The most important part of a sailboat is it’s sails. It even says so in the name. Sailboat. Once you own a sailboat you are going to have to repair or replace it’s sails at some point. This is when you will need a sailmaker. So, how do you find the right sailmaker to meet your needs? How do you find Mr Right?
For lots of sailors out there this is the easiest route. They just use the sail makers logos on their existing sails for guidance. Say for example the boat had Evolution Sails on it when they bought it. You’ve sailed around a bit with no problems. So, when it’s time for a repair or service or even replacement, you just go to the same brand that you are familiar with. Just like your car. You have a Ford and it’s worked well for you so you replace it with the same brand.
Others may get advice from the previous owner or other sailing friends. They have had a good experience with a brand so will pass it on to you. Easy, no muss, no fuss just go along with what was known to have worked in the past. No shopping around, no looking at other options, just stick with what people you trust advise.
Other sailors just go with what’s easy. There maybe a local sailmaker or sail loft close by so, convenience is the order of the day. Like the girl next door, they’re good and readily available. Once their service and products are up to scratch there is no need to seek out alternatives. Better the devil you know…. These associations are normally very stable and last the lifetime of the sails. Like a good marriage.
But for many sailors, especially the picky ones, they don’t want to settle and have to search until they find the best! Some never find the ONE! The majority though do find someone that gives the best service and are willing to go the extra mile to make you happy. Once that happens, barring some major disaster, you normally stay together for life.
It normally starts by searching online. Many of the big brands have multiple sail lofts and salesmen distributed throughout whichever area you are in. Generally speaking, all the top guys’ products are very similar in their high quality. They will all tell you that they are the best but the real proof is in the service that they provide. It’s hard to choose between them all and some have gone on many blind dates before finally meeting the ONE.
Just like in life, some are only interested in what you have. If you have a big boat and budget then you get the best service and attention paid to you. The proof is when you can get the same attention from the salesman. Whether you are trying to buy a mainsail for your 24 foot daysailer that you scrimped and saved to buy. Or, you are negotiating all new sails for your 60′ yacht. You want to feel like you are being listened to, that what you have to say is important. If not, the date is over.
Will You Marry Me?
Now it’s time to make your selection. You’ve asked around and got some good recommendations for sail makers with good reputations. After making some calls and sending some emails, are they paying attention to you? Do you get timely replies? Are your phone calls returned or are you getting ghosted? When you meet them, do you feel that they are really listening to you? Do they offer advice and options or are they just trying to sell you something? Do you feel that they really have your best interest at heart? Do you feel that you can trust them? If the answers to these questions is “Yes”, then you may be ready to take the relationship to the next level. Unless, you have commitment issues which is a whole other matter.
The relationships between sail makers and their customers are for the most part very long-lasting. Like all good marriages, trust and communication are main ingredients. Many of these partnerships have lasted the entire sailing lifetime of many customers. They are often very personal and many times customers have followed their sail makers and friends, even if they have changed brands. This shows that often it’s the person and not just the brand that gets the loyalty. So, think carefully before deciding which sailmaker you get into bed with. They all basically offer the same product but some service you better than others.