Sailfeed
April 21st

Friends, do you know about this brilliant resource?

                         West System Epoxy Technical Services:  Toll free 866-937-8797

It’s the West System help line where M-F, 9-5 there is an expert on hand to talk you through virtually any project you think you could use epoxy on. They’ve been a huge help to me with my deck core replacement and the repair I have just started on my cockpit sole. Plus West System has an enormous database of past repair projects here: http://www.westsystem.com/ss/boat-repair/. They also have extremely detailed yet easily digested manuals on the general use of epoxy, epoxy for wooden boat repair and epoxy for fiberglass boat repair. All for free. How great is that?
 It’s a very interesting business model over there. Like most companies they seem to spend a lot of money on R&D but their unique twist is to make most of this information available free to the end user. Their website is comprehensive (and quite honest) with everything from tried-and-true use guides to articles on experimental techniques which are not yet recommended. I, for one, think it’s a great business model and I’m happy knowing that some of the money I’m spending is going to come right back to me in the form of free expert advice.
Oh, and just for the record I pay the same for West Epoxy as anyone else. It wouldn’t have any bearing regardless but I suppose people are understandably wary of rave reviews in these days of underhanded advertising!

And while I’m on the subject of great marine companies, let me recommend the Maine chandlery Hamilton Marine. I like these folks for a bunch of reasons, not least because last time I placed an order I had a hilarious chat with the lady answering the phones about my low chances of survival if I happened to be in the Witness Protection Program. I mean, when’s the last time you had a witty, enjoyable conversation on the phone with a sales representative? I had begun to believe that title was just a euphemism for robot-human. Other pluses include that Hamilton Marine is a small independent business, part of Maine’s still strong culture of traditional boatbuilding, that it has competitive prices and occasional very cheap sales, and last but not least because of Maine tax law if you’re ordering from out of state you don’t pay any sales tax.  Their website can be a bit of a chore to navigate but give them a call and they’ll send you a well-organized catalouge. If keeping small businesses alive in this time of box stores and robot customer service is something on your mind, I strongly recommend at least price checking with these folks next time you need some boating bits and bobs.

Ok, enough of this review stuff. I promise you won’t see it often. It’s just that I was thinking today how great it is that the nature of the small-boat business is such that it still supports a lot of down-to-earth small businesses. It’s such a nice surprise these days where the person answering the phone is not just a real human being but actually one with personality and I think companies like these deserve recognition.

This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder

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