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Old 22-09-2014, 12:59   #1
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Recutting an Old Spinnaker into a Drifter?

Hey there,

I found what I think is an old spinnaker in my garage. It was on the boat when I bought it, but on the initial clear-out it was put in storage and I kind of forgot about it.

Anyway, it's in fairly decent shape, but I don't have any use for a spinnaker. I am however in the market for a second-hand reacher as talked about by the Pardeys. Essentially a big hank-on genoa in spinnaker cloth. Since there's a few sails that are known as drifters, here's a little extra explanation from a text on the subject:

"The drifter—also called a reacher—is a time-honored, handy, and versatile sail. Unlike other light air sails, it carries satisfactorily on all points of sail. A drifter generally allows a vessel to sail close hauled and to tack, and it’s very easy to control when set and struck. This sail is essentially a large, powerful, hanked on genoa built of light weight fabric. Its intended wind range is 3-12 knots apparent, and its size on a sloop generally ranges from 140 to 160 percent of the fore-triangle area. A drifter can be made of nylon, Dacron, or a laminated sailcloth made of various “exotic” fibers. Both nylon and light weight Dacron sail cloth are available in colors, and both have a softer hand and fewer mildew concerns than a laminate. Nylon is the softest and lightest-weight fabric choice, an asset both in sail handling and in performance in a whisper of wind. Nylon also can take the abuse of being stuffed tightly into a sail bag and being carried beyond its designed wind range. Because Nylon both stretches and recovers, it can take the shock loads of sudden gusts without permanent shape distortion or tearing. It can also handle prolonged sailing to weather in winds better suited to a smaller, heavier headsail, although its fullness and a vessel’s leeway will temporarily increase in those circumstances. Nylon’s negatives include poor UV resistance and a tendency for colors to migrate from one colored panel to another when the sail is stowed wet."

Anyway, is there any chance this sail can be recut into such a drifter? Would it be an expensive undertaking (more expensive than finding a similar second-hand sail?) or better yet, could I do it myself?
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Old 22-09-2014, 13:35   #2
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Re: Recuting a old spinnaker into a drifter?

From the photo your sail appears to be a cross-cut symmetrical kite. The shape of such sails is not at all like a genoa, so that simply adding a luff tape and some hanks would result in a sail that would not work at all well to windward. It could possibly be flown in light winds at deep angles, acting as a drag device, but who would want such a sail?

IMO, you would be far better off selling this sail and buying one that was designed to do what you want.

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II , lying Pittwater, NSW fora while.
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Old 22-09-2014, 14:19   #3
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Re: Recuting a old spinnaker into a drifter?

Had a Dacron reacher on my last boat. Used the hell out of it reaching. Really helped to sheet to the main boom for that point of sail. Was not a sail you use hard on the wind, however. It did work to sail to weather but was too full a cut to beat in place of a real genoa in other than near drifting conditions. Don't know if I agree that nylon is a better material for a reacher. We abused the hell out of our light Dacron sail. Used it for days at a time in gusty trades and got caught more than once by very strong winds with it up. It did get bagged out but that was after what would've been a decade or more of use for a typical weekend sailor.

As far as your original question, talk to a sail maker. Doubt it could be done but don't know for sure. Assume that it's probable 3/4 ounce material would too light for a sail to be used to windward.

As as far as buying a used sail, should be no problem. Our sail was cut for a 35' Morgan. We used it on Westsail 32.
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
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