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Old 30-12-2018, 22:13   #1
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Pick a sail loft...

Got quotes for new main/genny for my Irwin 43 MkII...

I have six quotes - North, Doyle, Mack, National, Sobstad and Rolly Tasker/FE.

Prices range from range $5459 to $10,074 ($5459, $5587, $5758, $7989, $8463 and $10,074) - not in the order the lofts are listed.

Cheapest isnít always the best value (priciest isnít always best quality). All the lofts have good reputations.

Nuances of construction details are difficult to dissect/compare in a meaningful manner (all make good/excellent cruising Dacron sails).

Some will come and measure my rig - others require me to measure my own rig and send the dimensions.

How to pick a loft if cheapest price is not the primary criteria?
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Old 30-12-2018, 23:22   #2
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

For starters, I'd rule out lofts that want you to make the measurements. Not too hard for a foresail, but details really count in mainsail measurements, and if the sail does not fit correctly and YOU made the measurements... well, guess who will be blamed and wear the expense of any recuts?

Secondly, be sure that the quotes are for exactly the same cloth(s). There are a lot of grades of Dacron, and they sure as hell are not all the same in terms of longevity, shape retention and cost. Some lofts do quote low using cheaper materials, and you only realize the results a year or two later. The same considerations about panel layout and design, and about batten end cars/slides... are they the same?

Finally, pay some thought to how much the sailmaker has paid attention to your own personal sail usage patterns. Has he spoken to you about how hard you drive the boat, how willing you are to reef early enough to avoid overstressing cloth, how soon you put the sail covers on after sailing (or will the sail get lots and lots of UV)? If these sorts of discussions have not been there you won't get a sail that is designed for you and your sailing practices... just a generic sail. And that too makes a difference, both in utility and in life span.

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Old 30-12-2018, 23:28   #3
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Hi, malyea,

Don't know how much experience you have buying sails, but please know, the devil is in the details!

Here's a hint, for any sail that is triple stitched: demand that the middle row of stitching be made with PTFE thread. You will get more time out of the sail if you do, and if you do not, it will most likely need restitching within 5 years or blow out in a bigger than planned on wind. It will increase the cost, but not very much, compared to the labor of making a good sail.

Ann
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Old 31-12-2018, 18:51   #4
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
For starters, I'd rule out lofts that want you to make the measurements. Not too hard for a foresail, but details really count in mainsail measurements, and if the sail does not fit correctly and YOU made the measurements..
Thatís what I started out thinking - but not so sure that itís that difficult to measure accurately...

Quoted from reputable sail maker (not one thatís currently one of my six price quotes) - ďIt's not necessary for the sailmaker to take the measurements. Most sail makers can provide a form with all the measurements required. You will need a 50' tape. The published P,E,I,J are rarely accurate but they should be fine to produce a quote.Ē

Just not sure I want to rule out every sail maker that canít come measure my boat...

Thoughts?

Whoís measured their own rigs for new sails? Success or failure?

Thanks.
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Old 31-12-2018, 22:39   #5
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

malyea, the short answer is that Jim and I have used local sailmakers for the last 19 yrs. For us, it has worked really well. Yes, we have a very long tape measure over 50 ft, so adequate to the job, but it is the issue of who is responsible for errors that matters to us. Ymmv. I think we are not high on the trust scale, and more on the buyer beware scale.

That said, Jim as negotiated really nice sails from local folks, avoiding offshore manufacture. Not saying offshore manufacture is bad, but that we like the accountability of the local sailmaker.

Ann
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Old 31-12-2018, 22:46   #6
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Quote:
Originally Posted by malyea View Post
Thatís what I started out thinking - but not so sure that itís that difficult to measure accurately...

Quoted from reputable sail maker (not one thatís currently one of my six price quotes) - ďIt's not necessary for the sailmaker to take the measurements. Most sail makers can provide a form with all the measurements required. You will need a 50' tape. The published P,E,I,J are rarely accurate but they should be fine to produce a quote.Ē

Just not sure I want to rule out every sail maker that canít come measure my boat...

Thoughts?

Whoís measured their own rigs for new sails? Success or failure?

Thanks.
The basic measurements are not too hard, but things like measuring prebend and max bend in the mast and estimating the sag in a forestay require some skill and experience. I know that the sailmakers that have measured this boat took well over an hour to accomplish the job, and it involved a bunch of tweaking the rig whilst they were doing it.

And FWIW, we've seen a hell of a lot of cruising boats with sails that did not look like they fit well... the owners were happy with them, but I wouldn't have been.

Your choice...

Jim
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Old 01-01-2019, 06:05   #7
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

I think the Jim & Ann have, as usual, presented many of the nuances (& pitfalls) of sail selection.

Quote:
... The published P,E,I,J (&/or DIY measure) are rarely accurate but they should be fine to produce a quote. (perhaps, not the sail)Ē ...
Indeed.
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Old 01-01-2019, 07:27   #8
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
malyea, the short answer is that Jim and I have used local sailmakers for the last 19 yrs. For us, it has worked really well. Yes, we have a very long tape measure over 50 ft, so adequate to the job, but it is the issue of who is responsible for errors that matters to us. Ymmv. I think we are not high on the trust scale, and more on the buyer beware scale.

That said, Jim as negotiated really nice sails from local folks, avoiding offshore manufacture. Not saying offshore manufacture is bad, but that we like the accountability of the local sailmaker.

Ann
When I was shopping for sails last year the quotes I got varied by a factor of two in price. The most expensive being made here in Canada, and the cheapest being made in Asia ... I ended up going for a compromise, using local sailmakers, who outsourced the stitching to a loft in Asia ... that way I got all the benefits of working with a local sail designer who had a local presence, who knew local sailing conditions, spoke my language etc, and had there been any warranty/QC issues I would only have to take them back to a local business, but at a price that was competitive with an overseas loft.

I did do the measuring myself, but they supplied very detailed instructions and videos, and were very responsive to phone-calls/email-photos when my boat differed from the examples in the instructions. But I think that for an extra fee they would have come out to measure the boat themselves if I had felt the need.

Since I was totally new to the whole sail buying process, even doing the measuring myself, I really valued having a local sailmaker to work with.
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Old 01-01-2019, 07:56   #9
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

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Originally Posted by Kelkara View Post
I did do the measuring myself, but they supplied very detailed instructions and videos, and were very responsive to phone-calls/email-photos when my boat differed from the examples in the instructions.
Sounds like you were successful.

Hereís the best measuring instructions Iíve found so far.

https://www.precisionsailloft.com/blog/how-to-measure-for-a-new-mainsail/
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:19   #10
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Quote:
Originally Posted by malyea View Post
Sounds like you were successful.

Here’s the best measuring instructions I’ve found so far.

https://www.precisionsailloft.com/bl...-new-mainsail/
Precision Sails will take back sails that you (the customer) mismeasured for free. The discounted pre-made sails on their site are ones where the customer ordered wrong.

I highly recommend you get a quote from them.

Matt *They gave us a free headsail, but regardless, they are awesome to deal with.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:31   #11
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

Consider well how any warranty issues will be dealt with. Can you visit the sailmaker's office to discuss? Otherwise you are depending on phone and email and the sailmaker may have lost interest after the check cleared. We had this issue a couple of years back with an online sailmaker that took 9 months to resolve, delaying our departure date for Mexico by over 3 months. For most of that time they had our money, our sail and were not very forthcoming with information. That was a nightmare I will not repeat and would be worth several thousand dollars to avoid.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:01   #12
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

If you have racing ambitions, you may want to work with a good local sailmaker (if existing) to get the very best performance out of your boat. If you are a cruiser but with a firm winter port and want to keep the sail for say 10 or even more years, again, a good local sailmaker can offer better service and will normally give your business for repairs higher prioriy when you bought the sail from him. If you do not have a fix home port and do not care about performance tweaking - there is no reason to buy from a small local company.

We just ordered a new main and it will be made locally. We also need some work on the headsails, the spray hood and cockpit tend, ... we really need a good local sailmaker for all the work we need done. If it works well, we will not have a reason to ever change the sailmaker again.

From the past, we had to have work done on sails, sprayhood etc. every two to three years latest. Ok, it was always used boats and always older sails, but if you want to have the gear for some years, there will be maintenance and repairs eventually.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:34   #13
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

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Originally Posted by mikereed100 View Post
Consider well how any warranty issues will be dealt with. Can you visit the sailmaker's office to discuss? Otherwise you are depending on phone and email and the sailmaker may have lost interest after the check cleared. We had this issue a couple of years back with an online sailmaker that took 9 months to resolve, delaying our departure date for Mexico by over 3 months. For most of that time they had our money, our sail and were not very forthcoming with information. That was a nightmare I will not repeat and would be worth several thousand dollars to avoid.
What sailmaker?
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:42   #14
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

check out shur sails in pennsacola fl. they know their business.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:50   #15
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Re: Pick a sail loft...

I prefer a full service sail loft.

As an example, when we acquired our current boat in Seattle [2014], we were able to get an appointment to be measured for a new 'suit' of sails... [Think having a fine business suit custom tailored vs. grabbing something off the rack...]

We ended up having Brion Toss not only survey the rigging prior to purchase, but tune it afterwards. [The rig inspection took several hours, and the tuning- Brion and helper- took several hours (for 2) for our ketch rig.]

After tuning, Carol Hasse herself came down to measure for sails. She spent the better part of a day measuring, documenting, photographing more information than I have ever seen or thought of for a set of sails. I learned a lot.

She even hiked away from the boat a few times for a distant vantage point abeam to have me adjust the angle of both booms for aesthetics when flying main and mizzen, reefed or full. Then came back for more measurements.

Carol is a recognized and accomplished master. This was demonstrated in her attention to detail spending a day measuring and documenting our modest ketch.

The resulting sail quotes were very competitive as well- especially considering the quality of materials, fabrication, and follow-up...

Follow-up? Carol prefers to go out sailing for a day [or more as needed] with you after the sails are installed to make sure of fit and finish. She has been known to bring sails back to the loft to make them perfect from her perspective.

This is what I mean by a full service sail loft...

I just wanted to provide some perspective for comparison.

Best wishes sorting it all out.

Cheers! Bill
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