Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Berkeley Marina, San Francisco, CA
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About two years ago I was faced with a similar decision on my 28 foot. I decided to go with a smaller local sail shop. Their prices were about middle of the road between North (most expensive) and Doyle (least expensive). I did a lot of checking into the shop I went with.. reputation.. references.. satisfaction.. service, etc. Two years later I can't tell you how unbelievably happy I am that I went with a local shop. Here's why: customer service.
I subsequently bought a new head sail and had my three other headsails adapted for my new roller furler. He's also built a new sail cover for my main sail. Any time I have a question or need a small change, I have someone to turn to that I can get to quickly. I decided to try my hand at racing, so I took my main sail back to have my numbers put on. He did it for free. I had a small problem with my new headsail that was a manufacturing problem so I took it back.. Fixed it for free plus fixed a small tear I had put in the luff rope which was completely my fault.. Changed to a loose footed main sail.. he did that for free.. wanted a bigger outhaul slide for the boom--free.
The sails are, of course, of the highest quality and are wearing fine (which is obviously the #1 benefit). Any time I need a sail tune up, have a question or need something done, I can call _the guy_ who made my sail. Plus I'm supporting my local economy! :-)
It was actually the North salesman that kind of convinced me. I felt like I was buying a car from a car salesman when I talked to him. It was almost like "What can I do to get you into this sail today." Plus the sails are generally made over seas. What a drag if you get your sail back and there's a fitting problem or stitching problem or other change.. Can't talk to the person who built it. Plus the sails are a little more "cookie cutter".. Steve designed my sail, the shape, size, everything to the way I wanted it.