How to Store Your Sails for Winter

A post from Quantum Sails

Sails need to be stored where they are safe from moisture, temperature extremes, and pests. Any combination of these can ruin a good sail.

Sails need to be stored where they are safe from moisture, temperature extremes, and pests. Any combination of these can ruin a good sail.

Fall is a beautiful time of year, but for many the change in colors signals the end of the sailing season. Many owners take great care in making sure their boats are properly “winterized” and stored, but their sails are not always given the same care. Here are our expert tips to make sure your sails are ready to go with the first sign of spring!

When you’re ready to store your boat for the winter, make sure you take care of your sails too. There are three main factors to consider when planning what to do with or where to store your sails at the end of the sailing season.

  1. What is the general condition of your sails?
  2. Are there any modifications you’d like to make?
  3. Where will you store your sails?

1. Sail Condition

Off season is the time to get your sails checked and maintained so they’re ready to go in the spring.  A large percentage of repairs that we see during the sailing season can be avoided by a thorough winter check and service.

Dirt, stains, and salt are not only unsightly, they can shorten the life of your sail. Grit and salt crystals can – and will – chafe fibers in the sail cloth. This damage is small and slow acting, but it can add up over time and make a difference in how long a sail lasts.

Salt also attracts moisture. Moisture and warm temperatures lead to mildew. Mildew won’t necessarily shorten the life of your sail, but who wants to unroll their genoa and see a Jackson Pollack?

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By |2015-11-13T17:29:16-08:00November 13th, 2015|Racing Skills|0 Comments

Clean and Green Boating Products 101: non-zinc anodes

Spring time is coming and with it a haul out and time to get your boat ready for the year. For many of us that means making hard choices: balancing a desire to use more environmentally friendly products against the need to protect our boat from the sea’s ability to quickly degrade it. The problem is that many of the tried and true materials work because of their toxicity – for instance Trinidad SR with its high copper content – and many of the new non-toxic products have not proven to work very well. Aluminum anodes MAY be an exception, a product that works better than traditional zinc anodes and is safer for the marine environment. From the Seattle based Clean Boating Foundation.


The Clean Boating Foundation is often asked by boaters about products they can use to reduce their environmental impact while enjoying their boat and the beautiful waters of Puget Sound.  The three major responses are: cleaning supplies, non-copper bottom paint and aluminum/magnesium anodes.  Let’s talk today about anodes.

What are anodes?  They’re sacrificial lumps of metal attached to the bottom of your boat to prevent the wasting of the good metals of your boat (hull, shaft, propeller, etc) through galvanic corrosion.  Basically, the anode corrodes before the boat does, saving you costly repairs and headaches – anodes are a good thing.  Heard of Zincs?  Zincs are anodes.  But anodes don’t necessarily have to be zinc.

In fact, even though zinc has been the choice metal in traditional marine anodes for years, there are more effective and environmentally preferable (and sometimes less expensive) choices out there.  The problem with zinc anodes, besides the fact that zinc itself is dangerous to the marine environment when it corrodes away into the water (it is actually regulated in Washington’s NPDES industrial and boatyard permits), is that they require cadmium as an activator for the galvanic protection process.  Cadmium is an extremely toxic metal, regulated at the federal level.  Bad stuff.


By |2013-02-11T17:55:52-08:00February 11th, 2013|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

Marine Battery Types and Charging Tips

Story by Peter d’Anjou, from Boat Trader

battery-charging-diagramMost boats under 50 feet in length have 12-volt electrical systems. Yet many experienced boaters can’t tell you much about the batteries they have on board, let alone how their batteries and charging systems work. Take my buddy Jeff, for instance. It’s the middle of the season and one of the two 12-volt batteries on his 30-foot sailboat is nearing the end of its life. When I asked Jeff, an engineer by trade and an experienced boater, what kind of battery he was choosing to replace the old one, he blithely said, “Oh, a cheapo X-mart wet cell.” Clearly driven by short-term economics, my friend may not have realized that batteries using the same charging system should be replaced in sets.

There’s a lot to know about marine batteries. I’ve written briefly about them before in Lay-up Tips, but now I realize a primer on batteries would be helpful. Modern day conveniences such as laptop computers and cell phones using lithium ion batteries have contributed much to the knowledge and design of batteries since Gaston Plante initially invented the lead-acid battery in 1859.  However, marine batteries, especially the wet-cell kind, are still in the relative dark ages of battery design.

battery smart regulator

A smart multi-step regulator can sense charge, adjust to the batteries’ charging phase, and optimize longevity. A smart regulator with optional temperature sensor sells for $275 at West Marine.

They are purpose-built and their internal structure will reflect their use—starter, deep-cycle, or dual-purpose—as well as their limitations.   For instance, a battery designed for starting your engine will typically have more internal plates closer together, providing more surface area to give that higher, one-time discharge required in powering a starter motor, but will not be as good at the long, steady discharge that deep-cycle batteries, with thicker active plates and higher antimony concentrations give. Deep-cycle batteries can be discharged from 50 to 80 percent and recover easily, while starting batteries don’t like to be discharged more than 50%.

Chemical Types:

Marine batteries are available in three chemical types: Flooded, Gel, and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM).  Regardless of chemical type, they’re rated by energy output, generally expressed as ampere hours, and categorized by how many charges (cycles) the (more…)

By |2013-02-04T15:10:04-08:00February 6th, 2013|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

What’s your boat look like from underwater?

Here is a interesting concept, Roth Diving Services, one of our club sponsors, has set up the ability to do on the spot videos, for inspecting everything from zincs, props, rudders, hulls, anything you may want inspected and captured on video.

I plan a haulout to repaint the bottom on the one week off we have during the Spring Whitecap series. Looks like it is due, as there is some hard growth starting in some places, not exactly a race ready bottom! If you would like Mike Roth to do a video inspection, his contact information is on the scrolling Sponsor banner on this page.

See you on the water…



By |2012-04-08T17:02:52-07:00April 8th, 2012|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

Tuning the Rig to Balance Your Boat

Photo by Christophe Favreau,

From Elliot / Pattison Sailmakers website, another early season boat tune-up post.

The basis for tuning a boat starts with an understanding of what it is you are trying to accomplish. While many one design classes publish tuning guides the top sailors realize that those guides are merely starting points and have to be adjusted to fit individual boats, sails, and even the way that different people sail.

The basis for tuning your boat should start with balancing the boat. This means having your sailplan balanced with your hull shape or having the Center of Effort of your sails (the CE) in line with the Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR) of the your hull. This gives you a neutral helm because you don’t have to have the rudder turned one way of the other to keep the boat going straight and the associated drag that causes.


By |2012-03-24T09:39:13-07:00March 24th, 2012|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

Getting A Jump On Spring

Quick & Easy Winter Projects To Make Your Boat Safer (And Avoid Big Headaches Later)

Sometimes, it’s the little things that get overlooked; something as minor as a worn impeller or dead battery can ruin a day on the water. Even major things like a dismasting from a cracked fitting or a ruined engine due to clogged manifolds can be prevented by a quick inspection. This winter, devote some time to a few easy inspections or simple projects to make sure next spring your boat is ready for smooth (and safe) sailing.

Change Your Impeller

As the Nike ad used to say, “Just do it.” Unless you changed your impeller within the last two years, go ahead and replace it. Impellers can fail even (and especially) if they’re not used much. Over time, they take a “set” and the vanes become less flexible and less efficient at moving water. Eventually, the vanes crack at the base and break off, finding their way into your engine’s cooling system where they can cause overheating (and are often very difficult to remove). Replacing your impeller is easy and cheap insurance. If your engine’s pump is hard to access, consider installing a product called Speedseal, which is a replacement cover that uses four knurled screws, allowing much easier inspection and replacement of impellers.

The impeller on the left is worn out; the vanes could break off and get stuck in your engine’s cooling system, causing overheating. Now is the time to replace it if you haven’t done it in a couple of years.

Inspect the Other Zincs

Zinc anodes in the engine’s cooling system wear out like any other anode. Forgetting to replace them can lead to corrosion, ruining expensive components.

Many engines, especially smaller diesels and generators, have zinc anodes in the cooling system to prevent corrosion. Most heat exchangers are made of copper and other dissimilar metals, which can corrode if not protected. The anodes (usually pencil anodes) are screwed into the heat exchanger housing and should be inspected at least once a year; if they’re half wasted, replace them. Check your engine manual to find out if your boat has one.

If you have a water heater, you may have a zinc anode in it as well. Those anodes tend to last a long time (decades), but when they’re finally used up, corrosion can occur. Another surprising issue with worn-out water-heater anodes is that they can cause a foul odor in the hot water when the zinc wears off its iron support rod. These anodes are usually attached to the inside of the water heater’s outlet nipple and can be replaced by removing the nipple.


Read the entire article from Boat US’s Seaworthy magazine here

By |2012-01-04T14:52:17-08:00January 4th, 2012|In the Yard|0 Comments

Project Time – Mike’s Quick Rope Whipping

Time to clean up some of those fraying lines, from Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts from Captnmike

This is the quick and secure whipping I use to whip the ends on double braid line.  I have not seen this in any book.  It has some of the elements of the classic quick temporary whipping but this method is much more secure  and almost as quick as the classic quick temporary whipping.  Properly whipped line ends in addition to keeping line ends from fraying also helps give your boat more “style points” and adds to your reputation as a knowledgeable sailor.

Whipping the ends of the line with this whipping is much easier for me to do than the classic regular whipping that has two frapping turns at 90 degrees from each other and the tough (for me anyway) ending knot and bury.  I use a single set of frapping turns to hold the whipping together with a quick secure bury of the two ends of the whipping twine.

You can read the entire post here

By |2011-11-04T08:40:35-07:00November 4th, 2011|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

Standing Rigging Checks – the vital checklist

If the wind is going to roar this winter, your rigging needs a check.

Sail-World picked up a post from Captain John at Skippertips that lists the most vital rigging checks you need to make.

Sailing Rigging Inspection Checklist:
Just as pilots of aircraft large or small wouldn’t think of taking off without their standard checks, neither should the competent skipper. Put these five inspections on your sailing checklist to keep your sailing rigging strong and secure.

1. Shroud and Stay Cotter Pins:

Cotter pins are those nautical bobby pins that hold your standing rigging together. Cruising sailboats can have dozens of these vital fasteners. Look for cotters in the ends of the stays, shrouds and the headsail furling drum.

Often, cotter pins on sailboats are shaped and trimmed the wrong way. In some cases, they may be missing. Cotter legs should be shortened–not bent back against the cotter body. You must be able to remove a cotter pin fast in an emergency. Follow these easy steps:

How to Size a Cotter Pin

a. Use cotter that fits snug into the hole of a clevis pin.
b. Shorten the legs to 1½ X the diameter of the clevis pin.
c. Spread the legs 25-30 degrees.
d. Dab the ends with silicone.
e. Do not tape over cotters–this prevents inspection.

2. Loose Shackle Pins:

Slippery stainless steel shackle pins have a nasty reputation of backing out of shackle jaws. This can result in a lost mainsail or Genoa halyard, block failure, or cause your anchor rode to part.

The photo shows a turning block we found while delivering a yacht offshore. Its pin had backed out about halfway and was being held in place by a mere sliver of screw threads. A plastic wire tie solved this problem fast and easy. Carry a bag of long, thin plastic ties. Mouse (lash) the pin to the shackle body to keep shackle pins in place.

you can read the entire post here

By |2011-09-29T08:53:06-07:00September 29th, 2011|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments

Stretch vs. Creep

A post by Ryan Scott on the West Marine Rigging-Newport site that might be helpful as you prepare your boat for the coming season.

One common misconception that I am asked about, is whether stretch and creep are the same thing. They are not. I saw an analogy a while ago describing the difference, and I still think it is one of the best ways to demonstrate it. Rubber bands stretch, taffy creeps.


By |2011-03-14T16:28:04-07:00March 14th, 2011|Boat Maintenance|0 Comments