Perseverance Pays Off

Last week, the seal on our freezer just disintegrated (read about how to prolong the life of seals and gaskets – too late for this one, but hopefully we saved others). Obviously we were going to have to get a new one.

And while this post is about that, it’s really about how we’ve bought a number of things for the boat.

On one hand, it was pretty easy to find a new gasket – just Google the brand, model and part number. Well, at least one company hoped that I’d want to do it quickly. The first listing I found wanted $99.99 (plus shipping) for one. That just seemed outrageous to me.  . . . so I kept looking.

I next found several listed at $74 . . . better, but still high. Then I found one at $49. Getting closer to a price I’d consider . . .

Why is it that Google listings seem to bury the sites with the lowest price for an item? Oh well, I figured that if going to page 5 of Google cut the price in half, there was nothing to lose by going further. Besides, I still had a cup of coffee in the Thermos.

And finally, on page 12, I found it. An Ebay listing that had a decimal in the middle of the part number, so it wasn’t a perfect match according to Google (but it really was exactly what I wanted). For $32.50 and just $5.50 for shipping. I looked a little further, but that was the best price that I found.

So, for about 45 minutes of “work” I saved over $70, including shipping and taxes. Not bad “pay” for my time.

I’ll be honest . . . I usually start with Amazon for general items and Defender for things that have to be marine. But I’ve learned to check West Marine, too – they are actually the cheapest on some items. They custom-made cables for wiring our new shore power charger for less than I could find pre-made ones!

Armed with these prices as a baseline, I may just go ahead and buy the item if the price seems reasonable, particularly if it’s not something expensive.

If they don’t carry it, it’s something expensive where savings could be substantial or the price just seems outrageous (as can sometimes happen with third-party sellers on Amazon), I then branch out with Google and see what else I can find.

  • Be sure to check shipping – what can seem like a good deal can have high shipping charges.
  • Also check package size — for example, Defender only carried quarts of the dewaxer we needed for our bottom job, but we were going to need a gallon. Jamestown Distributors carried it in gallons, and even with separate shipping it was a much better price.

When we bought Que Tal, both Dave and I tended to think that we needed “marine” grade of almost everything we bought. No longer. We still want high quality items that will stand up to the realities of life on a boat; that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be labeled “marine.” Lots of our gear is actually designed for RVers; others simply household. Reading product descriptions and user reviews takes some time but we have saved a lot of money.

Other times, yes, there actually is only one supplier for needed gear. Virtually all parts for our engine drive leg have to come from the company in England. No other sources. I don’t even bother to try to find them.

I don’t want to sound like a total cheapskate here – and we aren’t. We simply don’t like to overpay and want to reward companies that work to keep their prices down. And that also means that we can have a few more luxuries aboard, such as our favorite beers instead of whatever’s cheapest.

And yes, I’m on a metered data connection — Verizon — and this one savings paid for almost all our data for the month (read more about how much data we’re using). Since I’ve saved on numerous other items by comparison shopping over the month, I think a liberal data allowance is worth it and trying to stick to a tiny data package can be false economy.

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  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 19 November 2014 Reply

    what did we do before online shopping!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 19 November 2014 Reply

      Spent days going from store to store to store, then finally spending days trying to make our own . . .

  • Verena
    Posted at 19 November 2014 Reply

    Don’t forget that West Marine will match prices from places like Defender and Jamestown so you can still get the deal AND save on shipping. Also, talk to your broker, you can probably use their Port Supply account and get some pretty good deals.

  • Cindy Balfour
    Posted at 20 November 2014 Reply

    I wonder about our ability to access internet and to find cell service. We will be going to Mexico, Galapagos, And possibly on to French Polynesia. I have found WiFi everywhere is password protected and paying for it doesn’t guarantee speed enough to do anything besides send an email. We use ATT and haven’t hit 10 g yet. We also use the SAT phone xgate 500 rollover minutes , for weather and boat related issues.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 20 November 2014 Reply

      You’ll have good cell coverage in Mexico, and see the note above about data plans there — about $30 for 3 GB.

  • Florian Wolf
    Posted at 08 February 2017 Reply

    I have learned from – expensive – experience to google. ebay etc. for whatever we need, not only for our boat, but also for the car (a 1980 Toyota Troopy – unbreakable). My recommendation is also to have a look on Alibaba and AliExpress, the two big Chinese online shopping portals; with most of the stuff in Australia coming from China anyway I can cut out a number of middlemen and buy directly from the manufacturer at ca. 5 to 10 % of the Australian recommended retail price, very often with free postage – this saves us heaps ! Buying bulk does the same.

    “Marine” is a prefix apparently very often used to sell the same product at 3 times the price in a different sales channel; we don’t buy ‘marine’ anymore, but think about what we need and then get leading brand materials from the hardware store (does anyone think the sailors and fishermen of the past ever bought anything ‘marine’ 🙂 ?). Saves heaps again, and if you’re picky about the materials you can even get better looking, longer lasting stuff (ie 316 steel instead of the ever persistent 304…).

    Also true is that when it comes to critical items – engine parts, navi electronics etc. – we buy the real deal, not even reconditioned parts, as some areas should not be mucked around with (used, reconditioned life vests from India ? No way, too dangerous).

    Internet in itself in a very ambiguous thing. On one hand we’re glad to get away from it all, on the other hand you sometimes need connectivity. In the latter case we rely on our smartphones and tablets (which admittedly only work close to land). Really offshore: well, you learn how to fix things, improvise, creatively invent new solutions and improve your sailing, fishing etc. Worst case we still have the radios – Ham, HF-SSB etc., and there is a lot of help out there.

    Hoe this helps. Happy sailing, cheers, Florian

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