Not really in Australia, our winters are some of the best times to go sailing, unless you are in Hobart that is!
Very different in the Northern hemisphere though where the water freezes and you have to take your boat out of the water, remove the rig and put anti freeze in anything that uses water.
That is where the Vacuwash process developed due to the sheer volume of sails that needed cleaning prior to winterising. Boat owners there know the benefits of a yearly sail clean and it is in their yearly boat maintenance schedule.
Over half of our business is from returning customers who also know the benefits of a yearly sail clean.
If you aren't going to use your boat over winter, then at a minimum get the sails off the rig and put them below, or better still send them to us for a wash. The same applies for your canvas.
This poor owner didn't get all his winterising finished off before disaster struck.
Vacuwash exhibits at many boat shows around Australia; here is a cheesy interview from Sail Expo at RPAYC
One of the most common questions we get asked is about the stitching.
The concern is understandable as the integrity of your sails and canvas depend on stitching.
In no way does the Vacuwash process have any detrimental effect on the stitching in sails and canvas.
This best way to prove this is to highlight that every sail/canvas washed is put into a bag, these bags over the past 5 years would themselves have been through the Vacuwash process thousands of times, well more than any sail over its lifetime.
The bags are still in perfect condition and can still easily hold the weight of your wet sails as they are lifted out of the Vacuwash tank. You are more than welcome to inspect the bags at the North Curl Curl factory, and there are pictures attached below.
Over half of our customers are returning ones, that says a lot of their satisfaction. My own sails have been Vacuwashed three times, they handled Bass Strait in 40 knots, easily proving that the stitching is not affected.
Canvas is slightly different as it always in the UV, it is the UV that kills the stitching in dodgers, biminis etc, these need to be re-stitched every 3-5 years (also depending on the stitching thread used). It follows that when I receive canvas to clean the stitching has been in the UV for a while, and thus will need re doing. Putting canvas back on the boat without having it restitched will usually result in it coming apart as point loading a zip will exert pressure on the stitching that is not normal, causing it to fail.
UV is the killer of stitching, not cleaning.
Sailmakers everywhere love using McLube SailkotePlus, below is a great summary from Ullman in the USA.
SAILKOTE Plus prevents mildew growth. Obviously the primary benefit to Sailkoting your cruising sails is the prevention of mildew. We probably dont need to mention mildew any more except to say that if SAILKOTE Plus is applied to your sails, you will have very little, IF ANY, mildew growth on your sails.
Furling and unfurling sails will be much easier. In addition to limiting mildew on furling sails your sails will operate with much less friction, and therefore will be easier to furl and unfurl. Sailkoted sails roll tighter. This is a real boon on systems such as roller masts/roller booms (where there is a limited cavity for the sail to fit in) the sail will fit better and not chafe as much when furling/unfurling. Also larger sails can be fitted or heavier more durable fabric used.
Cruising spinnakers will raise/lower more easily. A Sailkoted spinnaker/asymmetrical will be easier to raise and douse, especially when using a spinnaker sock, due to less friction. Often times when the nylon is wet, use of the spinnaker sleeve is made difficult by friction between the sleeve material and the nylon from the spinnaker (ever try to separate 2 pieces of wet glass?). If there is SAILKOTE Plus on at least one of the surfaces, friction is significantly reduced, creating an easier running spinnaker sleeve.
Key Benefits for Cruisers
SAILKOTE Plus prevents mildew growth. Nobody wants ugly mildew on their sails, whether you race OR cruise.
Less porosity and less water absorption on spinnakers. SAILKOTE Plus can decrease the porosity (less wind blows through the sail) of a nylon sail. This is particularly effective with older sails that you are trying to breathe new life into, as it will decrease the water absorption as well. Spinnakers that get wet during take-downs will dry much faster, keeping them lighter and faster.
Better spinnaker handling. Sailkoted spinnakers and asymmetricals are easier to raise and lower. In addition, asymmetrics are easier to gybe, due to less friction as the sail rides over itself during a gybe.
Genoas tack more easily. Sailkoted genoas will glide across the rigging and mast during tacks much more easily and sustain less spreader damage than un-koted sails. You should also consider spraying the lower rigging and mast as well. Telltales fly more freely, especially when sails are wet (or have you just been pinching all this time?).
Key Benefits for Racers
Winter in Australia is nearly here, and for some that means less time out on the water. Those in the Northern hemisphere have to remove their boats from the water as it becomes ice, yet herein Australia they are just left at their moorings soaking up the UV's and pollution in the air. As a result our boats will age a lot quicker as we perform less maintenance on them. This need not be the case, call us and we will remove your sails and canvas off your boat, clean and treat them, then put them back on when you are ready to go sailing again.
All sailmakers recommend yearly washing of sails, and canvas manufacturers state as part of the warranty that the canvas must be regularly washed.
Sails that look white and canvas that looks clean are not after a year of use, I'm always amazed at the dirty rinse water that comes out of 'clean' sails and canvas.
All you need to do is call us and the job will be done, one less boat worry and completely hassle free to you.
Sydney weather in March is perfect for turning your sails green. Rain, hot and humid.
You will be amazed at how fast those green lines of mould will appear on your nice white and expensive furled headsail.
Even sailing regularly is no guarantee of a mould free sail, the only thing that works is cleaning, once a year is the maximum time between cleans.
My own sails are used every week, yet even I find black spots of mould appearing, a yearly clean though has stopped it from becoming an issue.
Here is a recent picture of a sail before cleaning, I suspect that there was not much sailing going on here. Luckily this sail was sailkoted from new and has cleaned up looking that way again.
Modern yachts are fitted with a combo deck and steaming light, they look great yet the black plastic they are made from quickly becomes a black crayon in the UV.
You probably don't notice it from the deck, yet I see the damage done to the sail up close. Those black marks don't come off either, as in the first picture, the second pic the marks came off, but look at the damage on the sail.
What to do? put a wear patch on the sail like you do for the spreaders, or put a nice smooth stainless bracket over the light.
Hot in January, hot and wet in February, wet and humid in March. As much as you probably have had enough boating over the summer months, the recent weather we are having on the East coast of Australia will give you the excuse to get back to your boat and dry her out. For many it is already too late, I heard a conversation on the club tender the other day, 'the engine was half underwater as the bilge pump stopped working' there is always something on a boat!
A sail came in last week to be cleaned, and the owner said he had only left it for a month, i'm afraid that that is all it takes in this climate.
If you are not going to be using your sails for any more that a month, then take them off the rig and store them below, and off the floor to just in case the bilge pump stops working.
Sail below, clean to crappy in just one month, and yes the sail is spotless again after Vacuwashing.
Tis the season for SailkotePlus, a day doesn't go by now that we aren't spraying McLube onto some sail. Spinnakers both old and new, from Manly Juniors (2 sqm) to 30 meter maxi yachts (450 sqm), the word is out there on the benefits of sailkotePlus.
If you are buying new sails, then have them sailkoted. If you race a centerboard boat, get the spinnaker sailkoted. If your mainsail furls in the mast, get it sailkoted.
Happy to discuss any application and describe the benefits.
In the meantime, checkout this cool video I just did of a sailkoted spinnaker going back into its sock.
tIf yes is the answer, then there is a high probability that your boat has been an excellent nesting site.
We have already cleaned numerous sails and canvas that have nurtured some new chicks, the Vacuwash process is excellent at removing most of the evidence.
Pictures of bird stained sails are upsetting, so instead in this post I will give you a cute picture of a seagull chick so that you don't get too mad when the sticks/mud and other crap falls on your head as the main is hoisted.
Last weekend Australia's east coast was smashed by an what is termed an 'East Coast Low' other parts of the world they are Cyclones or Hurricanes, whatever they are called the results are usually similar.
We haven't had that much rain since the last time we had that much rain, and records were broken for the number of stories/news programs talking about records being broken.
So we have all dried out our garages/wet carpet, cleaned out the green swimming pools, grated the fallen trees, most households are back to normal, all except for boat owners!
These guys will be down on their boats this weekend, taking advantage of the 21C winter weather to dryout their boats. Boats leak, even new ones, there are no open windows, so that damp interior will be going moldy as I type.
Any sails stored below will need to be aired, as will bunk cushions and anything/everything else.
Then there are the sails furled around the forestay, or stacked on the boom. These will still be soaking wet even a week after the rain.
Only one thing to do, Go Sailing.
Any boat that doesn't go sailing this weekend will be a Vacuwash customer within the next couple of months, that's all it takes for those green stripes of mold to form on your nice white sails.
If you don't want you sail to look like the one in the picture, get down to your boat and go for a sail.
See you on the water, I'll be out there.
Today I just cleaned what should be a perfectly good jib. When I say 'should' I mean that if the sail is not that old, its cut is an expensive tri radial, the sail material is a top of the range laminate. The sail though has been left on a furler, in the weather and the sail has now gone to crap. I can make the sail look better, yet once the UV strip starts to break down, then the sail it is there to protect also breaks down. All this happens while your unloved boat swings at its mooring as you attend to other pastimes, it also happens a lot quicker than you think.
I'm not going to get into the furler vs put away headsails here, but here are the pointers if you are going to furl your headsail.
Air and dry the sail weekly even if just at the dock in calm conditions.
Dacron is a much better cloth to clean, so furl that please. Exotic laminates are great sails, yet I dont think they should be furled.
Make the UV strip out of 100% acrylic canvas, it lasts better than sticky back and looks better with age, and also furl it the right way so the UV is on the outside!
Make the cut a simple cross panel, tri radial sails cant be cut down to remove any leach that has UV damage.
Lastly, if your sail is small enough and you can handle it by yourself, then take it off the rig and put it below, it will last forever.
Canvas is great on a boat, usually waterproof, UV resistant, strong and long lasting, Sunbrella even guarantee their canvas for 10 years so long as it is looked after.
Looking after it is easy, a fresh water soapy wash, make sure that it is tied down and not flapping in the breeze, and be gentle on the zips. Depending on the stitching thread and the environment it is in, the canvas could need re stitching every now and then.
Once though it is gone, it is gone, don't try and get those extra few years out of it as you will only do more damage to whatever it is supposed to be protecting.
I have just cleaned a mainsail that has been under a canvas cover which should have been replaced years ago. Firstly it leaked so the sail was always wet, thus moldy, and secondly as the canvas broke down the colour rubbed itself all over the sail, a nice tinge of green which does not come off is the result.
The sail now also has wear marks where it was rubbing too.
Your trimmer/sailmaker will tell you if your canvas has more years left in it, or bring into us here at Vacuwash and we check it out for you.
This is what 18 months on a furler will do to your sail. At a rough guess this sail is worth $5000, yet when it came to me it was as you see below. What you can't tell though is the stink, the amount of water in the sail, or see the little critters that ran out as we unrolled it!
A couple of points come to mind here, firstly if you are not going to use your sails for a length of time, then get them off the rig and put them below out of the weather; a length of time would be in my opinion (and remember we all have one) would be a month. Secondly, this sail is a laminated one, the fabric is fantastic in strength and shape, yet sadly sailmakers do not recommend getting them wet, go figure that!
As soon as the laminate is sewn, the needle leaves tiny holes for the water to wick through, thus you see mold appear in the laminate.
So what to do; laminate sails should be sprayed in SailkotePlus when new to help prevent the mold appearing in the first place, and you need to go sailing a lot more often to keep the sails dry.
I'm guessing that boom bags have been around for 30 years or so, prior to that we would remove the sail off the boom, take out all the batterns, flake, bag it and put it in the cabin. Then something happened, well numerous events even that led to the boom bag as we know it today. These include larger boats (larger sails) less crew to do the work (post RBT weekend sailing has never been the same), full length batterns, flashy bat cars that attach to the mast which need special tools to remove, lazy jacks, and plenty more I'm sure. The result is a main that now lives on the boom and hopefully under a canvas cover of some sort.
There are two main types, one with lazy jacks attached as per the main picture above, which the sail falls into and a zip on the top to enclose the sail when back at the dock. The other is a cover with the zip underneath that you put on the boom once the sail has been nicely flaked on the boom. I'm ignoring in boom/mast furlers this time, that is a full comment in itself.
As a sail cleaner, I can tell what type of bag you have and what condition it is in, and wait for it, an opinion on which bag/cover is best, I think you already know what I'm going to say.
Zips fail faster than you can get them repaired, zips are also not waterproof, so if your zip is on top of the boom, your main will be wet everytime it rains, it will go mouldy and you will have to call Vacuwash to clean it, remember it is also too big, which is why you left it on the boom in the first place. Also at the clew end there is the perfect hole for 'birdy numb numb' to squeeze in and produce more birdy numb numb's, one week is all it takes! A sail can be brand new, and in a week can look like, well s*it.
My suggestion it to attach the lazy jacks to the bottom of the boom, sailtie the main to the boom itself, move lazy jacks forward, then cover the sail with a one piece cover, zip or clips under, making sure there are no holes for BNN.
Another huge advantage it that you dont have that huge bit of canvas flapping while you are sailing.
The sails below were home to BNN for a short time, think what fell on the owners heads as the sails were raised. (both sails cleaned up beautifully)
Dodgers, biminis and boat covers have all been subject to a lot of extreme weather conditions over winter, combine this with pollution/mould and the ever persistent problem from birds means that any boat with clean canvas in spring is very lucky indeed.
Many owners had to find out post the April east coast low, what the replacement cost of canvas is (boat related inflation is multiples higher than the official CPI rate). This should be a real incentive to keep your canvas in good condition thereby extending the replacement cycle. Regular washing and reproofing will go a long way towards doing just this, DIY is fine, no pressure hoses though. Canvas too large or too dirty/mouldy, or if you just don't have the time to do it yourself, should be cleaned via the Vacuwash process, the cost of doing so will be returned by increasing the life of your canvas.
Boat canvas needs regular maintenance just like everything else you your boat, restitching, shock cord replaced, any tears/holes repaired etc, this and cleaning should all be done at the same time.
Unsure if cleaning will work? or tried to clean it yourself and still cant get it clean, call us and usually we can get the canvas looking fantastic again, if we cant then we don't charge you.
You wouldn't believe that the pictures below are of the same canvas, cost to client $300.
That headline is usually the first comment I hear when a boat owner calls me.
Invariably the sail has suffered from lack of use, left furled on the forestay or sitting under a leaky boom bag.
It doesn't take long, under a month you will start to see the mildew in one of its various forms.
To prevent the mould from starting, you need to air your sails ie go sailing, at least weekly, even a half hour run will do your sails the world of good, if not yourself.