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Old 04-01-2021, 08:53   #1
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Sail condition - How do you tell?

When boat shopping and looking at the sails, how do you tell the difference between a sail in good condition vs. bad condition?

Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:34   #2
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

A few points to get you started:

1. see sailshape while sailing, a blown out sail will be baggy, cause more heel and prevent you from sailing close to wind
2. go over the seams, inspect threads, wear and tear and any repairs done previously
3. ask for the age of the sail/s
4. take it to a sailmaker to get it inspected/washed/repaired

I went with #4

Happy sailing.
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Old 04-01-2021, 12:08   #3
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Agree with knotical but also lie sail out on a flat surface.
Talk to owner about a test sail and explain one reason for that is to see all the cloth. So definitely go sailing and try to ensure every nappy in the wardrobe is hung out.

An old sail just doesn't feel crisp like a new sail.

And everyone should do this every year or so to one's own sails.

Look for staining, mildew, discolouration of any kind.
Also look for holes, tears (look very carefully at fold marks) and repairs/sticky back.
Check condition of tell tales.
Carefully look over every stitch for breaks, chafe, discolouration (both sides of course).
Restitching might be a sign of age, but also a positive, in that the owner is taking good care and acting on needs as soon as they're seen.
Check condition of bolt ropes, leach lines (especially entry points).
Remove any battens and check their condition (common to reuse old battens on new sails).
Check gromets and any hanks for breakages, corrosion, salt build, piston slide etc.

Purchase of sails, as with other big spends would typically be in the maintenance log. You really need to review the log with care to get a feel not just of the sails, but the boat's maintenance in general..

Something I also did when looking at buying was do an internet search for their boat. Many people maintain blogs/vlogs and often everything they did, bought, problems they had, where they went etc as owners is all nicely presented.
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Old 04-01-2021, 18:24   #4
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

If you don’t want to pay a sailmaker for an assessment just give them the crinkle test, if it’s not crinkley it’s a drop cloth. Now you have a bargaining chip with the owner on the asking price.
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Old 04-01-2021, 18:54   #5
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

The seller should be able to guide you on age of sails and
type of sailing done during the lifetime. The general condition of the boat is usually a good indicator of sail condition.
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Old 04-01-2021, 19:35   #6
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
When boat shopping and looking at the sails, how do you tell the difference between a sail in good condition vs. bad condition?

I'm assuming you're not racing.



Cruising or daysailing, realistically, you start out with the rebuttable presumption that you'll use the sails for a year to see how the boat sails, and then replace them. You might replace the worst one first, depending on your budget and goals, and then wait a year. Or you might decide that they're OK for now, and save your money.


My previous boat was 42 years old when I got it and had the original sails. I sailed it for two years and sold it. The sails were usable but were not in good shape, but they were good enough for daysails. The boat had been lightly used.


I just finished my first season on my new boat. It is 25 years old and has the original main and a newer jib. The main is due for replacement -- while still usable, it's blown out and causes excessive heel and poor performance when hard on the wind. Due to a variety of more compelling maintenance needs I'm not replacing it. Again the boat has been lightly used and I live in an area where the sailing season is short.
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Old 04-01-2021, 21:23   #7
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
When boat shopping and looking at the sails, how do you tell the difference between a sail in good condition vs. bad condition?
I was thinking about this post over lunch. I realise now that when I posted earlier I made some assumptions. Specifically that James is looking at some sort of keel boat, perhaps a cat, makes no difference, but that the boat is for cruising not racing. I should have qualified my post with that information.

But further assuming a moderately sized boat, say under 10 mtrs, then the cost of sails isn't too bad. Especially if you make a progressive replacement of the locker over perhaps 18-24 months.

Can I suggest James that if you provide a little more background as why sails are a concern to you and also what sort of boats are you interested in I think responses to your question would be better.
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Old 04-01-2021, 21:36   #8
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Thank you everyone for your posts, thoughts and advice. I really appreciate it.

I am actually shopping for my very first sailboat, with plans to do some cruising in a 35-40 footer by the time I retire in a year and a half. Not interested in racing.

My immediate plan has been to get a small boat to learn on. No cabin or overnights, but I would like for it to be sloop-rigged - not sure why lol

But a Hunter 27 has come along that I am interested in. Supposed to go have a look at her tomorrow. The owner says he must pay some medical bills and is only asking $2000 for her. It's a 1984, and the interior needs a good bit of work, but I figure if everything else is in fair condition then I just may have found my learning boat.

Hopefully he's not feeding me a load of BS about it.
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Old 05-01-2021, 03:03   #9
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
Thank you everyone for your posts, thoughts and advice. I really appreciate it.

I am actually shopping for my very first sailboat, with plans to do some cruising in a 35-40 footer by the time I retire in a year and a half. Not interested in racing.

My immediate plan has been to get a small boat to learn on. No cabin or overnights, but I would like for it to be sloop-rigged - not sure why lol

But a Hunter 27 has come along that I am interested in. Supposed to go have a look at her tomorrow. The owner says he must pay some medical bills and is only asking $2000 for her. It's a 1984, and the interior needs a good bit of work, but I figure if everything else is in fair condition then I just may have found my learning boat.

Hopefully he's not feeding me a load of BS about it.
Sounds like a perfect learning boat.

Sail condition in this instance will be the least of your worries, in my opinion. Hull and keel soundness, condition and engine hours + maintenance and age of rig will be bigger concerns. You can varnish and spiff up the interior in your spare time.

Obtain a sound hull that will keep you safe needs to be your priority.

Good luck,
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:07   #10
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Sounds like a perfect learning boat.

Sail condition in this instance will be the least of your worries, in my opinion. Hull and keel soundness, condition and engine hours + maintenance and age of rig will be bigger concerns. You can varnish and spiff up the interior in your spare time.

Obtain a sound hull that will keep you safe needs to be your priority.

Good luck,
LittleWing77
Hi LittleWing77. Thanks for your post.

Owner says the engine has 96 hours, and it looks like it's in the water so I'm not sure how to assess the hull and keel unless I get a survey..? And I'm not sure it's worth it to get a survey for a $2000 boat? What do you think?

I'm not really sure how to assess the condition of the standing rigging other than see if it is nice and tight, no rust, condition of fasteners. And the running rigging, how can I test it other than how it looks? I looked at a boat a couple weeks ago, and the running rigging looked terrible - just dirty as heck and long-neglected.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:01   #11
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
But a Hunter 27 has come along that I am interested in. Supposed to go have a look at her tomorrow. The owner says he must pay some medical bills and is only asking $2000 for her. It's a 1984, and the interior needs a good bit of work, but I figure if everything else is in fair condition then I just may have found my learning boat.

Hello again James


Any sail for a Hunter 27 will cost more than the asking price for the entire boat.



You may find that a Hunter 27 is difficult to resell regardless of condition. Most buyers of boats in that size range will want something trailerable with an outboard. Most buyers of deeper draft boats with an inboard will want something larger and newer.


Accordingly you will want to limit your spending and instead save your money for your next boat in 1-3 years.


If you can get the owner or his friend or an agent or someone to take you out on the boat and show you how it sails (and show you THAT it sails) that might help clarify matters somewhat. A sea trial is customary with larger dollar purchases, less so on small ones, you will have to use your judgment in deciding how far to push things.



Regarding your specific questions:


Hull and keel
You can pay to have it hauled and look at it yourself or have a yard look at it and make recommendations even if you do not get an actual survey. You can get maintenance history from the current owner. When was it last painted? Who did the work? Were there any problems noted then? Is there any damage history? Who repaired it? You can have a diver look at it. Is it badly fouled? If it is in the water and free of fouling and obvious visible problems, you're probably OK.


A survey is going to be expensive and is a judgment call you have to make based on the amount of money you think will have in the boat by the time you sell it, not just the purchase price. If you replace a bunch of things and do a bunch of work and find out there are structural problems all that time and money will then be worthless.


Standing rigging

If it's more than 10 years old it's officially shot. Replacing the standing rigging is not particularly expensive on smaller boats (a few hundred dollars) . You can call places and get an estimate just based on the fact that it's a Hunter 27. If you're handy you could install it yourself next time the mast is down and save some money.


Running rigging

Generally you want to look for fraying and damaged spots where the fibers are broken. You can take the lines off and run them through a front-loading washing machine to get the dirt off and better evaluate their condition if you think they might still be OK. You may be able to cut out bad sections of some of the longer lines and reuse them for shorter or noncritical purposes to limit the expense of replacement.


Generally if the lines are shot the shackles are too. You might consider switching to soft shackles.


Sails

Once it's your boat you will want to take them to a sailmaker for checking over, minor repairs, and advice. It is rare for a sailmaker to recommend replacement in your situation (until you've spent some time sailing the boat) but if they do you would want to explore the option of used sails.


Finally

The market is full of boats of that size, age, condition, and price point so be prepared to walk away and find another one.


After I bought and sold my first boat, (24' 1976 Morgan) I concluded that the total costs for me would have been lower if I had started with a boat that was 20 years newer and in better condition, even though the purchase price was 2x-3x higher, because the resale would have been better, the cost of maintenance and repairs would have been lower, and I would have kept the boat a little longer before moving on. There's a thread on the forum about my experience that you should be able to find if you're interested.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:12   #12
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Thanks very much for your post Jammer. I appreciate it!

Yeah... Buying a "learner" boat that I have to sink a lot of money into doesn't appeal to me much. Maybe I should think more about a nice sailing skiff for $2-3K. That might be a better choice until I'm ready for a boat I can go cruising in.

Besides, the Hunter guy isn't returning my calls LOL Maybe he's changed his mind.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:36   #13
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
When boat shopping and looking at the sails, how do you tell the difference between a sail in good condition vs. bad condition?......
Notice if any of these things seem true:

1. The boat seems to heel more than it used to at the same wind speed.
2. It doesn't point as good or the jib is luffing when you're trying to keep up with someone else on a higher tack.
3. Cannot flatten the sail to spill wind.
4. Stitching is coming apart, as already pointed out.

If in doubt, get an opinion from a local sail maker.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:51   #14
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesiv1 View Post
Thank you everyone for your posts, thoughts and advice. I really appreciate it.

I am actually shopping for my very first sailboat, with plans to do some cruising in a 35-40 footer by the time I retire in a year and a half. Not interested in racing.

My immediate plan has been to get a small boat to learn on. No cabin or overnights, but I would like for it to be sloop-rigged - not sure why lol

But a Hunter 27 has come along that I am interested in. Supposed to go have a look at her tomorrow. The owner says he must pay some medical bills and is only asking $2000 for her. It's a 1984, and the interior needs a good bit of work, but I figure if everything else is in fair condition then I just may have found my learning boat.

Hopefully he's not feeding me a load of BS about it.
Let me be the devil's advocate and discourage you from buying this boat without proper inspection/survey. Routine yearly costs like insurance (if you get it), storage, haul out, bottom paint, etc. will easily exceed $2000, you will still have to deal with necessary upgrades all of which can amount to several times more. Finally, it will be near impossible to sell it in a few years when you are ready for an upgrade.

I read that you may not pursue this boat after all but if a similar boat fancies you in the future and you think a survey cost will be prohibitive see if you can get a limited survey, like hull integrity and keel, replace rigging & sails, attach an outboard and off you go.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:01   #15
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Re: Sail condition - How do you tell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knotical View Post
A few points to get you started:

1. see sailshape while sailing, a blown out sail will be baggy, cause more heel and prevent you from sailing close to wind
2. go over the seams, inspect threads, wear and tear and any repairs done previously
3. ask for the age of the sail/s
4. take it to a sailmaker to get it inspected/washed/repaired

I went with #4

Happy sailing.
^ nailed it.
Also, on a well worn sail the fabric will be very limp. A fresher one will be quite stiff fabric.
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