Addicted to Plastic 

Did you know that every time a polyester fleece jacket is machine washed up to 250,000 plastic microfibers are shed into our water system? These nano-particals can’t be filtered by municipal water utilities and they end up in the ocean, the fish we eat, and most importantly our drinking water. 

Our company, Ocean SF, based in Berkeley, California is putting a stop to this. As avid sailors and adventure seekers in general, we began as a performance sailing apparel company, that focused on using natural fibers, especially Merino wool, because they are warmer and more comfortable. 

As founders we can make our products out of whatever we want, but we were drawn to a new type of technical wool fabric, not because it preserved drinking water, but because it was gorgeous to look at and looked even better once we made a jacket out of it. Wool is self regulating and can be worn year round. It’s wonderful to have on when the temperatures drop and the winds picks up, which is mostly all the time on San Francisco Bay.

The first studies on water pollutants and the impact of polyester fleece came out around the same time we decided to mill our own Merino wool fabric using state of the art fabric milling technologies. We were aware that what we were doing could potentially provide a benefit to the environment. Now, with so many studies in the news, it’s apparent we are able to create sailing apparel with a much higher calling. 

Sailors have worn wool for thousands of years because of it’s unique properties that keep you warm even when the fabric gets wet. Wool, cashmere, and other natural blends, outperform synthetic materials, which dry fast, but fail to keep one warm if they get wet. 

Our textiles themselves are very sophisticated. We’ve been able to weave and knit multiple textures into a single piece of cloth. The interior side is meant to trap air between the garment and user’s skin to keep body heat in, the outside is tightly woven to keep the wind out. This is not the short fiber, itchy and inexpensive wool sold in the 1970’s. 

It takes four months to create a single bolt of the fabric we use. We are one of very few companies dedicated to this, and we do it for our love of the ocean and our desire to keep our customers, ourselves, and our friends warm and comfortable while they are outside doing what they love most.  

OCEAN SF will convert the entire old world order of adventurewear polyester to our idea of the use of only natural fibers in the natural world.

The big players in the adventure apparel market now know the risks their garments pose to the natural worlds that they are supposed to help people enjoy, and to us these inconsistencies are completely disqualifying. They are addicted to plastic based fabrics because they are easy to manufacture, light weight to ship, and highly profitable to their shareholders. 

When you start wearing natural fibers in these beautiful natural places everything about the experience improves. The idea of wearing and obsorbing the chemicals used in production of a petroleum based polyester garment in contrast seems absolutely absurd. 

Wool, linen, silk and cotton feels more honest, and more pure. It’s more than obvious, they are a better choice for the outdoors. 

Shop our site for an alternative to the polyester fleece midlayer OCEANSF.CO.

 

The Past, the Recent Past & the Future 

San Francisco Bay

I’ve spent a great deal of time mapping out the events of the past. For a long time, I wanted to find the exact point in time, even the exact moment, when things took a turn for the worst, as if I personally could go back in time, and reverse the damage to create a better outcome. 

Well, there is no exact moment to find, and if I could find it, I couldn’t do anything about it, as that is now the past, so I’ve reconciled myself to taking the gifts of those moments with me as I move into my future, and leaving the rest behind. 

As much as I wanted to separate myself from the past, for the last few months there has been an echo, and it made me feel like nothing I did could ever truly erase the memories, both good and bad of what went before.  Now, I can even feel that fading, as my new life takes shape and my hopes, dreams and plans begin to materialize. As I become much more interested and invested in the future, even the recent past becomes a series of events not worth holding onto, or paying attention to.

Recently, I’ve forced myself to slow down. I sleep more, and I’m genuinely conscious of my own well being, and need to rest. I know I will need my strength as our company Ocean SF takes off and the demands placed on my time and energy increase.

This is that quiet place between the future and the past, or the calm before the storm.

Love and blessings. 

Preparation & Determination

San Francisco Bay
Over the weekend, I was on the Race Committee for the Express 37 Nationals. 

I started doing Race Committee when my friend, Tom Nemeth volunteered me last summer for the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals, and it’s proven addictive. 

I’ve crewed a few races, but prefer the vantage point and perspective, of the Race Committee boat. I love to see firsthand the passion and dermination exhibited by each crew and boat as they compete. 

The Race Committee boat is typically comfortable and well stocked, and the company excellent. There is plenty of time to socialize, and I am typically surrounded by past Commadores and sailors with much experience and many crossings, and the stories to match.

My job is usually to check in the sailboats before each race, because of this I am able to learn their names and can identify each one at a distance by the color of the boat and sails.  

The sailboats come sometimes just feet from the Race Committee boat, and their skill in maneuvering such a large craft with so many variables and people elegantly balanced on deck is just short of miraculous. It’s evident that it’s taken years of training and experience on the water to be able to do this. The tacticians who compete at this level are highly skilled. Being comparatively new to sailing, it took some getting used to, but now I am relaxed and confident as the boats glide inches from our boat and each other as they check in, and get in the most advantageous position for the start of each race. 

We were on a Nordic Tug boat, which alone was a novelty, the races however, were exciting, and unpredictable with several false starts and a few postponements. There were several upsets, and everyone was surprised when our BYC home boat, Stewball failed to win race 6, however, the competition was fierce, and a wonderful time was had by all as the winds were perfect for a yacht race. 

Expeditious, and skipper Bartz Schneider, of San Francisco Yacht Club, won the regatta, but it was very close.

I was happy to see several more women sailors then usual, and I made a few new friends, and deepened ties with the people I already knew. 

As I sat on the upper deck in the sunshine watching the sailboats come in, I realized, I am living the future I had so desperately wished and planned for these many months with the same spirit of preparation and determination. 

Love and blessings to all. 

The Ninth Path & Designing Sailing Clothes

Berkeley Yacht Club photo by Lydia Oxendine

Recently, I met up with a former colleague of mine at the Berkeley Yacht Club, affectionately referred to as BYC. I often meet friends here since it is central to the East Bay where I live, and the city where many other people live.

On this day, and many others, I’m asked how I got into sailing, or more importantly, how I came to make sailing clothing. In both instances it was literally out of necessity.

I am passionate about the outdoors. I don’t just need it, I crave it, and can not live without it. I get a feeling of happiness and freedom when I am sailing that I am addicted to.  I love the heart stopping moment the engine is turned off, and the boat turns into the wind, and it is loud, but silent at the same time.

So, that is why I sail.

I make clothes because it’s bone chillingly cold on the San Francisco Bay.  I am very sensitive to both heat and cold and I am someone who likes to be comfortable. When I started sailing I wore my ski jackets and polar fleece.  This was fine, until I was hit by a wave that went down the back of my ski jacket and through three layers of clothing. I then had to spend the next four hours in the wind soaked to the skin. When I got to shore, my teeth were shattering and I was shaking so badly I couldn’t drive.

After that, I bought my Gill Foulies, but would get my midlayer wet and be shivering for hours.  When Andrew Lacenere told me he was making sailing clothes, I went to the boat he was living on, appropriately named, “Dreamer” where he had a sewing machine and bolts of wool from New Zealand. Now, mind you, I have made better clothes for my Barbies, but the fabric felt like cashmere, and after launching software companies, I thought how hard could it be to make clothes? Well, as it turns out, it’s plenty hard, but that’s another post.

After agreeing to help Andrew, he sent me a link to the famous letter written in 1958 by writer Hunter S. Thompson (see except below).  I still love being a teacher at Cal, a writer, and a painter. And, I remember fondly, my marketing days in the financial district, but none of this compares to making clothes.

I met pattern maker Emma Garrison in LA in early June, and explained, this is my vision, and handed her a drawing and a bolt of orange fabric.  This is where my most charming personal characteristic comes in handy, my naivety, had I known what I was getting into, I might not have done it.  A few weeks later, a box arrived on my doorstep, ironically, I was in the middle of a sailboat race that day, so my beautiful daughter Paris, put on the first prototype for our mid-layer jacket and sent me a photo. With frozen fingers, I opened her text and saw it on my phone, and at that moment, I knew, I had found my ninth path.

I’ve said it before, find what makes your heart pound, and do that.

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On Jeanette reading Paris’ text

The Ninth Path 

by Hunter S. Thompson

“To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

We must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN—and here is the essence of all I’ve said—you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

For the full letter, click here: The Ninth Path, Letters of Note, Hunter S. Thompson