailboats are usually of a heavier design and displacement than coastal cruisers of the same size. They are also more heavily loaded in terms of food, water, equipment and other supplies as a general rule.

Third, offshore sailboats often have no choice but to sail through heavy weather. A coastal cruiser often has the option of motoring through it, as the destination they have is close enough to motor to, which is often not the case for an offshore boat. Fuel is a scarce resource on a bluewater boat, which has must be conserved—which may not be the case on a coastal cruiser, which often has ready access to fuel sources.

Fourth, Offshore sails will often have a heavier material, flatter cut, and deeper, and in some cases more, reef points than a coastal cruising sail. Light air performance is often better with a coastal design sail than it is with an offshore designed sail for these reasons. The heavier material is due to being further from resources to repair the sails and the greater wear and tear the sails will receive in use. Coastal sailors don't leave their sails up 24x7 like most offshore boats do.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-31-2006 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 08-31-2006
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" However in saying that, our average wind that we have been sailing in these past few summers has been between 20- 25 knts with gusts to 30knts. This has become the norm these days."

Yikes, Where do you sail - the only area I can think of with such prevailing wind would the Roaring 40's, or perhaps better the Furious 50's. You sailing out of Cape Horn?

The extra work costs in an offshore sail relates more to durability, by providing extra protection for chafing and exposure, such as triple row stitching, heavier grommets and use of leather patchess. I think durability and strength are different characteristics - strength comes primarily from fabric weight. If you want sails for higher wind strengths, order heavier weight cloth. I would not buy Offshore quality sails for day and weekend sailing as you describe, unless cost is not an object. Consult your local sailmaker.
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Old 08-31-2006
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I live in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It was only the other day that we had winds that gradually increased from nil to 15 knts. It was a nice day. I also spoke to a rep from FX Sails and they said that there litmus test for deciding on inshore versus offshore is this. If the sails are going to be raised and then dropped at the end of each sailing day then you need inshore sails. Offshore sails are typically left up for weeks at a time and as such need to be heavier built.
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Old 08-31-2006
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Also..besides the heavier fabric, there is typically additional reinforcement at the "corners". This seems to me to be a good idea for either coastal or offshore use and you could specify this without going to heavier fabric.
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Old 09-09-2006
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I've sailed over 8,000 miles on five transits of the East Coast. I've had far more problems with light winds than heavy winds. As I'd rather sail than motor, my vote would be for well-made "coastal" sails.

I'll echo the previous comment on "offshore". If you're crossing an ocean, and leaving your sails raised for weeks at a time, I'd call that "offshore".

One feature to look for in new sails, coastal or offshore, is UV resistant thread.

If you have persistent high-wind conditions, put the extra money into sail handling systems. Be able to reef quickly and easily.

My two cents worth of opinion...

Jeff
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Old 09-09-2006
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If you're going to get new sails, try to find a local loft. They should thouroughly measure your rig, go over you're sailing style and area with you, and be able to deliever a proper fitting set of sails.
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Old 09-10-2006
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coastal vs offshore

for your type of sailing i would go with a smaller headsail lets say a 125.
so you can reef down and still have a good sail shape.If you are sailin a 30 footer i would go even smaller. For steady 25-30 knots i would also look into a radial cut sail.

offshore sails are usually smaller and of heavier cloth. the problem with a light air (big) sail is that the shape sucks when you reef down to 100%. I sail offshore and have worn out my current 135-140 in 4 years 20,000 miles. The wear was caused by too much wind.
i am having a heavier sail 6 oz cloth 110 and yankee cut.
fair winds,
eric
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