We got great news yesterday — we’re going to be able to leave for our new-to-us boat about a week earlier than expected! That means we’ll be leaving in just about ten days.
All summer, we’ve been collecting a pile of stuff to take to the boat — some of it items we had kept from our previous boat and some gifts from friends (yes, friends gave us a total of 4 fenders, which we really needed as the boat came with only one). The tools, sewing machine, clothes and paddleboard aren’t even in the pile yet!
And about as soon as we get to the boat, we’re going to be entering “project mode” meaning even more stuff. Yeah, lots of stuff to get to the boat.
The stuff from here at the house we think we can take in our vehicle (a medium-size SUV). Well, I say “in” but part of it will go on this hitch carrier (it’ll be the first time we use it, so wait for a future post to say how it goes). Our son has one and says it adds about a third more cargo carrying capacity to his vehicle without a big hit to the gas mileage.
But how about all the other stuff that we’re going to need? Wouldn’t we have been better off getting a trailer?
It’s a question I get from readers with their first boat, or those heading away from their home waters for the first time. How do I get stuff to the boat? Not a big problem if you live close to the boat, but we’re over a thousand miles away and need to do this in one trip.
All summer, we’ve been figuring out what we want — the exact bottom paint and how many gallons, sandpaper, epoxy for the few blisters, a new charger, and so on. I have a spreadsheet with links to all the products . . . but you’ll notice they’re not in the pile.
And no, we’re not going to spend days down there running around from store to store getting it all. Such is the power of the internet and online ordering!
The trick is that almost all marinas and storage/work yards will let you have things shipped to them as long as you’re there to pick it up within a day or so (check with yours before doing this and find out how they want it addressed — every one has different requirements it seems). This is the secret that no one seems to tell new cruisers and it makes life so much easier!
And yes, it can even work in foreign countries. When we were cruising in Mexico, we worked with a local import company, had a “load” of things shipped to a US address, and then the import agent handled the customs and got the goods to our marina. Not cheap, but far less expensive than a trip to the US for the items we couldn’t find in Mexico. I’ll never forget the look on a couple’s face as they were unloading a trailer full of goods they’d driven down and we walked past them with the boxes we’d just picked up at the marina office!
Now, we have an Amazon Prime membership — free two-day shipping on many items — and Amazon has the best prices on many of the items we’re needed. The two-day delivery makes it easy to know when items will arrive. Prime membership is totally worthwhile for the free shipping if you’re literally buying a boatload of stuff!
Rather than buy everything at once and totally overwhelm the office (you don’t want to get on their bad side), I sub-divided my list:
- Immediate. There are a few items that we’re going to want immediately when we get to the boat, such as the proper adapter for the shore power cord to plug into the yard’s system (last spring we were lucky enough to borrow one for the few days we were putting the boat away). We’ll order this two days before we expect to arrive at the boat (it’s a day-and-a-half drive).
- Project Lists. We divided items by project, or phase of a bigger project, as much as was practical and will order things as we need them (this also helps the cash flow). Where we were only going to be buying a few items from one retailer, even if for different projects, we grouped them together so save on shipping costs and will order all whenever the first item is needed.
This same strategy works well if you spend weekends or vacation weeks on the boat and feel like there’s not enough room in the car for various project materials. While most marine stores and Amazon totally support separate shipping and billing addresses, once in a while I encounter a merchant that doesn’t seem to provide for it. The trick in those cases is to look for some sort of “send as a gift” link!