It is the question everyone wants to ask and most have the manners not to…how can you afford to sail to exotic countries and lounge on beaches that should be on postcards year after year without working?  Everyone knows that the cruising life is all about sailing a little then relaxing in the hammock, reading a book in the shade while drinking rum punches, right?  Well, the dirty little secret is that we do work.  
A Relaxed Guest
As most of you are aware, we do charter Joana here in the San Blas as well as we offer special trips to Sapzurro, Colombia as well as to Cartagena, Colombia.  We are available for charters as short as two days to as long as one wants to deal with us.   Our charters are all-inclusive and include three meals a day, a snack or two or three and your fill of beer, wine or rum, within reason, of course.  We love to spearfish so expect fresh fish, lobster, crab or conch during your visit.  We also love our water toys and have two stand-up paddle boards, a surf board and a 14 foot Laser (small sailboat) to play with.  We also love to relax, especially in hammocks on the islands in the shade drinking rum punches!  Email us at sailjoana@gmail.com for more info.
Okay, enough of the shameless advertising!  Chartering is only one way that we keep our kitty going.  The other is welding.  Welding?  Girls can weld?  Well, at least one girl on this boat can weld, and that would not be me, which is why this is my favorite source of income because it means I do nothing except maybe hold a part or two while Maria works away.  We have both a TIG and a MIG on board as well as a very large cylinder of Argon gas, which for all you non-welders, means that we can weld steel, stainless steel and aluminum.  So, basically, we are a floating welding shop out here in the middle of nowhere. 
Cleaned and Ready for Welding
How does this all work, you ask?  The easiest way is for our customers to take the broken part off of whatever it is attached to and Maria will clean it up and weld it back together in our engine room.  It is a messy, hot and loud process as the generator has to be running to power the welder.  
Grinding in the Engine Room
First, Maria takes the grinder to the part to get all the corrosion off of it and make it nice and clean and shiny.  Then she usually has to put the part in the vice and using a variety to tools, bend it or hit it back into place, as most of these parts have broken because they have been put under unnatural stress.  
Welding in the Engine Room
Then she gets in her welding gear (jacket to protect from burns, gloves and welding helmet and of course the proper footwear…flip flops… so as not to get bits of steel in the bottom of her feet)  and welds away.  I am very careful not to look into the blinding light of the welder so I usually find it safest to shut Maria in the engine room behind closed doors and put my head in a book.  It also helps block out the inevitable cursing that goes on behind the closed door. 
Rafting Up
Once the welding has been completed, Maria then has to take a few different grades of sand paper to the part to polish it up.  First I become the bartender and get her a cocktail and I then become quality control, take a look at it and always declare it perfect.  We then dingy the part back to the satisfied customer on their boat, get paid and voilà, the beer kitty is replenished. 
On some occasions, it is impossible for the broken part to be removed.  No worries – Joana is a very large steel boat and can handle other boats rafting up to us.  Usually we wait for a day without much wind and a calm anchorage and then invite the other boat to come alongside and tie to us.  With the other sailors looking on in awe, Maria goes about welding on their boat, whether it be on the deck or aloft in the rigging. 

 Now that the mystery has been revealed, we expect to see more people out here on boats living the good life.  All you need are a few spare bunks, a good cook, some rum and a welder.

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