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Old 12-14-2013, 07:28 AM   #1
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Default offshore sail choices

All,

The December issue of Cruising World Magazine (published in N. America) had an article that I contributed to, called ' Choose the right sails for the long haul'.

They also have included the full text of the contributions on their online site
I think most here might find the article quite informative and for a much more detailed read of my in-depth comments from the link below.

I spent a fair amount of time on this article and it really incorporates a lot of my ideas that I have formed over the years of interacting with our Neil Pryde agents, sailors, and online sites such as this on sails, construction, cloth choices and the like.

My contribution can be found at: http://www.cruisingworld.com/gear/sa...ound-the-world
I hope you find it useful and/or informative.

The premise for the article was two boats...a traditional cutter from the 70's being outfitted and and will have things that will apply to older Boat models and those who might be considering an inner forestay for example or even planing to do an offshore passage. The newer contemporary 'cutter' being outfitted and how to best go about this different but similar boat will be more suited to the newer style Beneteau, Passports and other boats that are being set up in this newer 'cutter' configuration.

Thanks again for the valuable feedback.input, and questions you have given me over the years as this helps me to accumulate real world data that can be made sense of and often shows me problems that can be better addressed or better implemented on our sails.

Best,

Bob Pattison
Neil Pryde Sails
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Old 12-14-2013, 06:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for the link, Bob. Good information about choice of materials of construction. In particular, stainless steel eye for tying a leech line to rather than those silly little plastic jammers.

I see that you also suggest that the Valiant would likely benefit from upgrading the track system to an aftermarket track and slide system. We made the assumption that our boat would require such an upgrade on our mainsail track (bronze 1-1/4" track set on a wood riser away from the mast) and bronze sail slides/cars. However, we've found it not too difficult to raise and lower. We do use the tail of the main halyard as a sail downhaul to make it easier. The tail is tied to long sailslide (actually a genoa car) that rides on the track above the sail itself. My husband and I both believe that most cruisers wouldn't find our system "easy" enough, but it works for us.

We have a schooner rig and this gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of sail configuration. We have not invested in storm sails so I read the bit you wrote about trysails with great interest since this year we plan to purchase both a storm staysail and a either a trysail and/or heavy duty Swedish mainsail. We've seen an old photo of our boat underway with a heavily reefed Swedish mainsail (sheeted to the aft quarters) and like the idea of having such a sail in the mix.

Here's the question for you: We don't wish to put a second track on the mast and have seen track switches (e.g. the Harken system for their battcars, or traditional ones like that which Hiscock used) as an alternative to allow us to have a trysail at-the-ready on a track at the base of the mast to be switched to the main track. What are your thoughts and own experiences with such switches on external sail tracks? I love the concept of the Harken (no moving parts) switch, but realize that it was designed for their battcars and even our sailslides--which are longer and more like cars than slides--would likely jam going up or down such an open system. Thanks for your ideas/info on switches.

Brenda
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Old 12-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #3
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Default trysail track

Brenda,
The Harken system is really designed for big boats where stack height gets absurd. It works well, but the 'switch' systems but don't come cheap.
Plenty of wood masts with the old external 't' track and either stainless or bronze slides had variations on the 'switch'. The few I've seen worked more or less...as you can imagine with that type of track alignment is key.
If you plan to do something like this, you need to make sure there is plenty of track on both sides of the switch to take all the slides of both main and trysail.
I guess I would ask what the compelling reason is not to have a separate track? Location, space or other?
b
Here's the question for you: We don't wish to put a second track on the mast and have seen track switches (e.g. the Harken system for their battcars, or traditional ones like that which Hiscock used) as an alternative to allow us to have a trysail at-the-ready on a track at the base of the mast to be switched to the main track. What are your thoughts and own experiences with such switches on external sail tracks? I love the concept of the Harken (no moving parts) switch, but realize that it was designed for their battcars and even our sailslides--which are longer and more like cars than slides--would likely jam going up or down such an open system. Thanks for your ideas/info on switches.

Brenda[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:04 PM   #4
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Bob,

We just don't wish to add another track to our 82 year old wood mast. The mast is in excellent condition and we do try to keep many things on the boat as close to original design as possible. We adhere to a rigging plan that was devised for the boat in 1939 (when the main was converted from sliding gunter to Bermuda) rather than the 1931 plan, but even so--we don't want to add another track if there is a viable alternative for a trysail.

On practical matters--we would never actually remove the mainsail to bend on a trysail--as you know, big sails are very heavy. We have two mainsails and depending on which is bent on, the stack is inconveniently high. With one of them, the slides/cars are smaller (and not as easy to slide) and sits 3-1/2 ft above the boom. The boom sits 4 ft above the deck. The other sail with slightly longer slides sits a bit higher and the last car just barely makes it on below our existing gate. That gate is a total of 8-1/2 ft above the deck so we can't just stand adjacent the boom to load it. We have to climb up onto the boom (and sail) to access the gate. If we were loading a trysail onto that track without a switch to a pre-loaded track, it would be very, very difficult in rough seas and certainly would take both of us to do it. Even with a switch and preloaded track, I'm not sure if it is realistic. I'd hoped you might be aware of some specific designs for external track switches that I could look into buying or having fabricated.

The interface from switch to track has to sit perfect--we understand that since we've had to make tiny adjustments to our existing gate to improve the ability for cars to slide up over it.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:40 AM   #5
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Bob,
great article; thank you for posting it. Especially relevant to me as I am hoping to buy a 45' cutter, designed in the late '70s and never finished by an old friend. Along with the vessel comes the terylene sailcloth bought 30 years ago and still rolled in the original brown paper. Do you know if it will have deteriorated by now? Has working sailcloth improved so much that one wouldn't even consider using it?

Thank you for any thoughts you may have on the subject.
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Old 11-17-2014, 05:01 PM   #6
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There are always developments in sail cloth and sail design. These changes are vital for those who race and want to have their boats reflect the latest technology of design and materials. However, there should be no reason to expect your sailcloth would have deteriorated unless it has been poorly stored where it could be affected by sunlight or pests.
If it has been securely stored and wrapped, I would have no qualms about using it for new sails. I would take a sample of the cloth, along with the sail plan and dimensions, along to the local sail loft and ask for a price. If you aren't in a hurry, it might be best to wait for the season to change before getting the work done. There may be a cost advantage to going to the loft when he isn't so busy.
Hope it all goes well.
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:30 PM   #7
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Some of the old cloths are quite nice. We had a used sail (that had never been used by the boat it was made for) modified to fit as our mainsail. The new-to-us sail was made in the late 60's or early 70's and it's pristine. The sailmaker who modified it did say that it would likely not hold shape as long as the newer sail cloths but only time will tell. The particulars on it were the old cloth has more fiber and less plastic than the newer stuff we commonly get. Hope Bob pops in for a discussion of this.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:00 PM   #8
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Default Sail Cloth and age

Hmm...You would be talking about a sail that is 45 years old..
So: It's possible that the fabric is in good shape, though it is 45 a year old cloth design and finishing. We've been using resin in finishing sails since the 60's and 70's so it could be a firm fabric or a much softer finish as was quite common then...and very soft by today's standards. But all of this would have been taken into account when first built.
It's also important to remember that modern sail cloth is synthetic...and it can age over time...from U.V. pollution, and I think just sitting around it will age harden and lose some of it's elasticity...becoming more brittle with time.

Without seeing the sail/fabric it's really hard to say much more than that on this sail, but my personal feeling on this as a sailor is this: I wouldn't go offshore with a 45 year old sail as much as I wouldn't go offshore with 45 year old standing rigging....even if it had just been sitting in my garage all that time. I might be proven wrong on this..but for my own peace of mind I like to know the age, the use and the upkeep of the things that I really don't want to fail...unless I am prepared to replace or fix them in route.

bob
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Old 11-25-2014, 05:07 AM   #9
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Thanks guys for pertinent replies...the whole vessel has been sitting ashore for almost 35 years so I'm sure I will have lots of similar discisions to make if it goes ahead.
Been a while since I brewed up on a kero stove too;-).
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