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