Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Preparing your sails for winter

After a glorious summer the weather has finally broken with a vengeance and reminded us that the sailing season is now rapidly drawing to an end. Many sailors will now be making plans for laying up their boats for the winter but it is important at this stage to give some thoughts to your sails. All too often we see furling genoas being left up all winter whilst the boat is ashore; the same goes for mainsails that are left on underneath their sail covers. This of course means that the sails are at the mercy of the elements for extended periods of time, in fact during the winter of 2013 – 2014 we saw many furled headsails that had been completely destroyed because they had shaken themselves loose during the winter gales and literally flogged themselves to pieces.
Trashed jib that shook itself loose in a gale on its marina berth, the sail was destroyed in minutes!
That’s not the only risk however, tightly bound and folded sails combined with a damp salty environment become perfect breeding grounds for mould and mildew. We strongly recommend therefore that if the boat is out of use for any period of time, especially over what can be a long and harsh winter at the very least sails should be unbent and stored somewhere dry. If you are in a position to rinse and dry the sails yourself and inspect them closely prior to folding them away that’s great but if not we are happy to take care of the whole process for you.

Sail repairs and service by professionals

Regular maintenance of your sails by skilled sailmakers can significantly enhance their working life, saving money for the owner and ensuring reliability when it is needed most. Sails operate in a hostile environment where salt and pollutants can cause serious damage to even the best kept sails. Similarly, constant wear & tear requires careful repair and maintenance with an end of season overhaul being essential for the longevity of your sail wardrobe. It is important that any damage, no matter how small is repaired as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage occurring.

Recuts and retrofits

A simple recut can improve shape and give a new lease of life to a ‘tired’ sail. With improved shape comes improved performance and handling, something that is well worth thinking about whilst the sail is off the boat anyway. Retrofit extras include UV protection, luff flatteners for shape retention when genoas are partially furled, changing from hanks to luff foils, altering batten configurations, adding reefs to mainsails etc.

Sail Laundry

OneSails recommend that any sails that are salty or damp get washed thoroughly prior to winter storage. The laundry process will remove any salt and any other airborne pollutants which may harm the sails if left for any period of time. This in turn helps to prolong the overall life of the sail. It also has the added benefit of making the sails easier to work on if any service work is required, and means that they will be dry when they are put away for the winter. If they are put away whilst damp, they are more likely to attract mould or mildew and will not be in a pleasant state when you come to bend them back on next season.

A variety of other sail treatments are also available. Seal ‘n’ Glide is a process that coats the sail in a very thin and slippery nano-layer that helps repel water. This helps to rejuvenate spinnakers that have gone soft and helps furling genoas and mainsails to furl away more efficiently. The fact that it helps repel water also means that it reduces the chances of attack from mould and mildew. M5 is a dedicated anti-fungicidal process that involves cleaning and coating the sails. The special chemicals don’t harm the sails in any way but will kill off any mould and mildew that is present and offer further protection for up to 9 months.

At OneSails GBR we are pleased to be able to offer a full range of sail repair and maintenance services, please feel free to contact us to see what we can do for you and how we can help to extend the life of your sails. 


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