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Shopping and Chopping

We made a trek up to Seattle last week, to make a round at our favorite marine stores and gather some goods for this month’s projects. We had a list of things we actually wanted to buy, a list of things we were thinking of buying, and then a mental list of things we just wanted to look at to plan future projects. As we walked around Fisheries Supply, however, our eyes sort of started glazing over and we just about tripped over our jaws at some of the prices on shiny pretty boat gear. We could have easily dropped several boat bucks (fyi: these come in denominations of $1000) on just items to get a few small projects done.

Now, we have spent a fair number of boat bucks in our sailing lifetimes so I’m not sure why the prices of boat gear continue to shock us every time we go into a marine store needing something more involved than a few screws or a light bulb. I think it’s that prices are really going up steadily on most marine stuff (particularly metal items due to the skyrocketing cost of raw metals) but it also has to do with trying to work with a solidly fixed outfitting kitty.

One item on our list were tiny stainless steel sail track stops. These are basically a 1″ piece of curved stainless steel with a screw through it; they affix to the bottom of the mainsail and mizzen sail tracks to keep the sail slides from falling off of it. These retail for $48 apiece. Being we are a ketch we needed two of them. Thankfully, our account price was about $15 less, but still. (Note to new boat owners: get a business license! You will save thousands of boat bucks.) We stood there for a while, trying to wrap our brains around paying $75 for two tiny shiny pieces of hardware to replace the old, sort of broken ones we found at the second hand marine store last year. It didn’t take us long to come up with a solution: fix the old broken ones we already have by buying better fitting screws (cost: $2).

We then meandered over to the block section. Wondertime currently is outfitted with delightful old wooden blocks. While they certainly look charming, they are as heavy as bricks and need varnishing. Do we have time to varnish blocks? Ha. Sailing gear — the kind that will make the boat easier, more fun, and faster to sail is at the top of our list. Our hulk of an Isuzu Pisces diesel engine slups up something like 0.75 gallon/hour; at $3-5 gallon for diesel anything that helps us sail more will save us money (and stinky hot misery) in the long run. We now have shiny lovely (and surprising quite affordable) stainless Garhauer blocks as the top candidates in replacing our wooden mainsheet, staysail and genoa blocks.

Moving on to the plumbing section, we started adding up all the parts we’d need to install fresh and saltwater foot pumps in the galley, and a freshwater foot pump in the head sink to help save our precious freshwater supply. (You use a lot less water pumping it with your foot rather than just letting the faucet run.) We already have one uninstalled Whale Gusher foot pump on board so we were looking at purchasing two more, plus the spigots and related hosing and miscellaneous fittings. After mentally adding everything up, our heads started to spin a little at all the dollars adding up and in the end we decided to demote the freshwater foot pumps and just install the saltwater pump in the galley which we will use for washing dishes, hands, and cooking.

Our morning continued on in this way; as we worked through our list of project stuff we would either realize that the cost just did not justify the importance, or we’d have a spontaneous brainstorm and come up with another, less expensive way to get the same thing done. With Michael on the job for only 5 more months, our projects are getting cut left and right as our remaining budgeted dollars slip out.

On our way home, we made our last stop at West Marine’s gorgeous new Lake Union store and picked up the #1 item at the top of our list: our new 55 lb. Rocna anchor. As our boat — and lives — depend on staying firmly attached in an anchorage, a big, beautiful strong anchor is non-negotiable.


  1. That Rocna was the very first thing I saw when I clicked on your site today. We will be strapping a Rocna 33 onto our bow roller this week. Can’t wait. That anchor is the sexiest!

  2. How much chain (and what variety) are you going to carry? We’re on the brink of getting 300′ of 5/16 40 HT.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Tucker~ We’ve currently got 200′ of 3/8″ high test. We are going to add another 100′ using a high quality connector for those few times we need more. With a manual Sea Tiger 555 windlass we don’t throw all the chain out willy nilly! (But of course do if we need to….)

      Michael ordered some nice galvanized shackles that should be arriving this week; when they get here we’ll be putting the Rocna on our bow as well. It will be interesting to see how it works with our bowsprit!

      1. Sara says:

        Oops. Make that 5/16″ HT. Darn that defective tape measure.

        We pulled all 200′ (actually 300′ — there was another 100′ of fairly new chain lying underneath it!) of the chain out of the locker onto the dock this weekend. There are a few spots where it it is fairly rusty so it’s probably time for re-galvanization. We’ve decided to just sell both pieces on Craigslist and get a new length of 300′ 5/16″ HT. It would be safer to not have to worry about hokey connectors or anything as well. This was not exactly in our budget, but that’s how it goes…can’t scrimp on anchoring!