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post #1 of 11 Old 05-15-2019 Thread Starter
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Sail durability

I was wondering what the membersí expectation would be of the life expectancy of a new sail.

I had a new Dacron 135% genoa built in December of 2015. It was bent onto my furler by the sailmaker and checked for shape, set, etc. Whilst at this time Iím not ready to identify the sailmaker (still negotiating with the company without much hope) but suffice it to say itís an international organisation with lofts world-wide.

It has done a bit of work since then but nothing extraordinary. It was built with the spec of long-term cruising as a start point so one would expect it to be reasonably tough and able to endure abuse-free voyaging for several years.

Last year May (sail was at this time two and a half years old and had done one return crossing to Tonga and the normal local sailing at home) we were on our way to Fiji when I noticed the UV cover starting to flap in places along the leach. By the time we got to Fiji it was noticeable even when the sail was rolled away.

Long story short, when I got back I contacted the sailmaker and reported the UV strip failing. The response was that it was a sacrificial component and itís failure was not surprising. I thought after such a short time it was premature but letís leave that there.

When the sail came down for repair, it was clear that the UV strip was not failing, the stitching along the whole leach area of the sail, about a metre in, was failing and the UV strip had merely come loose.

The sailmaker again said that this not surprising and that I should be ďservicingĒ my sails every year. Quote was $160 to restitch the failed threads. I have another headsail that is 15 years old, has never had a ďserviceĒ and is in better condition than the newer one.

What do members think about this? Is it normal? Or is it premature. How many members regularly (annually) service their sails?
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-15-2019
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Re: Sail durability

I think Iíve sown the edge of my uv strip 4 times now the past 9 years

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post #3 of 11 Old 05-15-2019
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Re: Sail durability

Try Gore Tenera which is garaunteed not be damaged by exposure to sunlight, weather or water during the lifetime of the fabric with which it is used.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Sail durability

Tenera or Profilen PTFE thread will last a life time the standard polyester tread is good for 2 to 3 years depending on your location

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post #5 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Sail durability

Seems like the thread may be succumbing to UV. You are sailing long distances for long periods in the tropics. New Zealand - Tonga round trip is roughly 4800km. That is pretty much equivalent to a transatlantic passage, but under a tropical sun. After such a trip any sail is likely to need some attention, and especially the UV strip. To this you add "normal local sailing" for more than two years. There are other variables too. Perhaps your leech flaps a lot because you don't adjust the jib car each time the wind builds or dies. Perhaps the leech chafes against a shroud. Perhaps the sailmaker got a spool of thread that wasn't treated for UV protection. In any case, a sail repair cost of about $105 USD at the current exchange rate after about three years of what sounds like fairly heavy use does not appear unreasonable.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Sail durability

You should check your Genoa periodically for broken stitching due to chafe and UV damage. Thats your responsibility, not the sailmakerís. Chafe happens each time you tack. Inspect your rig too for thing that the sail might catch on. Tenara thread is impervious to UV, but not impervious to chafe.

The sailmaker is being more than fair, IMO. Thatís a good price for the hours involved.

A stitch in time saves nine. You should have lowered the sail and fixed it with a needle and thread ASAP. Youíre lucky the sacrificial cover didnít rip when ( not if) you flogged the sail.

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post #7 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Sail durability

Hello,

Over the years I have had numerous repairs done on my sails.

On my current boat the headsail is from 2017, and I used it in 2017 and 2018. Over the winter I took it back to the loft for cleaning and inspection. The loft reported that I needed to have the luff tape restitched. I suspect in another year of two the suncover will need to be restitched too.

Barry

Barry Lenoble
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY

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post #8 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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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.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Sail durability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassidy View Post
I were on our way to Fiji when I noticed the UV cover starting to flap in places along the leach. By the time we got to Fiji it was noticeable even when the sail was rolled away.

Long story short, when I got back I contacted the sailmaker and reported the UV strip failing.


I found out about this little known rip off, and I can tell you it disgusts me!

With many sailmakers the default order is NON-UV thread on the sacrificial cloth! How cheating!

You need to know about the lie and specifically ask for UV thread which they charge at $200!

Mark

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post #10 of 11 Old 05-16-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Sail durability

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Originally Posted by paulk View Post
New Zealand - Tonga round trip is roughly 4800km. That is pretty much equivalent to a transatlantic passage, but under a tropical sun.
Tonga must have moved since my last trip itís actually a nudge over 1000nm from my home, about 3850kms. Be that as it may, itís only 14 days of passagemaking, hardly a lifetime. While in Tonga the sail spends 95% of the time furled away.

But from returns so far (thanks to all), it seems that life expectancy of a sail is dramatically less than my expectation. I always believed that 10 years was a reasonable expectation (not for UV strip).

And with reports of thread available that outlasts sailcloth, the expectation that stitching should last more than two years should not be unreasonable.

I wonder what folks do that I meet up in the islands that have come from Europe via Caribbean, Panama and the Pacific and have effectively been at sea for six years. Their route is hardly peppered with sail lofts and yet one doesnít see a lot of sails in tatters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
In any case, a sail repair cost of about $105 USD at the current exchange rate after about three years of what sounds like fairly heavy use does not appear unreasonable.
I guess Iíll just pay with smile and use a loft next time that uses decent thread. Oh and by the way, the stitching on my sail is not just that which holds the UV strip that failed, it extends well into the sail itself.
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