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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sail shopping


Our little Oday 19 needs a new mainsail. The old one is blown out and is starting to really show its age. Since we replaced the gas outboard with an electric trolling motor, we really need sails we can rely on.

If you ever shop for a used sailboat, carefully consider the condition of the sails. Good sails are not cheap. A "good deal" on a sailboat can suddenly become a lot less of a deal if you need to replace the sails.

I knew the sails were far from new when we bought the boat, but they were sound. After over 5 years of hard sailing they are much worse for wear. Most people don't put that kind of wear on a small sailboat. Here in New England the sailing season is short. If stored properly, sails that are pretty long in the tooth can still be in good condition. By hauling the boat south in the winter we greatly extend the sailing season. Add to that the fact that we actually live on and cruise with the little boat for weeks at a time.

So now I'm looking at the price of sails and the state of our diminishing sailing kitty. I figure I've only got a few more weeks to decide what to do. If I have a sail made, it's going to take a good six weeks before we get it. I'd like to try them out before the weather gets too cold for sailing.
There are other options. One is to buy a used sail. That's a bit tricky as the Oday 19 is not a super common boat so I'd have to find something designed for another boat. That's where knowing the key dimensions of your sail comes in handy. There is one priced right just a tad smaller in very good condition that should work. However, my lovely wife hesitates to give up even a square foot of sail.

Sail size is like horsepower. Some consider my version of the Oday 19 to have been designed with too much sail for its size. Maybe, but it is nice to be able to move around in even very light winds. That comes with a price as a good gust of wind can just about stand the boat up on its side. It's lively. One must really pay attention to what's going on and be prepared to deal with changing conditions. As this is the boat we learned on, for us that sort of thing is normal.

Another option is to build your own sails. However, that's a skill set I'm not quite ready to acquire. While not rocket science, it is science, and art for that matter. There's also the investment in a sewing machine that can handle sailcloth. I've seen people use regular sewing machines to sew canvas. The look for older machines with metal gears instead of plastic. Even so, you are lucky if the machine lasts the job. Learning the skills and getting the tools to do the job makes economic sense if you are doing enough sail work. In fact, there's a good little side business in turning old sail material into carry bags and backpacks.

At some point, if I'm going to remain serious about sailing, I'm going to have to learn about sail construction and repair. After all, a sailboat without sails is just a slow motorboat with a big stick in the middle.

-Sixbears

9 comments:

  1. You might be wise to buy this one, but I WOULD think about looking for a heavy-duty sewing machine. It MIGHT even be able to do light leather.

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    1. I know I'd be wise to buy this one. It is always tempting to get into something new.

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  2. Hi 6-Pac!!!,
    So ya' think ya' wanna' get a sewing machine and make a sail or two??
    Hoooboy, 'bite off a big wad to chew on!! While not "Sail boat Sails" as an old 'Rigger and Skydiver I've tossed a few stitches over the years!! Yer' "predickament" reminds me of an old story as related by "Dirty Ed" one of our old now gone on Skydivin' Guru's, as it goes,"No Sh*t there I was, fallin' thru the sky at High Speed and all I had was a hand full of silk worms and an old, beat up Singer 31-15 sewing machine!!! Every time Dirty told it it was different..except for the beginning like I posted!! ........
    Used' to be a trip to watch the ladies on the machines at "Hank the Crank's" Shop over in Scare-us-Valley makin' "Piglet" Canopies!! And you want to make a sail!! Either way, Boat Sail or Skydiver Rig ya' gotta have the fabric cut right and the thread tension down to the max or your "Project" will look like something made from old feed sacks!!!!
    Keep us posted on yer' project and feel free to ask "The Old Rigger" for any info!!!!!
    Blue skies,
    III%,
    skybill-out
    PS USPA "D"-6009, SCR-2034, SCS-680
    FAA "Master" Parachute Rigger

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    Replies
    1. Hi and welcome!

      Yes, I know how deep the rabbit hole can go. It's like the guy who just wants to get laid and before you know it he's married with three kids.

      I start out needing a sail then undertake a whole new professon. It's not my first choice. However, if I screw up I'm not dropping through the sky with only prayer to rely on.

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    2. Hi 6-Pac!!,
      Never mind the prayers!!! Where's the Paddle!!!
      That's why Skydivers carry a "Reserve Chute!!!"
      Blue skies,
      III%,
      skybill-out

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  3. No matter what a person likes to do, it seems like associated expenses are constantly creeping out of the woodwork. I almost bought a used Cessna once, until I figured out that while I could afford the base price being asked for plane, I would be hard pressed to deal with the associated costs like fuel, tie down fees, insurance, and annuals.

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    1. Funny, the cost of airplane annuals inspired a buddy of mine to become a certified mechanic. Then to help pay the bills he became an instructor. All started with a good deal on a plane.

      At least with sailing government regs are at a minimum. If you can't satisfy basic safety issues you really should not be on the water. That being said, there's no one to stop your from heading out with a leaky hull, ragged sails, and more confidence than skill.

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  4. Six and Wife, I have found the solution to your sail dilemma.
    http://jacksonville.craigslist.org/boa/5119365009.html
    :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you but no. :) Way too much boat for me to maintain. Imagine what new sails for that rig will eventually cost?

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