We’ve known for a long time that dark colored plastic water jugs far outlast clear or white ones. Seems the color gives UV protection. We noted colored dacron sails seem to outlast white ones unless the white dacron was made from UV-protected fibers. That’s why we spent the extra 10 percent to have ours built of special protected cloth. For some reason we never connected these facts when we ordered our nylon drifter six years ago. We never had any problems with nylon sails because they are rarely set for more than a few hours at a time. But over the past 20,000 miles, we have had a lot of light-wind sailing and at times our blue, silver, and white nylon drifter has been set for 10 or l4 days at a time. It really did its job well and jokingly became known as our working sail.

When we were just 40 miles out of the Cape Verdes the drifter developed a l6-foot long split in the lower white panel during our one day of less than 25-knot winds (we had about 6 knots with a heavy swell as we approached the islands). We looked for all possible sources of chafe. Then we looked for something that could have accidentally snagged the sail. Finally we decided to test the fabric. We inserted a three-cornered sailor’s needle, pulled it sideways, and it pulled through the fabric as if it were made of butter . . . not a bit of strength left. A test on the blue and on the silver showed they were almost as strong as new fabric.

That’s it, unless we find someone selling UV-protected nylon sailcloth, it’s no more white for us.

This is one of many tips for cruisers on Lin and Larry’s website at Paradise Cay. Look for more at paracay.com