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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: North Sails Direct fiasco

I agree with SchockT.

For the record the Catalina 25 that I mentioned above is mostly used in beer can racing, not cruising. We also have fun getting it moving when there is "no wind" and everyone else is sitting around idle. So sail shape matters a lot to us. I'll do a little case study in why buying used sails can be tricky.

The genoa that was bought yesterday was $165 and is still crisp and not stretched. It came off of a "26' sailboat" and was considered a 170% genoa on that boat. The measurements on the Catalina 25 tall end up being about 150%. The luff length is just about perfect. This makes me guess that it came off of a boat with a 31-32' I and 9.5' J, instead of the 31' I and 10.5' J of the Catalina 25. That could be something like a Pearson Ariel/Commander.

The downside of moving it from a boat with a shorter J to a longer J is that the angle between the luff and foot is a bit less acute than one cut for the Catalina (by my calculation the difference is about 1 degree) and the leech is a little longer. This puts the clew very close to the deck height and genoa track block, which makes it difficult to fully flatten the sail.

One way to fix this is to raise the sail higher off of the deck. Raising the sail 3" will make up for the 1 degree of loss. We now have a gap under most of the sail along the deck though, which makes the sail less efficient. You also need 3" more luff length, which is hard since the sail is already 2" longer than ideal. In our case it just worked.

So the sail is a hair less efficient than one cut for the boat because it is sitting a little too high off of the deck. In the future it could be recut with a new foot for a couple hundred dollars and we'd still come out way ahead. In the meantime it is a lot better than the genoa that we have been sailing with (which was also a "wrong" sail, it appears to have been cut for a Catalina 25 standard, not tall).
boats that I sail on regularly: Pearson 28-2, Rondar 505, Yankee 30, Blanchard Junior
Seattle, WA
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: North Sails Direct fiasco

[QUOTE=Jeff_H;1014713]Boy do you have that wrong: if you are a cruiser who needs to beat off a leeshore, if you are a cruiser who does not want reef early or beat their sails to death flogging them, if you are a cruiser who does not want to heel excessively, if you are a cruiser who does not want to wear out crew with excessive weather helm, or over power the windvane in a gust, or have to run the engine to charge the batteries because the autopilot is working harder, or do not want to replace sails prematurely because improper load mapping over stressed some corner of the sail, or it was made out of the wrong cloth, or you are a cruiser who does not want to have to motor as much because in order to get a sail which can deal with heavy air, you bought one that was too heavy for moderate conditions, then perhaps you might actually want to buy a sail that is designed for your boat.[/QUOT

Na, I got that right. My boat is pointy in the front, big stick sticking up in the middle, I hang white triangles made of dacron, that were disigned to catch wind and make the boat move forward. I just bought my 3rd set in 20 years. Ya'll tend to make something as simple as catching a breeze and move across the water, in to some kind of exact science. I race the tides and weather, beat off lee shores, balance my boat so she steers her self, sail on and off the dock, bla bla bla, all used sails. There is a surplus of used sails available, which make cruising that much more affordable for people, which will get more people out there. Which is a goal of mine, to promote the life style and convince people with moderate incomes that they to can afford to get out there and enjoy it. I just did a shopping day of used marine Gear today as a matter of fact and bought great used or pre-owned gear at a fraction of the price. Sail covers, life raft, snatch blocks, sea anchor, compass, anchor, jerry cans, shackles spreader boots, sails etc. etc. I want more people realize that there is a surpluss of great boats out there at great prices. I've seen newbies not get a great boat because it needed sails, and new custom sails were way too expensive, and gear as well. If one dude saves thousands because he read this thread and realized he could go used, than we've done our job. If one couple buy's a 15 thousand dollar cruiser and hanks used sail's on it and has 90 thousand left over to cruise with, that's great. And I'd like it if just one dude reads a thread like this and decides that it's not all about pushing light boats to there max speed on sunday, but sailing thick hulled cruisers with big ground tackle to exotic places can be just as if not more rewarding. I sure have been sailing around a lot with used sails for having it all wrong. I'm glad no one told me I needed new sails 24 years ago, I may have never set sail. Oh, and if I were a cruiser who does'nt want to reef early, than I'm not doing it right. You reef the moment it crosses your mind, first rule of reefing. It's probaly not in the racing rule book ya''ll are alway's qout'n and arguing over.
northoceanbeach and bljones like this.
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Last edited by Capt.aaron; 04-11-2013 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 04-11-2013
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Re: North Sails Direct fiasco

I've said this before and I'll say it again, when buying sails there is no substitute for dealing with a local company, where someone will come and measure the boat - someone experienced in measuring boats. Hopefully they will then make them for you locally, too.

Anything else is cutting corners, and most of the time one gets away with it - but sometimes you don't.

If you're going to mail order, at least have a stab at measuring the boat yourself. Double check the measurements with Saildata. You don't even need the rig up to measure J..... now I think about it you can check any measurement with the rig down.

Remember the phrase, trust but verify?
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Last edited by MarkSF; 04-11-2013 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 04-13-2013
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Re: North Sails Direct fiasco

Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
In my mind, unless you own a boat which is a pretty strict one design, or you do not care how your sails fit, then its makes next to no sense to buy a used sail no matter how cheap it is. A well made sail is more than a simple white triangle. It is cut to the expected headstay sag, mast bend, hardware geometry, the characteristics of the boat such as its need for more drive or pointing ability. So even if you succeed in finding a sail with roughly the right luff, leech and foot length, its not so easy to buy a sail with the right geometry to work with your boat.

Yes, you're right about it being next to impossible to find a used sail with exactly the right shape. I did raise the sail I mentioned above before altering it and it did not work very well at all even though the perimeter measurements were almost exactly right. It had much more belly (in the wrong place), than the correct sail. I bought it to cut down and reinforce into a heavy weather sail, so it didn't matter too much. But, if someone wants to buy a sail to alter, it seems they can be had for less than the price of just the new cloth. Personally, I'd rather make a sail from scratch and hand sew all my grommets, put in substantial batten pockets, and use good materials but the price of sailcloth is through the roof. I just finished a storm jib designed with Sailcut Cad. The materials for that little 63 sq. ft. sail came to around $400.
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