In readiness for winter sail storage we recommend the following 4 step process.
Give the sail a thorough clean before storing. You'll want to try to remove any Mildew on the sail as well as rinse off any salt deposits. Similarly with the sail bag, paying special attention to ensure any zippers and buckles are free from salt.
There are a number of ways to clean the sail either using chemical cleaners or soap and water or just water. We recommend using soap and warm water as the most straight forward economical solution. Brush the soap and water solution onto the sail using a soft brush, soft is important as you dont want to press any salt deposits into the cloth as they may damage the surface of the cloth or any UV protectant coating on the cloth. Repeat the process as necessary paying more attention to any stubborn stains. Once finished rinse thoroughly with fresh water paying special attention to any plastic fittings, grommets, blocks etc to ensure any remnants of the cleaning solution is removed fully. The use of chemical cleaners is an option, we offer a range on our online store, if doing so ensure you are doing it in an environmentally friendly manner that meets any regulatory restrictions for your area.
Bleach products can be used on Dacron sails, ensure they are diluted first, at least 10:1 water to bleach solution, thoroughly rinse afterwards and try to keep the solution away from any plastic fittings as Bleach can make the plastic brittle. DO NOT use bleach products on laminate Aramid sails as the bleach may react with the Aramid fibres causing the sail to lose its strength, for laminates we recommend just using fresh water and a soft brush. For chemical products we recommend only using Phosphate free solutions.
There's nothing worse than getting your sails back out of winter storage and being reminded the sail needs a repair that the sailmaker cant do for a few months. So after cleaning the sail we recommend giving it a once over paying special attention to the following:
Inspect head, tack, clew and reef attachments. Inspect webbing & hardware for chafe and UV damage. Inspect hand stitching for broken or loose stitches.
Inspect luff tapes and luff attachments for holes or tears.
Inspect for chafe at external hardware contact points at spreaders, shrouds, stanchions etc. You may need to replace any wear patches with new patches.
Inspect leech line, foot line and attachment system.
Inspect sail for UV damage and proper furling side (if applicable).
Inspect batten pocket ends, attachments and fit (if applicable). At this point removing the battens may help later with storing the sail.
Inspect sail body for condition of cloth, seams, sail numbers, draft stripes and windows. Replace or add telltales.
Inspect miscellaneous gear: Spinnaker Snuffer line and hoop, mainsail external flaking system, headsail vertical battens, UV covers, etc.
Inspect sailbag draw string, zippers, web straps, and label properly.
Contact your sailmaker if you have any questions, photos of the subject in question always help.
Always ensure the sail is as dry as you can get it before placing it into storage. It is best if you can leave the sail out in a warm dry location for a few hours to ensure it is fully dried out before storing. Ensure both sides of the sail are dry by turning it over regularly. Same with the sail bag, ensuring zips are thoroughly dried out.
The sail can be stored either flaked or rolled. Our recommendation, if space allows, is to roll the sail as it prevents creases and avoids any cracking along folds. Store the sail in a cool dry place. It is best to keep it raised off the floor to avoid moisture seeping into the sail from the ground. If storing it in places like attics or sheds consider whether there is a possibility of a rodent using the sail as a warm sleeping spot for the winter and consequently taking nibbles out of the sail. Ideally air-conditioned rooms kept at room temperature are best.
Try to avoid placing objects on top of the sail and avoid tying anything around the sail that may crease the cloth. For long rolled sails you can place a length of plastic pipe through the sail the stop it folding over at the ends, it also makes the sail easier to transport.