Saying goodbye…

This past long weekend I received some very tragic news. My friend Travis had been involved in a scuba diving accident and lost his life.

Many of you actually know of Travis. He was known to you through my blog posts as “Turnagain Travis,” the skipper who convinced me to join him on his boat delivery from Hawaii to Victoria in 2018. We sailed his boat Turnagain to Canada after he successfully completed another Vic-Maui International Yacht Race.

I met Travis in Vancouver a little over 3 years ago when I recertified my Basic Cruising Instructor level. We quickly hit it off having a similar sense of humour and a love for all things water. I quickly realized that Travis was a vault of knowledge and he had a character and passion for business that I needed in my life.

Travis was a very successful business owner, having recently sold his company Xprt Integration, and he took great interest in my plans to start a small sailing school in Nelson. He was always willing to chat about some of the hair-brained ways I was thinking of introducing sailing to new people. I asked him once why he was always willing to help me, and he said “because I love sailing and I love small businesses.” That seemed like a good enough reason to me!

And so, I asked Travis if he would be my “official” mentor and I could pay him something, to which he declined and said his advice was always available, and free, for me.

Travis was the kind of sailor I want to eventually be. He was confident, but not cocky. Knowledgeable, but humble. A leader, but kind and patient. We had recently planned for him to come to Nelson in April to teach an Intro to Racing seminar. I was also planning an offshore sailing pub night for him to share his offshore sailing knowledge, as that married two of his passions: sailing and beer.

He has gone too soon and I was not ready. I am still not ready. But I am comforted with the times we did have together and the mark he has left on me to become a better sailor, and a better person.

Fair winds my friend, and may you find your safe harbour.


Captain Penny

Sail Selection Part 4 – New Sail Love

Well I have had my new 110% jib for about two months now. Receiving that shipment in the mail was like Christmas!

Sheet Position

So far I am figuring out the best position for my sheets relative to my standing rigging and fairlead track. Spindrift has a wonderful long track so adjustments there are not the concern. It is my standing rigging that is causing me a bit of grief.

I originally had the sheets running outside of my shrouds, but then I could not trim the sail as close as I needed. I then brought the sheets to the inside of the shrouds… however, the leech was chaffing too much on the shrouds… So, in between the upper and lower shrouds seems to be just right 😉

I think the only thing that I need to get used to is the noise! When we are tacking it sounds like a helicopter is in the area! Needless to say, I have been teaching my students to be quicker and more consistent with their tacks and trimming to decrease the luffing time. That way they are being more concise with their trimming and more efficient sailors, and I am increasing the lifespan of my investment! Win-win!

Sail Cut & Foot Skirt

As I noted in a previous post, I went with a tri-radial dacron sail. The tri-radial cut will help decrease the uneven stretch over time. I have 2 sets of ticklers on the luff and I opted not to have a tickler window.  I had a window on my old sail and I found it to be more challenging for students to figure out which tickler was windward vs leeward. Now we just use the “shadow” of the leeward tickler when trimming and it takes all the guesswork out for new sailors.

I am debating adding a line on the foot of the sail for when the sail catches on the lee side of my lifelines. I will see how that progresses over time. It does not catch often enough to be a concern, but something I will keep my eyes on.


Overall the sail fits like a glove and Spindrift is loving her new found power! When I went through my measurements you may recall that my luff measurement seemed so much longer than my old sail.  Well that is because it was! My previous headsail was a hank on and had been cut to accommodate the new furling system that was installed. This in turn reduced the luff by over 2 feet, which significantly decrease my overall sail area. I am really happy that I have now recovered that area with the new jib and Spindrift is pointing much higher and my draft position is significantly decreased resulting in a much better helming experience.

Sail Selection – Part 3 Measurements

Alright so I’m not going to lie, it has taken me a couple of weeks to get organized to do my measurements. The Headsail_Staysail Measurement v1.3 guide I was asked to fill in is comprehensive and with Spindrift being out on a pin I was having issues getting accurate numbers and photos.

What did I need?

You only need a few tools to get this job done: measuring tape, pencil, extra hands, drill bit, nice flat space, and a camera.

Where did I start?

Several of the measurements are just taking your overall boat dimensions. Some of these can be found in your owner’s manual or online.  Once you have your general rig specifications filled in, we move into the freeboard measurements. The freeboard is the distance from the waterline to the deck. For Precision Sails they wanted the distance at the shrouds as well as the distance at the bow.

Things then got a little more exciting as I had the kids hold the measuring tape while I measure my fairlead (jib sheet) track. Spindrift has a really long track bolted to the deck, so it took some finesse to get the measuring tape to cooperate. I was surprised to see that my track is over 7 feet long. That’s a great amount of sail trimming I can do!

What did I find challenging?

The only measurement that stumped me a bit was the furling drum height measurement. I had to measure from the base of the forestay up to the tack attachment point. However, my bow plate has a 2 inch chainplate attached to it, so do I start where the turnbuckle is or where the deck is? I decided to provide them with both numbers and several photos so they could figure it out.

The last part was measuring my old sail. I stretched it out on the grass in between rain storms and got my Wendy weight on one end and measured the other. At this point they do not want you to stretch the sail or try to account for any curl or contour. They want a straight line measurement for each side (foot, luff and leech). Again, photos were taken of each and we were off to the races.

At this point you are probably wondering why I needed drill bits? Well, Precision Sails requests that you use a drill bit to determine the gauge of the furling slot. So my furler fit a 7/32″ drill bit, so I am a #7 tape size for them. I also used calipers to take a couple of measurements for them.

And so it begins…

Measurements and photos have been sent off — along with a few upgrades of course! Now I just wait for the design team to let me know if they need anything else!

Sail Selection – Part 2 Budget & Materials

So the quotes have started rolling in and oh my! My cheap Scottish side is not happy! Haha. On the other hand, I am getting SO excited at the thought of a nice, new, crisp sail to trim. Delish!

As I noted in Part 1, I requested 3 quotes in the end from Precision Sails, North Sails and Evolution Sails. The quotes have started rolling in and now I get to disect them and confirm my budget, materials and sail cut.

Evolution Sails, Vancouver BC

The quote process for Evolution Sails was pretty simple. I filled in an online form and provided basic boat dimensions and Jason emailed me a quote within a few days. For your boat dimensions you can either use your owner’s manual or this website.

Based on the information provided and the fact that I am looking for a cruising headsail, Jason suggested a Challenge 6.63 HA Dacron. What does this mean? Challenge is the manufacturer of the sailcloth. The number 6.63 is the weight of the sailcloth while the HA Dacron is the specific fabric used. HA is high aspect, meaning that it is a tight cross weave.

As I have a furling jib the sail would also have a UV cover (WeatherMax 80) to protect the sail from harsh UVs. Overall this quote is about $1,800 + shipping.

Precision Sails, Victoria BC

Precision Sails quoted me within a few hours of submitting my request online. “This could be good or bad,” I thought as I opened the email. To my surprise, it contained a 24-page PDF quote including links to YouTube videos about the various fabrics and sail cuts. This was great as I was still feeling like I was in the research stage of the game.

The Precision Sails quote included racing and cruising sails and covered everything from headsails that were $4,000 to sails that were $1,200. It really came down to what I want to do with the sail.

At this point I started waffling between the accuracy of the laminate sail (holds its shape longer) and the lifespan of the Dacron sail (being a cheapskate this enticed me). I called up their office to discuss the differences and what my needs were. After some discussion it was clear to me that the Dacron was the way to go and having a tri-radial cut (instead of a cross-cut). The tri-radial cut will decrease the “baggy dacron sail syndrome”. I’m looking at about $2,000 + shipping.

North Sails, Vancouver BC

North Sails took a few days to get back to me and they wanted me to call them to discuss my sail. I’ll be honest, at this point I had already decided whom I wanted to work with, so I said thank you for getting in touch and moved along. Hopefully that won’t come back to bite me! 

Who’s the winner? 

I have decided to move forward with Precision Sails. I am very impressed with their professionalism, vaste information and knowledge, and they seem eager to help me out. Now that I have made a decision and a downpayment, I need to get the measurements done… Part 3 here I come! 

Photo Credit: photo retrieved from https://www.puzzlewarehouse.com/Colorful-Sailboats-on-a-Beach-5800zz.html

Sail Selection – Part 1 Sailmaker

Alright, so I have finally embraced the fact that Spindrift needs a new headsail. There are 3 standard, or more common, sizes of headsail including: genoa (150%), jib (115%) and a storm jib (40% or less). The percentages refer to the triangular area between the forestay and the mast, so a genoa would come 50% aft of the mast.

I currently have a genoa that is 180% and a jib that is 110% and I believe I have an extra jib, but it is living in the garage. The boat came with a lot of odds and ends from my grandfather that I am still sorting through!

At this point in time I am looking to replace my 110% jib as it is really baggy. Spindrift does not like sailing with baggy skirts! The 180% genoa is way too large and it really overpowers the helm so I am hoping to cut it down to a smaller 150%. I’ll look into that at a later date — after I’ve digested the bill from my new jib!

Selecting a Sailmaker

The first order of business is researching the various sailmakers out there and determining which one meets your needs. You want to provide yourself with a pool of candidates. I researched several of the more common sailmakers to see what services they offer and checked on their reviews. I also looked into smaller lofts as sometimes they provide more quality. As I am looking for a cruising sail, as opposed to a racing sail, I am a bit more focused on budget than performance at this point and I have more options for getting quotes. Here’s who I looked into…

North Sails, Vancouver BC

North Sails is one of the more well-known sailmaker names in the industry. They have been around since 1957 and the company was founded by Lowell North (who actually recently passed away on June 2, 2019).

Their website is full of information including how to pick your material, sail type and requesting a quote. They have lofts around the world making them easy to access and leaders in the industry. Worth a look into if you are looking for racing or cruising sails.

Evolution Sails, Vancouver BC

Evolution Sails is a group of sailmakers from around the world with several lofts in Canada — Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Their website does not contain as much background information as North Sails, for example, about sail selection, but once you get to the loft website you are looking for (in this case I chose Vancouver), they are more than happy to chat with you about what you are looking for. Jason was more than happy to discuss options with me and seems eager to work with clients to help make sure they get the right sail.

Precision Sails, Victoria BC

Precision Sails out of Victoria have a very comprehensive website. There is a lot of information about materials, cuts, ad-ons and everything in between. Precision Sails also has a large library of videos on YouTube explaining their sails, materials and cuts, which was very informative. Their website is very easy to navigate and requesting a quote was a cinch.

Bay Sails, Hamilton ON

Bay Sails used to be our go-to for sails when I was teaching at Harbour West Sailing Adventures in Hamilton. They are a small loft out of a house and they always provided our school with great feedback and assistance when we had a sail to fix. If you are looking for a Canadian mom and pop shop, I would suggest Bay Sails. Your best bet for a quote and further information would be to check out their Facebook page or just call them directly to chat about your options.

Leitch and McBride Sailmakers, Sidney BC

Leitch and McBride is a Canadian sailmaking company established in 1976 by two partners (Rick McBride and Phil Leitch). Leitch & McBride were the most technologically advanced sailmakers in Canada for some time as they introduced state of the art tools to their loft to maximize their sail designs.

Their website is user-friendly and it is easy to request a quote online. The company has since been sold, but is still run by a Canadian who still uses the Leitch & McBride sail designs.

UK Sailmakers, Sidney BC

UK Sails are an extremely popular sail brand in the industry and they were originally founded in the US in 1946. They have many lofts around the world and have a lot of information available on their website for background and research. Requesting a quote online was next to impossible. Most sites have an online form that you fill in, however this website did not seem to have one.

There were a couple areas of the website that I really enjoyed namely Education and Encyclopedia (under Resources). The Education section has videos and articles about sail trim, safety at sea and others. The Encyclopedia is literally a treasure trove of information about sails.


Once you have looked through the websites and started to figure out what you are looking for, you can start requesting quotes and establish a relationship with the companies.

I decided to request 3 quotes in the end. One from Evolution Sails, Precision Sails and North Sails. At this point I had determined that I needed a jib (115%) for my Aloha 8.2, but I was still waffling between a laminate sail and a Dacron sail. I will talk about those options in Sail Selection Part 2.


All images retrieved from Google.