Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 138 Times in 111 Posts
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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.