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Purchasing Used Sails

Discussion in 'Mid-Size Boats' started by Dfisher, Sep 3, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Dfisher


    Joined Aug 2, 2014
    105 posts, 0 likes
    Hunter H31
    I have a 1986 Hunter 31 with original sails that are at the end of their life. I only cruise and never race but would like to add some performance to the boat. I plan to keep the boat for another 2-3 seasons so purchasing new sails for the boat would be quite a loss when I sell. I have started looking at used sails on eBay and have come across several sets of used racing sails that would fit in my budget. My question is for those of you who have purchased used sails, since the chances of finding sails that perfectly match the original dimensions are limited, what are the most important dimensions? For the mainsail I would imagine it is the luff and the leech since these are limited by the hoist size and boom length. For the genoa, my only limitation would be the luff. Is this correct or am I missing something in the bigger picture. Any advice you have will help. Thank you.

  2. Capt jgw

    Capt jgw

    Joined Feb 8, 2014
    987 posts, 54 likes
    Columbia 36
    US Muskegon
    I buy a lot of stuff on eBay, but I dont think I'd trust a sail from there, too many variables. Try, you can search by make and model and they'll offer a list of sails that will fit. They give a good description and a "good, fair, excellent" type rating. And they have a good reputation. Prices seem on a par with what I've seen on eBay. I haven't bought one there yet but I am looking.

  3. sailorladyliz


    Joined May 25, 2004
    62 posts, 10 likes
    Hunter 25.5
    US Panama City, FL
    Bacon Sails also make new sails at a good price. I bought a new genoa from them last year and have been very happy. They asked a lot of questions, I answered them, they delivered exactly what I wanted.

  4. Dave Groshong

    Dave Groshong SBO Staff Staff Member

    Joined Jan 25, 2007
    1,254 posts, 72 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Seattle
    If your boat is the h31 from 1983-1987, the rig dimensions are "I"=42.9, "J"=12.0, "P"=37.4 and "E"=11.0
    The mainsail should be about luff 37ft 2 inches with a foot of maximum 11.0ft. Yes, the genoa is limited by the luff, but because you likely have a furler the luff length will be deducted by 12-18 inches; "I" squared plus "J" squared = luff length squared, then subtract the room the furler is taking up, both drum and swivel. The theoretical max luff is 44.5ft, subtract the furler, 43ft luff is probably safe, usually a #6 luff tape. With a "J" of 12.0, a 100% jib has a foot of 12ft, a 120% would have a foot of 14.4ft.

    I would run a tape measure up your jib halyard and measure to the tack on your furler drum to be sure, just takes a few minutes. is another place to look for used sails.

    Give me a call if you'd like to discuss this.
    877-932-7245 x116
    Mon-Fri, 9-3:30 Pacific

  5. Whatfiero1


    Joined Mar 29, 2017
    184 posts, 31 likes
    Hunter 30t
    US littlecreek
    New sails add value to a sailboat much like new electronics or engine do. A $20,000 sailboat. Est is only worth 15 with worn out sails

  6. Dfisher


    Joined Aug 2, 2014
    105 posts, 0 likes
    Hunter H31
    Thank you for all the great advise.....I will take some measurements next time i'm out at the boat. As far as adding value goes, this is a 21 year old boat on an inland lake so it will be tough to get much value out of it.

  7. Joe


    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    6,382 posts, 300 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    You can find a sail database for practically any kind of production boat at most sailmaker's websites. For instructions on how to measure sails and to examine the specs for you boat try this website:
    If you take the time to learn how sails are measured you will be better equipped to consider purchasing a used sail.

  8. Daveinet


    Joined Sep 20, 2014
    844 posts, 137 likes
    Rob Legg RL24
    US Chain O'Lakes
    You may be able to have your old sails reconditioned. They can take some of the bag out of them. The end result will likely be better than a set of used sails.

  9. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    2,325 posts, 180 likes
    Tartan 3800
    US Westport, MA
    I understand the investment aspect of this, to be sure. But, I just wanted to comment, that poor sails will significantly reduce the fun factor, the entertainment value of a boat. New sails will dramatically enhance the fun factor, the entertainment value! Think of sails as a consumable, like putting fuel in a motorboat. For your boat, you can get very nice, brand new sails from FX Sails, for probably just over $2,000. I have no interest in FX, but I bought a mainsail for my Catalina 36 this year, and it's very, very good, and was less than $1,400, shipping included. You will be astounded at how well your boat sails with new sails.

    sailorladyliz, Whatfiero1 and cb32863 like this.