Finding Replacement Parts for Your SailboatArticle By Shorty
Upon aquiring their first boat, many new sailors will seek to restore their boat to "factory new" condition and try to find contact information to the manufacturer and / or look for brocures about their boat to make her just like new. The big catch here is that majority companies that make small boats are long out of business - mostly because used fiberglass boats are SO DURABLE and easily repairable, that a prospective buyer would have a tough time justifying buying a new boat, rather than get a much cheaper used boat and fix it up. So what can a new boat owner do?
The Manufacturer just makes the HULL, not the hardware
First off you have to understand the way the marine industry works. The manufacturer probably only made one custom thing, and that is molding the fiberglass hull. All of the other parts like blocks, cleats, rails etc were all made by other manufactueres which make standard parts, of which multiple manufacturers make duplicates. Look at the hardware that came on your boat and you will see their names -- such as Harkin, Race Lite, Schaefer, Sea Dog etc.
Make Factory New or Customize Your Boat?
I used to be a sailboat dealer and have represented new boat manufacturers before so have an intimate view of how they operate. They have a really tough job, and most of them do it because they love sailboats, not making money. It is a very tough market and they end up creating their own worst enemy, used sailboats. Plus most sailors are fairly picky and cheap, so the choices that the factory makes in configuring the sailboat they offer for sale has many factors, and sailing performance isn't always the top priority. Furthermore all of us picky sailors like to setup our boats in different ways, so if you are not trying to get your boat configured within racing rules, you should setup your boat in a way that suits YOUR needs. And trust me when I say, there are MANY ways to setup your boat, which are different than how it came from the factory.
A good source for sails is ebay. You can hunt around and find sails made specifically for your boat, or ones that are the right size and will work fine. Another alternative if you want to get on the water quick and cheap is to make some sails from polytarp. Yea, I know its cheap looking and the tarp isn't as durable as dacron, but if you just want to get out and go sailing, it is a quick and cheap solution. See PDRacer.com for instructions how to build polytarp sails.
Ebay is also a great source for various marine hardware. You can pick up all kinds of odds and ends there. With a little creativity you can outfit your boat with great gear that you would prefer to use.
The rudder is also one of those things that gets lost or worn out and needs to be replaced. You can easily make your own rudder, see PDRacer.com for ideas on how to build them.
Boat Restoration Books
There are a bunch of great books on how to restore old boats, I have links to many great boat restoration books at PDRacer.com in the boat building books section