ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sail Cleaning Made Easy

Updated on February 15, 2016
This hot tub saved me more than a thousand dollars.
This hot tub saved me more than a thousand dollars.

 Sails aren’t cheap to replace, so sailors should own a hot tub.

 

I think I better explain myself here: the Dacron, Mylar, or Kevlar responsible for creating the vertical lift that makes our boats glide through the water is usually the second most expensive replacement item on a boat, second only to the engine.

 

Anyone who’s been out for a good blow will appreciate the tremendous pressure the sails are constantly under, and the outright abuse they endure from saltwater spray, luffing, chafe, etc. With every hoist, tack, reef, or day under the sun, the sails age a little bit more, and need TLC to keep them going. Replacements for the ’92 Catalina 34 we call our second home run in the neighborhood of $3100, and I, being the thrifty type, am keen on getting them to last as long as possible—after all, they’re only 14-years old.

 

And to do this you have to keep them clean (and patched, but that’s another subject). According to Maine Sailing partners of Yarmouth, ME, the most important reason to wash sails is to “…get out salt and other soluble microscopic dirt contaminants. Salt crystals in the fibers of sailcloth can abrade and weaken the fabric over time. They are also hygroscopic, which means they tend to absorb water out of the air, making an excellent growth medium for mold and mildew.” So far so good, especially the part about the mold stains which can permanently stain sails and make them smell bad.

 

But alas, like everything else associated with things that float, cleaning sails aren’t cheap. The going rate for a main and genoa wash hovers around $4.25-4.75 (boat length, not sail length) per foot. For me, that’s the equivalent of a year’s worth of diesel. But before you penurious do-it-yourselfers out there head for the family washing machine to do the job, consider an old yarn out of DiMattia Sails in Milford, CT before you act: Seems that a desperate customer once came into the loft with a washing machine on the back of his truck. Amazed employees gazed inside to see a spinnaker permanently embedded in the agitator, neither of which were ever usable again. All but one that day had a good laugh.

 

Which brings us back to the hot tub. One cold December night after a late decommissioning of the Catalina, I lounged in our hot tub with a cold beverage and considered the annual trip to the local sail loft. Better get them in there before the spring rush I thought, and don’t forget the Mastercard.

 

Just then, in a Newton & Apple moment, my better half walks out of the house and waves a bottle of laundry detergent in my face. “We’re almost out,” she declares. “Pick some up after work tomorrow.” My eyes bugged out when I realized the obvious: I was sitting in my own personal sail washing machine. “Everybody out,” I hollered, “Tub’s closed for the next few days.”

The forecast was good for the weekend and I carefully loaded the main and genoa into the soapy water of the now multi-purpose hot tub. On went the jets and the cover, and I let it go for the night. Next morning I hauled the sails from the giant bubble bath, spread them on the yard, and hosed them off. The sun dried them quickly, and the results, I feel, were as good as any I had seen at my sail loft. The dirty water I drained into my garden for some extra nitrogen fertilizer.

Now, there’s one thing from the spring commissioning list, done on the cheap no less, that I can check off—only 99 more to go. Happy sailing.

Sidebar

Homemade Squeaky-Clean Sails

Hot tubs can save you money (a weak argument to buy one, but try it anyway). To convert your hot tub into a sail cleaning machine:

  1. Crank the heater to max for 24-hours (usually 97*F on most US hot tubs).
  2. Remove the filter and shut off the system.
  3. Pour in 1-cap of detergent per 15-gallons of water—a little more if sails are really dirty, hold the bleach.
  4. Remove battens and feed sails into water the same way you douse a jib into the forepeak, starting with tack or clew and completely unfurled.
  5. Cover tub, turn on, and let soak for at least 24-hours.
  6. Remove, spread on lawn and hose off both sides.
  7. If day is calm, hasten drying by tying a line to the headboard, throw it over a tree branch and run it up like a halyard.

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)