Sails Off

Sail De-rigging
Sail De-rigging

Finally a day with sunshine, warmer temperatures and lower winds. Finally it’s winter sail removal time. I’ve been anxious about leaving the sails up while traveling abroad. And now I’ve been home almost a week, but the weather’s been rainy, cold and windy. Not optimal de-rigging conditions…

Time to head off to the Willsboro Bay Marina to remove my sails. I’ll post a progress report soon. I hope… (Sail Removal 2014)

That was just over a week ago. Much has happened since then. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Sails. Are. Off.

I should start by admitting that it’s been a steep learning curve. It seems so obvious, right? Remove the sails. Bag up the sails. Store the sails.

I’ve pulled sails off of small sailboats and windsurfers thousands of time. How different can it be on a 31′ sloop?

Different.

Sail Removal
Sail Removal

Sail Removal

Removing the mainsail was easy. Pull the battens. Remove the slides from the mast. Remove the halyard, topping lift, Dutchman, etc… Pack it all tidily into the sail bag and celebrate halfway-to-completion!

But my celebration was premature. I’ve never removed a sail from a roller-furler before, so it took some research and reading to figure it out. I’m certain it’ll be simple a year from now, but this first time was all new. And then I discovered damage to the genoa, ripping and binding along the leading edge that fits into the roller-furler. Removing the final couple of feet further damaged the already exhausted fabric. Looks like sails will need to be repaired this winter!

Actually I had planned to have them serviced to ensure that they were not going to fail next season. I figured a more knowledgeable skill set wold be prudent, but now it was apparent that the the project was going to be even more involved than I initially anticipated. So it goes.

Sail Repair

I was referred to Vermont Sailing Partners in Winooski, Vermont to inspect and repair the sails. That’s the boss man, Bill Fastiggi, in the photo below, inspecting Errant’s genoa.

Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners
Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners

Bill agreed with my guess that these are the original sails, but he felt like they’re in good condition and have plenty of sailing left in them. I was reassured but asked him whether it made more sense to replace them given the amount of repair work necessary. He explained that they could make me a new set, but assured me that the repairs indicated were were and inexpensive.

We agreed to repair the genoa, adapt the bottom of the mainsail, and convert from a B to A style Dutchman flaking system.

For the genoa, they will remove and replace the head and tack webbings; repair sail damage; replace Dacron caps at head and tack; repair torn luff tape at tack; and add a cut-back at the tack to prevent future tearing of lower luff tape.

For the mainsail, they will relive the bolt rope tension on the luff which is bunched due to rope shrinkage; remove the foot rope and convert the main to a loose footed sail; and replace the old B style Dutchman flaking system with a simpler A style.

Given that there’s no rush, I encourage them to fit in the work when they could and that I’d retrieve the sails in the spring at launch time. That solves the winter storage problem!

Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners
Inspecting genoa at Vermont Sail Partners

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