Feb 242013

Before I get into the main subject of this here post let me update y’all one more time on the whole boat/motor/boat saga that has been playing out over the last week:

The neighbor who has the motor that he wanted to sell back to me took a look at it yesterday and discovered that said motor was frozen solid. Useless and not fit for anything other than an anchor. So much for a motor for the boat.

If the marina does crack down (still wondering if this was all B.S.) I will worry about it when it happens. The landlord has a couple outboards and will let me use one if I need it. For now, I will go without but always keep my eyes open for a deal.

The guy who was allegedly interested in buying the Fritter, apparently really is interested in buying the Fritter, again according to the neighbor with the frozen engine. He may be willing to go fetch the Catalina and do a trade with me, still allowing me to get my money out of this boat and pocket some more. Maybe.

In the meantime I will sit tight on this boat, start working on some other projects that need done, scraping the bottom, adding in a toilet, getting the electrics squared away, replacing some of the running rigging…..OW….hurt…brain…thingy….too….much….bovine…fecal…matter.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, scavenging. The life of a boat owner.

Boat living is not minimal by any stretch of the imagination. Boats are high maintenance and always need stuff. Things need fixed, repaired, replaced, improved, whatever. It’s a constant shopping trip when you own a boat. For most boat owners, a marine supply store is the second home. Rare are the days where a boat owner can go by one without stopping in “just to pick up a few things”. The most popular marine supply store around these parts is of course, West Marine. Like Home Depot, or Bass Pro, West Marine is a national chain with a large inventory of marine products. Everything from lines to clothes to motors to paddleboards, and all manner of marine parts in between. They are a bit generic, and you can feel the typical retail worker bee training come out when you go into one of the stores, but they do have a nice selection. There are two here in Key West, one over near the harbor on Caroline, and the other out on Stock Island, where I live. It’s a busy place and in fact several of the employees are my neighbors. Said employees seem pretty knowledgeable and willing to help you find anything you need. The downside of West Marine is the prices. Like any specialty store, because the items are geared towards boating, everything is pretty highly priced. I went through a similar experience when I worked at Harley-Davidson for many years. People want what you have. It’s difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. So it’s expensive. I will use West Marine as needed but like other boaters, I am poor and I’m always looking for alternatives that are cheaper, or more better…free.

Flea markets and yard sales are a good place to start. There is a large flea market on Big Pine Key which has several marine stores with lots of stuff. If you have the time to root through some of the junk you can sometimes find that rare bit that you need to fix whatever it was you were in search of in the first place. There are also weekly yard and garage sales and since virtually everyone in the Keys has owned a boat of some kind at least once since living here, you might score a good deal on something. The trick is to be looking and have the cash on hand at the ready.

There are a few salvage yards up and down the Keys too. Places where old boats go to die. These places may hold junk or treasure, depending on your needs and willingness to scrounge through rat and scorpion infested bins for that exact part that you need.

Online is always a good place to find deals. Craiglist is full of parts for sale. Depending on the model boat you can sometimes score original equipment. One of the reasons I am attracted to that Catalina 22 is because there have been thousands of them made, and there is a large online Catalina owners site, complete with forums, classifieds, and a store that sells original equipment for all the boats.

But, free is always the best price and finding the occasional free part or thingy for your boat is kinda like finding buried treasure. I make a habit of always checking the dumpster when I drop my little bag of cat litter in there. People throw away everything and dignity be damned, if it is something I can use I will grab it. Case in point. I’ve been thinking about getting a little ice chest, smaller than the built in one that doesn’t hold ice for long. West Marine has a nice little 25 qt job that goes on sale now and then for around $30. It’s not a high priority so I haven’t gone out of my way to buy one. But lo and behold, the other night, sitting right out there beside the recycle cans, was a perfectly good cooler, same model, and every thing. In near perfect condition other than a broken handle. Handles can be replaced for $7 so I now have a cooler. For free.

Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your boat. Last week when the cold, cold, winds blew in from the north, somebody’s boat fender broke loose and blew into my grasp. A boat fender is an inflated tube that you tie off between your boat and the dock so said boat doesn’t bang into said dock. I have two small ones and the one that blew in is much larger. It’s in good shape and needs inflated but quite usable. Now, I guess it belongs to another boat and I am leaving it on the deck in plain sight so if anyone wants to claim it, I will give it up. If not, then as one Capt. Jack Sparrow once said, “Pirate.”

So by virtue of some good timing in throwing out the garbage, and some fortuitous winds, I have managed to score about $100 worth of booty.

A good boat owner will always keep an ear out for a good deal. Talk to neighbors, keep an eye open if somebody has a boat for sale, and what goes with it, and generally always be scavenging for something to help improve the vessel that they own. All legal and above board of course. No stealing, plundering, or looting. Honor amongst sailors you might say. (The fender is right there in the open if anyone can lay claim to it.) Scavenging is a part of living aboard. A necessity for us all who live on the water. As I said, boats are maintenance heavy critters and if a person can save a buck or two. it’s worth the effort.

The boat always needs something.

Capt. Fritter


  6 Responses to “Living Aboard, Scavenging….”

  1. RV gatherings often have a freebee table where you put out what you no longer want and take what you do want. I’ve scored some good things that way and got rid of excess stuff. It’s all about community.

    And RV park laundry rooms often turn into book exchanges. You just leave the ones you’ve finished and pick up ones you want to read. I’ve seen this done in motels, too.

    • There is a book exchange in our laundry too. I might add to that as I have some dvd’s I can no longer watch, (no dvd player).
      C. F.

  2. Thanks for sharing all of the liveaboard tips and wisdom. I am soaking in as much as I can…I am much closer to getting towards the liveaboard lifestyle and hope to be living it soon!

    • I’m enjoying more and more despite the setbacks. If I get this boat into sailing condition or get another it may mean some travel in my future.
      C. F.

  3. Hey capt! Tried to post this on an earlier entry but couldn’t…wanted to let ya know I’ve decreased my grocery bill from around $500 in January to $250 in February! And our overall spending (excluding morgage, car payments, and all those terrible bills) went from $1440 to $742! I created a spreadsheet and put every single cent on it. Certainly helped! One cent closer to being debt free. Thanks capt!!!