Wednesday 13 July 2011

Cheapskate Chandlery

      "I'm in too far, I'm in way too deep over you..."
                                                     -Cheap Trick

    ...and it is always waaaaayyy too easy.

    You have the best of fiscal intentions when you budget your boat needs every year, and every year you make the same promise:

    "This year, I am going to stick to the budget!"

    It never, ever happens.

   Either something unexpected comes up that blows the budget, or nothing unexpected comes up, so you max out your budget, and THEN something comes up, which blows the budget.

    Murphy is a sailor.
   In any event, you always spend more than you expect.  This is why most of us no longer keep track of our marine expenditures.  After you have invested more than $15 000 in a boat with a high retail market value of $7750,  it's best for your health if you just stop counting.

   Boating is expensive-  the six magic letters M, A. R, I , N, E  in the description of any shiny object automatically increases the ticket.  Often, this makes sense:  electrical components designed for saltwater and high humidity environments and ABYC rated are built to a higher standard than unrated bits and pieces, and priced accordingly.

  But, sometimes, there are alternatives.  We here on Dock Six, being the cheapskates that we are, are always eager to find cheap more economical solutions.   Best place to start for cheap more economical stuff?

   The dollar store.

   Here's the deal-   SWMBO and I will play crash test dummies and test boat -related items we purchase at the dollar store, and tell you what we think.  If you have suggestions of your own, fire us the 411 and  we'll add them to the list.  We'll test items ofr a month, and give you our experience.  If it is worth keeping, it stays on the boat.  If it was a lousy investment, even at a buck or two, it goes in the trash.  Life is too short to live with equipment that doesn't do what you need it to do.

Cheapskate Chandlery Choice #1: 12 LED "UFO" Light.  $2+ tax

   LED lights seem to get cheaper every day, but they also seem to get cheaper every day. At a toonie price point, my expectations were pretty low, but I thought this light offered an interesting feature- it was the first light I had every seen that could be split open to clamp around a patio umbrella pole, tent pole, or the mainsheet of a boat.  I tossed it in the cart, brought it to the boat, cracked the clamshell packaging, punched in 4 damn-near -dead AA batteries  and hit the switch:

   Even with weak batteries the light output was enough to do Sudoku.  Three weeks later I replaced the batteries with fresh ones and the light illuminates the whole salon or the whole cockpit.  The only minor negative is that the batteries are housed in four separate battery bays, with four separate plastic bay covers with flimsy plastic leaf spring latches- three out of the four didn't survive the first battery change.  They covers still stay in place, but they no longer "snap" into place.  However, I am cool with that for $2.

   Verdict: It is staying on the boat.

Cheapskate Chandlery Choice #2: Collapsible Canvas Bucket- $2

    With storage space at a premium on our 23 foot sailboat, I have long coveted the collapsible buckets I have seen in chandleries and at boat shows, but have balked at the $12-$20 price tag.  For  a couple of bucks, it was a no-brainer.  It even has a boat on the package! One month in, here is how it's worked out.
1.  It is collapsible.
2.  It doesn't leak.
3.  It was $2.

1.  It is collapsible.  That means that this bucket  will decide to go from three dimensions to it's best impression of two  with a) no warning and b) usually with a full load of liquid and c) usually at the most inopportune time and d) in the least favourable location, like when you are using it for rinse water while doing dishes( because the fresh water pump is on strike) and it decides to dump the water all over the cockpit floor, soaking Wookiee dawg's bed and Wookiee dawg as well.   However, with that caveat, for quick hit -and- run jobs like hoisting deck and anchor rinse water onboard,  it is a great choice.

  Verdict:  It is staying on the boat.

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  1. My boat baby cheapskate find- an indoor out door dog bed at Target for $18. Try finding a marine cushion or chair for under $80- can't be done. This worked out great for our wee one. It made a great little chair/bed for the cockpit. The photo on our blog of the baby asleep is her in her cheap dog bed. Doesn't hold water, small, cleans easily and did I mention it's cheap? My baby sleeps in a dog bed but its cool because she wears a leash while doing it anyway.