Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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Re: Sail durability
In the mid-seventies, I got caught in a hurricane in the SoPac. Having only about 25 miles of sea room on the second longest barrier reef in the world (Fiji's western reefs) I decided to attempt to keep the boat from going backward (with the wind) by keeping some sail up and sailing in 100+ knot winds. Needless to say, this didn't work out very well, and after my third capsize I decided to take the sail off her. The mizzen was fairly easy, considering the conditions, but the Yankee out there at the end of a 17' bowsprit was a completely different story. Not really having the intestinal fortitude to go out on the sprit, or actually even the foredeck, I just cut the sheet.
Amazingly enough, it took that sail over 40 minutes to flog itself to death. It pulled out fastenings on the whisker stays long before it failed. Of course, when it came time to order a new one I wanted to get it from Cranfield Sails in the UK. In my order, tongue in cheek, I complained about how long the sail had held up in 100+ knots of wind and how much damage it had done before it destroyed itself.
Typically, the Brits replied with a seemingly sincere letter of apology! To this day, I still don't know if they were being serious, or responding in kind.
Anyway, to the point. Unless you go very high end, it seems as though there are no sailmakers out there today with the sort of integrity of Peter Sutter in Frisco or Cranfield in the UK. These folks always included leathered clew, tack and head grommets and materials and workmanship one could count on for many years at no extra cost. Customer satisfaction and word of mouth within the sailing community were how one became and stayed successful before the internet. Now, it's all about price and we mostly can't even afford the handwork that was the standard back then.
Last summer we spent around a grand to get the seams and sun cover resewn on our Yankee and it didn't last a month! Ripped a seam clean out.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
ďBelieve me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.Ē ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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Last edited by capta; 05-16-2019 at 02:17 PM.