Thursday, 13 October 2016

Winter Sail Care

Winterising Sails

As we approach the time of the year when most people are thinking about laying-up their boats for the winter it is important to give some thought 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; not only that but the 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 they 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 sail 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 sent to a sail laundry 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.

The specialist sail laundries are essentially large warehouse type buildings. The sails are cleaned by a variety of processes. A few older sails that have either gone soft with age or which have a soft feel by design get washed in large industrial washing machines. There is very little (if any) in the way of detergents or bleaches that gets added at this stage, the sails are simply rinsed to remove any salt. The vast majority of sails and in particular racing sails don’t go into the machines. They are laid flat on a smooth concrete floor and hosed down with fresh water from a pressure washer with a special attachment. Whilst the sail is on the floor any spot cleaning is done to remove any green algae, mildew, grease etc. At this stage some chemicals such as mild detergent solutions will be used where necessary. If chemicals have been used, the sails are then rinsed again. Once the sails have been cleaned they are then hung up to dry before being folded and returned to the sailmaker.

Whilst we highly recommend sail laundry for any sails that are being stored for any length of time, the process does have certain limitations. Although the sails will be returned from the laundry dry, salt free and in an ideal state to be worked on or stored, the process is not a cure all that will leave the sails looking ‘as good as new’. Stains such as mildew, grease and rust may be removed if they are treated straight away but will stain the sail permanently if left for any period of time. Other typical stains are from diesel or machine oil. These cannot be removed fully and will always leave a stain though laundering them will remove any smell and surface residue. It should also be noted that there is no guarantee that stains including mildew, mould or rust will be removed during the laundry process.

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. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cowes Week Sail Repair Service

We will be operating an overnight sail repair service from our Hamble loft during Cowes Week. The drop and collection point in Cowes will be the yellow doors in the ground floor ‘wet’ bar area at the Island Sailing Club (see pic below). The doors are just next to the bar and sail storage area. There should be an A4 sized OneSails sign in situ. Sails will need to be dropped between 4.00pm and 5.00pm and will be returned to the ISC between 9.00 and 9.30 the following morning. This service is strictly ‘by arrangement’, please do not leave sails unless you have spoken to the loft on 02380 458213 or Peter Kay on 07785 323345.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Springtime - bending on a furling genoa

It has got to that time of year again when boats are eagerly being polished, antifouled and readied in every other way for the new season. For some, fitting the sails back on to the boat is a straight forward enough job but for others it can be a little daunting. Here’s some tips for bending on a genoa.

First, if your sail hasn’t been serviced by a sailmaker check the sail over to make sure that there are no outstanding repairs or service issues from last season that need addressing. Check the luff tape itself for nics & tears and check that the stitching itself, particularly in areas that stay exposed such as the leech tape and webbings in the corners, isn’t rotten. You can do this by rubbing a finger nail over the stitching; if it breaks it needs to be re-sown! It will be easier to address any issues now than find out about them after the sail has been fitted!

Similarly, check that the furling gear is all working nicely, it is easier to check the top swivel before it is hoisted! If the sail has been down all winter there is a good chance that the groove in the foil has accumulated wind blown dust and salt so try and flush this through if possible with fresh water. You could even try spraying some ‘lube’ or Teflon spray into the groove and wiping this through with an off cut of a suitable sized luff tape.

Next, check that a sufficient length of the furling line is wound onto the drum and that it is wound on the correct way round. If the UV strip on the sail is on the starboard side then the furling line needs to exit the drum on the port side (and vice versa).  With the sail laid out on the foredeck, attach the tack of the sail to the drum and the head of the sail to the top swivel. The sheets should also be attached. Now the sail is ready to hoist which will be a lot easier to do if there are two of you, one to pull the halyard and the other to feed the sail carefully into the feeder in the luff foil. The person winding the halyard should pay careful attention to what is happening to the sail as it goes through the feeder in order to stop winding if there is any hint of a snag, this is the most likely cause of any damage. Once the sail is fully up take care not to over tension the halyard, there should be just sufficient tension to remove the wrinkles in the luff of the sail without the luff of the sail appearing taut. Then furl the sail away, double check that the UV strip is on the correct side and you should be set.

Top Tip: It will be a lot easier to bend your genoa on when there isn’t too much wind. This also helps to minimise the risk of damaging the sail as you hoist it. You will also find it easier to do if the wind is well forward of the beam.