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Old 25-09-2011, 11:42   #16
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

Nick,

I'm curious, are your wings doped? If so, is there any difference in the doping materials?

With dacron, sailmakers can use UV inhibited cloth or not. Assume the same is true of planes. The most common UV inhibited dacron has a titanium dioxide coating (usually on one side, used as a cover more than as an overall sail material). One test is to make a small mark on the cloth with a pen (super fine Sharpie or similar). If the ink wicks into the sail then it does not have TiO2 on that side. If the ink does not wick then the material has a coating of some type. If your material is doped then that will probably have the same effect, so this test wouldn't tell you anything.

My sailmaker recommends:

303 UV Protectant

Don't know if FAA regs allow the use of unapproved products. Also, can't say I've tried it, sailmaker is more of a friend than a sailmaker to us, because the newest sail on the boat is about 10 years old (the oldest is 35). Needs replacing because of shape/stretch, but these sails have made two loops around the Pacific, probably 20,000 miles all told. So, can't comment on newer material vs. older, except to say that the older material has lasted a long time for us. Our sails get covered as soon as they come down, but that still leaves something like 200 days or more of use on the working sails.
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Old 25-09-2011, 12:48   #17
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

Double sided Jim....the underside never give a problem.

Nick.
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Old 25-09-2011, 13:40   #18
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

nick, I think you will be on a wild goose chase unless you can be specific about exactly WHAT fabrics you are comparing.

With most sailcloth, there is a plastic resin calendered into the surface of the fabric when it is manufactured. The resin stabilizes the cloth, preventing the warp/woof from shearing against each other, and it protects against UV damage, among other things.

But as soon as you say "resin" that adds a likelihood that the material WAS a petrocchemical or solvent base with a VOC component that has been replaced in recent years by a water-based "zero VOC" compound instead. If that's the case with your mystery fabrics, sometimes the new water-based products are necessary to meet emissions laws--and inferior. Sometimes they're just as good.

But without knowing exactly what materials you are comparing, you can't begin to guess if this issue even applies.

And then there's the question of source, and price. Assuming your source has the same problems are everyone else, there are cheaper materials from unknown sources, and counterfeit materials that are outright inferior, and we all know that even "FAA-certified" parts are sometimes simply counterfeits.

So before you try to figure out if "cloth" isn't as good as it used to be...you need to find out exactly what cloth, from what mill, and what issues might affect it.
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Old 25-09-2011, 13:47   #19
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

hellosailor I will see if I can be more specific...I will do some digging.

Nick.
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Old 25-09-2011, 14:34   #20
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

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Originally Posted by DaveOnCudjoe View Post
Perhaps the question could be visited by those circumnavigators in the group. How do sails hold up to the day in day out exposure experienced in long passages? Can you get a circumnavigation out of 1 set of sails? Dave
We have one customer who had a sail last 60,000 miles. Our goal for a premium cruising sail is to provide 30-40,000 miles of service if cared for. So it can be done. As mentioned in previous posts materials and construction methods factor in. To maximize sail life, here's what's important in my mind:
1. Do not over-stress the sail. IE: reef when prudent, do not buy a furling genoa that is reefed 75% of the time as it will shorten life (why we build a lot of 110-125% genoas as opposed to larger),

2. Cover when not in use. We see a lot of cruisers in an anchorage for days without a mainsail cover.

3. Periodically (gently) clean the sail. Main thing we want to do is get rid of salt crystals.

4. When buying a sail, do not get sucked in by a cheap price from a loft that is probably using second quality cloth. It's a very competitive industry with everyone having similar margins. A large discrepancy in pricing should be a red flag and prompt you to question why. You get what you pay for.
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Old 25-09-2011, 16:21   #21
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

PS I tried to guess the sun hours of our old sails. 8 oz quality polyester. 440 days, hard to say how many of them sunny however.

In any case, one full circle and some 400 days if taken care off, stored and protected properly.

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Old 26-09-2011, 10:14   #22
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

Barnakiel,
Many in the industry use an estimated life of 4000-5000 hours of exposure. So 440 days is probably a reasonable figure.

A larger issue for me is how well the shape is preserved. Sails made with low quality cloth lose shape incredibly quick. Anecdotally I know of one sailor who was selling his catamaran and had a badly deteriorated main. He bought the cheapest main he could find. During the sea trial on San Francisco Bay the main stretched. After the sea trial the main was removed and placed in a dumpster. Pretty extreme example admittedly, but cloth quality is paramount in an offshore cruising sail.
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Old 27-09-2011, 05:20   #23
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

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(...) Sails made with low quality cloth lose shape incredibly quick. (...)
This may be as you say but we simply do not buy sails that are made from noname cloth. We have Boding (Polyant cloth), Doyle (Contender cloth), etc.. In fact, all our sailmakers asked what we wanted and we got just that.

Even so, the bi-radial genoa lost shape mid-way, while the cross-cut main held its shape very well all the way throughout. I talked the genoa issue with sailmakers/friends and the consensus is the cloth was good quality but not the type that should be used for a bi-radial cut.

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Old 27-09-2011, 06:03   #24
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

so if I understand:
so 4000-5000 hours of sun exposure
so we will say 25% clouding or not full exposed = 5000 hours
we'll say 8 hours of sun exposure per day use (which is pretty conservative)
so 5000/8 = 625 days of continous use

For me in the Northeast only using the boat 1/2 yr and mostly on the weekends it comes out to 12 years. My sails are 11 years old and the only thing I need to do this year is get the UV cover resown on the head sail.
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Old 27-09-2011, 06:26   #25
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

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so if I understand:
so 4000-5000 hours of sun exposure (...)
Hmmm. If this is the number from the manufacturer of the cloth, then yes. It is also important to learn what weight the cloth (the heavier, the more UV resistance) and then how much of strength is lost after the said hours. Is it till 50%, 100% loss of strength? Etc.. Imagine a 8 oz cloth that lost say 50% of its strength ... will you feel safe under a 4 oz sail in a heavy blow?

I can only tell you that a cockpit tent made of brand new quality 7 oz dacron, left on the boat full time lasts 1 year and then I have to make a new one. It is sort of extreme exposure as it 90 degs to the rays when the sun is at the top.

If we could only have sails made of dacron with sunbrella UV resistance ... ;-) !!!

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Old 27-09-2011, 07:54   #26
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

I had Dimension Polyant Cruislam sails, glued and stitched on my last cat.

Mainsail blew out (actually tore through the guts) after 5 years during delivery to new owner.
Working Heady showed signs of not having much life left either
Light Mylar heady had lost its edge after 12 mths, but was still a good off the breeze sail and was showing signs of packing it in as well with plenty of reinforcing tape being strategically added.

Sails were religiously bagged and covered every day after use

Many performance multi owners I used to sail with, who sailed a lot, and with bigger budgets seemed to replace sails more often than me.
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Old 27-09-2011, 09:32   #27
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

What we have been told about the microlight/ultralight aircraft that are using Dacron is that the modern Dacron is not as well protected with the UV barrier that the manufactures use these days....as the barrier they used to use can no longer be used due health and safety consideration during manufacture,

I am told its made by Polyant,

That would emplane why the material from some years ago had a much longer life.

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Old 27-09-2011, 19:39   #28
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

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This may be as you say but we simply do not buy sails that are made from noname cloth. We have Boding (Polyant cloth), Doyle (Contender cloth), etc.. In fact, all our sailmakers asked what we wanted and we got just that.

Even so, the bi-radial genoa lost shape mid-way, while the cross-cut main held its shape very well all the way throughout. I talked the genoa issue with sailmakers/friends and the consensus is the cloth was good quality but not the type that should be used for a bi-radial cut.

b.
Barnakiel,

Cloth manufacturers make a range of cloth. In essence they come in different grades. You can get a lousy cloth or great cloth from any of the manufacturers. Brand name is meaningless unless you specify which cloth it is.

If your bi-radial genoa was Dacron, you were sold something inappropriate for your needs. Once you get into radial cuts, you want to use material truly designed for radial construction unless you're racing in a one design class that prohibits laminates. In that case, something like WarpDrive from Challenge may be just the ticket, however it's not a finish we'd be comfortable recommending for a cruising sail.

I've seen many cruisers disappointed with sails built by lofts that are well known for racing sails but simply not the right choice for the serious cruisers.
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Old 27-09-2011, 19:42   #29
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

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I can only tell you that a cockpit tent made of brand new quality 7 oz dacron, left on the boat full time lasts 1 year and then I have to make a new one. It is sort of extreme exposure as it 90 degs to the rays when the sun is at the top.

b.
You can buy end cuts of Sunbrella for about $10 per yard.
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Old 27-09-2011, 21:04   #30
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Re: How Long Do Modern Sails Last ?

"you were sold something inappropriate for your needs."
If I tell a loft that I want the new spinnaker made of 1/4 ounce pink toile and they just say "OK" I may get what I asked for--but a professional loft damn well out to have two psychiatrists examine me and make me sign off "AGAINST LOFTS ORDERS" before they take my money on it.

If it is the wrong material for the apparent job, a professional will gently bring up the point and confirm that there's no confusion, and there's some special need you are filling.

Like maybe you're racing in the Bolshoi Ballet SingleHanded Best Costume Division.
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