Keep on Cruising with Proper Sail Maintenance

As you prepare for another sailing season by cleaning your marine vinyl fabrics, deck, or engine, it is important to give special attention to your sails. Improper sail maintenance can lead to expensive repairs, or worse, result in a stranded boat situation your first day back on the water. For your maintenance checklist, here’s a deeper dive into the inspection, preparation, and rigging of the sail.

Start with Inspection

The first step in properly maintaining your sail before cruising out is a thorough inspection for any small tears or weakened spots around the stitching. It is important to find these problem areas and have them repaired before they bear any wind while out on the water. The weight of the wind will aggravate any unnoticed issues that could lead to complete replacement of the sail. To ensure a thorough inspection, pull out the sails from the storage bag onto a flat, smooth surface and inspect the genoa’s UV cover and leech areas. Any area exposed to weather or light have a higher chance of being debilitated. Once inspected, clean with a mild detergent in a blow up pool or bathtub. Now, you’re ready to attach them to your rig.

Clean Sail, Clean Rig

Now that you have ensured the sails are undamaged and clean, it is imperative that you attach it to an equally clean rig. Before attaching the sail, be sure to rinse all turning blocks and bearing races with fresh water to wash away any leftover dirt or salt from the previous season. With the help of someone else, work together to guide the sail into the groove of the mast while one of you maintains the halyard to avoid accidental tearing. Bending the sail back on, use acetone to clean the track or groove in the mast. Once hoisted, be sure to carefully rinse any bearings of grime without dislodging them.

Snap and Sail

Once the sail is hoisted on a clean rig, it’s finally time to get out on the water. It’s helpful to snap pictures of the sail’s shape while in use. You can compare them to pictures from a previous season to see any shift in the shape of the sail. Loss of shape can cause heeling and lessen performance. If caught early, this issue can often be fixed by an experienced sailmaker, but if overlooked, it will likely lead to a costly replacement. Make an effort to review your sail’s shape each season.
Improper sail maintenance can lead to expensive repairs and less time in the water. Follow these important steps to ensure a successful sailing season. While cleaning and checking your sails, don’t forget about your marine vinyl upholstery. Contact All Vinyl Fabrics today to learn more about marine vinyl fabric options to keep your boat looking brand new.

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