An impressive reading list, depressing, and anything is possible in a world of alternative facts...
So, about those sails...
The sails purchased were a new staysail and jib for our simplicity rig and quotes for the two sails from a variety of lofts ranged from just a kiss over $1K to $3.5K which is a pretty amazing price spread for two rather small sails.
I'll insert some things that really got up my nose with the whole buying sails process... First of all, in a lot of the quotes received it was obvious that the people quoting had not read my entire letter, looked at the enclosed sail plan, or answered specific questions I had asked.
In my letter to the various lofts I had made a point of not saying that the boat was a CAL 34 knowing in advance that if I had, the lofts would mostly quote for stock sails for the CAL 34 and, as I had a completely different rig, this would be problematic. That said, I should have realized that most lofts will refuse to quote until they have the specific boat model. Of course, after answering their queries and telling them that I had a CAL 34 with a different rig and resending the Simplicity sail plan, they responded with quotes for the standard CAL 34 rig as expected.
I also told all of the lofts that the sails were non-roller furling, that a set of reef points were required for the staysail, and because I have Dynex stays that I needed hanks of a specific size... They almost all sent me quotes for roller reefing sails with luff tape.
Lastly, I asked all of the lofts where the sails were built and what brand of sail cloth was to be used. Not that I was expecting to get answers but I did want to know and only two lofts actually answered.
To say this is a frelling sorry state of affairs is really an understatement...
The two lofts who actually seemed to have read my request, took the time to look at the enclosed sail plan, put in enough effort answer my specific questions, and send me an accurate quote were Sailrite and Far East Sails. They both were also the lowest quotes of the bunch.
The quote from Sailrite was $575 for the staysail in kit form and $450 for the jib kit plus shipping (our last sail from Sailrite cost about $100 to ship to the VI). I forget the exact number for them to build the sails but it nearly doubles the cost.
Far East Sails on the other hand quoted $555 for the staysail, and $542 for the jib with free shipping.
Obviously, the cost of the Far East quote was both attractive and scary. While I had been impressed by their attention to detail on their communication leading up to the quote, I've heard enough sail loft horror stories and survived a couple myself to do some checking. The results of my research was pretty much all positive.
Since time really is money and I don't currently have the time to sew a couple sails, I decided to go with the Far East Sails loft and sent them 50% on December 13th. The sails were finished by December 29. Through the whole process there was ongoing communication letting me know what was going on and asking me preferences/questions when needful.
The sails were shipped via DHL, well packaged, and arrived promptly. What's not to like?
The actual sails, once I had time to lay them out and measure them, were spot on measurement wise. The sail cloth was as described, of excellent quality as was the stitching and overall construction. In short, the sails are excellent.
For me, the cost is of lesser importance than the fact that with Far East I felt they were actually on the ball and paying attention to my sails. Their customer service and attention to the detail was all about getting it right the first time. A lot of the other lofts seemed to adopt the attitude of "I really don't give a shit and can't be bothered" which just does not inspire confidence.
So yeah, you can color me a happy camper.
Oh, one other thing... The Far East Sails sail bags are just about the nicest I've ever come across and were sized to fit the sails they contained (a concept that so far seems to elude most sailmakers). It's just that bit of attention to detail that will have me ordering a new drifter in the next few days from them.
Listening to Some Guns N' Roses covers
So it goes...