Hawaii Race Sails Sail Repair Harnesses Boat Handling

Hints for maintaining your sails

  Rinse with fresh water and dry thoroughly.
Fold (not always on same creases) avoiding windows.
Stretch out foot, fold in parallel folds to head.
Roll from leech for easy access to tack and sail identification.
For sails left hanked on boat:  Ease outhaul.  Flake loosely.
Cover to protect from ultraviolet.
Avoid extreme heat, such as summer trunks.
Problem Spots:

Leech cloth breaks down due to excessive flutter:
Always lower sails rather than ragging them in over powering conditions.
Repair at first signs of wear to prevent further damage.
Leech line frays at cleat:
Avoid pulling line across cleat teeth.  Adjust, then cleat.
Chafe - Spreaders, pulpit, topping lift, sail slide shackles, leech lines, luff groove, headboard, jack lines.

Over stretched luff - gutter along luff indicates too much tension.
Over stretched foot - check jib lead angle.
Cringles pulling out - reinforce with webbed strap aligned with major strain.
Luff grommets – remove, patch cloth, and replace grommet.
Hardware - sail slides and shackles crack and distort.
Cringles, headboards, and wire thimbles corrode.
Jib hanks seize (spray with WD-40) or distort.
Leech line cleats wear or break.
Battens and pockets - batten breakage or improper length causes tears, elastic stretches out.
Uneven support for sails - if hardware is not evenly tensioned or sail is improperly cut, stress points will appear at heavily loaded areas.  These should be corrected immediately.               

Preventative Maintenance:
  Plastic shield inserts in sail slide shackles and hanks.
File and tape batten ends.
Maintain proper length battens with proper hardware for pockets.
Sail covers and deck bags for all sails exposed to the elements.
Sacrificial leech and foot covers for roller-furled sails.

There are several ways to clean sails. Some are more effective than others are. Unfortunately, the most thorough methods also cause the most serious cloth breakdown. This can weaken the sail, shorten its life, and lead to greater stretch, which compromises performance. All mechanical sail cleaning methods fall into this category. Even large agitating tubs designed just for sails with carefully regulated water temperature will have the same effect on the sail as several weeks of hard use. We definitely do not recommend using the machines at local Laundromats. They are never large enough and the water temperature is not carefully controlled.

We recommend frequent rinsing with fresh water. If that is not sufficient, spread the sail on a smooth, clean surface and brush It lightly with a mild detergent solution (such as dilute Ivory) or with a specially prepared cleaner. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely before folding and storing the sail.

Stains and spots can be removed as follows:

Rust:  Soak the affected area in a 5% solution of oxalic acid dissolved in hot water. Follow this with a 2% solution of hydrochloric acid in warm water and, finally, rinse the spot well with clear water.

Number adhesive:  Soak the area in cleaner's benzene until the adhesive can be rubbed away with a rag.

Oil, tar, and varnish:  Use trichloroethylene either by itself or in solution with a liquid detergent.

Mildew:  Soak the affected area in a l% solution of chlorine (household bleach will do) and cold water. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
When confronted with a serious stain, do not expect complete removal. Usually the best that can be expected is a moderation of the discoloration.