The Best Way to Store Your Sails for the Winter

The Best Way to Store Your Sails for the Winter

Every year the Pacific Northwest experiences at least one big Winter storm, and every year at least one sailor at the marina I frequent neglects to remove their sails from their boat and store them properly. So, every year, until the boat owner comes down to check on their boat after the storm, there is a sad looking sailboat at the dock with ragged, half-unfurled sails in shreds flapping in the breeze. Don’t be that one sailor; take your sails off your boat. Putting a cover on your mainsail and staysail in the furler are not enough – remove and store them all properly. This article will focus on the best methods to store your sails for the off-season.

Be Honest, You Know When You’re Done

You’ll likely entertain the idea that you’ll get one more chance on the water before you put the boat away but be honest, you know when you’re done, and good sunny days for winterizing are numbered. When your season is over, get those sails off right away.

Storage Prep

Dirty Sail
Your two worst enemies for sail storage are salt and mildew, so do your prep to confront those first. Salt is abrasive, which can damage rolled sails, and it holds moisture. Salt can also attract animals that will chew holes in fabric. Mildew forms in damp environments. Choose a sunny day and rinse the salt off your sails thoroughly. If you have dirty areas on the sail, you can wash them with a mild detergent and then rinse again. Afterward, let your sails dry completely. Ensure you have a storage location that is dry, safe from pests, and does not experience drastic temperature changes that cause condensation, such as a heated basement – do not store sails on the boat!

Inspect

repair sail
While you have your sails down and clean, it’s a good chance to inspect them for any damage incurred over the boating season. Be sure to pay particular attention to the seams and stitching, as that’s likely what will give first. The sun’s UV radiation degrades sails over time as well, so look closely at any areas that are typically exposed to sun, even when the sails are furled. Lastly, look for areas of chafe, such as around stays, grommets, leech, tack, head, and clew. Do your repairs or bring your sails into the sailmaker to have them done before storage. You’ll be thankful next season when you can just put up your sails and go with complete peace of mind.

Modify

modify sail
This is also the time to do any modifications. Perhaps you are looking to add some radar dome chafe protection or are converting your sail for roller furling. Get it done now so you aren’t taking away from your time on the water later.

Store

I’ve heard all kinds of advice on how to fold sails properly, but here is all you need to know about that: don’t. That’s right; don’t fold your sails at all. Folding sails creates creases and chafe points, especially when left for long periods. The best way to store your sails is to roll them up. Spread out your sail in a large flat area, and then roll it from head to foot, parallel with any battens. roll sail
If storage space is an issue, you can flake your sail first, and then roll it luff to leech.

flake roll sail
Note that that flaking can introduce creases, so be sure to narrow or widen your flakes each time you store your sail to avoid repeatedly folding at the same points. Once rolled, put your sails in sail bags and place them on a shelf where air can circulate. Do not place anything on top of your sails as doing that will lead to more crease and chafe problems. Consider adding a wide frequency ultrasonic pest repeller to help keep rodents from using your sails as bedding material.

Wrapping Up

When you’re winterizing this year, don’t forget your sails. It is important to take your sails off the boat completely and store them in a dry, temperature-stable location out of the reach of animals. Be sure to clean and dry your sails thoroughly before storage. Use the opportunity to inspect your sails, repair any UV damage or tears, and make any modifications you’ve been thinking about. Remember to roll, not fold, your sails. With a little effort and attention your sails will last for years to come.

Published

Recent Posts

Boat Cleaning Guide: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Boat Cleaning Guide: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Some boaters consider cleaning and detailing to be a daunting and back-breaking task. Fortunately for them, it doesn't have to be! While keeping a clean craft is definitely an important aspect of basic boat maintenance, it's not necessary to spend hours on end to accomplish this goal. Sufficient cleaning supplies and regular upkeep go a long way to keep your boat looking and performing great without costing you a fortune.
How to Install a Windlass
How to Install a Windlass
Hand hauling your anchor is fine if you have a small boat with a small anchor for fishing or lunch stops, but once your anchor and tackle starts getting up in weight, hand hauling is a real pain – literally – you can hurt your back! If your boat did not come with a windlass installed, you can install one yourself if you are comfortable making modifications to your boat such as drilling holes and doing some basic wiring.
Choosing The Right Recreational Boat Type
Choosing The Right Recreational Boat Type
Choosing the right boat can a daunting task. With so many options it can be difficult to find the exact boat type that meets your individual needs. Whether you are a first-time boat buyer or an experienced seafarer, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of various boat types will help narrow your search next time you're in the market for a new boat.
Shore Anchoring or Beaching Your Boat
Shore Anchoring or Beaching Your Boat
Part of the fun of boating is spotting a beautiful beach, or interesting little cove, and pulling in to enjoy lunch or a swim in idyllic surroundings. If you’re lucky, there will be a dock to tie to, but most often it’ll just be the bare shore. In this article we’ll discuss proper techniques for anchoring your boat at the shore.
Holiday Boating Gift Guide For 2019
Holiday Boating Gift Guide For 2019
It's that time of the year again! The time of the year when instead of bundling up for a holiday lighted boat parade or curling up by the fire, you're stuck fretting over what to buy that special someone. We have assembled a holiday gift guide to find the perfect gift idea for your boating enthusiast!
Anchoring Etiquette: A Guide for Anchoring Responsibly
Anchoring Etiquette: A Guide for Anchoring Responsibly
We share our waterways with a community of boaters. Knowing proper etiquette on the water is important, not only to foster orderly behavior, but for safety, and overall enjoyment of everyone involved. In this guide we’ll focus on anchoring etiquette, or how to do what is expected of you at an anchorage. We’ll also touch on some associated legalities and environmental concerns.
The Best Winter Boating Activities
The Best Winter Boating Activities
When the weather starts to cool, many boaters take this as a sign to dock their boat and begin the long wait for warmer months to come back around. While you probably can't expect to do much tubing or waterskiing, there are still plenty of great activities you can enjoy on or around the water to make the most of these winter months.
The Bahamian Moor: How to Set Two Anchors off the Bow
The Bahamian Moor: How to Set Two Anchors off the Bow
The advantage of using a Bahamian Moor over other two-anchor techniques such as Bow and Stern, is that the Bahamian Moor allows your boat to swing around a central point. This means that not only are you able to anchor in narrow channels or bays, you can also moor in a tidal cut between islands where there are strong changing winds and tidal reversals.
10 Best Boating Apps
10 Best Boating Apps
In today's modern world, there are a plethora of apps available to help us navigate our everyday lives. In recent years the boating world has benefited greatly from a variety of helpful apps that can help take your boating experience to the next level. Boaters today can download apps to help them log their trips, download nautical charts, reserve a slip, and even learn to tie essential boating knots. We have reviewed many of the apps on the market today and are sharing our 10 best boating apps.
Bow and Stern Anchoring: How to Use a Stern Boat Anchor
Bow and Stern Anchoring: How to Use a Stern Boat Anchor
There is a wide variety of anchorages out there, each with its own challenges. It is therefore important, as a boater, to be armed with a wide variety of anchoring techniques to suit all occasions. This article will focus on one such technique: anchoring bow and stern. We’ll look at when to use this option and how to deploy it successfully.