OCC Forums

Sail covers vs. Stackpacks/Lazy Cradles?


By wcburry - 15 Oct 2012

This year we purchased a new mainsail for our 41 ' Dickerson ketch. We are trying to decide if we should stay with a traditional main sailcover like we have had for 28 years. Or should we switch to a SailPack or Lazy Cradle type of cover? We already have lazy jacks in place. We wonder if the Sailpack is as easy as it looks even for a heavy 10oz main? Or does it create xtra windage? Let us know what you recommend for a 16 ' boom.

Bill Burry
By simoncurrin - 16 Oct 2012

We switched from conventional sail cover to stackpack (by Kemp) with Lazy Jacks in1999 and used them for 4 years until we sold the boat - a 38 footer. We had do regrets
By DariaBlackwell - 21 Oct 2012

We have traditional covers on our ketch, and I have been racing on a boat that has a stack pack. The stack pack tends to get in the way and looks rather messy to my eyes while under way. It is, however, very easy. I would think that if you are planning to cross oceans, you wouldn 't really want that out all the time. One more thing to flog in the breeze. If you are planning more shorter passages, then the stack pack makes tidying up easier.

We are having new sail covers made and are sticking with the traditional ones. On the advice of Des McWilliam appointed the new President of UK Sailmakers International, we are having it made without the cutouts for our lazy jacks. He advises to make the lazy jacks loose and pull them forward then put on the sail covers. Provides maximum UV protection for the sails. Otherwise they get weak points where the sun comes in through the cutouts. They also cost less without the extra zippers and cutouts.

There is something very satisfying about the routine of putting a boat in order after a sail. Coiling ropes, tying up sails and putting on the covers is rewarding. And it makes the cocktails taste all the better when completed.
By bbalme - 22 Oct 2012

We made a new sail cover last year - and like Daria, we did not include slots for the lazy jacks. (Our first effort at sewing anything - so let 's keep it simple!)
The cover looks great and with the lazy jacks pulled forward to the mast, the whole boat looks a lot more sleek!
By simoncurrin - 22 Oct 2012

Our stack pack used to have compression straps so that it lay snug against the boom when sail hoisted. With the lazy jacks led forward and secured at the cringle the whole thing was invisible when underway.
By tharris - 8 Nov 2012

I sail short handed with usualy only 1 person on deck of Sorcery (C&C 61) which has a 23 foot long boom, and a 13.5 oz full battened main to control.

About 9 years ago I changed to a stack pack type of idea and have modified to improve the pack a few times since.

Make from a strong and duablefabric shich if needed you can climb into and walk around on toop of the boom for maintenance on thesail. I used TOPGUN amterial and it has lasted up to present, although has needed some restiching on occasion.

Now the bottom is closed to ensure in up draft and severe healing type events the sail cannot hoist from inside the bag even when the bag is openon top and sail not tied down.

Closing sun cover should have flaps to allow the top to be zipped easily without forcing the two top battens together.

Lazy jacks should rig to loops that run under top batten to share the load.
Line each opening for reef lines with leather to allow suitable chafe and strenght protection to the sail bag.

Cannot say enough good things about this system as it allows slab reefing,and safely controls the main sail when dropped even when a 50 or 60 knot squall catches you on deck alone and all you need to do is come up to a beam reach or higher and let go the main halyard and the main is out of the way in a jiffy.

With lazy jacks snugged it also acts to keep the boat from veering around at anchor and makes life more comfortable onboard

Strongly recommend to go for it

As you can see from photo the bag does not hur sail shapewith loose footed main and uses the old boom slides to control center bottom of the bag and keep centered on the boom

Regards Tom
By Amarylla - 11 Nov 2012

Whilst sailing in the Caribbean some years ago in a boat equipped with a stackpack, we were hit by a very severe squall, possibly more than force 10. Already deep reefed we eased the mainsheet and the stackpack started to flog uncontrollably. It was obvious that stackpacks are NOT suitable gear for ocean sailing.

David Blackburn
By Dick - 6 May 2015

With regard to sail covers:
I agree with Daria and others about sticking with traditional built mainsail covers, and not having slits for lazy jack lines, but I would wish to suggest that her belief that she has gotten maximum UV protection may not be accurate. This may not matter much in Northern latitudes, but mid-world, it matters a great deal. It is a poorly acknowledged fact that Sunbrella and its various cousins loose a good deal of UV protection every year, so that in a short period your sails are quite exposed. Look at the sun through a bimini of this material that has spent a few years in the Med or the Carib. It lets a lot of light through. Waterproofing/UV protection helps, but is not long lasting.
The only way I know to truly protect sails is to use vinalyzed Sunbrella or one of its cousins. It is completely opaque and also prevents any water (and dirt) from getting on the sails when in the cover. (Something many sailpack type systems seem to fail at: they collect water which seeps through the zipper and keeps the sail eternally damp in wet weather.) Mine is 8+ years old (first 5 years in tropics) and looks a little beat up, but does the job as well as new. The fact that it does not breathe has never been an issue. Most of the time it was protecting laminated sails and mold was not bred. The only down side is it is bulkier and heavier than conventional material, a small price to pay, in my mind, for all the added protection and life span.
Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Lerwick
By dmcantor - 26 Apr 2019

We switched from a conventional sail cover to a stackpack about 5 years ago, and have found it to be reliable and convenient.  We sail in the Caribbean, and have done some inter-island passages up to 400 miles in 30 knot sustained winds with no difficulty.  For a really long passage, I would probably stow the cover below.