Tag Archives: North Sails

Screw Heading to the Pub

Even though I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1987, I’m still a prairie boy at heart.

And the prairie boy in me still finds it amazing to be able to head over to the dock after work, go out for a sail, and still be home for dinner.

That’s precisely what I did today. Though I missed most of the afternoon sunshine, it as still a delightful couple of hours and an excellent way to unwind.

The wind was super light so I doused the 150% jib and hoisted the cruising chute. This is my first season with the gennaker and I can’t believe the difference it makes having this sail. Today is a prime example – on a beam reach the wind was barely filling the jib, and though I was moving, it was painfully slow.

As soon as I hoisted the cruising chute, the boat took off. I’ve got a NorthSails G3 which is a bit smaller than their big gennaker – its super easy to handle and having a snuffer means I hoist it more often knowing it’s not a big deal, even if I’m sailing by myself, as I was today.

Short of a dead still day, this sail keeps me moving, and for day sails where destination isn’t all that important, the off-wind performance is really nice to have.

Even though Madsu’s cruising chute is small, it’s still magic playing the sheet on the kite, and the sight of all that material full to the shoulders and pulling, is quite mesmerizing.

Given the option of heading to a bar for a quick one after work, or doing this ?  No contest.

Mannion Bay Lunch Hook

Sometimes things just line up right.

Pushing aside the fear I may be turning into a big softie, I’ll just go ahead and say it. We had an incredible, magic day on the water.

Madsu is ship-shape after a spring of upgrades/fixes and it’s a real pleasure to see and feel the difference every time we go out.

Today, MB came along (my oldest son) and our friend’s daughter who’s interested in sailing.

We took off from Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay around 11:30, and at 1:30 we were comfortably on the hook in Mannion Bay on Bowen Island.

(click the image for a large panorama shot from the cockpit)

The bay is pretty deep (a few hundred feet) until you get close in then in drops rapidly. We anchored in about 30 feet of water near a lot of other boats on mooring bouys.

The local Canada Geese were out in full force, with a honking and chirping family paying us a visit within minutes of us setting the hook. Looking for handouts, they stayed a while then moved on to check out a more generous group of visitors. I don’t know how long the immature geese stay with their parents, but this bunch looked not quite ready to take off on their own.

MB fired up the Sea-B-Q and we had some delicious hot dogs, sitting in the sun enjoying what has to be British Columbia’s greatest asset; itself.

The sail back was incredible – we close-reached across in about half-an-hour, never dropping below 5.5 knots the entire way over. Again, those new North Sails are keeping us smiling every minute under way.

What Sail Lofts Need to Know About the Internet…

north sails logo

The North Sail loft in Vancouver (Richmond actually) is my new favourite business.

Even though things like the America’s Cup and those crazy-assed French sailing superstars make you think sailing is big business, it isn’t. Sure stuff for sailboats is expensive, but the business itself is pretty small.

Sail making in particular is relatively small, highly labour intensive, and competitive. For instance, Quantum sails claims to be the 2nd largest sailmaker in the industry, and they only employ 500 people world-wide.

Most other businesses of this size have found the internet to be a powerful help in reaching customers. Sail makers are using the internet well to explain how their products differ from their competitors, but with the exception of North Sails, they are failing miserably on one simple step; the follow through.

On July 4th I sent emails or filled out forms on the web sites of 4 well known sail lofts. In the case of North Sails, and one other, it was actually their parent web site in the US.

Only North Sails followed up. In fact, even though it was a holiday there, I got an email back from someone at North Sails in the US telling me that Dave Miller at the local loft would be in touch. And he was within a couple of days. He got my info, and followed up promptly with an online price estimate that included a cool Flash animation showing what the sail would look like.

The other lofts never bothered to reply – even though their web sites all invite online quotes. Because I live in North Vancouver about 2 miles from one of the big lofts, I called them by phone a week later. They couldn’t help me right away on the phone, so they took a message. It took them a few days to get back to me, and another few days after that to send me a quote. I never did get a reply to my original email.

Keep in mind, my boat is small and the sail I’m ordering isn’t a pricey high-tech racing number. It’s a cruising sail for a decidedly un-sexy boat. Total cost is well under $1,000 with taxes. But still.

Today’s consumer looks for service and quality along with price. Miss one, and you will probably miss the sale. The internet makes it possible for large and small businesses to offer high-touch service. But you’ve got to actually reply when the customer shows up with credit card in hand.

Dave Miller and North Sails got my little contract – it certainly isn’t going to make a big difference to North Sail’s bottom line. But I can guarantee Dave’s getting all my future business too. And that makes a difference to any business.