At the end of your sailing season or before a new season starts it’s a good idea to carefully inspect your sails. Today we’re going to focus on one aspect of your sail that you should pay close attention to during inspection: the battens and batten pockets. A broken or a missing batten can cause a lot of damage to your sail, creating costly or time-consuming repairs. Taking care of your battens each season will reduce your risk of damage.
Check Batten Pockets
First, you’ll want to take a close look at your batten pockets. Check the elastic in each pocket by inserting a batten and applying a little tension. You want the elastic to be strong enough to keep the batten right up against the leech edge of the sail. If the elastic is too stretched out or broken, you’ll need to replace it.
Carefully inspect the pocket itself, making sure there are no rips, tears or broken stitching. Repair any failing stitching. If the pocket is badly damaged, you’ll want to replace it with a new pocket. Here’s a video to show you how to replace a batten pocket.
After making sure that the pockets are sound, you’ll want to remove the battens and take a close look at them. First, make sure that all the battens are accounted for. Using a sail with missing battens can prematurely damage the sail due to excessive flutter. Next check all the battens to make sure that none of them are warped, split, broken or cracked. Flex the batten slightly to look for cracks that might not be able to be seen when relaxed. You’ll need to order replacements for any missing or broken battens.
If there are any sharp edges on your fiberglass battens, be sure to sand them down before returning it to the pocket. Make sure all your battens have end caps to prevent chafing. You’ll also want to make sure that your battens are secure in their pockets. Check the leech edge of the sail and any batten end protectors.
Have you ever repaired batten pockets yourself? Share your tips and techniques in the comments!