Use it up! Wear it out!

Popped fender
I think that I have thoroughly worn out the fender in the middle…

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.

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