North Sails LOFT NEWS


Jim Bacon Shares His Journey To His New North Sails Mainsail For His Catalina 36

Lifelong sailor sailor Jim Bacon tells us about his Catalina 36, which he’s shared with boat partner Ted Ingling and has been sailing with since high school, and the journey to new sails.

Understanding that you bought your first new sail last winter, how long have you been sailing and how did you get into it?

I started sailing as a very young boy, 3 years old, my grandparents had a 43 ft Ketch on Long Island Sound and so every summer I would go out and visit them and we would go sailing for a week, either long island sound or Newport, Maine, ya know, somewhere on the Eastern seaboard. My Dad was also a sailor he had a smaller trailorable sailboat we used to tow around the eastern side of the country and I would sail with my Dad as well. I started borrowing my dads sailboat when I was in college. Some friends and I would go sailing in Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan and whatnot. So that was when I first started captaining the boat myself. And then we really learned to sail when my buddy and I we bought a C&C 30 in 1987 in Annapolis and I quit my job and he took a leave of absence from his job. We were both 5 years out of college. We sailed from Annapolis up through Main and back down to Long Island Sound for the summer and that was where we really learned to sail. After we completed that trip in 1987 we started chartering boats because he was in Cincinnati and I was in Detroit so generally every year, every other year, we would charter boats either on the eastern Seaboard, the great lakes or the Carribean. So we would, ya know, with our spouses, we would go sail for a week somewhere. We did that for almost 30 years, chartering.

Tell us about your boat.

About 5 years ago we decided that it was time to get back into owning a sailboat and so bought our 1983 Catalina 36. One of the reasons we bought it was because we wanted to pass sailing along to our kids. And we just thought that owning a boat would get them out there a lot more regularly rather than just charting once a year. We wanted to try and pass that legacy along to our kids.

So 5 years ago in 2014 we bought this 1983 Catalina 36.

What made you decide to go forward with purchasing a new sail?

when we first purchased the boat we sailed it from Bay City MI down into Lake Erie because we needed it to kinda be centrally located between Detroit and Cincinnati. We realized that the sails were not new and we suspected the main was pretty old. It just didn’t look like it had a very good shape to it. We had been debating doing something with our sails so last winter we had heard about this sail refurbishment company down in Pennsylvania I believe, I forget their name right now, but we took both sails to them to have them cleaned and evaluated. They said our jib was ok and that they could work with that but that the main was too far gone and it was close to tearing out and that it really needed to be replaced. We decided ya know, ok, lets just go ahead and buy a new main.

What lead you to choose North Sails?

We decided to come to North Sails because of your reputation. You’re all over the country, all over the world and you were local to us. The Pennsylvania sail loft offered to make a new main for us, but we didn’t want to deal with a company a couple states away. That’s how we chose to come to North. And I’ll say when you guys looked at the sail before we ordered the new one so you could see what we had, your sail guys thought that it was probably the original sail on the boat. So we were probably long overdue for replacing it. That’s why we made the decision to go ahead and get a new sail.

How was your first season with the new sail?

Completely different. The main thing we’ve noticed with the new sail are 1) the boat performs much better. I would guess that we have picked up about a knot of boat speed running either close hauled or on a close reach. It has noticeably increased the speed of the boat, I’d say by about a knot. The other thing we’ve seen is that it is much easier to trim the sail now because we can actually see the reaction of the sail to trim changes. With our old sail we’d make adjustments and you couldn’t really see the effect of the adjustment on the tell tails on the main. And now with the new sail because it has a proper shape, it really is aerodynamic. You can see the effects of your trim changes very clearly. That was a big plus for us. When we were making adjustments before, you couldn’t really tell what effects you were having on the sail. And now, you can clearly see the effects and I think its made us better sailors. That we can actually see the effects of our trim changes and we’re a lot more attentive to the shape of the sail now then we were with the old main because you just couldn’t see the changes, the results.

What advice would offer to other sailors who are sailing on vintage sails?

My advice would be, and my partner in the boat and I both agree, we should have put a new sail on after the first season when we saw what we really had. We’re both regretting that we waited 5 years before putting the sail on because its made sailing the boat a lot more fun. Having that extra boat speed and I think we’re able to point better with the sail. It has really just made sailing a lot more enjoyable; that we actually have a good sail, a good mainsail on the boat now. As I mentioned (to you) we had never had a new sail before and we didn’t know what to expect and how big of a difference it was going to make on the boat. Now that we’ve had it the difference is large and it’s a very worthwhile investment. I’m to the point that if this sail has ever reached its useful life we won’t hesitate to buy another new sail. It’s a big investment, I think our main was 2800.00 so it’s not inexpensive but its worth it. We [have] no regrets about putting the sail on the boat. It was worth the money.

I will say, we are very happy dealing with your office. You might remember I brought the sail in to have weeping loops put in the reefing tack points so that we could hook it on our reefing hook. I’ve been very happy with the support that I’ve gotten out of your office. You guys did that in a matter of 20 minutes, I think, when I brought it in. We’ve been very pleased. And I really like dealing with a local shop, not having to package the sail up and send it off anywhere. We’ve been very pleased. Your shop has been great and we’re very happy that we took this step because it made a big difference.

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