Use it up! Wear it out! Make it do, or do without! –That’s the old cheapskate’s mantra, and one that it currently in use here on Idle Queen, where I am consistently trying to eke just a little more life out of each old component and piece of gear.
Not buying new stuff for the boat is one of the ways that I am trying to keep my boating costs in check, and it is a real uphill battle. At every turn, there are shiny new pieces of boat gear just begging to be purchased. It is true that there are a lot of things aboard old Idle Queen that really are quite worn and are ready to be replaced, but equally there are a lot of things that I just don’t need that I have to fight the impulse to buy and put on board. For instance, there is currently a working anchor windlass aboard. It is electric, and not a very large windlass, but it works and it pulls harder than I can by hand. I want to replace it with a stoutly-built manual windlass that won’t require long runs of heavy electrical cable or place a big load on the aging batteries, but I don’t need it right now. Instead, I should replace that rotten pile of dust that used to be a supporting member of the boomkin. That is more of a necessity than the windlass that I want.
Keeping the boat’s actual needs prioritized and focusing my energy on actually whittling down the list from the most important to the least is a trying exercise in self-discipline. I mean, shopping for, fabricating, and installing a new piece of spruce for the boomkin is hardly as much fun as shopping for marine electronics or even anchoring gear. (I love shopping for anchors and gear–crazy, I know…)
I am trying to make as few trips to the marine stores as possible to reduce the temptation to get sidetracked on things that I don’t really need, and so far the strategy is working. Staying out of the stores means that there are fewer opportunities to buy something on impulse. I am taking that strategy further, though, by coming up with simple solutions to needs that I find aboard Idle Queen and reminding myself that I can go a long way with what is already on board, or even less. Harry Heckle Jr., the original owner of Idle Queen, didn’t even add a windlass until he had been out voyaging for decades. I don’t know how he dealt with hauling the hook up in a blow, but I know that I can rig up a block and tackle to a strong point to get almost as much mechanical advantage as some windlasses would provide, thus solving the problem with gear I already have aboard.
Getting Idle Queen out cruising again is going to be an exercise in frugality if I am actually going to make it work. I will share what I learn as I go along.