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.
You only need a few tools to get this job done: measuring tape, pencil, extra hands, drill bit, nice flat space, and a camera.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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
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 115% and I believe I have an extra jib, but I’m not sure. 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 115% 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 passed away 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 you to help make sure you 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 us 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.
So, further to my blog on foul weather gear, I mentioned that I would follow up with a base layer gear review.
First we need to establish our wish list:
Let’s look at the main fabrics used. The following information was retrieved from rei.com:
One of the most common synthetic fabrics used for base layers is polyester. However, you may also find a combination of nylon, rayon or polypropelene. Synthetics have a bit of a spandex feel which give you a nice snug fit.
5/5 wicking 4/5 durability 3/5 odor- resistant
Merino wool is soft and has ultrafine fibers and is nothing like older wool clothing and blankets. Wool can also be blended with other fabrics, like spandex to enhance fit and flexibility. Merino wool has the following characteristics:
4/5 wicking 3/5 durability 5/5 odor-resistant
Silk is an ideal fabric for low-key activities like an easygoing fall hike or an evening concert outdoors. Silk has the following characteristics:
2/5 wicking 2/5 durability 2/5 odor-resistant
Based on the above information, for my purposes I will be looking at Merino Wool or a Synthetic blend base layer. Base layers are generally classified as follows:
It is also a great idea to wear several layers and adjust as needed. Most sailors wear a heavyweight or midweight base followed by a fleece. Then your foul weather gear. One of the principal goals is to remain dry. If you get wet from rain, spray or sweat, it will not take long for you to get cold.
Here are some options that I will be looking into:
Smartwool seems to be a crowd pleaser and there are many options for the weight (heavy to light). This newer wool fabric is soft, wicks well and is odor-resistant. A typical warm base layer shirt will be about $110 while a pair of warm pants will be about $100. I tend to prefer a crew neck shirt as opposed to a zip up, but you can definitely get a full zip up to your chin. Smartwool seems to age well and should last you for several seasons.
The Under Armour HeatGear line is a midweight line and there are several different styles of tops and pants. Their HeatGear line is synthetic (92% polyester & 8% elastane for fit) so it will last and maintain it’s shape. However, even with their anti-odor technology, you will be ripe after a few wears. Their UA Base line is for aggressive cold and is their heavyweight line. It is also a synthetic blend of 95% polyester & 5% elastane. Prices vary depending on styles.
HH has a few options for base layers. The HH Lifa Merino line is their heavyweight base layer option. Their lightweight option is their HH Lifa Active line. HH has been creating base layers for athletes for quite some time now so their Lifa technology is on point. For my trip, I envision having a good lightweight and heavyweight option for layering and different weather conditions I may encounter.
I enjoy MEC products so I decided to include them in this review. MEC offers a Merino wool base layer line which would be your heavyweight option for warmth. They also offer a few different synthetic options ranging from lightweight to medium weight. Again, it will depend on style, fit, comfort and what you need the gear to do for you.
I hope this review has helped you navigate the various base layer fabrics and options available to you. The best way to determine what is right for you is to try on several different options to look for best fit and determine what you need for your specific activity (sailing, skiing, hiking, etc.).
Evenson, Laura. How to Choose Base Layers. Retrieved from: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/underwear.html.
Page photo credit: Photo retrieved from http://www.surfingthewaveoffashion.com/2013/07/sailing-with-musto.html.
Next gear review: duffel bags & packing cubes!
Just as your foul weather gear selection is important, so is the bag that you use to transport everything. When I was living on a boat in Georgian Bay I used to drag around a hockey bag of all my things. Ridiculous! It was huge, impractical and way too bulky and awkward for me.
There have been many advancements in the functionality and fabrics used for duffel bags and luggage since the days when I dragged around my hockey bag. Again, I need to make my wish list to know what to look for:
Here are some well-known options for me to explore further:
On first glance I love the colours, the straps, the waterproofness, and the size variations of the bags. However, I do not like that they are top access as I’d rather not have to pull everything out of the bag to access the pair of socks I need at the bottom.
However, SealLine do have some great dry packs for SUP and kayak trips and a good chart bag as well.
This duffel bag is not necessarily what I am looking for to pack up my gear, however this would make a great grab bag as it is fully weatherproof and can be submersed (if you don’t know what that is, sign up for a course!).
In Nelson you can find these bags at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.
I am loving the size and colour of this duffel (it comes in other bright colours too). It also has a large top zipper for full bag access and the backpack straps as well as a luggage strap. It is built with solid materials and the zippers are weather sealed. It also has an interior mesh pocket which can be used for laundry. This duffel also has really great reviews on The North Face site so it seems to be a crowd pleaser.
Approx price: $210.00
This bag is large, watertight and does not have any zippers. It uses heat sealed seems for waterproofing and it uses a fold top instead of zippers for closure. There are several straps and also a viewing window so that you can easily see inside the bag to locate things. The reviews on this product on the Musto site are evenly split with concerns about the material not being tough enough.
Approx price: $200.00
Once again, Helly Hansen makes a great product for sailors at a good price. This bag comes in several colours, sizes and has backpack straps. It has a waterproof main zipper with access to the entire bag, several straps on the outside to connect extra things to and an external compartment that can be used for laundry or storing wet items. Reviews from the HH site are favourable for this bag.
Approx price: $150.00
This looks like a great bag. Large, bright colours, various handles, full zipper to access items inside and straps for backpacking or luggage carrying. The material is “tough as nails” according to Osprey and there is an overlapping zipper to protect your items from the elements (ie weatherproof). There is also an internal mesh pouch for extra segregated storage. I love the Osprey backpack that we currently use at our house.
Approx price: $220.00
This is a great looking duffel bag and the price is great for what you get. There are several colour options, thick comfortable straps (backpack and luggage), extra handles and daisy chains (loops) for attachments and a large top zipper opening to view all contents inside. The duffel is weatherproof with a padded base to protect contents. It also includes an internal compression system (ie straps) to help you compress your items. Furthermore, when not in use the entire duffel packs down inside itself into a small package (bonus).
In Nelson you can find this duffel at Snowpack.
Approx price: $140.00
So, there are several options out there depending on what you are looking for. To suit my needs I think that either the Helly Hansen Classic Duffel Bag, the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel or the Osprey Transporter will meet my needs. I just need to figure out how much to pack and get the right size (thinking 70L or 90L). There are several stores in Nelson where you can check out some of these duffel bags yourself including ROAM, Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Snowpack.
Packing cubes are a pretty simple thing to pick up and they are very helpful for keeping your gear organized within your bag. Locally, Snowpack, ROAM and Valhalla Pure Outfitters have several options on hand and they would probably be happy to order in any different sizes you may need.
For my purposes I will use 3 large cubes, 2 medium cubes and probably 2-3 small cubes. I also plan to bring along a mesh wash bag and a toiletry organizer for toothbrush, Tylenol, etc. The cubes will need to have mesh viewing windows so I can see what I packed in each and they will need to be breathable.
Overall I am really excited about the various options that are available. I am looking for something large enough to fit everything, but easy enough to throw on my back. I am not looking for a wheeled duffel as I do not like wheeled luggage on boats (possibility of scratches or dents, but that’s my preference). I will keep you posted on which one I buy and why!
Page Photo Credit: Photo retrieved from https://www.hellyhansen.com/en_ca/.