Cleaning sails

Saving Sails and Canvas from Mildew

It can be a rust stain caused by a loop of chain that spent the winter lying on a sail. Perhaps a bird crawled under the sail cover and built a nest, pooping on the sail for weeks. Laminate sails present a particularly vexing problem, since mildew likes the adhesive that bond the layers, resulting in stain that is sealed between waterproof layers. Some of these just look bad (rust stains), but others can slowly weaken a sail (mildew in the laminate adhesive). But in all cases, overly aggressive cleaning can make things even worse, weakening the sail more than the mildew ever would.

Stains can be removed in three general ways. They can be physically removed, dissolved, or bleached (made invisible). Each requires different chemistry and a different mindset, so it helps to understand the stain.

Most stains are linked to moisture. Good ventilation prevents condensation, and consider taking sails home for the off-season. Canvas should be water repellent …

Queenscliff to Apollo Bay 2017

This weekend I had the opportunity to sail on the DK 46 eXtases owned by Paul Buchholz in the Queenscliff to Apollo Bay race. Bucky has been a long-time sailing companion as well as a valued client. With sailmaking, coaching and club racing with clients keeping me pretty most weekends. I have not done much ocean racing as of late but it was nice to head out through the heads of Port Phillip albeit if only for a short coastal jaunt.
The Apollo Bay race is a good event, it is only 57 nautical miles long and as a result rated category 3 for safety regulations. This makes it very accessible to a lot of boats. It is perfect for beginners to literally test the waters and for those who love getting out in the ocean but need to be back at work bright and sparkling by Monday morning.
As to the race itself conditions were very benign. Light winds were the order of the day but fortunately the rain stayed away. We got away to an ok start, White Noise (Daniel Edwards)the Beneteau 35 got away the be…

What Kite is right for me?

So you have been sailing for a little while in your new boat, discovering the joys of sailing as a recent convert or re-embracing the sport of your youth now you have a settled lifestyle. Coming more familiar with the nuances of your craft and developing confidence in your boat handling. The fun of participating in twilight or lower level recreational racing is apparent. What better than a bit of competition?
As the racing bug takes hold, we develop the desire to improve our results and start to cultivate rivalries and greater challenges. Sound familiar!
A lot of sailors go through this change of role for their boat. I have had more than one boat owner say to me twelve months into a boat ownership, “I should have got the taller rig/ spinnaker /racing sails option”.
One of the more frustrating aspects these sailors encounter is running downwind in light to moderate conditions watching the fleet moving further away under spinnaker. Once you have decided that you want some more horse power …

Making a Caravel Sail

A few years back we began to hear of a ship being built down Warrnambool way inspired by the famous mysterious "Mahogany Ship". It turned out to be an authentic Caravel crafted by Graeme and Felicite Wylie. Having a strong and passionate interest in maritime history fuelled by family association I was very excited to be approached to make the sails for the "Notorious" as the vessel was to be known.  The original set we made from standard 8oz cruise Dacron and they did years and miles of service. Interesting the UV breakdown seemed to be retarded by Graeme painting the pristine white sails in a deep tan colour. We followed the voyages of the "Notorious" with interest and admired the vessel when she was moored in the RGYC marina. We were very excited to hear from the Wylie's to made a new larger sail to replace the old mainsail which had an add-on bonnet sail underneath. The main criteria for us was to do this fine vessel justice with the new sail bei…

Catalogue your settings.

Cataloguing your settings
A lot can happen when we are sailing around a race course. I don’t think I have ever sailed a race where the adjustments of sails, trim and crew placement have not been adjusted on scores of occasions. But a lot of necessary performance orientated adjustments are often overlooked with the hurley burley of the race going on around you. I am a big fan of having a set routine for a crew to adjust the sails and trim for different conditions. Due to the likelihood of some aspects of this being overlooked it is imperative these changes need to be catalogued and accessible. It can be invaluable for a new crew or to act as a simple refresher for existing crew. 

Even the experts
When you step on even a brand new racing boat, you will nearly always see a chart stuck somewhere in the cockpit with the relative speed, angle and VMG (Velocity Made Good) for that particular boat. These numbers are often supplied by the designer and act as a guide of what the crew should str…

Winter Woollies #1

The first of three designated weekends for winter training for the International Cadet Class was held at Royal Geelong Yacht club.
Day 1 We had a great turnout of 16 boats, it was great to see such a concerted effort to attend. Some boats were unavailable for both days but chose to do one which was fantastic commitment. The weather was very fickle with little zephyrs appearing and then disappearing, it was felt it was best to keep the sailors ashore for the morning. The sailors were split up into two groups based on experience and aspirations. Alanna field took the less experienced group and gave a talk on sail controls with particular emphasis on being able to de-power your boat to a manageable level in fresher conditions. Your scribe took the other group to talk about the value of training and looking after the little things like tacking and gybing etc. Shave 1 second off each manoeuvre and it is worth a lot more than a new jib or shiny fashionable sailing jacket. Working on your boat …

Back to the 70's - Mitre Cut Sails

Back in the seventies it wasn't just all about  bushy hair and bad fashion. Actually it was! But in the sailmaking world, it was the realm of the mitre cut. When I began sailmaking in the late 70's at Brooke Sails, under the tutelage of Noel Brooke, every headsail we made was a mitre cut sail. The reason was pretty simple, the Dacron sailcloth we used was pretty crappy compared to todays woven cloths and Carbon was something that was left over on the grill after a BBQ! Sail Design was a lot harder back then as the Sail-maker had to think of not only shape but cloth stretch as well. The cloth was very spongy and stretched a lot, particularly in the warp direction along the roll and even more so on the bias. It was marginally more stable on the Fill or Weft direction. I can remember the late Ben Lexcen (or Bob Miller as he was then) telling me that they had to cut their 12 metre class mains 9" (230mm) short on the leech to allow for stretch as the mainsail was sheeted on. …