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Old 16-03-2011, 18:10   #31
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
. . . . This is one of the benefit of using a big loft . . .
Just FYI, My spectra sail where the stitching failed was from North . . . I am actually not so sure that a loft with lots of racing experience is a good thing for making cruisiing sails - the priorities are so completely different.
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Old 16-03-2011, 18:24   #32
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
If you ask your sailmaker and if your sailmaker has daily contact with the cruising crowd they WILL add some nice touches - e.g. coloured thread, oversize reef patches, etc.. Our sailmaker always specifies 3 reefs for a cruising boat and super duper leech-line cleats backed by grommets. From my sailing experience I can say they are right.
Are three reefs recommended for a cruising sail? I thought two well placed reefs would be sufficient (which is what I requested on my new sail).
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Old 16-03-2011, 18:52   #33
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Just FYI, My spectra sail where the stitching failed was from North . . . I am actually not so sure that a loft with lots of racing experience is a good thing for making cruisiing sails - the priorities are so completely different.
You are 100% right on one specific sail - the sail had a problem. It was your sail, your money, you boat, and your risks - should the sail fail in a dramatic moment. I fully agree with your doubts and hope that North behaved as could be expected from a company with such a good record.

But I was talking with a slightly broader picture in mind.

North is probably one of the best choices for a cruising boat - a sail made in UK will be repaired at no extra cost (within warranty, or beyond - if there was an obvious design or manufacturing failure) in any other country. A sail made at North will likely not need to be repaired, in the first place.

IMHO some of the best cruising sails I have ever used were made by North - they were made from excellent materials, had proper design and lasted very well.

If you read my post you will note that I was commenting on big lofts (say: North, Doyle, Quantum, Incidences, to name only the most prominent few) not on lofts that specialize in racing sails exclusively. There may be such racing-only lofts, but I do not have knowledge of how they work or why they could apply less than best standards to a cruising sail.

I said 'a big loft' and a big loft will produce all sorts of sails and canvas. I can assure you that in many respects cruising sails go ahead mostly because of the progress in the racing sector. This is how we got Dacron, Spectra, furled asymmetrics, tell-tales and countless other good sail-things into cruising. Where there is a lot of production in various forms, there is something called I think synergy in English - like when two sailmakers talk over a beer. Guess what they are talking about. Yes - about sails.

Sail making is like any other design and built process - we gain a lot from rapid prototyping. And rapid prototyping is possible only where sails are made and torn and made again and where the guinea pigs are rich and willing enough to pay for the process. This is the racing scene. You cannot experiment in the cruising sail - you make a mistake and next time your client goes elsewhere. In the cruising sector you use what you learned in the racing field - and try to deliver the best sail possible. You know - so that the client comes back one day.

I have sailed extensively but I have also worked some for a major loft in Auckland, NZ. We made sails for AC and VOR there, for Optis and Tayanas, Dhows and square riggers. I have never seen such dedication to the trade, to the quality and to proper use of whatever was the newest and the best know-how and materials in each sail we made. Now at times I help in a much smaller loft in another country. I can see many differences. My future sails will be only from a top brand, big loft.

Every sailmaker can and will go wrong at times. But at least we know that if they go wrong at North today, they will make better sails tomorrow.

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Old 16-03-2011, 18:52   #34
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
Are three reefs recommended for a cruising sail? I thought two well placed reefs would be sufficient (which is what I requested on my new sail).
This is a divisive question with, as far as I can tell, about a 50/50 split between those who prefer 2 (deep) reefs and 3 reefs.

Personally, I prefer 3 reefs, but really it is about personal preference - there are pros and cons for either option (presupposing you also carry a trisail).
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Old 16-03-2011, 18:59   #35
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
This is a divisive question with, as far as I can tell, about a 50/50 split between those who prefer 2 (deep) reefs and 3 reefs.

Personally, I prefer 3 reefs, but really it is about personal preference - there are pros and cons for either option (presupposing you also carry a trisail).
Thanks. Isn't everything a divisive question when it comes to sailing preference's...
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Old 16-03-2011, 19:02   #36
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

Any loft with mucho experience is by necessity a loft cutting racing sails. Cruisers rarely buy sails, racers spend more on sails then the boat. Buying a larger cruising boat actually saved us money in the "sail purchase" department although each sail is much more expensive. Pretty easy to drop $10 to $25k/year on sails when campaigning a 35 footer. How many cruisers are out there with 10 year old white sails?
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Old 16-03-2011, 19:36   #37
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
Are three reefs recommended for a cruising sail? I thought two well placed reefs would be sufficient (which is what I requested on my new sail).
I did not say they are recommended. I said my sailmaker specifies them. And I like what they specify because it worked for what I did.

We started off with two reef points (new sails made in Sweden, in a small upper class ;-) loft) . In NZ (half way thru our trip) we added the third point to each main and we also built a trysail.

What is recommended depends on what you do and how your boat is laid out. Ours is a small top-rigged sloop. I think I could do with two reef points on a cutter rigged boat (my guess only).

Where I (biased, opinion) would see a potential problem with two reefs on a cruising sloop is that there would be no reef left for those one-off situations when the wind pipes up in a dramatic way and you have neither time nor will to drag the trysail and hoist it. Some boats have a separate trysail track, others don't ... I like the trysail a lot but we went thru many a squall just by reefing to the 3rd and furling the big jib in completely.

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Old 16-03-2011, 19:40   #38
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Its been my experience with a cruising dacron main that the stitching starts to go well belore the cloth - so just to add some complication to your life - I would focus as much (or more) attention on the stitching - thread type & denier, single/double/triple stitched, etc.
Not only will I be specifying triple stitched, I will also insist on a UV resistant thread (yes, it exists) and I'll buy spare thread for my Sailrite. I already have the waxed twine and the sailor's palm.
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Old 16-03-2011, 19:48   #39
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Not only will I be specifying triple stitched, I will also insist on a UV resistant thread (yes, it exists) and I'll buy spare thread for my Sailrite. I already have the waxed twine and the sailor's palm.
I always specify the thread. I've never had a dacron sail where the fabric failed before the stitching.

Same goes with sunbrella fabric for canvas work. The fabric always seems to outlast the stitching.

S/V Alchemy is right: UV resistant thread exists. Why a cruiser wouldn't insist on such thread is beyond me.
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Old 16-03-2011, 20:37   #40
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
You are 100% right on one specific sail . . .

North is probably one of the best choices for a cruising boat - a sail made in UK will be repaired at no extra cost (within warranty, or beyond - if there was an obvious design or manufacturing failure) in any other country. A sail made at North will likely not need to be repaired, in the first place.
hmmmm . . . well we had a blast reacher made by North Auckland, where the head ripped off (twice, obvious stress riser design flaw) which North Antigua would only fix for fee (not free) at their standard rates.

And we had a yankee made in North S. Africa that was a piece of crap that no-one would or could fix.

I am not intending to bash North here. I guess my experience has simply been that the 'big lofts' don't brings as much to the party vs a small loft as you think. For me the actual individual sailmaker and designer are much more important than the brand name.

I would and obviously do use North, but I am also perfectly happy using others, and in the particular case we are discussing I do happen to think other lofts use somewhat better dacron.

I think a deep and probing discussion about cloth and thread and reef point (and batten and leach cord) design is completely appropriate and necessary if you are getting you first sail from a particular loft, so you can be sure they really understand the offshore cruising environment, which is quite different from the racing priorities. Many lofts are resistant to this sort of discussion, and I just run away if so, because it probably means they want to do it their standard way which is probably not right for offshore cruising.
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Old 17-03-2011, 06:15   #41
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

Evans, this is true. We have a small, reputable loft here in Toronto that I like to use, because I have a custom boat and there's always more measuring involved, and sometimes adjustments are required after a couple of hoists.

But I do wonder if a Great Lakes loft can cut and sew to what I think is an appropriate balance of strength and, uh, suppleness that will be able to take several tens of thousands of sea miles of good blows without more than the usual maintenance.

The stuff we are discussing is not usual for lofts used to fitting race boats out or putting on fully battened mains of light construction for the typical light-air cruising we do here.

Seeing 40, 50 and finally 65 knot squalls last summer in a Lake Ontario race, and seeing what it did to sailcloth (admittedly the expensive composite materials) has made me quite mindful of the need to reinforce all sorts of things.
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Old 17-03-2011, 08:47   #42
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
hmmmm . . . well we had a blast reacher made by North Auckland, where the head ripped off (twice, obvious stress riser design flaw) which North Antigua would only fix for fee (not free) at their standard rates.

And we had a yankee made in North S. Africa that was a piece of crap that no-one would or could fix.

I am not intending to bash North here.

(...)
Well, You just have ;-)

In such a case I would immediately stop buying sails from North Auckland. I would also consider steering clear from other North lofts - because of the North Africa event.

I have never seen such attitude in the company I worked for (a direct competition of the same loft you named in Auckland). All sails found faulty (I can remember two) were fixed at no cost to the owners. I can remember 2 such cases in two years. The loft would make 5 to 10 sails a day. The failure rate was maybe one in a thousand then. Not bad.

Aside from evident sailmakers' errors one has to take into account the fact that even the best sailmakers can at times spew a series of bad stuff only due to the fact that most sails are made from batch material. This becomes more evident in the s.c. cruising laminates. This is something you do not see in the production, only some time into the life of the sail.

Apparently, you have had very bad luck with your choice of lofts. We were much luckier - our first new sails came from a small loft in Sweden and later we had sails from Doyle, NZ and they are all great. Some older sails that we got with the boat are still with us and doing well. But maybe it is not just luck, maybe we push our boat less and thence we make less damage. Hard to say.

Anyway, better luck with your future sail choices!

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Old 17-03-2011, 09:09   #43
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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I always specify the thread. I've never had a dacron sail where the fabric failed before the stitching.

Same goes with sunbrella fabric for canvas work. The fabric always seems to outlast the stitching.

S/V Alchemy is right: UV resistant thread exists. Why a cruiser wouldn't insist on such thread is beyond me.
There is no need to specify the (size of) the thread as the one used by the sailmaker will be the one that is best suited for the cloth. By insisting on (say) too thick a thread you may force the sailmaker into using too big a needle thus making too big holes in the cloth and creating a less than perfect stitching. But you may specify the stitching to be in a contrasting color rather than the same color the cloth is. Some sailmakers do it for all cruising sails, other don't.

Why you see the stitching go before the fabric is that the fabric is woven and only some of the basic material is exposed to the UV at any given time. Meanwhile the stitching is out in the sun - not shaded at all by the neighbouring yarns. For real good stuff like Sunbrella I do not see much help than to re-stich after a time. And, sure, use the best quality of thread you can get, each time.

A UV resistant thread is not something special. Polyester is pretty UV resistant on itself. Please note that nylon sails are not sewn with nylon threads. You ever thought why?

There may be some extra protection given in the form of light resin containing UV stabilisers or in the dye / tint. Maybe (I am not certain) some processes of thread production yield better UV resistance too but I am not certain.

Definitely, if your loft does not use the best UV protected thread for the job, you are right to request them to order / use the better thread. But I found it that 'my' loft uses whatever is best in this respect, so that there is no worry I will get a sail with bad thread in it!

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Old 17-03-2011, 12:04   #44
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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Some older sails that we got with the boat are still with us and doing well. But maybe it is not just luck, maybe we push our boat less and thence we make less damage. Hard to say.

Anyway, better luck with your future sail choices!
Now, no reflection on your habits, but I remember meeting a couple who were very proud they had done a circ on the same set of sails with only a couple of chafes and little tears. They attributed this to superior seamanship and the habit of "reef early and often". We had an entertaining evening, but the next day, when they left, they started their diesel and a cloud of appalling blue and then black smoke came out of their stern, and it sounded like a tractor being beaten by a bunch of asthmatics. Seriously, it looked like a small tire fire.

I think I discovered their secret: 9,000 hours between rebuilds!
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Old 17-03-2011, 12:07   #45
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Re: Mainsail Sailcloth Weight - 8, 9, 10oz ?

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There may be some extra protection given in the form of light resin containing UV stabilisers or in the dye / tint. Maybe (I am not certain) some processes of thread production yield better UV resistance too but I am not certain..
B., do you find merit in the sometimes heard contention that "tanbark" or otherwise coloured sails are more UV resistant than the usual white? This has been going around for years and may predate Dacron.

I ask because I don't care what colour the sails are, but I do care that they last, given all other weather variables.
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