Servicing and Winterising

We recommend that sails and covers are serviced regularly, for most owners that would be annually and the winter is often the best time for this.


Sails can be maintained by checking for damaged stitching, chafe, damaged hardware defective UV strips, delamination in laminated sails etc. This inspection is done by looking over the sail on our hands and knees checking every part, every panel and every stitch of the sail.

The key areas we check:

  • Every row of stitching including edging tapes and seams,
  • Chafe on the luff rope under all luff slides on mainsails and Mizzens and under hanks on headsails,
  • Check the batten pockets for chafe and wear and also check that their method of location is in good condition and that the battens cannot easily escape.
  • Check all areas that are likely to come into contact with the rigging or stanchions and guard rails.
  • Check that the webbing attachment loops or straps and their stitching are in good condition.
  • For covers we also inspect all zips and fastenings to ensure they still work and check the windows for splits and tears.
UV Strips

Roller reefing sails left uncovered will deteriorate very quickly even in the UK climate and eventually simply rot away. It is essential that roller or furling headsails are either covered by the form of a dedicated Genoa Sock, or removed altogether, or fitting UV strips on the leech and foot (the exposed parts) of the sail.

We fit Odyssey (a lightweight and UV Stable) polyester fabric to the leech and foot of the sail and this offers protection for most boats for between 4-6 years in the UK (less in high UV areas). Odyssey is the industry norm material for UV strips and has little adverse effect on the shape on the leech and foot of the sail. If the sail will be used in high UV areas like the Mediterranean or the Caribbean we recommend either: heavier Sunbrella acrylic UV strips which last longer in the UV exposure but will have an adverse effect on the sail shape; or Weathermax which is very light and soft having little adverse effect on shape and excellent UV properties. We can also use Tenara Thread.

Tenara Thread

Normal sewing thread eventually degrades and fails due to salt crystals and UV exposure. Tenara thread is completely unaffected by UV radiation, salt water, acid rain, industrial pollutants and cleaning agents and has a 15 year guarantee. For a long lasting cover especially for use in high UV areas we recommend upgrading to Tenara thread.


Sails should always be stored clean and dry and neatly folded or rolled in a warm and dry environment ready for use next time or next season. Dart Sails can offer a free storage facility after service work assuming the invoice is settled within 14 days.


Although mostly cosmetic, atmospheric pollutants such as soot, bird droppings, and especially salt and sand can be very detrimental so sails. All of the above can trap or attract moisture to the surface of the fabric. This in turn increases the likelihood of mildew spores and ultimately algae growing to the sail. In woven fabrics this is mainly a cosmetic irritant but for laminates this may well speed or promote the onset of delamination.

Salt and sand crystals can be particularly damaging to any sailcloth. The crystals can and will abrade the surface of the fabric, on a woven fabric they will then nestle in between each yarn and abrade these yarns. This will reduce the strength and stretch properties of the sail and in extreme cases could result in fabric failure. In racing laminates the crystals will abrade the ‘Mylar’ film and result in chafe and ultimately break down the film as well as causing the sail to shrink slightly and reduce performance.

We offer a professional laundry service for sails and covers and sub-contract to a specialist marine valeting specialist. Hancock Marine Services are one of the best.

They will inspect each sail and determine the most suitable technique. Laminated or composite sails will be laid out flat on a plastic protective sheet and cleaned using state of the art power washers. Most woven sails are washed the same way but some older and softer sails as well as spinnakers are washed in a large drum single pocket slow revolving washing machine. A variety of soap powders are used to take care of differing fabrics. Bleach is never used. All sails are then inspected and spot cleaned by hand if any significant stains remain. All items are then hung overnight in purpose built drying rooms with large fans to circulate warm air to guarantee sails are clean and dry ready for storage.

Hancock Marine also offer a ‘Mould and Mildew’ washing premium service for both sails and covers. The sail is soaked in a bath of water mixed with a special agent that removes the vast majority of mould and mildew stains. The black stains are actually the dead mildew spores and they are almost impossible to remove – even bleach does not remove effectively but the ‘Mould and Mildew’ treatment although not a guaranteed full stain removal does remove the vast majority of stains.

Finally, Hancock also offer a reproofing service for your canvas and covers – please ask when you book in your sails for more details.


All sails and covers occasionally need repairs, often when it is least convenient. If your sail or cover needs repairing Dart Sails and Cover can help. Are you in the middle of that regatta? Maybe you are racing in a couple of days’ time? Are you mid cruise? We can help.

We sail ourselves and we know that when something goes wrong, getting sails repaired quickly is essential to keep racing or cruising. We will do what we can to keep you on the water by offering a prompt and efficient service. We can often do emergency repairs same or next day and will try hard to keep to your time scale.

Emergency Repairs

We know that if you are md cruise you have a time table and tidal gates to keep to. If you need any sail or cover repairs done quickly, we usually can turn repairs around very quickly keeping you doing what you want to be doing – ‘boating!’