Another Bumpy Night
02 June 2014 | Azores to Cadiz
Mid-morning the clouds thinned enough to allow through some watery sunlight which came a a great relief after another cold (15-17C), windy, wet and rough night. This afternoon the wind had dropped sufficiently to shake out two of the mainsail reefs (leaving 2 in). Seas have also moderated a little, and we are charging along at over 7 knots well heeled on a close reach, and sometimes close hauled again. The wind strength and direction fluctuates between North and NNE force 4 to 6. Seas from 2 to 2.5 meters, quite confused and steep, making for lots of spray and pounding. Meals are reduced to sandwhiches and snacks.
Is someone reading this blog who is knowledgeable about modern sailcloths? As I look at the No2 Yankee and Staysail doing sterling service in these conditions up foreward and still going strong after 26 years, I wonder if there might still be a sailcloth manufacturer producing a similar quality of cloth. My other two original headsails also are in good shape and in constant use. There has been some re-stitching done and the odd patch applied over the years but nothing dramatic.
The original suit were made by Gowan in 1987 from a Terylene fabric, manufactured by a New Zealand company called Windmaster, but Windmaster are no longer in existence. In 2003 I decided to order a new mainsail from Gowan as the old one was looking a little unsightly and needed quite a bit of re-stitching work, and I thought 16 years of service was pretty good. The new sail was made from contender 9.52 us. oz high aspect polypreg dacron. 4 years later in 2007 it was falling apart from solar degradation, the cloth easily tearing like paper. The next sail was made by Fareast Sails of Hongkong using 9.3oz Challenge Dacron. That sail also is now on its last legs and I have just put in an order for a new one using Contender Supercruise fabric. I have the proof on board that it is possible to make a sailcloth that is resistant to solar degradation but does anyone make it anymore?
Asking various sailmakers about the best cloth, some don't believe me about the age and use of the old sails, and often reply that getting 5 years out of a sail is good going! There is so much mis-information online that it seems impossible to get a reliable opinion. But the fact is that if there is no decent cloth there is no point in spending more than the minimum quote for a cruising sail that is not going to last more than a few years.