Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baby needs a new set of sails...

Brigadoon has some pretty worn out sails.  I suspect the main is actually original.  The suit is from Lee sails.  

The main is so bagged out it's hard to depower it.  It causes great weather helm in winds above 12 or so knots.  Sure the boat goes but, it's going under a canted rudder and she's not balanced.  We knew we needed sails.

I did some preliminary searching on various sail sites.  I obtained preliminary estimates of around 8-10K for a cruising set.  I looked at Mauri sails, North, and others.  All the inital bids came in around that price.  Then we visited Port Townsend in August and ran into Carol Hasse of Port Townsend Sails as she was measuring a friend's Valiant 40.  I was impressed with her thoroughness as she combed over the boat, talking to the owner about where he stood in the cockpit (to ensure the boom height was where it needed to be), where the sails would possibly chafe, his problems with hoisting his main, along with challenges he had with his roller furling.  She spent quite a bit of time with him, measuring everything, going over every detail of his boat.  She even recommended removing the self tending track for his staysail, pointing out how it was limiting his ability to sheet the sail in and control it's shape.

So we decided to visit the loft.  Kelsey Booth showed us around the loft.  We were witness to every aspect of the sail construction as women worked everywhere in the place.  Sails were being cut, others were being stitched on a machine.  We saw luff tape being installed on headsails and watched some women work on hand finishing the sails.  Kelsey showed us an example sail, with all the bells and whistles, all hand finished and looking like a piece of art.

So we got to the question...how much?

The first estimate for main (two reefs lines, easy reefs and Cunningham included), a 110% Yankee and a staysail, in tanbark (we were considering it at the time), with full battens and a high tech strongtrack system?

It was about 15-16K, easily about 40% more than sails ordered here and made in Singapore.

We weighted the cost against the fact that these sails would be made here, in Washington, in the loft in Port Townsend.  Our sail material would come in the one end of the shop and our finished sails would come out the other end.  The sails would be custom made for our boat.  They would, by design fit Brigadoon and our needs, perfectly (one would hope).  After reading and witnessing, stories of new sails that didn't fit, sails that needed "tailoring" after being made, I thought it might be worth it to have it all done here, in one shop, by a sailmaker with a good reputation.

The only decision left, really was when to pull the trigger on the deposit and whether or not to go with tanbark sails.

With tanbark, the boat would no doubt look grand.  The drawback was that the tanbark cost more money and yet, the quality of the fabric could not match what they would normally use.  They can't get dyed dacron in the same quality.  Now, the quality is still very good. It's just not the best.  The nice thing about the shop is that they were very honest and up front about it. Kelsey was excited to make a set of tanbark for my boat, but was perfectly happy with whatever decision we made.

And that is what finally swung it for me.  It made no sense to pay more money for each sail (he dyed fabric is special order) to get a slightly lower quality material.  There was also a very good point raised about safety.   White sails can be seen better at night. I think that's worth considering.  

In the end we are going for the highest quality material available.  This means white dacron.

I call the shop today and put down a 50% deposit.  We'll schedule the measurement with Carol.  

We will have each sail made as the money flows in.  It will be all cash.

We just pulled the trigger by paying the deposit.

It will be worth it.


  1. So, how are the Hasse Sails doing. we are considering pulling the trigger on a set.

  2. We've been very happy with the quality of build of the sails, along with the service that we've received from Carol, Nikki and her crew at Port Townsend Sails.

    When I told Bob Perry I was going to go with Carol he said, "Rush sails is cheaper, but with Port Townsend Sails, you get quality and Carol."

    Later, he wrote a glowing letter to Carol regarding the performance of those sails in the 2011 Race Your House, where we beat many boats that were supposed to be faster than us, taking 2nd in our class by 22 seconds.

    We just took these sails on a 14 week cruise circumnavigating Vancouver Island, and going as far north in BC as Prince Rupert. I loved how well they performed.

    I'd say the sails were worth every penny. Port Townsend Sails deserves your business.