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Old 27-02-2010, 15:56   #16
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G'Day Pressuredrop,

One data point: Insatiable II has swept-back spreaders with simple leather boots at the tips. OUr current mains'l is 7 years and 35,000 miles old, and we've even managed to do some of those miles downwind... actually quita a few of them! We often let the sail ride on the spreaders, but try to avoid having them push big "reverse dents" in the sail. Result? No significant wear is seen. So, unless you have sharp pointy things on your spreader tips (cotter pin ends, etc) you will not be likely to have a problem. Inspection of the wear areas now and then would give ample warning if a prblem shoud arise. I too think that you have much better things to worry about!


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Hawkesbury River, NSW, awaiting the Tsunami

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Old 27-02-2010, 16:23   #17
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We had the same issue and did a lot of offshore sailing for days downwind. In the end we had a new set of sails made since our originals were wearing out. We had heavy chafe patches sewn in where the main rubbed the spreaders and from time to time the patches had to be replaced but the sails held up well. WG

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Old 28-02-2010, 05:16   #18
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Both of the last two posts are right on - - protecting the dacron material of the sail from any abrasion is quite important to your wallet. It does not take very much to wear first through the protective coating on the surface of the dacron material and then much more to "file" through the individual fibers/threads of the material. That will compromise the stress ability of the cloth to maintain the shape the sailmaker put into the sail.
- - Large diameter softer material like soft leather or baggywinkles will work to eliminate the obvious cutting effect of sharp metal/ cotter pins/ etc. Better yet the adding the sewn-on patches act like sacrificial cloth to protect the underlying material just like the Sunbrella cloth sewn on your foresail protects that sail from the sun's UV.
- - Allowing your sail to drape over the spreaders when going downwind actually lessens the sail's power as the spreader pushes a reverse shape into the sail and spills all the air outboard of the spreader just like pushing up on your awnings/bimini with your hand to allow collected rainwater to drain.
- - Finally, go to a sailmarker and ask what a new mainsail for your boat will cost. That alone should inspire you to not let the sail rub against spreaders, etc.
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Old 28-02-2010, 05:53   #19
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1. Keeping the mainsheeted in far enough to stay completely off the spreaders is not great for boat balance. You may not notice it in moderate winds but your windvane/autopilot/human will not like it in strong winds.
2. The mainsail will lean on the spreaders downwind with either swept or in-line spreaders. Just as an aside, we have 15 degree swept spreaders on our current boat (for engineering reasons not cost -fractional rig) and our previous boat had in line spreaders.
3. Use your vang to keep the boom and sail as stable as possible and not rubbing up and down, and pulled off the spreader as much as possible.
4. Check all your spreader tips for any sharp edges. Cover them with leather (or plastic or even duct tape)
5. Your sail maker should have included spreader patches in his price. Typically it's part of a mainsail commissioning job to go out in lightish winds, put the main up run off with the main way out, send someone up the rig with a marker pen to mark where the sail hits the spreaders, and then back at the loft stick on patches and sew the edges.
6. Sticky back Dacron patches are probably ok for weekend sailors but blue water sailors need more - we use a small circle of sticky back thin UHMW (plastic) sheet, with a larger circle of spectra cloth over and then a larger circle of dacron over that.
7. For long downwind runs cruisers often use twin headsails with the main down to eliminate both the chafe and balance issues.
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Old 28-02-2010, 07:09   #20
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1. all the points from estarzinger above.

2. a repeat because it apparently went by un-noticed first time: too much pressure onto the spreaders can lead to rig failure. This probably means loosing your mast. Do not touch more than just the spreader tips!!!

3. besides the boom vang, use your traveler. I see many yachts keeping it in the mid position no matter what. You should use the traveler and only when it doesn't allow enough positioning use the sheet.

4. chafe patches: I think Dashew was the first to start with UHMW on sails. The product to search Google for is "UHMW tape", not sheet. You can stitch the stuff. When you have full battens: put it on the batten pockets too, where they meet the shrouds. Also, think about where the spreaders are when you reef!!!

5. aft-swept spreaders: we have these too, at 30 (!!) degrees. Not to save money, but because our sails would not be able to pass a backstay when tacking or jibing. Also, I think a backstay is much cheaper than all the extra strength and engineering needed for eliminating it. "Cheap" boats always have backstays (is that true?)
Anyway, with our boat, you just don't sail a dead run with main or mizzen up. With 15 knots of wind we could do a dead run with just our main symmetric spinnaker up but normally we gybe downwind on broad reach tacks. Even though we sail more distance that way, it's quicker.

6. a tip for wrapping spreader-tips: Buy a length of 1.5" diameter sanitation hose, one foot for every spreader tip. Cut it into the one foot pieces and next cut it open length-wise in a straight cut. Wrap it around the spreader tip and you will find that the hose is mostly "closed" on the spreader but automatically bends all the way open where it wraps around the tip and shrouds. I use small line to tie it in place because tape is gone too soon. I never found a better system.

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Old 28-02-2010, 07:48   #21
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Sails rubbing on the spreaders are not the only problem. On Exit Only the mainsail can rub on the capshrouds as well. That's one major reason I stopped running downwind wing and wing.

It's much easier to have a double headsail downwind rig with zero chafe. Also the sail plan is balanced much better with the double headsail rig when sailing downwind.
Dave -Sailing Vessel Exit Only
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Old 28-02-2010, 08:07   #22
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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
Sails rubbing on the spreaders are not the only problem.
Yup . . . with a full batten main, wire shrouds will eat the battens unless there is good chafe protection. We use heavy spectra webbing sewn along both side of all the batten pockets. Rod shrouds (which we had on our first boat) are smoother and do not cause so much chafe.

Originally Posted by Jedi View Post
too much pressure onto the spreaders can lead to rig failure.
I suppose that depends on the engineering of the spreader connection. With my fractional rig (and very stiff aluminum hull), the shrouds are quite highly tensioned and it would take an enormous amount of pressure to lever the spreaders forward; and the connection at the mast is quite robust. So, I have honestly never been much worried about this potential failure; but with some other rig design I could imagine it would be a worry. I have ocasionally made some bad (eg too late) reefing calls with sudden squalls and we have hand steered DDW with 40+kts with the main plastered leaning full on and bent around the spreaders, and so far the rig has stayed in the boat

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