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Old 01-04-2016, 13:06   #1
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Washing the sails

Does it help extend the life of your sails if you take them off of the main and roller furler and wash them down with a deck brush?
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Old 01-04-2016, 16:29   #2
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Re: Washing the sails

Caolan,

No, not with a deck brush, you don't want to abrade the stitching. Unfurl, hose off with fresh water to get rid of the salt that stays behind, and air dry. That's really about the best you can do, and that's sort of optional. We used to wash dacron sails after they got salty; now we wait for the rains to come.

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Old 01-04-2016, 16:37   #3
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Re: Washing the sails

Thank you Ann. Also, what is the lifespan of sails? I bought my boat last year and the sails are in good condition but I have no real history on them.

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Caolan,

No, not with a deck brush, you don't want to abrade the stitching. Unfurl, hose off with fresh water to get rid of the salt that stays behind, and air dry. That's really about the best you can do, and that's sort of optional. We used to wash dacron sails after they got salty; now we wait for the rains to come.

Ann
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Old 01-04-2016, 17:08   #4
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Re: Washing the sails

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Originally Posted by Caolan View Post
Thank you Ann. Also, what is the lifespan of sails? I bought my boat last year and the sails are in good condition but I have no real history on them.
That is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. It will depend on how much you use them, how they are used or abused, the quality of the original material and stitching and your location for a starters.

Used weekends and a summer cruise they should last a decade before requiring minor repairs. Used for offshore voyaging month after month they will require regular attention if they are not to fall apart. Assuming they are a white Dacron material the quality of the cloth will dictate how they stretch. Cheap material loosely woven with lots of filler will stretch and turn into a baggy mess. Expensive tightly woven material will still stretch but will take take a lot more use first. The amount of stitching and quality of the thread use likewise. Finally and some good news for once, your location means you are probably not going to be using them in the depths of winter and secondly you won't have to worry about high UV levels which damage sails in short order. This will affect your sails but to a much lesser extent, but do keep them properly covered up.

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Old 01-04-2016, 19:24   #5
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Re: Washing the sails

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Originally Posted by Caolan View Post
Thank you Ann. Also, what is the lifespan of sails? I bought my boat last year and the sails are in good condition but I have no real history on them.
Lifespan in terms of? A sail won't fall to tatters for years after it has been stretched beyond reasonable performance. on the other hand Dacron sails start to loose their shape the first time they are put up, and progressively from there on.

A reasonably funded racing program that uses Dacron sail will expect to replace the main every other year and the jib every year at least. Some will replace them even faster, with top programs replacing the jib every five days of racing.

Which is why race boats have switched from Dacron to more durable materials. Things like Nor 3di don't have the decade long 'we can put it up and go north' ability, but will hold their designed shape for much longer. Right now the Volvo's are figuring a main will last a single circumnavigation, and the jibs at least that long maybe longer.

The downside to high tech sails is when they fail, the fail completely. There is no 'maybe we can get another six months out of it'.
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:50   #6
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Re: Washing the sails

GOOD MORNING, IT LOOKS LIKE SAILS ARE FAR AWAY FROM DAILY MAINTENANCE,AS WE ALL DO WITH OTHER PARTS OF OUR BOATS. IN FACT, MOST OF US DROP THEM DOWN ONLY WHEN THEY NEED TO BE STICHED. HAVE YOU EVER TRY TO LET YOUR CLOTHES HANGING FRON THE LINE FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS? DO SO AND YOU'LL SEE WHAT GOES ON. PLEASE, LOOK AFTER YOUR SAILS SO YOU CAN RELY ON THEM IN A BLOW.
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Old 02-04-2016, 03:35   #7
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Re: Washing the sails

Read this post, it should help a fair bit (including following the links therein) Purchasing new mainsail and confused...

One of the key sections to it has to do with having your sails professionally cleaned. Including their getting whatever TLC that they require, as well as the option to have them re-resined. An option that's definitely worth researching, as per the thread.
Sail Cleaning and Sail Restoration from Sail Care

Also, do a few different searches on here, using the key words; sail laundering, & similar. With a bit of diligence, you'll turn up a lot of helpful wisdom(s).

Regarding Stumble's post, & how often racer's really replace their sails. Such a thing is Gigantically variable. And much of it too, is based upon the boat's size, cut & construction of the sails, the boat's righting moment, how competetive they are...

As, for instance, on the 12 meters, used for the America's Cup, we could wear out a suit of Kevlar sails, in One Day. To the point where sometimes they were delaminating, or torn/blown out by then.
And even some of North's new gen sails need quite frequent "tune ups", or replacement on boats the size of yours. So it really depends. AKA there's no free lunch, or magic fabric.

But with good care, which includes having them regularly gone over by a good sailmaker, your sails should last you quite a while. Particularly on a boat the size of yours.
Especially up there. Unless you're a gale sailor junkie

PS: While furlers are handy to have. If it's blowing, take off your big genoa, & put a smaller one onto the furler prior to leaving the dock/just as you're hoisting sail.
Your sails will last a LOT longer, as partially furled sails really take a beating in higher winds. And used, heavier weight/smaller sails, are fairly inexpensive.
Anything more than rolling a sail up more than 30% is when it's time to change down. Or switch to your Solent/Staysail.
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Old 04-04-2016, 17:20   #8
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Re: Washing the sails

I know a man who is regularly uses a suit of sails that are more than 50 years old.
They are stretched out, extremely wrinkled, all the resin is completely worn away, (The seams are actually hemmed) but they still catch wind and create adequate force to allow him to sail.
He also has a silk spinnaker that probably hasn't been used in 30 years.
I don't believe they have ever been washed. They do seem to have an odd smell.
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