Tuesday, September 17, 2013

toothpicks included

One of the unexpected benefits of purchasing sails from Dabbler Sails, above and beyond the craftsmanship of very well designed sails, has been an email based friendship with Stuart Hopkins, sole proprietor and sailmaker of the loft.  We have found, through occasional exchanges, that we share a few common interests.  One being an admiration of the southern naturalist painter Walter Anderson, which I mentioned here, and another being fond memories of using Leica cameras.  

In an earlier post I had mentioned my memories of using a Leica M3, which inspired me to get the Fujifilm X20.  Stuart's memories were of the Leica IIIC, below, one which he used as a journalist and also while sailing his boat Sea Wind in the Bahamas.  His darkroom was the shuttered head of his sailboat - can you imagine that?  Above is one of his photographs which he describes as a smack "bilged on a 50 gallon drum for caulking."

With memories of his old Leica, Stuart had purchased a Fujifilm X20 too (Fuji new exactly what they were doing when they designed that camera to look like an classic camera).  I believe he likes the camera, but was unimpressed with the camera strap.  So he made his own camera strap, and one for me too.  Thank you very much, Stuart.

 The strap was sewn to the exact length I requested, and it came with circlips which Stuart said he made with an old technique he used in the Sea Wind days, "utilizing the ubiquitous/free ss spring wire core of outboard shift/throttle cables".  Stuart included instructions for feeding the circlips through the camera lughole, which involved a toothpick - and the toothpicks were included too.  How nice is that?  The strap is now on the camera, and I love it.

One more photo from Stuart's Bahama days, which I'll let him describe.

"The image is a typical working smack boat, beached at a ramshackle dock in the Berry Islands. She was up from Nassau, and would take the catch -- grouper, conch, spiny lobsters -- back to the Nassau waterfront and sell it live from the fish well. Hanging on a line, drying in sun, are pieces fish and conch, food for the crew. Reconstituted in a stew, or chewed as is when out fishing. 
These images from the early ‘70’s.  Very few such craft left except those built for the famous Georgetown, Exuma regattas. Often shared anchorages with the like, in the out islands, awaking to the sweet astringent odor of the sea grape wood cook fires, made in a little tin box on deck."

So I order new sails and I get a camera strap, stories of the Bahamas and a friendship too.  Or I should says "friendships" as I will include Stuart's partner, author and artist Dee Carstarphen - who has her own share of sailing stories to tell.  I hope to be writing about her artwork and her books in the future, but that will have to wait - I need to get back to packing for the trip.


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