When I first started emailing boat salesman asking for my somewhat questionable payment option (some now, the rest every month until the boat is paid for) I actually emailed two Contessa owners. In the end, only one replied and I never heard a thing from the other - I assumed he scoffed at my offer. However, three weeks later, I received an email accepting my 'terms' and even my request for a price reduction! So... I quickly cancelled my interests in the previous boat, as the salesman had not spoken to me for eight days after making a verbal agreement, and I hadn't put a deposit down yet. I felt terrible about requesting such difficult payment situation and then cancelling the deal, but at the end of the day, we are doing business, and I just don't have the money to make mistakes. If I could go back in time to handle the situation better, I would do it in a flash: I feel shitty for having an anonymous person give me a break, only for me to turn it down at the closing moments. Apologies if that person ever reads this, I am sincerely sorry.
My new boats name is 'Constellation' and the papers have been signed and the deposit set in transit. She hasn't got a freshly painted red top-hull, however she does have a nicer sail wardrobe, NO osmosis (yes, I was actually knowingly going to buy a boat beginning to blister) with it's rigging renewed five years ago and even a favourable survey.
I feel much more confident with this boat, knowing a bit more of it's history, an accompanying survey and also knowing it is osmosis free (for the time being anyway, GRP hulls suffer after awhile no matter what).
So, the moral of the story is: Bargain - bargain hard and make requests you wouldn't normally make because that little piece of 'logic circuitry' in your head tells you otherwise. As far as I can tell, boats are often hard to get rid of, so if an owner has to wait for a few months but has a guaranteed sale, it is quite good.
A friend I met at a German party in Australia, who is a sail maker suggested the following tips on choosing sails and making deals with sailmakers. Thanks Craig! My initial question was on sail wardrobe suggestions, material and possible sailmakers I could approach for cheap, free and or sponsorship arrangements:
... but my suggestion would be to go onto their web site and write a quick add explaining what you are doing and what sails you are looking for (tip, don't forget your age) there is always someone wanting to help a young 'crazy' fellow out and 'in the good name of the class' you might find sails being thrown at you for free (or at give-away prices).
The other way, are second hand sails from sailmakers who all have old and not so old sails under their benches. Just give then the luff & foot lengths and they'll look through their lists to see if they have something to fit or close to fit (maybe a small alteration and you can get a near new sail for only part of the new price. Tip, bargin hard, the sailmaker is usually happy just to get rid of the bloody thing). As to selection for crossing oceans... more of a personal thing but my experince has found these basic sails cover most situations.
A really good mainsail with 3 deep reefs and from a heavy dacron would be great. This is your workhorse and you don't want it to let you down, especially on a dark night off a lee shore. A big medium weight #1 genoa (for light winds) and a heavy #3 or #4 for stronger uphill work, all dacron. Sometimes having a 2nd #3 for poling out ie. double headsails set up on double spinnaker poles for downwind trades can make life easier (instead of setting a spinnaker). Storm sails are law and could save your life, so 1 trysail and 1 storm jib, tested on your boat, ready to go, with all lines pre-attached. And a spinnaker is a luxury but on a small boat, it'll really help the miles when the wind is from behind (although when pressed while racing with the spi up the Contessa did roll like a snotty cow).
Everyone who you speak to will give you a different opinion, so keep open minded and try things out. There are also a lot of people who know better and there are a heap of 'dream bashers' out there too but don't be put off by such wankers, they are the non-achievers in life.
Sails are the motors of a yacht, you look after them, they look after you. Down time costs not only extra time at sea, they tend to tear when you need them most, so select what you need and select wise.