Return to the Torresen Marine Home Page

Home > Butterfly Sailboats >

Sail Care and Repair


Sail cloth is woven out of Dacron thread, treated with a resin filler and then calendared through hot rollers to make it flat, hard, and nonporous. The worst condition to which a sail can be subjected is to let it flap, or luff, while the boat is on shore or tied to a dock. This will knock the filler out of the sail and break down the bond between the threads.

Dacron sailcloth is a hard, dimensionally stable material under normal temperatures and pressure. It will deform at temperatures over 160 degrees and eventually break down and burn at higher temperatures. This means a cut, such as a boom vang slot, can be made with a hot knife or soldering iron and the edge will be fused at the same time.


It is best not to roll the sail around the boom after a day of sailing. Remove the sail from the boom and allow to dry if wet. Remove the battens (if possible) and fold the sail prior to putting it in the bag.

DRYING - When possible, dry sails out of the sun. While Dacron is not nearly as susceptible to the ultraviolet rays of the sun as nylon, it should not be exposed any longer than necessary. The greatest danger is a possib1e~ shrinking of the luff rope, which in some sails is nylon or a similar stretchable synthetic. Do not hang sail to dry ~W lay flat. After sailing n salt water, rinse sail with fresh water to remove salt deposits.

CLEANING - Dacron sails can be cleaned by spreading them over a large clean area, or simply immersed in lukewarm water in a bathtub. Remove battens before cleaning. Use a soft scrub brush and a mild detergent or Ivory soap. Never use a washing machine. Detergents with a neutral ph factor will not tend to set certain types of soil rather than remove them. Always scrub in line with seams. After scrubbing, rinse sail with plenty of warm water to remove all soap before laying flat to dry.

STORAGE ~W Never put sharp creases in your sail when folding for storage. Fold and roll the sail as loosely as possible in the direction of the battens. Store sails dry to prevent the formation of mildew. When storing for the winter, use an accordion fold with the folds parallel to the foot. Store in a sailbag in a dry, cool place. Be careful, as rats and mice have an appetite for Dacron sails.


MILDEW - Mildew is caused by storing soiled sails wet. While it does not affect the strength of Dacron, it is unsightly and should be removed early to prevent spreading through the dirt and moisture left in the sail- a good reason for keeping the sail clean. To remove mildew, brush the area with a stiff brush to remove as much as possible. Place infected area in a solution of 1% bleach and cold water for about two hours. Wash thoroughly and rinse with fresh water. Repeat if necessary. Another method is to wash the stain in hot, sudsy water (with some bleach added), then rinse and dry. Moisten the stain with lemon juice and salt and let it dry in the sun. Rinse in warm water.

To remove rust stains, soak stained area in a solution of 2% hydrochloric acid and warm water. Or, soak the stain in oxalic acid for 15-30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. You can get oxalic acid powder at a drug store. Use manufacturers recommendations about the amount of water to cut it with. To remove blood stains soak the stained portion of the sail in a solution of cold water with a cup of ammonia to one half gallon of water. If, after treating, the stains are still present, dampen the sail with a 1% solution of ammonia in water, allow to stand for about 20 minutes and then thoroughly rinse stained area. Another method is to scrub the stain with a concentrated mixture of dry detergent and warm water. Make the mixture as thick and pasty as possible and apply it to the stained area with a brush. Let the mixture stand on the stain for about 15-30 minutes to let the detergent work, and then rinse with warn water. If the stain is still there, treat the stained area with a mild bleach and warn water and then re-rinse. Always finish any stain treatment by washing and rinsing the sail with fresh water.

REPAIR - Periodically inspect your sail for broken threads, batten pocket wear, sleeve wear, and chafing around the headboard in tack areas. If excessive wear is evident, contact a local sailmaker for repair. A temporary repair can be made with spinnaker repair tape or white rigging tape.