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Old 26-09-2011, 13:35   #1
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Cruiser Light Wind Sails

Was thinking last week about upwind light wind sails. But this weekend both days were 5 knots wind and I had it on the nose going and then again coming back the next day (at least the batteries are nice and charged now). Had the spinnaker out but the wind never was good to hoist it up.

So are light wind close reaching/reaching sails worth it to a cruiser in the long run? Or is it mostly just going to sit in the bag taking up space after having eaten some boat bucks? Or does one when cruising just sit it out at anchor etc and wait till later because you don't have a schedule?
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Old 26-09-2011, 13:37   #2
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Re: cruiser light wind sails

I was just going to start a thread with the same question.

Cost and trouble of using it vs not having one.
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Old 26-09-2011, 13:43   #3
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Re: cruiser light wind sails

Anything to keep from using the engine is a plus. I have nothing to get me going into the wind in less than 5 knots. Right now she's like a Bekins van loaded with stuff to move from Florida to Ca, so she's heavy. Downwind we have the spinnaker, but there were days returning to Costa Rica where even they hung for days like a wet rag on a line........i2f
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Old 26-09-2011, 14:31   #4
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Re: cruiser light wind sails

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Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
Anything to keep from using the engine is a plus. I have nothing to get me going into the wind in less than 5 knots. Right now she's like a Bekins van loaded with stuff to move from Florida to Ca, so she's heavy. Downwind we have the spinnaker, but there were days returning to Costa Rica where even they hung for days like a wet rag on a line........i2f

I understand. But I figure it would have to save around 4000 KM of motoring to pay for the sail. So I wonder how many years it would take for me to sail 4000 KM on the light sail on a close reach?

Oh what to decide?
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Old 26-09-2011, 15:20   #5
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

If you need to go upwind in light air, get a really big genoa. Then you can leave it up in more wind too and go fast too. It will not work quite as well as a nylon sail, but the difference is not that significant. Otherwise code zero or drifters cut for maximum pointing.

Keep in mind that some lightweight sails tend to tear and rip when there is heavy swell and very little wind because the apparent wind from the boat rolling flogs them around the rig. Also, don't expect to go really fast. I can sail at 1-2 knots and be happy.

I also have electric propulsion powered by solar panels which is silent and works great with little or no wind, powers at 2-3 knots. You need a lot of solar to be practical, but solar is <$2 a watt these days, it's worth it.
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Old 26-09-2011, 16:28   #6
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

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I also have electric propulsion powered by solar panels which is silent and works great with little or no wind, powers at 2-3 knots. You need a lot of solar to be practical, but solar is <$2 a watt these days, it's worth it.
Your electric in good sun gives you 2-3 kts without using any stored power?
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Old 26-09-2011, 16:29   #7
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

We have two distinctive sailing seasons here in SF bay, with heavy wind prevailing in the summer and light air prevailing in the winter. I have, therefore, two different foresails, one for summer, the other for winter.

I look at it this way: since each sail is only being used half a year, each one will last twice as long. In the long run, I don't spend any more. In fact, I may wear out my sails less quickly because I rarely go out with the wrong weight sail.
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Old 27-09-2011, 04:38   #8
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

So cruisers, do you find a upwind light wind useful?
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Old 27-09-2011, 05:51   #9
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Re: cruiser light wind sails

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I understand. But I figure it would have to save around 4000 KM of motoring to pay for the sail. So I wonder how many years it would take for me to sail 4000 KM on the light sail on a close reach?

Oh what to decide?
Sometimes fun ain't cheap......i2f
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Old 27-09-2011, 06:27   #10
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

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So cruisers, do you find a upwind light wind useful?
Hi Don,

Useful yes, but practical? Guess it depends.

For long term cruising, ignoring for sake of discussion the additional boat bucks invested in more sails, I would have to compromise based on how much space on the boat I want to devote to sail storage. Then how many sails I can fit into that space and the relative usefulness of each sail.

In my case I don't think the amount of use I would get from a sail cut just for light air, close hauled sailing would justify the space. My compromise is a fairly large genoa, say 135% that would give some benefit in these conditions but still useful in stronger winds. Then have a lighter drifter, reacher or whatever they are called that won't really point that close but will work in very light air a little further off the wind. Another benefit to this sail is since it is pretty light material it doesn't take that much room.

If sailing from a home base where I can devote more storage to sails and less to cruising gear or store some sails at home then I like Bash's arrangement. But then FL winds are not quite as seasonally consistent as CA so wouldn't want to put the heavier sails in long term storage. Could need them any time of year.
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Old 27-09-2011, 08:13   #11
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

We have a light wind off the wind sail and it works great. Now this one will end up on a re-usable furler (either the profurl or the selden one - continuous line units). Then I will have a light upwind sail made for the same furler - Not a C0 but a C0 like light dacron sail. We have one light upwind sail already but I want one that can be furled away.

It always puzzles me how well the cruising boats are equipped for heavy weather and how poorly for the light days, while in fact I think I have seen way more light winds than storms in all our adventures.

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Old 27-09-2011, 08:16   #12
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

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So cruisers, do you find a upwind light wind useful?
Ha.

Sure but a big sail has to be light and a heavy one can be only small. But the small one will not deliver enough pull to get her going.

Hence the only option: a light upwind sail.

Hehe. Or else use the motor. But why should one use the motor in a sailing boat?

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Old 27-09-2011, 08:23   #13
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

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So cruisers, do you find a upwind light wind useful?
Where do you plan to cruise? How big is your current headsail? Is the headsail and main in good, newer shape,or old and blown out?
Have you loaded the boat down with cruising gear and decided how much additional space you want to dedicate to a lightly used sail and sail handling gear? If you buy it, I'd put it on a rope luff with a continuous furler with dedicated sheets that you can quickly hoist. That way you would be much more likely to actually use the sail. With a Mom & Pop crew, changing headsails up and down a track is not what you want to be doing often. A furler will make it reasonable to be a 1 person job.

In the last year of cruising the E. Pacific we've sailed a number of passages in light headwinds. Say 4-8kts true. On my boat I don't need that much sail to deal with these, as the apparent wind speed is 6 to 13kts. Which is generally enough for our standard main/headsail setup.

So how much would you use an extra light air Code something sail. Only you can answer that. If you ask most cruisers before they leave how much sailing vs motoring they'll do, then see what their reality is, most motor whole lot more than they planned. If you have a background in racing and understand the patience to sail at 2 kts and you have a partner who is up for it, then having a nice sail inventory is great.
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Old 27-09-2011, 08:36   #14
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

my boat wont go in light winds-- so for mine is irrelevant--i need a tropical storm or a goof prefrontal wind system to get moving, herefor, whatever dont rot in short time is on my booms.
in the gulf, a pearson 365 we travelled with used a code zero-- did well-- they used it a lot, but they only cruise part time.
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Old 27-09-2011, 08:49   #15
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Re: Cruiser Light Wind Sails

I can't tell you how often I've wished for a bigger, lighter headsail for upwind work. I can do close to three knots in five of wind, if there's no swell to flog the sails about. But by all means put as many options in your locker as you can.
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