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  #11  
Old 09-10-2006
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Whew Dew.....

Lets see here.....I am sorry that I used the word 'forgot' rather than 'perhaps you are not aware'; I thought that you and I had a previous discussion on owning and sailing traditional watercraft. Mea Culpa.

Anyway, to touch on the essense of your your questions....

While I currently live and sail on the Cheaspeake, I have sailed up and down the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard. I owned the Stadel Cutter during the years that I lived and sailed in Southwest Florida.

Just as a minor point, at least in the US Tanbark is available in pretty lightweight cloths. Some of the gaff rigged Herreshoff 12 1/2's went with tanbark sails in the same weight dacron as the rest of the H 12 1/2's white dacron. One source of the 'short-lived' comments were the sailmakers for and boat owners with the tanbark sails in that fleet.

To address the source of my comments on the durability of tanbark cloth, my primary sourse was collection of conversations with sailmakers, both traditional and modern, racing and cruising, including a loft that bills iteself as producing sails for offshore cruisers and whose ad at the time showed a set of tanbark sails, for an acquaintance who was looking for tanbark sails for his Tayana 37. We both made the calls and had the chats independently. He was planning a circumbnav and so wanted durability. Our original hypothisis was that the dye would improve UV screening and increase the fabric's lifespan. When we finished the conversations with perhaps a dozen or more sailmakers, including a conversation with sail handlers at Bacon in which he asked, what was their experience with Tanbark (and other died sails), universally we found the same response that dying dacron shortened the cloths useful lifespan.

My own most graphic experience with dyed dacron was a sail made with alternating stripes of blue and white. The white stripes were in good shape but the blue stripes were visibly more blown out and sunrotted.

The Stadel Cutter hull was as miniature version of the mid-19th century N.Y. pilot schooner 'George Steers'. She was a moderate beam, as full a keel a boat as a boat can have, near plum stem, elliptical transom, screw and rivet fastened, cedar over oak hulled, teak decked, mahogany cabin sided cutter built by Joel Johnson in Connecticut for a retired sea captain in 1939. The tanbark sails were purchased by the prior owner who lightly used the boat, making them roughly 7 years old but we rarely used them because they were not in as good shape as the earlier white dacron sails. The tanbark sails on the boat were built by a traditional sailmaker in Maine and my investigation of replacement sails was with both conventional sailmakers in Tampa, as well as sailmakers specializing in traditional watercraft in New England.

Jeff
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  #12  
Old 09-10-2006
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The only real advantage I can see of Tanbark colored sails for a cruising boat is that they are a bit more visible in fog and some other conditions than are white sails. Other than that, and the obvious aesthetic appeal, I see no point in getting them.
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  #13  
Old 12-30-2007
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Just as Sailingdog quoted above..
A lot of people go with tanbark sails for the simple reason is that they show up better than white sails do during the day. Try SAR duties and white sails look just like white caps. Whereas tanbark or any other color shows up better than white...
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Last edited by SVSantana; 12-30-2007 at 08:40 AM. Reason: speiilin
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  #14  
Old 12-30-2007
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JeffH is absolutely right about tanbark sails in terms of durability. They are pretty, but in an apples to apples comparison (similar weight heavy white dacron vs. tanbark), tanbark will not last as long or fare as well. Still, if I had the right older boat, I might opt for dark sails purely for aesthetic reasons.
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Old 12-30-2007
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Wow...what a bump. Expect hall monitor chastisement shortly...

However, now that we are here, I am seriously considering an oddball colour for my steel hulk IF there is no penalty on strength. I am thinking of having both a new main and a reefable staysail cut for offshore weather, and while the boat is cream coloured with a green cove stripe, I would not be adverse to having a bright orange staysail or a orange top to my main (only the deepest reef needing to be visible in my typical safety scenarios of being visible against greybeards from commercial ships or SAR aircraft!)

Another idea (for me) and perhaps a more logical and certainly cheaper one is to paint my boat's name in yellow on a black square with a bright orange surround on the roof of my pilothouse.

Regarding the UV issue, I find the simple expedient of sail covers works wonders.
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Old 12-31-2007
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Good idea, Val.
You'll probably remember my suggesting this previously in another discussion. International orange is used for rafts and other lifesaving gear just for it's visibility; it is not, in and of itself, a signal indicating distress. The peak of the sails would be more than ample for the purpose.

Whatever the other merits of white sails, they are very poorly visible in any kind of a seaway. It is ironic that sailors are as style conscious about using white as some are for using tanbark. Certainly a wedge of international orange could be applied in much the same manner we do insignia to other parts of the sail.

As with most materials synthetic, the color must be a result of the manufacturing process, and not died afterwards, for any longevity to be expected. When we start discussing color-impregnated dacron we're talking about what size production run would be necessary to make it cost effective for sailmakers to purchase it from DuPont versus dieing it in smaller production runs.

I don't expect to see much more in the way of orange, or other high visibility, colors on sails soon, any more than I expect to see masts universally painted black. Utility seems to take a back seat to style in these areas. What's with that?
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Old 01-02-2008
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This topic probably deserves a separate thread, since we're straying away from the old tanbark discussion, but I like the thinking that Val and Sailaway mention here regarding more visible sail colors. I don't think it's particularly critical for most coastal/weekend/daysailing, but I can see the benefit for off-shore passagemaking and SAR.

One idea I've kicked around for some time was to investigate the possibility of having a storm trysail made of heavy dacron in a blaze orange color (or whatever color is considered most visible, e.g. fluorescent green?). If all sailors made this request, maybe sailmakers could persuade DuPont to run some heavy weight dacron in this color expressly for the purpose of making storm sails. Perhaps it would eventually become the sport and industry standard for storm sails, particularly if a group like ORC got behind the idea and made it a requirement. I recognize there are some strength/longevity issues that arise from dying the dacron, but given the weight of stormsails and their infrequent application, neither of these issues should be a problem.
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Old 01-02-2008
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Not a bad idea, really. I've often wondered why this hasn't been done - could it be a Coast Guard issue?
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Old 01-02-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
This topic probably deserves a separate thread, since we're straying away from the old tanbark discussion, but I like the thinking that Val and Sailaway mention here regarding more visible sail colors. I don't think it's particularly critical for most coastal/weekend/daysailing, but I can see the benefit for off-shore passagemaking and SAR.

One idea I've kicked around for some time was to investigate the possibility of having a storm trysail made of heavy dacron in a blaze orange color (or whatever color is considered most visible, e.g. fluorescent green?). If all sailors made this request, maybe sailmakers could persuade DuPont to run some heavy weight dacron in this color expressly for the purpose of making storm sails. Perhaps it would eventually become the sport and industry standard for storm sails, particularly if a group like ORC got behind the idea and made it a requirement. I recognize there are some strength/longevity issues that arise from dying the dacron, but given the weight of stormsails and their infrequent application, neither of these issues should be a problem.
You're not the only one thats thought of it John, they make 'em.



Cruising direct adverts orange head panels and "built in" radar reflectors, 9.5oz cloth.
http://www.cruisingdirect.com/StormJib.htm

I'm sure there are other options out there though
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2008
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JRP-

Just FYI, the Gale Sails are white with a red sleeve to go over the furled headsail. At one of the sailing clubs I used to be a member of, the storm sails were all red or orange.
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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