Consumerism and Sailing: An Almost Impossible Match

Buy Krap

Today’s thought comes from viewing a great video over at Doryman (and here), who links over from Annie Leonard’s site. The discussion is on consumerism, and it got my creative juices going. Not that I have an “audience”, but I suppose I have a platform.  If you find yourself with twenty minutes, grab a snack, a coffee, a whatever, and watch.

I was initially turned onto these types of short documentaries by the 35 minute film There’s No Tomorrow.  Since we don’t have cable, I don’t get to watch a ton of Discovery or Learning Channel, and these Youtube-style versions are filling the gap.

When I think on what consumerism is, I’m reminded of lessons learned from living aboard.  The plain fact is, there’s only a finite amount of room aboard any sailboat. It will be filled, in some way.  Maybe it’s chock full of foodstuffs, chock full of friends, chock full of junk, but it will be full of something. As a liveaboard, this is your environment, so you must learn to make wise choices on what comes in, what stays, and what goes.  Since your environment is small, and ever close, you quickly learn this lesson.

– You purchased the boat and it came with a typical assortment of 1970’s era life jackets.  Do you replace them out of concerns for safety, or because they smell musty, or because they look awful?

– You graduated college with your old 13″ tube-style TV.  Do you give up cubic feet on the boat to keep the TV or pitch it and get a flat screen?

– You want to refresh the look in the main cabin, but do you throw away the old cushions and replace, or recover what you’ve got.

It’s easy to think that these questions revolve solely around money. If I can afford to replace the life jackets with newer, safer models, I should. The TV probably uses more power than I can spare, and the cushions are full of evil chemicals; replace them all.

As a sailing consumer, we need to think about the other aspects of those decisions.  What is the impact of getting this _____ onto the boat, and what is the impact of taking _____ off the boat.

 

The Decision Two-Step

For things coming on:

  • Does this item serve a necessary purpose?
  • Will this item serve multiple purposes?
  • Where will this item live? Is there a space aboard for it?
  • What is this item replacing?
  • What additional work will having this item bring on me?
  • Will I get a substantial relative value from having this product aboard?

For things going off the boat:

  • Where is this item going to?
  • Can this item be reused aboard my boat?
  • Can this item be used aboard someone else boat?
  • Can it be recycled? (And where will I do that?)

Here’s an example from my Tartan 37.  The head was vintage 1980, with a substantial amount of plumbing missing.  I was overseas and getting parts would be problematic.  I wanted a bulletproof system, and went with a camper potty.  For the inbound toilet:

  • I had to “go” somewhere, so it was very necessary
  • It had its own water tank, holding tank, and seat, so I didn’t need to buy multiple pieces to create a system
  • It would be in the head, exactly where the old toilet bowl was and was measured to fit
  • It replaced the non-functioning marine head
  • I would have to purchase holding tank treatment and a spray bottle of cleaning solution, and later chose to keep some air freshener in the space. These were consumable goods that needed a life cycle decision of their own
  • Compared to ordering, shipping, installing, and maintaining a marine head system, this would allow me to do less work and have a lower potential for system failures, therefore provided substantial value

For the outbound toilet

  • The toilet had a number of copper fittings which could be recycled: off to the metal scrap yard
  • Sadly no, and what plumbing was left was of no value to me
  • In this case, no, because the head wasn’t rebuildable
  • Yes: at least the fixtures were and went to the local scrap yard

Most of your purchases should get this level of questioning before coming aboard. Protect your space, because many folks out there want to take it from you.

(Photo credit: Miz_ginevra)

The Zen of Arrival: Sailing for Mindfulness

Anchored out

One important concept in the practice of Zen (a school of Buddhism) is “mindfulness”.  This state of being can be described as an increased awareness of the activity at hand and the world around oneself.  So often in life we bustle through an activity without really thinking about what, exactly, it is we are accomplishing. That’s not always a bad thing; in his short book called Godliness Through Discipline, Jay E. Adams describes the ability of all humans to develop habits.  He uses an example of a man going through his morning routine to drive this point home. If you had to think through each and every action to accomplish your daily tasks, you’d hardly finish getting out the door before night fell. “First, I pick up the toothpaste tube. Then I reach up to grasp the cap. Now I turn it counter-clockwise…”

On the other hand, sometimes we rush through activities without giving them any thought. While I’m glad I don’t brush my teeth as just described, I am grateful I have teeth, that they are straight, that my parents ponied up no small amount of their income to get them that way, and that I can enjoy corn on the cob with them.

Certain boating skills can become this way, and one of my personal favorites is anchoring.  You will hopefully practice anchoring enough that many of the actions will be habit.  You will also train your mind to be constantly assessing any given anchoring situation, looking for danger, aware of your surroundings.  But hopefully you’ll be able to incorporate a sense of mindfulness in this activity.  It builds connection between yourself, the boat, the harbor, the ocean, and the world.  And that’s no small thing!

“I’ve spotted the entrance channel I intend to come in through. Track looks good, depth looks good.  Depth sounder is on and we’re safe.  How is that wind?  Ah… gentle breeze on the beam.  Feel the wind brush my cheek, rustle the sail, ripple the water.  Deep breath in, hold, slow exhale.  I grab the railing and get up from the cockpit, walking up the port side to the bow.  Feel the motion of the boat as we move together.  Feel her strength in my hands as I make my way forward.  Loving, diligent hands made her many years ago. Did they expect her to be sailing at this time?  Into this harbor?  I reach the foredeck and kneel down.  The anchor is lashed down with good strong rope.  I untie it, getting it ready to plunge into the darkness beneath us.  From some unknown mine, maybe in Asia, maybe here in the United States, we delved deep for the ore that birthed this instrument.  Who were they? What price did they pay to deliver the material to create this thing?  I look out at the surrounding water, seeing the small wavelets, listening to the sounds.  The image of the chart is in my mind, and I look around me to verify, yes, I’m still on course.  Some engineers created the magic that keeps my boat slowly moving forward, guided by a small electric motor, slowly left, slowly right.  I remember the number on the chart.  I need ten fathoms of line.  I reach down and pull out the anchor line stopper, unhooking the bitter end from the plug.  I stretch my arms out; one fathom, two fathoms… I feel the twisted strands brush across my hands as I pull more and more out.  This line has served me well.  How many anchorages has it kept me safely in? How many times has Zephyr or Boreas tried to blow us out to sea, or onto shore, and this line kept us safe? I check the markers on the line; yes, that will do.  I shackle the anchor and chain and line together.  I test each connection to make sure my mind and hands worked together, that each shackle is moused, that each connection is true.  I fake out the line on deck.  I see each length in my mind as it will slip over the bow and into the water, no bights, no kinks.  I look up again, see that I’m getting close.  I walk back to the cockpit.  I check my chart, and bump the throttle just a touch to get us in faster.  The electric motor hums a little louder, but still silent.  The ripples as Ruby cuts through the waves grow a touch louder.  We are close now, and I cut the throttle back altogether.  Now it is just the sound of the water around me, close, natural, real.  I realize this will be my home for tonight.  I will break my bread, rest my body, relieve my mind, here in this place.  One harbor among hundreds, among thousands, nay, tens of thousands.  Who has been here before me? I step lightly up onto the deck and make my way forward again.  I slow count in my head, one…two…three… and release that last pin holding the steel hook in its cradle. Splash goes the water, and the line is paying out. We drift past it all, and I watch the line slowly descend into the blackness.  At last the coils grow smaller, and I tie off the rest to the great cleat on the bow.  With a groan of protest, the line goes taunt, gripping the horns, transferring power to the ocean floor.  I am here.  For the moment.  For the night.  Forever.”

(photo credit: Richard Hurd)

How to Sell a Dream

http://boatbits.blogspot.com/2013/12/how-to-sell-boat.html

Bob links over to this guy’s sailboat ad. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/boa/4234040827.html

What does captian kurt, popeye, captain hook and tommy lee have in common? They are all bad ass people. Why? Because they were all in command of ships. You should be in command of a ship. You should buy my boat.

I can offer you the opportunity to be in command of this Catalina 27 sailing ship for about the cost of a lot of the stupid stuff you bought, buy or are thinking about buying. I present the following:

Malls & Nipple Milk
I can tell you this; the boat I am selling is less than the cost of that couch you bought at Pottery Barn* after spending 3 weeks researching it on Google**. I don’t care if your favorite mall doesn’t have a roof on it and has a theme. You should be ashamed of half of the mall things you spent hard earned cash money and time on. None of it will take you across oceans and it will not get you a buffaloes milk at Two Harbors (or a nimby cup). Not even close. Do you want your only source of alcohol laden milk to be your pregnant girlfriends nipple because I guarantee it doesn’t have 8 types of rum and 4 types of artificial sweetener in it. If it does muchacho then you should be hanging out with jcvd on a regular basis and won’t be needing this said boat. Back to your mall things.. If you add up the cost of your bed frame, mattress, headboard, box spring, stupid fancy pillows from Target, decorative duvet cover with a cool pattern from ikea and your designer pajamas it probably costs as much as I’m asking and you can have a f*$king BOAT of which can sleep 5 people and will guarantee you more bidness. You won’t find that guarantee in the bedding department at Macy’s. Note: your lame duvet made from rare dead birds is always on sale, you did not hit the Macy’s Bed Bath and Beyond jackpot and score a 300 feather count for 35% off, everyone did and just because you laughed at some actor making fun of Bed, Bath and Beyond doesn’t give you a pass for going there or not going there. And are you really spending your miniscule amount of free time on Earth counting feathers or laughing at jokes about retail stores? And by the way, if you are the type of person who covers your bed with any amount of (especially more than two) decorative pillows, please do not call about my Boat. I am not interested in selling this to a decorative pillow type which is too bad because you my friend are the type that needs this boat more than anyone.

Recreation, Drinking and Sea Monkeys
I understand you have many options on how to spend your free time. How you choose to recreate says a lot about a human being. What I am offering you is the open Pacific Ocean, fishing, going to islands, breathing salty air at sea, breathing atomic four gas powered exhaust fumes, drinking rum, drinking whiskey, drinking cheap beer, drinking expensive beer, drinking the dead sea monkeys floating in the drink that your friend backwashed, spear fishing anything that moves, endless supply of gold colored fish to make into tacos, trapping crabs, getting crabs, free membership to hbyc, a money pit, a fist pumping teeth grinding laser eating dance platform, a new kitchen, a boom that might hit you in the head, a $270 slip fee, the ability to t-bone a stand up paddle boarder, the ability to bbq a t-bone steak, the ability to bone in the v-birth, the chance to see whales, the improved chance to bring a whale out of najas and tying knots. These are fine things. These are gentlemanly things. They certainly beat sitting in car traffic towing your sand rail or three wheeler past a bunch of meth labs to glamis or driving a boat in circles in the std filled cess pool commonly referred to as “the river” or any other so called lake. Does a real man or woman want to recreate in a standing pool of “fresh water” or in a hot desert with a bunch of drunk yahoos with engines strapped to their backs?

Fast Transport
This boat travels as fast as your Audi on the 405. 6 knots at best. And you spent over $30K. Way more than a domestic car just because of the cool logo, neat ads and foreignness of it. Not to mention the way it makes you feel when you look at it after you park it. You could have got a Ford, a 3 wheeler, a sand rail and this boats for the same price. Enough said.

360 Degree Ocean View and the Mexican Navy
Always wanted an ocean view? See above description of how lucky you are. This boat comes with an ocean view of your damn choosing! Imagine a house that could do that. Those creepy realtor types would be drooling all the way to the bank. (Please no inquiries if your picture is on your business card). For the price of a ocean front strand house you could buy a boat like this every month of the year. In fact for $3,000,000 (reasonable price for a strand house) you could buy 600 boats like this. That’s more than the entire navy of Mexico. What would you do with that many boats? You could tie them together end to end and stretch them from Manhattan Beach pier to Hermosa Beach pier 1.7 times. Toss in a few more and you could have a two way sailboat highway spanning the two piers. This would be enough to move the annual 6 man party to sea and save the fun in a town loosing its charm faster than antartica is loosing glacial ice. Everyone would be happy because the kids could again dress up, beam each other with volleyballs and drink booze in the open sun on a WEEKEND. You would be the damn Kevin Bacon of the beach area. People would make movies of how you returned the joy to such an under privileged area of LA. (Math: 1.8 miles between piers = 9504′ / 27′ boat length = 352 boats required for a one way span.)

Screen World or Water World?
Each day the average person spends ?? hours staring at a computer screen, ?? watching a television screen, and ?? hours looking at a smart phone screen. (You do the math). The hope is that eventually there will be enough devices “invented” whereby 24 hours of your day is spent looking at a radiation emitting electronic display screens. These devices with clever names starting with i will range in size to span every increment of that Home Depot tape measure you never use. This will be toped by the inevitable invention of a gigantic screen that allows up to three people to be imbedded in, is only 2 microns thick, is named after a fruit and hurtles through outer space endlessly. I have good news for you my screen collecting swollen eyeball friend. This boat comes with an lcd tv screen and there is cell service all the way to Catalina Island! So you don’t have to skip the pirate dress up wine mixer because you are worried about missing all those great things happening on social media and on dvd.

Boat Includes
— 4 sails
— Atomic four engine
— Mast
— Boom
— Hull
— Rudder
— Tiller
— The book sailing for Dummies (You must have an IQ of at least 30 to learn how to sail)
— A bow with no arrows
— A bunch of life vests

Attention Doomsday Preppers
If you are a doomsday prepper then you have just hit the powerball lottery scratch off confetti falls out of the sky jackpot. Feel free to go into one of those evangelist religious on stage convulsions right now because when shit hits the fan in L.A. (and it will) do you want to be on the roof of your liqour store with a high powered riffle or in the open ocean reading moby dick with a milky rum drink in your skilled knot tieing hands?

In Summary
This boat is cheap, it gives you access to buffaloes milk, it is more fun than your current hobbies, it is fast enough, it has an ocean view, it comes with a TV, comes with everything you need and it might be helpful in case of a disaster. Most importantly it puts you in command of a ship. Go ahead break a bottle of Champagne over the bow, leave your mall things on land and grab the tiller.

$5,000 OBO / trade offers accepted

*ARE YOU F$##KING KIDDING ME. A STORE NAMED “POTTERY” “BARN”? WHOEVER USED THIS TERRIBLE NAME TO DUPE PEOPLE OUT OF HARD EARNED MONEY INTO BUYING EVERYTHING BUT POTTERY OUT OF ANYTHING BUT A BARN AND SELLING SHIT ALL MADE IN CHINA BUT DESIGNED TO LOOK ANYTHING BUT CHINESE AND I STILL HAVENT SOLD THIS BOAT IS BEYOND ME.

** Google = Best slot machine ever invented. Insert letters instead of coins. Output hyperlinks instead of cash. Google is paid by 3rd party XYZ business for the participants pleasure of playing this terrible slot machine for “free”. But participants pay end up paying in dead brain cells instead of cash and XYZ business trades cash for a snowflakes chance in hell of converting a mouse click to a sale. Only benefit of all this is it finally puts bad newspapers out of business.

*** If you happened to buy a mattress from that old white guy who shrieks “if you find a mattress for a lower price your mattress is free!!!” please, please, please, please don’t f$@king contact me. Did you really think that A-Hole is going to give away a free mattress if you found one for a lower price? Have you heard of anyone getting a free mattress from that damn place? How can our government allow such a thing. I will not give you my boat for free if you find one for less. In fact you will probably be more likely to sink would be my guess. And if you are the type that needs the government to protect you or wastes time complaining about the government also don’t contact me.