Good cruising idea
Last year I researched sewing machines. It seemed that Sailrite was a great machine, but the cost of getting one to Australia was prohibitive. As a result I looked on eBay. For three months now I have owned a Singer portable machine, made in 1937, which is hand cranked.
It is made from cast iron, sews in reverse, has variable stitch length and is strong enough to sew together two 5mm pine boards. I have used it to hem jeans, make a tablecloth, sew my vinyl rain awning (4 thicknesses plus webbing in parts), make winch and compass covers from Sunbrella ( sews through 4 x Sunbrella like it was one layer of cotton) and make an insulated didgeridoo bag from leather and oilcloth. It will sew with all thicknesses of thread in general use.
This ranks as one of the best and most handy implements I have yet bought for the boat. It cost me $35 and is in brand new condition. I have since made a recommendation to a fellow cruiser who has bought a 1950, electric portable Singer which he runs from a small generator and which he rates as highly as I rate mine. It cost him $50. Incidentally, the hand crank is neither tedious nor slow, provides more power than the electric machine, and allows for very precise manipulation of the work.
I recommend a similar purchase to anyone looking for an onboard machine capable of sewing almost any fabric that would ordinarily be on your boat. It is a far more rugged, powerful and easy to operate machine than the Janome I have at home. Unlike the Sailrite, it does not have a walking foot, but this has not shown itself to be a disadvantage.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!