Sail On, Sailor

Mike and I haven’t felt much like sailors lately. But all that is about to change. Recall that on July 24, on our way to Port Ludlow from Seattle, our headsail got damaged. We can finally write about how we solved that problem.


We knew our headsail was old. It had been repaired once before, but we thought it was in better condition. Shows how much we know! Some of the stitching on the sacrificial sunbrella cover had eroded, probably due to UV damage over the years. If previous owners sailed this boat like we do, then the headsail is the most used sail on the boat. It will have had the most exposure. Anyhoo, that sunbrella caught just right on a shroud and that’s all it took to destroy that part of the sail.

When we got to Port Ludlow, we borrowed Stephanie and David Gardiner’s truck (Beautiful S/V Cambria is for sale!) and took the sail up to Hasse and Company in Port Townsend. After assessing the damage, the assessment was that the sail, while old, could be made viable for awhile and might make it to Mexico if we took good care.  Although there was UV damage to the sacrificial cover and to the sail cloth along the leech, the interior of the sail was still good. But at the end of the day, they recommended a new sail either now or in the near future. They gave us three quotes: small meal deal, medium meal deal and the full meal deal, which meant they would make us a new sail.

Looking over the sail cloth.

I know everyone wants numbers for these things so here you go. Unfortunately in our dilligence to keep mess to a minimum aboard, I’ve thrown out the actual bid sheet. So a couple of these are round numbers, but it gives you the general idea. Your mileage, as usual, will vary with your boat:

Small fix – this included supporting the sail cloth along the leech in the torn area with wide, sticky backed sail tape, restitching the sunbrella, and restitching the tabbing at the head and the clew. This would make the sail useable, but with care. Pricetag: $375 (that’s accurate)

Medium fix – This included everything above, plus replacing the tabbing and attachment points at the head and the clew, restitch the entire sunbrella cover, plus probably a couple of other things we can’t remember.  Pricetag $845 ish

Full Meal Deal, which I had to rename the Big Gulp – new 135% headsail of 8oz dacron – $8,500  ish, plus the costs of measuring the boat in person, which would have been fun. We would have then had our measurements on record and the ability to order new sails from anywhere in the world. Yes, that’s eight thousand five hundred ish. Um. Ouch.

After consultation with Allison at Hasse and Co, we went with the small repair to get us going and make us a reasonable back up sail. She agreed that this was the best choice. Put as little money as possible into what we have, then look for another sail in much better condition. She gave us a list of used sail purveyors.

Scene from a sailmaker

I’d like to point out that Hasse and Company is a great place. For some unaccountable reason, the minute we walked in we breathed a sigh of relief and felt good about being there. Maybe it’s something about how very feminine the energy is there, and I mean that in the archetypal way. It’s a nurturing, safe place. We were welcomed warmly, and they worked hard to establish our need and fill our need on an emergency basis. Their work is first quality and their service is superior. This is a business that is secure in its own success. At no time did we feel pushed to spend more than we had to spend. They would have not held it against us if we had just taken our sail away with a nod of thanks. Neither did they ‘not have time’ to serve a cruising boat that wasn’t going to spend yachtie amounts of money. We appreciate so much their attitude of kindness and genuine interest in meeting our need, however small. They fixed our sail in record time and said ‘fair winds to you’. We were kind of sorry to leave. Their sails are beautiful, hand made by local people, and guaranteed. I’m not quibbling even a little bit about how much they cost. We just couldn’t afford it, simple as that.  That was a mighty discouraging day.

We couldn’t find a good used sail that would have been right, so we turned to fellow cruisers and FaceBook/Blogging friends Jamie and Behan Gifford of Sailing Totem. Jamie is a sailmaker and runs Zoom Sails with friend Phil Auger, having cruising sails made for fellow cruisers. They have working relationships with a couple of factories in other countries; factories they know that do work they trust.  We had ordered our stack pack from them and had been pleased with the service and the quality. So we gave Jamie a chance to bid for a new sail, still feeling a bit discouraged, I might add. This sail snafu had just cost us our circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. I guess that’s the way the wind blows.

We were able to get a bid for the new sail within 48 hours, which is amazing considering that Phil was traveling between continents at the time. We ordered a new sail from Zoom Sails, opting for premium quality dacron with a 2-ply leech. The surface area for this sail is 47.5 square meters. The cost includes sunbrella cover sewn with Tenara thread, foam luff strips, radial patches, triple stitched seams, Dyneema leech and foot cords, three sets telltails, and a nice sail bag.   Total cost, with shipping: $3510. There was another fabric option which added more UV protection for the sail, but we don’t need 20 years from a sail. We need maybe 5 years. That option would have been about 700$  more. And, in more good news, we could get the sail in about 3 weeks, rather than the 5 it would generally take. Sold!

We were visited by an entire flock of these swallows while anchored at Cabbage Island.

If you’d like more information about Zoom Sails’ service, here’s a good video from the Follow The Boat people who had their entire set of sails made by Zoom. They were fortunate enough to have Phil come to the boat and take personal measurements. The video includes footage from one of the factories with which they work. If you liked that one, here’s another one where Phil measures their boat.

To order from Jamie and Phil, we needed to pay via wire transfer because credit cards cost money to businesses so they don’t take them. We had a small glitch in the payment that we’ll share in case you ever need to avoid this. When Mike ordered the wire transfer from the bank, he put ‘sail for Galapagos’ in the subject line. This was an unfortunate and unpredictable error. It triggered an investigation into whether the money was being sent to an organization on the government’s ‘do not send money to’ list. Apparently there is a shady organization with the word ‘Galapagos’ in its name. At first, we couldn’t figure out why the money had left our account, but Phil had not received it. Then Mike got a terse email from the bank’s investigations department commanding he answer a number of questions. Failure to respond would mean we would lose our money. We’re very glad we were in an area where Mike could check email regularly!

Not leaving anything to chance, Mike replied immediately, then followed up with a phone call. The investigator released the hold right away, but it still took several more days for Phil to receive it. Everyone breathes easier once these things go through, but sheesh! Small businesses need to be paid right away! Next time we order from these guys, we’ll have to say something like ‘new sail for our sailboat’ and not use any proper nouns.


Our new sail was delivered to Friday Harbor on Wednesday, and we picked it up Thursday, thanks to Steven K. Roberts and his handy truck!  (and by the way,Steve has a main sail in good condition for sale for a very reasonable price if you might be interested. Contact Steve for details. It’s from a 44 ft sailboat. ) The new sail is beautiful! We’re very pleased and seriously ready to put it to the test!

We’re still waiting for some mail to make it to Friday Harbor, but we’ll be going up to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island this weekend to get some time with my sister’s family on their boat. After that, it’s Neah Bay and the big left turn. Spinning and spitting three times in my usual deference to the sea gods on this plan.

S/V Galapagos, out.

6 thoughts on “Sail On, Sailor

  1. We love PT Sails!! We had Hasse and her very talented crew make us a whole new suit of sails for Terrwyn which took us beautifully on our 5 year circumnavigation and they are still in terrific shape. The new owners of Terrwyn are tickled pink with them!

    Our new to us boat (a BCC 28 “Pixie”) now has her own new PT Sails suit of sails and she is eager to head over the horizon with them.

    We consider ourselves part of Hasse’s extended family which includes all the women at the sail loft. The love, respect and extreme talent we experienced with them was over the top amazing.

    Sorry to be so gushy… but it is all true and I say it with all earnestness.

    Fair winds and following seas,
    Cathy Norrie

    • I did get the impression that Carol’s customers are part of a ‘family’ to here. It would have been great to have her make us some sails. I know we would have been pleased with the sails and the service. Fortunately for us, we are also very pleased with the sail we did buy! Fair winds back to you!

  2. “Then Mike got a terse email from the bank’s investigations department commanding he answer a number of questions. Failure to respond would mean we would lose our money.”

    Time to shop for a new bank? Looks like they forgot who pays their salaries.

    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

    • Frankly, I would love to leave Bank of America behind. That being said, the guy was super nice when Mike actually talked to him. I imagine it’s a form letter they send to everyone, another one of my pet peeves but ubiquitous these days. Lately it feels as though citizens are treated as guilty up front and the onus is on them to prove they are NOT guilty. Seems backwards.

  3. I’m so happy to hear the sail is beautiful and can’t wait to see pictures of it in action! We appreciate that you reached out to Jamie for a quote – cruisers like you keep US cruising. Thank you! Let me know when can add pictures or a blurb to our sail testimonials page. 🙂

    • Absolutely, Behan! We are happy with the performance of the sail as well. We’ve been putting it to the test. I will PM you and we can arrange to put whatever you like on the sail testimonials page.

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