The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Don’t Forget About The Sails

Last fall I got chatting to a couple, new to cruising, on their way down the Intracoastal Waterway in their new-to-them classic Carl Alberg designed Cape Dory 36. When I complimented them on their choice of a good looking and seaworthy boat that also sails well, they expressed surprise saying, “Oh no, she can’t get out of her own way, particularly going to windward. We are really disappointed. Do you have any advice?”

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More Articles From Online Book: Sail Handling and Rigging Made Easy:

  1. Six Reasons To Leave The Cockpit Often
  2. Don’t Forget About The Sails
  3. Your Mainsail Is Your Friend
  4. Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action
  5. Reefs: How Many and How Deep
  6. Reefing Made Easy
  7. Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
  8. Reefing Questions and Answers
  9. A Dangerous Myth about Reefing
  10. Mainsail Handling Made Easy with Lazyjacks
  11. Topping Lift Tips and a Hack
  12. 12 Reasons The Cutter Is A Great Offshore Voyaging Rig
  13. Cutter Rig—Should You Buy or Convert?
  14. Cutter Rig—Optimizing and/or Converting
  15. Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?
  16. Sailboat Deck Layouts
  17. The Case For Roller-Furling Headsails
  18. UV Protection For Roller Furling Sails
  19. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing—Convenience and Reliability
  20. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing —Performance, Cost and Safety
  21. The Case For Hank On Headsails
  22. Making Life Easier—Roller Reefing/Furling
  23. Making Life Easier—Storm Jib
  24. Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age
  25. Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!
  26. Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
  27. Rigid Vangs
  28. Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1
  29. Rigging a Proper Preventer—Part 2
  30. Amidships “Preventers”—A Bad Idea That Can Kill
  31. Keeping The Boom Under Control—Boom Brakes
  32. Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks
  33. Downwind Sailing—Poling Out The Jib
  34. Setting and Striking a Spinnaker Made Easy and Safe
  35. Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm
  36. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1
  37. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2
  38. Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes
  39. Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation
  40. Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend
  41. Rig Tuning, Part 3—6 Steps to a Great Tune
  42. Rig Tuning, Part 4—Mast Blocking, Stay Tension, and Spreaders
  43. Rig Tuning, Part 5—Sailing Tune
  44. 12 Great Rigging Hacks
  45. 9 Tips To Make Unstepping a Sailboat Mast Easier
  46. Cruising Sailboat Spar Inspection
  47. Cruising Sailboat Standing Rigging Inspection
  48. Cruising Sailboat Running Rigging Inspection
  49. Cruising Sailboat Rig Wiring and Lighting Inspection
  50. Cruising Sailboat Roller Furler and Track Inspection
  51. Download Cruising Sailboat Rig Checklist
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Paul Squire

Do you think Composite cruising sales have come of age i.e.; now pass the “been in production for at least 10 years” test? There seem to be a lot of advantages as reported here:

Can all the practical elements (like handles on the mainsail luff for hauling it down while reefing) be included?

Frederick Gleason

We purchased North Marathon 3DL Jib and Genoa in 2003 and 2004. The genoa de-laminated two years ago. We used the jib this year and it still has good shape but is ready for replacement. I found the shape holding performance incredible, but there were some problems with mildew in between the layers, which were solved with sailcote, which made the sails heavier. They lasted far longer than I expected.

Jim Schulz

Is there an article or website you can recommend for easily creating polar diagrams for different sail combinations? Do you think this is even a worthwhile learning exercise on a new boat to us?

Andy Lee

John, is there any resource in this website on how to Best Buy a new main sail? I found an ebook in Practical Sailor and that is it! I can find a lot reviews on many marine gadget that costs 1/10 the of a new mainsail cost but I can’t find any in depth buyer’s guide for new cruiser, any suggestion would be appreciate it.