Friday, September 19, 2008

A tale of two sails

The GREEN FLASH is somewhat larger than our current sailboat, BLISS. How much larger, you ask?
Bliss is 33" long, the FLASH is 43' plus a 7 foot bowsprit, taking her to 50' overall. BLISS weighs (displaces) 8 tons, FLASH about 12 tons. The mast on BLISS is 40' from deck to top, whereas you can add almost another 20' to reach the top of the mast on the FLASH... and that's where the major difference is between these boats. FLASH's wind engine is around 1000 square feet and BLISS's is about 400. The difference really becomes apparent at the sail loft (our storage room). The small bundle in these photos is a jib (the sail in the front of the boat) for BLISS; the large bundle in the bag is a jib for the FLASH.
Other things come into play when you add more sail area... The force on a 565 sq. ft. jib is exponentially higher than the 220 sq. ft. jib, so the material needs to be either heavier (to be stronger) or the material needs to be "more advanced." And more expensive...
BLISS's jib is constructed of panels of Dacron (synthetic) fabric, sewn together and fitted with reinforcement at the corners and spots on the sail where it will rub against something. A sail this size of this material will cost about $1400 new.
The GREEN FLASH sail is built from panels of Pentex (advanced synthetic material) with reinforcing at corners and chafe points. It also has heavy threads of Kevlar (the material used to make bullet-proof vests) running through the Pentex to add strength, and few other bells and whistles you should have when you hoist up this monster to the top of a 60 foot mast in a stiff breeze. This sail costs about $5300 when new.

As a general rule, I don't buy my sails new. I find that a lot of sailors have much more money than I do, so I buy their "trade-ins" when they pick up their new suite of sails. The sailmakers can make a little on the mark-up of the used sail, plus repairs and alterations the sail may need for a different boat. If it wasn't for used sails, the sailmakers would probably never see me at all.

Now, I should add that I didn't pay $5300 for that sail. I bought it from the man who made it for his own boat and is a professional sailmaker (for many years) who is now in Mexico and cruising our area. Because he made it for his own boat, he didn't spare any expense, so I think I did really well. I paid him 25% more for the sail to make some revisions to the thing. It's so big, I need a parking lot in order to spread this sail out on the ground... it's a triangle 47x45x25 feet.

When I think about putting this sail up, I have mixed feelings.


Overboard said...

Just go and push all the chairs and tables in the Capitanes Club to the side and roll it out there.

rob said...

It will certainly give you some drive! will you have a furler system? will the sail take kindly to a furler? is the adition of a bowsprit not going to mean that the sails will have to be balanced differently to prevent too much weather helm ? I guess these are all things that will have to be sorted after the boat is in the water. a "spanker" springs to mind? :o))

MxSailor said...

This sail was cut to fit a Hyde Streamstay furler that came with the boat. It's single long extrusion (55 ft or more) that mounts to the tack on the end of the bowsprit. I will probably add a furler to the original tack and parallel to the Streamstay.

rob said...

Sooooo! we will be sailing on and off the moorings then :o))tee hee.Probably of no use to you but a friend of mine is selling his watermaker a seafresh twin membraner H204a which has had little use but will need membranes to get it going again and offers considered. I dread to think what it would cost to ship it too you?