I've just received an email
from Practical Sailor inviting me to purchase
a three-piece suite of publications, the first entitled "Sail Buying
, SailMaking and Mainsails"
I've already bought this set, some time ago, and was rather disappointed for several reasons.
The main reason: the very small proportion of the information on SailMaking was really information on Sail Buying, appearing to consist entirely of marketing
fluff culled from sail brochures.
I didn't expect to be given a tutorial on making my own sails
, but I did expect a detailed and informed presentation on the decisions and choices which face a sailmaker
, on which a well-informed client might want to supply some input to get the best fit with their needs.
I'm thinking of the various ways of building corner reinforcements, implications of long vs short battens, choices on batten pocket design and batten tensioning, positions of reef points relative to battens ..... and many other aspects of mainsail
making - ideally at the level which actual sailmakers would discuss them with a Starzinger or a Dashew, rather than a marketing
guy from a sail loft discussing them with a first boat buyer.
I didn't think all these expectations would be met, but was pretty disappointed that none of them were.
I took Darrell up on the offer he made further up this thread for disappointed former customers to email him.
His response to me made it clear his intention was to change my perceptions of what I'd received, rather than taking my criticism on board.
This is the sum total of his response regarding the question of misrepresentation:
<<There should be a pretty good discussion of materials. Stitch patterns are pretty standard. Carol Hasse and I worked together on a her article discussing details on cruising sails
Carol Hasse, "Cruising Sails" and it should pop up. I was pretty sure that was referenced in the piece.
We add to those e-books and you get the "upgrades" free, so I'll see if we can pump that up.>>
It wasn't a great consolation to be referred to the excellent Carol Hasse article from some years ago, reprinted from a different publication; that was freely available on the web. I had downloaded it at the time it appeared, and I still had it on file.
I was rather underwhelmed to be told about it by Darrell. It felt like going to the designer
of a boat, saying "You told me this boat would go well to windward, and I've bought the plans, and it doesn't", and have him say "Well, there's this other boat I helped Carol design which does that, and she gives the drawings away"
It's also pretty offhand for Darrell to base his response on his incorrect recollection that her article might have been referenced in his: he clearly hadn't checked, and it was not. Instead, here's the entirety of what the article said about Caroll Hasse:
<< Carol Hasse, owner of Port Townsend Sails, is the quintessential cruising sailors’ advocate, and is always looking to build quality and long term reliability
into the sails she makes.
Her vision includes the insight that “at sea you’re a long way from
and the extra care that goes into the initial design
and construction will pay off in the long run.” This is especially
true on the rough nights at sea when the reefing process
starts just a little too late.
From Hasse’s point of view the right choice in material is a premium woven Dacron that affords a little less on the performance side of the ledger, but a lot more on the handle-ability, durability, and longevity.>>
I leave you to judge whether this constitutes marketing fluff or useful disclosure.
There has been no mention of any upgrades, and their promo for the "Sail Buying, SailMaking and Mainsails" volume remains unchanged. I was not given the option of even a partial refund.
This would at least have demonstrated some sort of acceptance of responsibility for raising false expectations, although I would much have preferred a candid engagement with my criticisms. What I got felt like a brushoff.
I wasn't going to come back here and report, because at least he had replied, and I thought I might have struck him at a bad moment, but when I found that they had not changed the blurb to more honestly reflect the contents, I decided I had to report back.
I don't think this is responsive behaviour from Darrell, but you are free to judge for yourself.