Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Seattle, WA
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Pnone order vs Loft sails
Judging by the questions you are asking, I would strongly suggest calling a local sail loft (usually a UK, North, Doyle, etc loft nearby) and talking to one of the sailmakers. There are so many new materials and combination materials out there, that any one of us who tells you what to get without talking to you at length and seeing your boat is just plain wrong.
Sails are probably one of your bigger purchases for this boat. Unless you have sailed a long time, bought lots of sails, and are sure of what you want, you may not be pleased with your results.
Having bought sails by mail order as well as through a loft, I can attest that while the loft sails were generally more expensive by 20% or so, they ended up being the sails we like and use regularly, and were well worth the extra cost for what we got. Having someone from the loft who has made sails for 25 years walk me through the type of questions you asked, and a whole lot of others, and then making suggestions based on my needs was worth the effort. Sure, once you have gone through the process a couple of times, and are sure of what you want in terms of material, size, reef points, etc, it may be easy to buy over the phone or internet, but new sails are a pretty big investment to figure out on your own for the first time.
Can't recommend a local loft, but I can recommend at least giving them a call and meeting with them. You can always decide to go the other route if you are unhappy.
"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward