Ah… the sea! As the song says, “It’s time for a cool change.” My love of the sea began at a very early age while exploring with friends the many islands in Boston Harbor. At the age of 24, I purchased what I considered a real boat—a 1978 24’ Trojan cabin cruiser—it had a 283 engine with running gear complete with a brass propeller. I loved that boat, it had an all teak deck and interior with brass accents, slept four with a galley, shower and flushing head. I soon learned she would cost me my blood, sweat, tears and capital. As all boaters know, the definition of a boat is, “a hole in the water you throw money in!”
I was young, naïve, and soon that romance began to falter after the honeymoon was over! I was excited to get her in the water for my maiden voyage and got busy in late March. While I was scraping, bottom painting, and sanding it, however, I found rotten or soggy wood that required replacement, and while replacing my entire windscreen frame, I realized this presumably wooden boat was in fact mostly body filler! My first mate and best friend Tom quickly came up with a name for the boat… The Putty Sark!
Several months of restoration and rewiring, not to mention a nearly depleted bank account, I was ready to launch the Bondo-boat.
The learning curve on Boston’s North Shore, which included the waters around Gloucester, was a challenge to any seaman, and the Putty Sark left me broken down stranded and in more embarrassing situations that I don’t want to remember. One disaster involved her and I live on the 6 o’clock news when two harbormasters saved her from being sunk off the Gooseberry Shoals, nevertheless… they say love is blind!
My current business “The Harbor Goldsmith” was established in the seaside town of Beverly, Massachusetts in the early 1980s where my work studio’s picture window faced the harbor.
Harbor Goldsmith, get it? Beverly was the supposed birthplace of the U.S. Navy.
Business was good, and I later relocated to the nearby sailing capital of the world—the seaside town of Marblehead. Many debate the location is the U.S. Navy’s birthplace too! I guess you could say I have saltwater in my veins and gold dust under my fingernails!
Here in paradise, we have forgiving sandbars, in New England, you have submerged granite rocks and shoals, that will tear any vessel to smithereens.
I moved to Marco Island in 94’, and almost immediately purchased a boat. I have bought and sold what seems like a small Navy—from a small Carolina skiff to a 26” Albin diesel cabin cruiser and then downsized to an 18’ Grady White. My most beloved vessel was an 18’ Flying Scot sailboat. Words cannot describe the experience of sailing alone on a sunny day with perfect wind and calm sea. I enjoyed fishing, cruising and discovering what I felt was my own paradise in the ten thousand islands where you can set the dogs free to swim and explore without rules, regulations or restrictions! Most sailors are an odd breed who appreciate their freedom and independence, getting away from it all and becoming one with nature is what boating is all about.
I’m not forgetting about you landlubbers, those of us who reside here are blessed with some of the best beaches for shelling in the country, besides being a boating and fishermen’s paradise South West Florida has abundant sea life, wildlife and the Everglades, it’s no wonder folks are flocking here!
My experience with being in love with the sea and the Gulf motivated me as a goldsmith.
Over the decades, I have created hundreds of original designs, many I still offer for sale today on the island, all kinds of nautical jewelry—ship wheels, rose compass pendants, shackle and swivel chains or bracelets. Not to mention anything that crawls, swims, flies, slithers or just lays there like a sea shell for instance in precious metal; they all influence the jewelry I create.
Sea life jewelry is always in demand in my shop for over 26 years now, my original designed Marco Bracelet depicts two frolicking kissing dolphins has been a mainstay in the shop since the late 1990s and sell daily!
Nothing speaks volumes like a simple gold starfish or sand dollar pendant, add a sprinkle of diamonds makes it that much better! I have created original designs from dolphins, turtles, seashell, burrowing owls, Marco Cats, to even a mullet diamond tennis bracelet; I don’t have enough space to list all my creations. I may forget a face or two, but I will always recognize one of my pieces, and even if you purchase one from me, I still consider it mine! If you can imagine it, I can create it in precious metal. Sea life jewelry tells the world you’re a “Sea Lifer!” professing love for the sea and its nature, besides being an original precious metal gift that lasts for generations.
A heart full thank you to islanders and visitors alike for your patronage and patience during these troubling times for without your support many small businesses in our community would cease to exist.
Richard Alan is a Designer/Goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at the Island Plaza and has been Marco’s Island Jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters at www.harborgoldsmith.com.