Shipwrights Co-Op merges with Port Townsend sail company

Posted 1/25/21

After 42 years of operation in town, Hasse & Company Port Townsend Sails recently announced that it would be merging with the Port Townsend …

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Shipwrights Co-Op merges with Port Townsend sail company

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After 42 years of operation in town, Hasse & Company Port Townsend Sails recently announced that it would be merging with the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op.   

Since 1978, Port Townsend Sails’ owner Carol Hasse has made a name for herself and her company by offering her clients the highest quality bluewater-ready sails for cruisers near and far.

“Our sails, since I started the company have been Cape Horn-worthy, bluewater cruising sails,” Hasse said, before making a point to clarify that her sails are most definitely   “not ‘round-the-buoy sails.’”

Over the years Hasse said the Sail Company and the Co-Op developed a sort of symbiosis. When a cruiser lumbered into the port seeking some TLC from the shipwrights. It was Hasse they directed them to when they were in need of new sails.

Like so many artisans who devote themselves to the mastery of their trade, Hasse couldn’t learn sailmaking in any classroom or trade school. Instead, she apprenticed under the master sailmaker Franz Schattauer in Seattle starting in 1972.

“Franz was — in addition to running a sail loft where a person could be hired and learn how to make sails — was a master sailmaker,” she said. “His skillset was really a descendant from the royal navies of the era.”

Typical of traditional standards, no small amount of hand-stitched elements made their way into Schattauer’s sails, which resulted in both a visually appealing final product and also increased durability.

When Hasse brought what she had learned under the tutelage of Schattauer to Port Townsend, it soon became apparent that folks in town liked the cut of her jib — and her mainsails, too, for that matter.

“What we do in our loft is a hand-finish that’s just very beautiful, but more importantly than being very beautiful, it protects the sails better from chafe, it makes them more repairable and it makes them longer-lasting,” Hasse said.

“Our reputation grew from sticking with that quality construction and even though our sails were not price competitive with the offshore or the outsourced sails because they were built a purpose for a person who might want to sail from Port Townsend to New Zealand and back ... we’ve had a niche market all along,” she said.    

David “Griz” Griswold, president of the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op, said Hasse and her crew’s stalwart dedication to their craft extends beyond just their attention to detail in building the sails.

“From our client’s perspective ... they really felt like Carol was going to take care of them no matter what,” Griswold said. “That’s really big, if you’re a cruiser and you’re out there in some Third World country and you have something wrong with your sail, they knew Carol would step in; they would make sure they would get them what they needed. I think that just kind of came with the quality, the reassurance that if they ever had a problem, the loft was there for them. I’ve heard that numerous times.”

The merger of the two magnanimous maritime merchants is accompanied by a couple other milestones. The Shipwrights Co-Op will be celebrating 40 years of continuous operation in Port Townsend.

Hasse’s own milestone comes in the form of a well-earned retirement, which she appropriately announced was forthcoming during the 2019 Wooden Boat Festival, no doubt to the chagrin of cruisers the world over.

After 42 years of stitching together sails, Hasse plans to take some time for herself. Fortunately, she added, most all of her sailmaking staff will remain in the employ of the Co-Op moving forward. 

“I am excited that the Shipwright’s Co-Op is going to take the helm of the business I started in 1978, and carry on sailmaking as part of our marine trades and our working waterfront here in Port Townsend,” she said. “They’re going to keep all of our sailmakers employed — who are highly skilled and talented and would otherwise be left scrambling for a job.”

Hasse said she planned to use her new free time to work on compiling all of her professional knowledge of sailmaking into a book.

She also added that she won’t stray too far away from Port Townsend, and will remain available to serve as a consultant for the Shipwright’s Co-Op as it requires her input in future sailmaking endeavors.    

“I want to share as much of the knowledge about this trade of sailmaking that I’m so passionate about and has been my professional and personal life’s interest,” Hasse said.

“I keep wishing I were 27 again and I could sign up for another 42 years, because I’ve learned so much now, how much more could I learn?”

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