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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Right Boat for Right Now - Cruising World

I have been published in a national magazine!

In the July 2013 issue of Cruising World, my article appeared under the "Hands-On Sailor" section.
An exciting event!

The Right Boat for Right Now

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baja Sur's Sail Maker's Apprentice

And now an update on my selfish self...

Meri - and her selfish self
Many cruisers talk about filling the cruising kitty - how do you do it?
How do you make money going where the wind takes you?

The easiest way to make money cruising (if there is such a thing) is to find someone along the way that wants to hire you or buy your product. But getting hired abroad while aboard is a toughy... mainly because there are usually legal issues for foreigners. However, it's not impossible.
Crafts made by cruisers:
Leather San Blas beanie croc, hand painted shot glass, tahini paste, sea shell necklace and beaded flower ring
Finding a product that is smallish and has high resale value is the tricky part. Many cruisers make money selling crafts... the materials can be tucked away in hidey holes so easily stored  and you can sell your wares on the beach, at swap meets, rallies, races, cruiser get-togethers, etc... without too much hassle from local law enforcement. But the competition is stiff and making any real money is questionable, unless you are an accomplished "fine artist" like Linda Edeiken on s/v Jacaranda.
Witchy earrings made by Herme on s/v IWA ...
a must have for Carolyne whose birthday is Halloween 

Beaded Sea Horse by s/v Catherine Estelle

Another way to make some dough along the way is to have a service specialty...  maybe you are a diesel mechanic, or refrigeration guru or a computer pundit?
Maybe you specialize in healing massage or homeopathy?
Perhaps you are a serious writer - we have run across several success stories along our travels:

In my case, I felt at a loss. And I'm not stupid.
I have a Master's degree... in Theatre. And with all the creative, flamboyant energy...
all I could seem to come up with was what I didn't know how to do.
Just how can you focus on the positive when you can't find it?
Master Sail Maker Douglas Nordby... my hero!

What I did have, however, was a crazy idea.
Since Chiapas, MX in May 2012, I had in my mind that when we arrived in La Paz, Baja California Sur I would approach the local sail maker and ask if he needed an apprentice.
I don't know why I thought that.
I am pretty sure that I didn't know the difference between the luff and the leech on a sail.
And I know for a fact that sewing is a hideous chore for me that usually ends in ugliness - cussing and throwing things, to be exact.
Nevertheless, I couldn't get Snug Harbor Sails out of my mind.
Doug Nordby at work - Snug Harbor Sails

We arrived in La Paz late July.
I didn't mention my crazy idea to anyone.
While having dinner with friends, Jaye and Irwin on s/v Winsome, Jaye blurts out, "Hey, Meri. Do you know Doug at Snug Harbor? He could really use some help and I know you're really good at sewing and I keep thinking that you would be perfect for him if you have some extra time..."
And the unbelievable kismet, surreal, serendipity of her run-on sentence had me at Snug Harbor Sail's front door bright and early the next morning.

For me, timing was everything. And being in sync with the Universe helped, perhaps.
I pitched my unabashed worthiness to sail maker, Doug Nordby, and got myself an apprenticeship at Snug Harbor Sails that same day.
At 47 years old... learning a old timey, practical, maritime trade!
From a veteran sailmaker -
a true salty dog!
Snug Doug on a Boat Call - he's an awesome splicer!

It wasn't a total cruiser dream come true... he was unable to pay me. His previous employee absconded with the funds. But I thought I might be able to help get the business out of the red and into the black. So we devised an exchange... Doug would teach me sails and I would run the business. And Hotspur would get all her canvas and sail work done in a real sail loft - for FREE!
A sun cover Doug & I made for a sail boat
And guess what? I know how to fix a sail, how to fold a sail, and how to sail a sail.

I can patch a hole, repair a chafed leech line, rivet in a new head board, apply UV protection to a roller furling jib, sew a bolt rope together, correctly sew on slides and slugs, repair tears, make clew and tack and reef patches... heck, I've even made sails from scratch!
I've altered sail shapes, I've made corrections to sail flutter, I changed the camber, I've shortened sails, I've transformed hank-on headsails to roller furling and vice versa.
In the process of repairing a hole in this Dacron sail made by a hungry rodent
I've added draft stripes, made new batten pockets, hammered in grommets and have seized on hanks by hand. And I do know without a doubt, by the way, which side is the luff and which side is the leech.

I suck at splicing, but that's okay. You can't be good at everything.

What I have now is golden.
I have a trade that I can take with me when we sail away from La Paz in the near future.
I can honestly boast that I know how to make sail repairs and I can put a new sail together.
With strength and efficiency.
I am an expert at seizing slides and slugs

I have enjoyed working alongside the charming, old, one-eyed geezer for many reasons.
He has many colorful stories and he is clever devil.
He is a fabulous cook and many times brings me delicious goodies.
But what I appreciate most is that he has shared his craft with me, like a father might share with his own child. Trade secrets. I have acquired knowledge from one of the last true-blue sail makers we have left in the world. And for me, that is a privilege.
I made this sprit sail for our Fatty Knees - all by myself!!
The cruising kitty may not have runneth over with this endeavor, but I have knowledge that will keep food on the table and our sails in the wind... no matter where we sail.
Hard at work!