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It’s All About Fall: What You Need To Know About Service Around the Country

We asked Quantum’s service teams for their expert tips and recommendations on how different regions in North America can get the most out of their respective sailing seasons – the common theme: it’s all about the fall.

Fun fact - the awesome gal in the photo is actually named Autumn.

It’s no mystery that the sailing season in Southern California differs from that of Michigan or Maryland. However, regardless where you moor your boat, autumn is the best time of year for both buying new sails, and getting your sails in for their annual service, or any work they may need.

Annual inspections and service are easily the best thing you can do to protect your investment and the lifespan of your sails. Quantum’s Global Director of Client Care Charlie Saville says “Maintenance repairs are a lot less costly than catastrophic repairs. There is a big difference in sewing over a few worn stitches found during an inspection versus having to replace a whole panel when your sails fail – not to mention the cost to your sailing season.” Saville also stresses that the importance of annual inspections goes beyond fixing a loose hank or a worn luff: “Our lofts will be able to keep a record of the sail’s condition and monitor its shape so we can recommend a maintenance plan to ensure your sails maintain performance and last as long as possible.”

Here’s what typical sailing season looks like in the northern and southern parts of the U.S. and what the local lofts want you to know to get the most out of your pastime.

THE NORTHERN CLIMES: THE GREAT LAKES TO NEW ENGLAND

While the sailing in these areas can vary a lot, the general season length and service considerations hold true across the board.

AVERAGE SAILING SEASON: May-September
Some of the more southern locations, like Newport and Long Island, tend to have a slightly longer season. Additionally, some Frostbite dinghy leagues in New England or Rochester sail all season, while the majority of cold-loving fresh-water sailors will splash as soon as it’s safe in the spring.

BEST TIME FOR SERVICE: September-December 

WORST TIME FOR SERVICE: May-June

COMMON SEASONAL SERVICE NEEDS: Sail removal and storage (and wash if you're in the salty areas)

When the end of the season comes and you’re arranging winter accommodations for your boat you should also be planning storage for your sails. Quantum Sails Newport Service Manager Tom Braisted says “whatever you do, take the sails off the boat, off the rigging, and have them stored properly.” Even if you have a cool, dry, rodent-free place to store your sails, it’s best to get them into the loft right away before you forget. Good intentions to get your sails in for service often get packed away with the sails and become an “out of sight out of mind” issue. Once spring hits and you break out your kit you remember that leech cord that needed a quick mend. By this point, there is likely a two to three-week turnaround as you get in line along with every other sailor who said they’d “get to it over the winter” and understandably got caught up in their off-season pastimes.
Getting your sails inspected and serviced in the fall is the only way to know they’re good to go the minute you’re ready to hit the water in the spring.

THE SOUTHERN CLIMES: CALI, GULF, CAROLINAS TO THE KEYS

This is a huge swath of sailing paradise; however, just because your boat doesn’t come out of the water doesn’t mean your sails don’t need a little annual love.

AVERAGE SAILING SEASON: Year round
Spring and fall tend to be the favored seasons and some of the hotter locations like Seabrook, TX tend to slow down for a bit in July and August when the heat is prohibitive.

BEST TIME FOR SERVICE: October-December

WOST TIME FOR SERVICE: April-June and right before any major regatta.

COMMON SEASONAL SERVICE NEEDS: UV cover replacements, Recuts, and wash. 

Even though there isn’t a huge seasonal swing in these areas, fall is still the best time for lofts to take a look at your sails. Quantum Sails San Diego’s George Szabo advises his customers to “get their sails in, or order new sails before you carve your pumpkin, or cook your turkey!” He says getting into a pattern where you associate these seasonal activities with visiting the loft is very helpful. Szabo continues that it’s also smart to get in before the winter regatta rush hits.

If your sails stay on the water all year, there are a few other considerations to be aware of. Prolonged exposure to the sun can wreak havoc on your UV and sail covers – especially the stitching – and impact their effectiveness. If they’re not stitched on, make sure you bring in your covers with your sails during the annual inspection. Szabo says “this is especially important as they can rip off and ruin your sails in a big storm.”

Additionally, Quantum Sails Gulf Coast’s Alan Woodyard said one of worst things you can do for your sails is leave them on your boat for a long period of time. Woodyard recommends that “if you’re not going to use your boat for more than a month – take the sails down! Leaving your sails on the rigging – even if covered – for an extended period of time can take a lot of time off of their lifespan.” Put the sails below deck or have them stored until it’s time to hit the water again. On the same note, if you’re going to be away, make sure your boat is secured to handle strong weather and keep tabs on the forecast when you're away. These warmer locations often fall victim to harsh winter storms, not to mention hurricane season. Contact the local loft if nasty weather is on the way – we’re happy to help get your sails down and stored in a safe place.

THE IN-BETWEENERS: MID COASTAL 

Heeding advice from both the Northern and Southern Climes, there’s some variations that affect your seasonality. So whether you’re coastal, in-shore, marina based, transient, or traditional, our service recommendations generally apply.  

AVERAGE SAILING SEASON: May-September (Potentially added bonus months of April and October) or maybe Year-Round. 

East Coasters from Virginia to New Jersey, including Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay have come to expect a wild game of deciding if or when to put the boat away for the off-season. The increased popularity of transients and liveaboards migrating to extend the season, and regional racing through the winter months to satiate competitive drive, can also affect traditional definitions of “season.” 

BEST TIME FOR SERVICE: September-January 

WORST TIME FOR SERVICE: April-June

COMMON SEASONAL SERVICE NEEDS: UV cover replacements, sail removal, sail wash, and storage. 

When the end of the season comes (or you’ve decided “JanuFebu-ish” is a good time to take a break) and you’re arranging the winter accommodations for your boat you should also be planning storage for your sails. Quantum Sails Annapolis Service Manager Mike Crump says “We recommend taking the sails off the boat to service and store them properly. If you’re planning to sail year-round, then schedule service to coordinate with your off-season plans.” Get in the habit of your annual postseason sail inspection or call your local loft to schedule a visit. Once you’ve folded, packed, and found a clean, cool, dry place to store them, it’s easy to forget that your bolt rope needs attention, or the UV covers on your furling sails need to be replaced. Best to tackle everything early, get them into the loft right away. Come spring you don’t want to be in line along with the other last-minute-sailors looking for a quick turnaround (that in reality is a 2-3 week backlog at the loft). 
The only way to know your sails will be ready for the season ahead is to get them inspected and serviced in the off-season.  

The moral of the story is no matter where your boat calls home, making service part of your routine will ensure you get the most out of your sailing season whether it’s four months or twelve. Contact your local loft or  schedule your service online.

Not near a loft? No worries - submit a service request online and read these directions on shipping your sails and we'll make sure you're taken care of!

 

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