Replacing sail slides
HAUL OUT MONDAY
One of the things I have been meaning to do for a while was a full inspection of our primary (white) sails. I had inspected the jib during our at anchor repair of the Sunbrella and had added some chafe protection in key spots at the tack and head.
On a sunny afternoon I spread the mainsail out on a bit of lawn and went over it. We had a metal sail slide at the head (top) of the sail and plastic sail slides for the rest. Non-boaters, these allow us to raise and lower the mainsail in a track on the mast. All of the slides are held to metal rings in the sail by webbing.
The webbing on the top sail slide which is the most critical, taking the most wear and strain, had what at first glance appeared to have chafed through! However, when I tried to connect the chafed ends together it was clear that they did not have enough length to touch. I’m still not entire clear what happened but it appears to have either been installed that way (that seems highly unlikely) or chafed through and was trimmed at some point (dangerous) or cut (also dangerous). The only thing holding that sail slide onto the sail was the stitching. This is particularly disturbing to me because we see this sail slide every time we hoist the main and apparently hadn’t been paying enough attention to notice the problem.
There were four layers of webbing and you can see how the innermost layer was burning from chafe (this is its purpose) and each successive layer looks less damaged.
We bought two Allslip slides and I replaced the top sail slide on our headboard and the second to top slide which was in relatively good condition but showed some wear. Here is the second to top slide (old, mid-replacement and replaced) and then the replaced top sail slide on the headboard. I used polyester webbing and hand sewing thread. It was an extremely simple fix and I used the instructions in Carol Hasse’s course book although after completing the procedure I “mirrored it” so that the stitching is doubled and crosses on the back.
I’ve kept the extra slides as spares as both were in good condition and we bought a second metal spare as well. We also bought some extra webbing which can be used to reinforce the sail at key points like the tack, clew and reef points, to make a temporary head, tack or clew attachment in an emergency as well as to replace sail slides.