Originally Posted by BJSmith
Anyone have info and comments on when a cruising mainsail should be replaced? I heard that after 8 years or 20,000 nms of constant cruising it's time for a new one. I have managed to get 10 years and 36,000 nms on this one. Have taken care of it, but feel it's time to part.... Still looks good but with all the time in the sun I feel I'm on borrowed time and paranoid of a sudden massive splitting event!
You can have your sails inspected by a (recommended) sail loft that caters to cruisers. They'll be honest with you about condition, need for repairs, expected life, etc. Sails can be reconditioned --patched, repaired, bolt ropes replaced, re-leathered, new batten pockets made and so on...
Depending on who made the sails originally and how good of a job they did, the sails may last a very, very long time OR simply fall apart quickly. I recently read an article about sailmaker Carol Hess (Port Townsend WA) who is sought out by cruisers for her excellent sailmaking. Her sails are more expensive that others but are known to last 3x as long as most cruising sails as well. Both materials and workmanship are really important to getting those sails to last.
Good luck on finding a good loft that can inspect your sails and assist you with this.