Saturday, December 03, 2005

New Projects and A Company You Should Use

Well, today has been a day of frustration with brick-and-mortar stores. I could not find anything I wanted, or if it was there, there wasn't enough for the project.

As I may have mentioned, I've received most of my sails from Somerset Sails, and although they seem well built, there are a couple of nice pieces missing - not their fault. I wasn't specific enough in my specifications.

For instance, on my current mainsail, I have reef points on the luff that contain some strapping through the grommets with rings on either side to hook on the gooseneck reef hooks. This is really nice because you can hook either side, you can rig lines to the eyes to pull down the sail from the cockpit, and you don't have to struggle to get the grommet itself on the hook. The new sail doesn't have them, and it's because I didn't ask for them.

Anyway, I thought I'd go ahead and pop over to the nearest West Marine Store for the rings and webbing. Ok, I realize that a brick-and-mortar store needs to make a profit because they need to pay for a lot of overhead. So we pay the premium for having what we want in our grubby little hands right away. Well, this works out fine if the store has what we want and enough of it.

Well, they didn't. They had exactly the wrong amount of rings - I need 6, they had at most 2. But the rings were either $8.99 each or $9.99 each - depending on the ring thickness. Also, I needed 3/4" polyester webbing to go between the rings. They had 1/2", and it was $.99 per foot! So, I didn't buy it.

I got home and thought, "Hey, I'll go online and see what has!" Not only did they have what I wanted, while I was there, I thought of two more projects they had the stuff for - namely, the boat name on the new sail cover from Somerset Sails, and for my new asymmetrical spinnaker I've devised a tack attachment point on the bow roller that I have to make strapping for. More on that later, though. I also thought I'd make a nice bag for the new mainsail (Martin at Somerset Sails indicated I'd use a long tube made out of something like plastic tarp material. Apparently, with the very flexible full battens, you don't remove them). I thought I'd use one of my old sails as material for a mainsail turtle. So I ordered a 10' zipper for just that purpose.

The long and short of it: the 3/4" webbing - $.10/ft., stainless steel ring: $2.99, 10 ft. #10 zipper: ~$17.00. I ordered more stuff, so my total bill was around $90.00. And I got to talk to a knowledgeable human being. So, if you need anything for making, repairing, strengthing, customizing or almost anything else to do with sewing, sails, covers, canvas anything, or whatever, go to or call them at 800-348-2769.

This by way of saying, if West Marine had had any of the stuff I wanted, I would have bought it and paid a lot more for it. Moral of the story: If you're going to run a retail business you must do one of two things, preferrably both:

  • Have a good inventory of the items you sell
  • Have good pricing on those items
If you don't, especially in this day and age of online shopping, you're screwed.

Ok, so I can't do the project today. But there's nowhere I could go to get the stuff to do it today anyway, so if I wait until next weekend, so what? Or during the week.

The next frustration was with Home Depot. But that's not really sailing, so I won't go into it. But once again, it's a struggle with a brick-and-mortar.

Now, for the downhaul project for the new asymm - My friend Laura has one and she's rigged the thing so that when she uses it, she has to remove the bow roller so that she can attach a block to the bolt that holds the roller. That means she can't anchor when she's going to use the asymm. Here's my idea: I bought, from Sailrite some 2" webbing and 2 - 2" D-rings. You can see where I'm going - I'm making a strap ending in the D-rings. The strap goes around the bow roller, and a shackle holds them together. On the shackle goes a block, et voila! a downhaul! So, if this works, feel free to make one of your own.

You're probably wondering where the mess goes when I'm using the anchor - well, it slides off to the side and gets tied to the hooks below the roller-furler gear. Or it just hangs down. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

When I get to these projects, I'll let you know. Pictures and all.

On another note - I had to send one of the sails back to Somerset Sails as it wasn't constructed the way we had discussed. I called Martin and mentioned it, and without hesitation he said to send it back. No hemming, no hawing. Bim, bam, thank you, m'am. Admittedly, I'm a little disappointed that I had to do that, but I am forever grateful that there was no discussion. That's service, and that's the kind of companies we should support!

See you on the water!

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