If all good things must come to an end, then it had to happen sooner or later. After 7 years and nearly 400 tips, DIY projects, yarns, and wordy expressions of opinion, we have decided to end our Monday posts and shut down the website. We will still be sharing tips and great information on our facebook page, and pictures of both the practical and eye candy variety on Instagram. So as we and technology move along, please move with us and like and follow us at either or both of those locations. And as always, feel free to swing by and say hi when you share an anchorage with Eurisko. Thanks for all the support. See you out there.

Curbing the Buying Habit

February 13, 2017

We seem to spend a lot of time battling consumerism on this site. Honestly, that's the only way we could have lived this lifestyle for the past 16 years. But even we occasionally get caught up in the drive to buy. If we catch ourselves soon enough, we get away with just shaking our heads and reprimanding ourselves. Otherwise, we fall into the same trap as the consuming masses.

Years in the Caribbean have taught us to fix what we have, find another way, or simply do without. Seemingly simple items are not always that easy to purchase down here. Our first encounter with the frustration of trying to buy something that you could find at 100 stores within walking distance of any anchorage in the US, was trying to buy underwear in Trinidad. Now, I'm not talking about any special type of underwear. I mean just plain ol' Fruit of the Looms (or any other brand), simple men's underwear. Good luck with that. We tried the small local stores, we went to the capital, we took the bus to the mall, and still, we came home underwear-less. What we learned is that you have to adapt to the culture in which you are living. Apparently, men in Trinidad wear spandex-type, snug French underwear, because that's what we found available. The boys decided to do without (thus entering the board short-only stage of their childhoods), but Dave simply changed his wants until we got back to a US island.

Fix it, don't replace it.

After a year in Panama, we were dreaming of being able to walk into a store and buy, buy, buy. My laptop had been stolen, our son's iPod was broken, we were all in need of clothes, and our "buy when we find" list was pages long. Of course, once we sailed back into the US, we could find it all. Within a week we had purchased a laptop, iPod, dozens of articles of clothes, tools, gadgets, and junk. It was just so easy. The juxtaposition between our years in the Caribbean and the first few weeks back in the States was the eye opener we needed. We admitted our consumerist habits and have fought them since then.

But we completely understand how hard it is to curb the habit. You decide you just HAVE to have a new gizmo, your favorite whatsit breaks, or you get bored with the same old thingamajig and boom, to the store you go. All we ask (of ourselves) is that we first STOP. And THINK. Is there a way I can fix the one I have? Can I build my own? Do I really need it or can I find another way? But even we forget.

Dave has a block plane he has had for decades. He's not even sure when or where he got it, since in his mind he has always had it. It could be 30 or more years old, he may have gotten it used, we just don't know. But a few months ago the plane iron finally reached the point where it was in such bad shape that even sharpening it was not enough. He needed a new one. We looked in stores, but being in the Caribbean (even on a US island), our choices were limited. We checked online, but you can never be sure of the quality, and we had a hard time finding one the exact dimensions. (The fact that this thing was probably manufactured during the Jurassic Era wasn't helping our search any.) Finally, in desperation while building a couple of chairs (I’ll explain in a future post.) he decided he "deserved" a new plane. He "needed" a new plane. Who am I to argue when the captain/carpenter/cook/jeweler/head ice cream maker says he needs a new tool? Off to the local hardware store we go. But wait a minute! What are we doing?

His plane iron is in bad shape.
Buy a new plane? NO!
Buy a new iron? NO!
Ask yourself Dave's favorite scenario, "If I were in Cuba, what would I do?"

He grabbed some tools, went outside, and got to work. He filed the edge of the iron until all the nicks were gone. Then he sharpened it as normal, though it obviously took much more time and effort, since he had "dulled" it by removing the nicks. Within a few hours, though, he had a "new" block plane iron. Free.

We are not opposed to all spending. We certainly do our share of buying. But we try to limit ourselves to those items that we are buying for the right reason. Because we're too lazy to fix the one we have, is not the right reason. Ever. Even when in the land of plenty, it's a good habit to get into, trying to figure out how you would find a solution if you couldn't just go to the nearest store and buy a "fix." Because you never know when you might be on one of those islands where that's just not an option.

MONDAY We'll share the full experience of one of the most fascinating encounters I've ever had.


Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?

It's here! My latest book, Years of Ideas from a Simple Sailor is now available on Amazon.

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