How to Rig a Cruising Spinnaker in 4 Stingy Stages

If you don’t have a spinnaker for your sailboat yet, aren’t you a little envious of those big, colorful, billowing sails you sometimes see at your favorite cruising spots? Nothing says, “Yeah, we’ve got this!” quite like a racing or cruising spinnaker. It’s as though the sailboat is puffing its chest out with confidence and…

No Furler? Make a Foredeck Sail Bag

If you have a headsail furler on your sailboat, this project will probably be of little interest to you. But if you have hank-on headsails and want convenient protection for them like the sacrificial covers on furled headsails, read on. A foredeck sail bag is something of a luxury for the trailer sailor. It’s not necessary…

Use Your Boat Hook to Sail Faster Downwind

In a previous article, I described How to rig a cruising spinnaker in 4 stingy stages. If you don’t have a spinnaker yet, or even if you do have one but you don’t want to raise it for short runs, one of your best options when sailing dead downwind is to set your sails “wing…

How to Make a Mainsail Cover

Summer Dance didn’t have much in the way of canvaswork when we bought her: the original mainsail cover and an old outboard engine cover that also looked pretty ghetto. Besides being 1980’s brown in color, the canvas of the mainsail cover was faded and shredded in places, much of the stitching had disintegrated, and the…

How to Clean Sails at Home

Just like a white shirt is a magnet for spaghetti stains, your sails are magnets for stains, dirt, and mildew. Unlike a white shirt, you shouldn’t bleach or machine wash your sails, it will ruin them. That means don’t clean them in a chlorinated pool, either. For hundreds of dollars, you can send your sails…

The 6 Worst Things You Can Do To Your Sails

Crisp, clean sails not only look better than dirty, worn out sails, they also work better and let your sailboat heel less. New sails are expensive so it’s smart to take care of the ones you have so that they will last longer before you need to replace them. Here are some simple things that…

How to Add a Draft Stripe to a Sail

This project is a companion to my previous projects, How to Add Numbers to a Sail and How to Reproduce a Class Insignia on a Sail. If you’re getting started in club racing or if you just want to get the best performance out of your sails for cruising, draft stripes can help. A draft stripe…

How to Reproduce a Class Insignia on a Sail

This project is a companion to my previous project, How to Add Numbers to a Sail. If you need to add or replace your sail numbers, you might also need to add or replace the class insignia too. Or maybe you want to add a company logo to your sail or a graphic that illustrates…

How to Add Numbers to a Sail

Have a new mainsail without numbers? An old mainsail with peeling numbers? How about a used mainsail that you bought and has the wrong numbers on it? You can easily replace or add professional-looking numbers to your mainsail without taking it to a sailmaker and I’ll describe how.

Product Review: Rolly Tasker Sails

You’ve put off replacing that threadbare old sail long enough. Or maybe it ripped during your last outing. Or maybe you just bought a used sailboat and it’s missing a serviceable mainsail or headsail. You want to buy a new sail but you’re not sure where from, there are so many choices. Being a stingy sailor, you…

Lessons on Spinnaker Repair

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, author of the book Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics. For my review of Andy’s book, see Book Review: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics for Singlehanded Sailing. The version of Andy’s book that I reviewed was an early version from before it was published under a different title by…

How to Flatten the Luff of that Baggy Old Sail

Do you have one or more old sails that, after you hoist them fully, have scallops and wrinkles along the luff like in the picture above? Or do you have to winch them flat or overtighten your backstay? Instead of a flat, smooth leading edge, those wrinkles disrupt airflow and rob your sail’s performance. If the…