Shopping by example is a technique we first employed on Que Tal, which we bought in Mexico. While we had a copy of Kathy Parson’s excellent Spanish for Cruisers, we still couldn’t always get exactly what we needed. Oh, the frustration as we’d bring our treasure back to the boat only to find that it was just a tiny bit different from what we needed.
And so we began what we called “shopping by example” – taking along either what needed to be replaced or the parts that something had to fit into. We could test and check right there in the store – and even with a language barrier, the clerk quickly “got” what the problem was and would find the correct item.
Here, with Barefoot Gal, the nearest hardware store is 12 miles away and the nearest marine stores about 50. While there’s no language problem and the clerks at both the local Ace Hardware and West Marine are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, we don’t want to make multiple trips back and forth if we can help it.
And so we’re back to shopping by example. The other day, we had to head to West Marine for cables for our shore charger and also for pencil zincs for the heat exchanger on the diesel. The cables weren’t a big issue as far as fit, but the zincs were. So Dave just removed the one currently in the heat exchanger (there were no spares on the boat) and instead of trying to measure a partially worn zinc, we simply took it with us. Got perfect replacements!
In trying to hook up a new propane gauge, we almost followed our rule and took part of the parts with us. Dave assumed that one connection was standard and that he didn’t have to disconnect the regulator to take it with us. WRONG! We brought back parts that didn’t fit and he had to quickly remove the regulator and make another trip back to the hardware.
The next day when he needed some replacement screws for the stove repair, Dave took the whole stove top with him. He’d had to drill out the old screws and couldn’t accurately measure what he needed as replacements. Of course, they didn’t have exact duplicates of one machine screw with an odd head that had been used, but he was able to find screws that worked.
This time, in just one trip.