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Old 15-02-2016, 02:39   #16
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

I know this is an old post but is actually as old as my CL laminate main sail. DO NOT GO TO LAMINATES!! I read the same arguments and was convinced that the new laminates were stable, mold free, stronger...bla bla bla. Now my "exotic laminated sail" has a lot of mold and is delaminated in many areas. Next time I'll find a good solid heavy dacron.
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Old 15-02-2016, 10:43   #17
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

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Originally Posted by avazquez View Post
I know this is an old post but is actually as old as my CL laminate main sail. DO NOT GO TO LAMINATES!! I read the same arguments and was convinced that the new laminates were stable, mold free, stronger...bla bla bla. Now my "exotic laminated sail" has a lot of mold and is delaminated in many areas. Next time I'll find a good solid heavy dacron.
You appear to be in Puerto Rico which is obviously a tropical environment. Proper care of the sail is critical. Did you have the loft use a Sailkote or Wet-and-Forget treatment which provides some additional protection against mildew? Did you periodically rinse and dry the sail, which should be done with Dacron as well?

I've seen laminates of similar vintages from the same loft and cloth manufacturer look much different depending on care.

How old is the sail?

The thing to keep in mind with laminates is they retain shape for their life usually. Dacron loses shape and while structurally intact, it's really worthless except for people who don't know a thing about sail shape or care about shape.
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Old 15-02-2016, 11:23   #18
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

The sail was purchased on 2012. Used at the most once or twice a month. Always properly rinsed dried and covered. I guess tropical humidity is to much for these cloths.


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Old 15-02-2016, 13:05   #19
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

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Originally Posted by avazquez View Post
The sail was purchased on 2012. Used at the most once or twice a month. Always properly rinsed dried and covered. I guess tropical humidity is to much for these cloths.


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It really depends on the cloth. I have some friends who left the west coast for Mexico and the South Pacific the same time we left (2009) and from what I've seen, the sails are holding up pretty well.

I use treatments like Sail-Kote before sails even leave the loft and periodic re-treatment helps.

Any time the boat isn't being used for an extended period of time, the sails should be removed and stored in a friendlier environment.

Laminate sails aren't for everyone. They do take more work to look after. In most cases any mildew is solely a cosmetic defect that doesn't effect performance.
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Old 15-02-2016, 14:56   #20
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

After listening to the JC World podcast interview of Randy Smyth (misspelled Randy Smythe on the iTunes catalog), I was reminded of Cuben Fiber.

ยป the storyteller | Sailing Anarchy

Randy used Cuben for the sails on Team Adventure, and many of his personal sails. Cuben does not mold, and it holds up for ever, without the creep of many fibers, without the delimitation of lesser cloths, and without the mold of multi-layer sails. And its much, much lighter, so far easier to handle. People use Cuben to great success on roller furling downwind sails too. Its really good stuff if your sails need to last.

Its not the cheapest, but like everything you put on a boat that you intend to cross oceans and keep your ass alive, cheapest is NEVER a reasonable choice.
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Old 15-02-2016, 14:57   #21
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

I hate moldy sails. The most anal retentive OCD boat owners I know still end up with mold on their laminated sails.
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Old 15-02-2016, 15:08   #22
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

Laminated sails are a no go for cruising for me because of the way they fail. Dacron will have the stitching go which is easy to monitor and see and the material actually begin to fail but that's at the extreme end of their life. If you really want to keep them alive panels can be added and large patches made for a life in decades. Not going to be pretty or optimum shape but will still catch the wind.

Laminates tend to explode. Occasionally crew on a Trimaran that get's sailed intermittently. Owners live on the mainland and are only here for 2-3 months a year. Boat is a Farrier 31 trimaran with top of the line laminate sails. Don't know the sails age but they remove the sails when they are gone and always cover them when they are here. They appeared in good shape though obviously not new. Talked with the owner a couple of days ago and he's crying the blues having to replace all the sails. Said the main virtually disintegrated without warning in light conditions. Whole panels tore and is totally useless. When new and good condition, laminates are lightweight, have a shape like a fixed wing on an airplane and keep that shape till they die. The problem is they don't like UV and fail catastrophically when they go. A cruiser probably equals the sun exposure on a typical sail of 10 years for every year of cruising. It's just not economical to cruise with laminates unless you've got very deep pockets and can afford to replace them every year or two and carry spare sails in the event they fail.
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Old 15-02-2016, 15:17   #23
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

Cuben is totally impractical for all but the most deep-pocketed sailors.

Many boats have sailed tens of thousands of miles with a good cruising laminate. While racing laminates can be short lived and blow up in the way RoverHi describes, a good cruising laminate is far more reliable.

There are some excellent woven choices as well. We've done wovens with Vectran or Dyneema and they're pretty much the most practical choice for someone who doesn't want to look at a stretched out Dacron sail.
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Old 15-02-2016, 15:37   #24
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

When I started sailing in the 80's, you expected sails to last 10 years - and be competitive (at least for club racing). Try asking a sailmaker to make you a 10 year laminate sail. Really! Ask them

Maybe the problem is that racers are a big part of a sailmaker's business and they should use laminates. A new sail every year or two is just the price of being competitive. But why do cruisers get the same product?

Most sailmakers position woven Dacron as the "bargain basement sail" and seem to spec the cheapest cloth they can find. If you ask for a dacron quote, they'll always include the price to upgrade to laminate on the quote. The quote practically says "If you are really cheap, we do have some Dacron cloth we got on a deal from China."

If you want something better it's their new "much improved" laminate that won't mildew or delaminate (but no guarantee). If you insist on woven they trot out hydranet. I've considered hydranet several times but keep being told it's too stretchy for a bigger boat. I honestly don't know if that true or just sales talk to push me back to the laminate. And hyrdranet must be 15 years old but I've only met one guy with hydranet sails.

Then Mack Sails told me to look at Challenger Marblehead. Wow! A woven dacron the feels and performs like my old 1980's Hood sails. I think because it is basically the same cloth as 1980 Hood cloth. Sails that had great shape, lasted a decade, took no special care, never mildewed and literally didn't know the meaning of "delaminate".

Marblehead โ€” Challenge Sailcloth
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Old 15-02-2016, 17:19   #25
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

To update my comments regarding Cuben Fiber, I asked Randy when he called me just now on his way back from Tampa, where he coached Bora Gulari to the US Olympic Team berth for Nacra 17.

Randy concurred with IslandPlanet.

Regarding the cost of Cuben: since North bought Cuben, the quality has gone down and the prices doubled. They seem to be much more interested in using Cuben for small area, super light weight applications such as high end backpacking equipment where the super light weight while still being strong is great, and the small amount of material needed means the 2.5x cost of the Cuben over, say, Dimension-Polyant Lite Skin cloth, is a small handicap.

Also, we discussed the Challenge cloths. Bob Bainbridge concentrates on woven cloth, while other cloth manufacturers concentrate on various kinds of laminates. While the Challenge cloth is likely better woven sailcloth than anyone else has ever made, woven sail cloth does not hold shape anywhere near as well as laminates. So it may hold up, but "you won't want to look at it."

Sails made from woven cloth will exhibit all the features we all experienced decades ago before we all went with higher tech solutions: the sail gets baggy, draft goes aft, weird shape distortions when you reef or furl, etc. Those graybeards among us know woven very well, and woven cloth has the bad to go with the good.

One thing that I really liked about soft finish tight weave woven dacron that Hood used to make and as now made by Challenge (again, probably better in every way than the old Hood cloth) is that the sails are MUCH easier to handle. In heavy conditions, when green water is sweeping the deck, that feature matters a LOT.

So Dimension-Polyant Lite Skin might be the best way to go for everything but storm sails, and those are probably best made from Marblehead.

Ten year sails? Until recently, I had never in my life used sails older than about 6 years, and those were well and truly trash. This includes soft cloth dacron 35 to 50 years ago. Those soft sails would get ugly and explode, with the thread failing due to crimping at the sail surface, and chafing where the thread is inside the cloth, and chafing where the cloth and thread rubs against anything anytime. I remember well repairing sails at sea...

Like my old Muscle Car, the memories of reliability are simply not true.

But recently I have sailed on some low speed cruisers with 10 to 15 year old sails, and they still work fine. Several members of this board have sailed around the world with one set of sails. So I think modern cloth is an improvement over the past.

But mildew is a problem. That is a fact. Some things can help of course, but even the most OCD owners and captains I know have problems with mildew on sails and mildew on boats in general.

What have people found that works for the mildew on sails that can be performed by the crew aboard the boat?
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Old 15-02-2016, 18:10   #26
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

Marblehead has a much firmer hand than the old Hood cruising Dacron that is no longer produced. In fact most modern Dacron has a pretty firm hand. Makes it easier to build sails with. That old Hood cloth from the 80's was good stuff but anyone who built sails from it is not likely to agree that Marblehead is the same. That said, we've built heaps of Marblehead cruising sails and it's the best cruising Dacron period.

I get requests from backpacking and climbing enthusiasts asking to buy Cuben fiber periodically. It's amazingly expensive stuff (and we don't sell cloth retail anyway).

We started offering a resin-free carbon load path sail that has been successfully used for close to a decade on boats in Australia. It has a surprisingly soft hand for what it is, but it's not cheap. I'm not in the office right now but we did a 155% genoa for a First 38 and I think it was over 7500.

On a big boat, the Hydranet will suffer from some creep. It's the best solution though for a serious long distance cruiser with a flush bank account. I actually prefer Vectran over Dyneema for a lot of applications as long as the Vectran is properly spec'd. It has to be a bit oversize because as Vectran is exposed to UV it will lose a certain percentage of strength. So you have to engineer the fibers so that they are still sufficiently strong after some years of exposure.

I disagree that all sailmakers will only offer a low grade Dacron in an effort to move people to a laminate. For most monohulls under 40', Dacron is perfectly acceptable. As you get into larger boats and multi-hulls, a Dacron sail will be very heavy and eventually stretch. Take something like a Pretorien 47 and when you work out the projected weights, it's a noticeable difference in weight aloft with a Dacron sail. Extra weight means the boat heels more and has to be reefed earlier. And as cloth stretches it heels even more.

I know some cruisers really don't care about sails or sail shape and are probably more concerned with having the most up to date electronics and other gadgets. But sails are the engine for those of us who really sail.
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Old 16-02-2016, 18:45   #27
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

Same comment as before on HYDRANET. I've had my full set (radial main, genoa and staysail) for 8 years and they still look new. They are strong and the radial cut performs well.

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Old 16-02-2016, 20:08   #28
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

My two pence.

When it comes to laminates, each mfr. has quite a large number of options, and choice is really difficult...

I think that we need to trust a sailing sailmaker, who designs what we need depending on use, conditions, boat size, needs...

Of course, being either costs-adverse or a racer is of help...

Being a serious offshore cruiser comes at a disadvantage
...

Question for the expert:

Where to spend an extra budget on new laminate sails, for a heavy displacement monohull!?

Genoa, Yankee, or Mainsail ?
Please select one only!

Thanks!
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Old 16-02-2016, 21:03   #29
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

We ordered a new mainsail made from DYS with the Sailcoat from Dolphin sails in the UK. They claim to be getting 30,000-35,000 miles out of the cloth with the sail only weighing in at maybe 75 pounds (30kg).

I was quoted nearly the same price in the US for a Chinese made Dacron sail.
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Old 16-02-2016, 21:27   #30
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Re: Help With Sail Cloth Choices

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We ordered a new mainsail made from DYS with the Sailcoat from Dolphin sails in the UK. They claim to be getting 30,000-35,000 miles out of the cloth with the sail only weighing in at maybe 75 pounds (30kg).

I was quoted nearly the same price in the US for a Chinese made Dacron sail.
Is DYS a reinforced dacron, or a proper laminated Cloth?

BTW,among laminates, main difference is whether the exotic fibers are individually laid out, or simply intertwined...
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