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Old 16-11-2010, 22:42   #1
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Sail Fabric for Cruising

A new set of sails can cost a lot of money.
I am in no hurry to get anywhere.

A cruising friend of mine who has circumnavigated, tells me the condition of his sails are not that important to him, as long as he gets his 4 knots and the sails don't shred he is happy.
Cruising is not racing and I have long given up trying to show off my boat to others.
I have seen articles with sails made from Polytarp and even Tyvek , sometimes glued with double sided carpet tape.
My sail, being a oceanic lateen (crab claw) is best, cut flat (a very simple triangular design).
Up in the islands I have seen oceanic lateen sails, stitched together from used fertilizer bags.

I recently had my sail made from heavy duty spinnaker cloth by a pro sailmaker, as I picked it up, and it wasn't cheap. he said ,"don't expect is to last very long used day in and day out"?

Any alternatives, comments.
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Old 16-11-2010, 23:37   #2
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I think you must mean "lanteen."

It makes no sense to build a lanteen sail out of spinnaker fabrics, most of which would be nylon. Your sailmaker might not be as "pro" as you think. I can't imagine a real sailmaker telling a client not to expect a sail to stand up to frequent use.

I also think that cruisers happy to make four knots might be the minority. For most of us, 80 nm would not be a good day's passage.
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Old 17-11-2010, 00:17   #3
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It can be lateen or lanteen, but a crabclaw sail is a proven long distance rig. Ask the Polynesians. We have a modified crabclaw on our dinghy, and that thing can build up a lot of power!

There are many longer distance sailors than us who will have more to say, but if you are staying in warmer places and not in a hurry, then your chief enemy is UV. You can treat your fabric, and make sure you cover and protect it well when not in use. (This may be more difficult than you think with a crabclaw as the long yards give you a huge bundle of cloth in a rather unmanageable configuration.)

In principle, though of course, any cloth will do so long as it catches enough wind to move your boat and can be reefed when there's more wind than you want. You do need good light wind sails but also stronger ones for upwind and heavier weather. The stitching is as important as the cloth itself as is any reinforcement around attachments and 'holes' (eg cringles/reef points if you have them). Once you have one you're happy with replacements will do nicely if it's an easy shape.

An average 4 knots - or 96nM per day - through the water ain't brilliant but we're often happy with that, especially in the Med where you are so often sailing in very light winds. If you can consistently make that in 6 or 7 knots apparent you'll do even better in a decent trade wind.
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Old 17-11-2010, 01:50   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beau View Post
A new set of sails can cost a lot of money.
I am in no hurry to get anywhere.

A cruising friend of mine who has circumnavigated, tells me the condition of his sails are not that important to him, as long as he gets his 4 knots and the sails don't shred he is happy.
Cruising is not racing and I have long given up trying to show off my boat to others.
I have seen articles with sails made from Polytarp and even Tyvek , sometimes glued with double sided carpet tape.
My sail, being a oceanic lateen (crab claw) is best, cut flat (a very simple triangular design).
Up in the islands I have seen oceanic lateen sails, stitched together from used fertilizer bags.

I recently had my sail made from heavy duty spinnaker cloth by a pro sailmaker, as I picked it up, and it wasn't cheap. he said ,"don't expect is to last very long used day in and day out"?

Any alternatives, comments.
Alternatives? Buy second hand proper made sails and have them recut if required. Like it or not your sails are your main motive power, if you ever plan to go anywhere.

Comments? I'd respectfully suggest fertilizer bags, double sided carpet tape, even tarps might meet the resources available if you lived on an isolated island with no dosh, but not suitable for cruising.

Your mates quote 'don't expect it to last very long used day in an day out' is something you'd repeat to yourself (probably with expletives) if it happened half way twix Galapagos and Marquesas............

Cheers
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Old 17-11-2010, 04:58   #5
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<I recently had my sail made from heavy duty spinnaker cloth by a pro sailmaker, as I picked it up, and it wasn't cheap. he said ,"don't expect is to last very long used day in and day out"?>

This sounds like you suggested the spinnaker cloth. Even at 1.5 oz it is a terrible idea for a cruising sail unless it is an assymetrical spinnaker. Heavy duty dacron will last for years, my guess is your spinnaker cloth won't last a month or the first gale, whichever comes first. Sails aren't cheap. But there are reasonable used sails at Bacon's in Annapolis and other places. Bacon's ships and their website helps you figure out measurements.
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Old 21-11-2010, 14:08   #6
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Go have a look at every cruising sailboat you can find.. not just weekend sailboats, or marina ornaments, but cruising boats that actually go places, that are used regularly. I'd take a guess that 95% of them would carry Dacron sails. There is a reason for this, and the reason is that Dacron sails provide the best value for money in the long term.
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Old 21-11-2010, 14:32   #7
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I agree with you that most sails are dacron.
However i decided to design a motor sailor, with the emphasis on motor, because i will be waiting for thr right weather window for generally trips of 2 days (cruising Indonesia,phillipines etc)

I question the spending of $30,000 plus on masts rigging and sets of sails on a cruising motor sailor.
However, the wind is free and I looked for a simplier way of harnessing wind power and saving on fuel.
I have a motor only range of 500 nautical miles

I have a 20ft aluminium tube mast, simple but strong rigging and a oceanic lateen (crab claw) sail.
When set up properly it is much like a controllable spinnaker.
It is cut flat and is reefed by pulling the spars closer together.

Mast and rigging, second hand winches, sheets etc cost $2,000

I can make a 450 sg ft (35sq meter) sail for $100.00 using a heavy duty UV protected Polytarp which is heat sealed and sewn.
Sure it may only last 1-2 years but so what.

I only intend to sail downwind, motoring upwind if required.
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Old 15-03-2011, 19:25   #8
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

How did you go with this Beau?
I am looking at the idea again myself wondering of the viability of it



Looks a bit bizarre, but, if it works easy enough and only costs a couple of grand then I would would put up with the odd looks
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Old 15-03-2011, 19:56   #9
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

I found an ideal fabric called Polyshield.
It is a high quality UV stabilized polytarp. guaranteed of 5 years.
A 100 x 2 meter roll costs $300.00.
I already have a sail made from heavy duty spinnaker cloth but I do not expect it to last, day in day out.
So I plan to buy a roll of this stuff and cut and glue it with double sided tape for the shape and then take it to a sailmaker or upholsturer for permanent stitching.
Sail is cut flat so it is easy to make.
I used two 2 inch aluminium spars for my rig but bamboo is probably better.
One big advantage with the Oceanic lateen rig is that you fit a brailing line with helps reduce sail area, under way, no need for reefing.
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Old 15-03-2011, 22:01   #10
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

Yeah, pretty sure Polyshield is what the tarp on the shed is made from
And I used it on the last boat as well for a zip up lazyjack boom cover and a big shade tarp and a bag for putting the heady in on deck while while still attached to the forestay, saved heaps over solarstop

I wasn't really concerned about the material though, more how your rig worked and if it was worth the effort
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Old 15-03-2011, 22:10   #11
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

I have had the sail up in the marina but not out at sea yet.
I have been told that there is not a lot of wind up in Indonesia, but I will use the sail whenever i can.(downwind)
It is a simple and cheap rig and because the sail area is up high it should be very efficient.
I like the idea of the brailing line to adjust sail area.
A bit like a controllable spinnaker in my mind.
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Old 15-03-2011, 22:45   #12
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

very interesting,particuly for a cat,please keep us posted,the dowhs in the nile seem to go to windward with the same rig
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Old 15-03-2011, 22:55   #13
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by beau View Post
I have been told that there is not a lot of wind up in Indonesia,
Exactly why I hadn't bothered with sails this time

Quote:
but I will use the sail whenever i can.(downwind)
And why I am looking, again


Quote:
It is a simple and cheap rig and because the sail area is up high it should be very efficient.
I like the idea of the brailing line to adjust sail area.
Thats the line from mast top to mid boom, lift boom up, bag sail and spill air?

Would love to see some pictures and get a report of it in action
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Old 15-03-2011, 23:12   #14
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

Quote:
very interesting,particuly for a cat,please keep us posted,the dowhs in the nile seem to go to windward with the same rig
thats a lateen rig and is actually quite different from the oceanic lateen which was developed in micronesia. (no bottom spar)

Dave, i havn't tested it yet, what with getting everything organised to leave.
I know it will work, and there are many adjustments to make if you know how sails work and I know you do.
i have also set up the autopilot to steer to wind (downwind)
The rig is not meant for tacking, gybeing yes and it will reach very well.
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Old 16-03-2011, 04:27   #15
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Re: Sail Fabric for Cruising

Quote:
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....I have been told that there is not a lot of wind up in Indonesia, ......
I think this depends on season and location.

I have only sailed Darwin to Ambon and return (dry season) and there was plenty of wind (SE to E's 15 to 30 Kts), so much so that we sat in Banda Naira for 6 weeks waiting for it to drop a bit before returning south.

On non sailing trips to Kalimantan, it was quite at times and other times heavy.

Just 2 cents worth, others may have more extensive experience to relate.
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