Good sailcloth for JR

  • 04 Apr 2014 07:56
    Reply # 1531163 on 1206989
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    David is right  -  

    the blue nylon sails in Stavanger have kept well. The oldest one, that on Malena, lasted for about 15 seasons. I think it could have held longer if it had been treated better: Although I have never used sail covers on any of the blue sails, I was careful to put sail ties around the bundle after each sail, in particular at the ends of the bundle. After I sold Malena in 1999, I noticed that later owners mostly left the boat with the ends of the sail bundle unsecured. I think that has shortened the life of that sail, causing fatigue in the end.


    The canvas I have used on the last two sails, Odyssey III, is a polyester-based awning canvas. It seems to have been woven in exactly the same way as the blue cloth, and is almost as soft and elastic as well. Luckily, the coated side is not sticky (unlike on the blue canvas) so will not attract dirt, moisture and thus mould and mildew. The blue nylon cloth is bad in this respect...



    Cheers, Arne

    PS: Frankly I think that the new Odyssey III sails set better than the older of nylon, but my hunch is that the improvement stems from the better webbing I now use for boltrope (2” seatbelt webbing), as it stretches so little.

  • 04 Apr 2014 00:51
    Reply # 1531029 on 1206989
    If you've seen all the blue sails that Arne & Co made in Stavanger (until the stock of that cloth was used up) - they were made from blue nylon cloth intended for making bags. Those sails continue to give good service, I believe, and the stretchiness of nylon is probably better than the stiffness of regular Dacron, for barrel-panelled sails.
    Last modified: 04 Apr 2014 15:06 | Anonymous member
  • 03 Apr 2014 22:34
    Reply # 1530970 on 1206989
    Ben, the established fabrics are the Marchem products, Odyssey III, Mustang and Top Gun (and of cause normal sail fabrics) The Marchem fabrics work well and are reasonably priced.

    If you just want a season or two from the sail, even just high grade polly tarp will do the trick.

  • 03 Apr 2014 21:52
    Reply # 1530946 on 1206989
    Deleted user
    Thank you for your response. That is good information.....and makes logical sense if you consider the use the material was designed for. I had not considered the effects of repeated folding.

    I am still considering using the material to make my first set of sails as a working prototype, to work out the construction process. From your experience, it sounds like the sail would last long enough to be sailed for a few months and the bugs worked out.

    I could then make the refined sail design from a better quality material.

    I have been researching heavier weights of rip stop nylon with military specs (I am former military). Sport and stunt kites, parachutes, etc are constructed from it but the UV exposure is probably very limited compared to a Junk sail. There are also rolls of military spec nylon with the same finish on both sides that look suitable. It is supposed to be rated for UV exposure but may not last.

    I post all of this......with a sense of I am sure most of the members have been going through this thought process for a long time before I arrived. Please be I just can't help myself, your time and input are greatly appreciated.
  • 03 Apr 2014 20:21
    Reply # 1530885 on 1206989
    Hi Ben,

    I have no experience with the particular products that you mention but I do have experience with other high quality greenhouse covering materials of the same type.

    I found that while the UV resistance was excellent the abrasion resistance was not so good. However the worse was the inability to cope with folding in the same area repeatedly (such as you get when you stow or reef the sail). The two sails I made and a covering for my boat all failed in the same way after about three years. The fabric tore on the folds in all three cases. The cloth was still good next to the tears so my conclusion is the fabric failed from fatigue and not UV.

    Quite frankly, when one considers the amount of time and effort that goes into making a good sail, I think it is worth while to pay a little more and use a cloth that is known to be able to cope. Of cause if the sail is only needed for a season or two, the problems I have mentioned may not be an issue for you.

  • 03 Apr 2014 01:14
    Reply # 1530303 on 1206989
    Deleted user
    I am a new member..... working on converting a Morgan 38 to junk rig. What a great resource JRA is.....thank you everyone. I am located in the USA.

    Does anyone have any experience with using greenhouse material to construct junk rig sails? There are many thicknesses available from 6-12 mil. I will try to paste a description below.

    Tuff-Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV is a 12 mil extrusion laminated
    reinforced film containing two layers of clear co-extruded polyethylene
    (COEX) and one layer of high strength polyester string

    Tuff-Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV is significantly stronger and more tear
    resistant than standard 12 mil poly films. The co-extruded films, the extrusion lamination process, and the high strength reinforcement scrim make this film exceptionally strong, puncture and tear resistant.

    Tuff-Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV meets or exceeds ASTM E1745 Class C Standard (Plastic water vapor retarders used in contact with soil or granular fill under concrete slabs). Added UV inhibitors give Tuff- Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV an expected longevity in fully exposed outdoor conditions of at least 4 years.

     Tuff-Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV Greenhouse Covers will not rip, tear or fray. Due to their long-life expectancy, Tuff-Scrim™ Poly TS12-HUV Greenhouse Covers provide significant cost savings through reuse and fewer replacements offering unmatched life cycle cost.

    Those interested can see the site at:

    I have ordered samples of the material in order to do some tests using sail makers tape and sewing seams to see how the material handles stitching, its workability, etc. I am also interested in testing waterproof UV resistant adhesives to see if they perform well.

    The material is available in roll widths of 4' or 5'  increments x100' for a very reasonable cost.

    Any experience or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    Last modified: 04 Apr 2014 01:12 | Anonymous member
  • 19 Feb 2014 22:55
    Reply # 1501750 on 1206989
    David, it was the yard, rather than my finger that poked a hole in the canvas.  It somehow got wrapped up in it; I'm disinclined to try your experiment until I'm somewhere calm and quiet and can sew up the ensuing damage if any.

    The canvas that is torn, is directly under the yard and is bar taut all the time I'm sailing.  Even at anchor in a gale that part of the sail doesn't flutter much. 

    I should like to believe that you are right about this.  I plan to take the sail off this winter and will maybe rebuild the leach, just in case you are.  As Odyssey is so suitable in all other ways, it would be a shame if this were UV damage.

    Especially as I don't want a black sail.
  • 19 Feb 2014 05:47
    Reply # 1501178 on 1206989
    I'm still not convinced that Fantail's sail has UV damage. Annie, can you poke your finger through any other part of the top panel? If you can, you should know about it, and if you can't, you have no problem. My feeling is that it's similar damage to that on my leech - not caused when the panel is full and pulling, but when it is reefed or furled. If the loose cloth at the leech is not gathered by lazyjacks but allowed to flap up and down, just gently, but 24/7, it causes these splits parallel to the leech.

    Having said that, darker colours do last longer, in UV exposure. Dark sewing thread lasts longer. Black is the colour of choice for a long-lasting sail. 
  • 19 Feb 2014 04:41
    Reply # 1501134 on 1500938
    Annie Hill wrote:

    Zebedee's black sails have done 10,000 miles in the Tropics and look like new.  Is the black more UV resistant (good news for you, Graham, with your Batwing, if this is the case)?  I guess we just watch this space.

    Darling, you know the answer to that one!

    Mustang is 50% heavier than Odyssey.  Neither comes in purple :-(

    Yes, but the teal is positively fetching :-)

  • 19 Feb 2014 00:23
    Reply # 1500938 on 1206989
    I wrote to Rochford about Odyssey III and rather than complain of the fabric's deterioration, which might have made them defensive, asked them about the coating and life expectancy of the fabric.  This is what they replied: 

    The shiny side goes inside or away from the sun. This material has a 3 year warranty.

     Let me know what other questions you have.

    Tony Mycka, phone: 763.447.6600, direct: 763.447.6612, fax: 763.447.6601,  As you see, I've put the contact details for anyone who would like to find out more.

    This would seem to say that the shiny coating has nothing at all to do with the UV resistance of the fabric.  I think we have to blame the fierce NZ sun for my problem.  If I'd bought the material and made the sail immediately, I could have got them under warranty, but I didn't.

    Zebedee's black sails have done 10,000 miles in the Tropics and look like new.  Is the black more UV resistant (good news for you, Graham, with your Batwing, if this is the case)?  I guess we just watch this space.

    Mustang is 50% heavier than Odyssey.  Neither comes in purple :-(

       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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