Sail Care & Cleaning
Taking good care of your sails is as important, possibly more important, to your enjoyment and safety as good engine maintenance. Keeping up with maintenance and minor repairs will extend the life of your sails. Little problems have a way of getting out of hand and, left unattended, may lead you onto the foredeck when you would rather be in the cockpit.
Sails should be inspected every year. If you are going to have us to do the inspection we would prefer to do it at the end of the season rather than in the spring. If you are going to do your own check over do it on a lawn that has not been mown in a while and make sure you pick up any rocks and sticks. Try not to walk on the sail but if you have to, take your shoes off. Check the stitching on every seam particularly in the leech and in places that come in contact with the shrouds.
Batten pockets need special attention. Full length batten pockets may show chafe were they contact shrouds. Traditional length pockets usually are built with elastic in the forward end that keeps the batten in the pocket. Push the batten forward (or use a yard stick) and it should rebound.
Take a look at the hardware that holds the sail to the mast, boom, or headstay. If your jib hanks to the headstay look for wear on the top hanks. Try the pistons on the hanks and, if you need to, lubricate with WD 40 (it will drive out any moisture). Check the top of headfoil tapes or boltropes that feed into grooves. If there is minor damage it can be fixed using a soldering iron. Once you have cleaned up the top of the tape apply a little Super Glue. Once hardened the glue will help prevent future problems. Look for broken slugs/slides or shackles.
Make sure you turn the sail over and check the other side. Mark any problem spots with masking tape (be sure the sail is dry!) and make some notes so that we can go right to the problem. If you are going to have us wash your sails do not use tape to mark problem areas, just take good notes.
Washing your sails before they are put away for the winter is a good idea. Salt crystals are abrasive and corrosive. Salt also attracts moisture and this can exacerbate existing mildew problems. On spinnakers the added weight of the moisture absorbed by the nylon can hamper light air performance.
Included in our service is a thorough inspection and you can leave the sails here for the winter. Sail washing will not remove oil, grease, rust, blood, or mildew. To our knowledge there is no process that will remove these stains that will not also harm sail fabrics.
When you bring your sails in please tell us if the sails are wet. We will either wash them right away or dry them. We can't be responsible for sails brought in wet. Sheets that are left with sails will be washed. If you can please remove battens, sail ties, roller furling drums, and things like that. Otherwise please tell us what is in the bag with the sail.
You can wash your sails yourself, if you like, but please remember these few things. Never use chlorine bleach and never put a sail in a clothes washer or dryer.
If you would simply like your sails stored, we offer that service, as well. If the sail comes into the loft stuffed in the bag we will take it out and fold it, for a fee, to make it more compact.
To store your sails at home the most important thing to remember is that small animals, like mice and squirrels, would love to find a home for the winter. Some people will put moth balls in the bag. Hanging the sail in a closet is probably the safest place to store sails.