Economists say spending
this holiday season was disappointing. They say
we didn't spend enough at retail. I wonder if
they even bothered to check our marine supply
stores here in Fort Myers? Judging by the times
Vic and I swiped our credit card, I'm pretty sure
sales of marine items were very good.
Sorry, Saks. Too bad, Target..
The boats come first.
Isn't that the way it is
for boaters? A boat rarely fails at the dock,
so we take extra care to prevent failure while
underway. Yes, a new bedspread for the home would
look nice, but a new bilge pump is more important.
A dining room table would be wonderful, but that
dingy could save our lives. And then there's the
dictum that demands that a boat be ready to cruise
when you and the weather are ready for a cruise.
Time on this planet is too short for us to miss
any opportunity to be on the water.
Spending for the boat comes
even before beauty treatments. The choice between
caring for one's boat or caring for one's looks
is no choice at all. Oiling the teak trumps whitening
the teeth. Good looking brightwork beats Botox,
Non-skid deck cleaner eclipses cosmetics.
Still, one is entitled
to ask, why does boating equipment costs so much?
Actually, I know the answer
to that. There is the economics-of-scale thing.
If everybody needed bilge pumps, the suppliers
could make more and the get the cost down. Some
of the higher price is buried in the fact that
when we really need something, and right now,
we'll pay extra for it. But the main thing is,
we ask a lot of our boats. Underway, our boats
take a pounding. In the slip, UV light pounds
away, too. So, if we want the things we buy for
them to last, we boaters have learned to pay extra.
We pay for durability, not fashion, because durability
costs plenty all by itself.
Look at the bright side.
Boating lets its people save money in other ways.
Immersed in the boating lifestyle as we are, Vic
and I discovered that we don't need to spend as
much on clothes and shoes. Why do I need a new
pair of Topsiders when the old ones look pretty
good in their weather-beaten state and even better
with a cleaning and liberal treatment of mink
oil? Vic wears Sportifs in the office and on the
boat, too. His Henri Lloyd foul weather gear is
ready when he needs it. Why would he need Ralph
Lauren, too? Clothes with labels that say "Dry
clean only" stay on the store rack.
For most boaters, fashion
means Bristol Fashion, which is just the opposite
of the designer labels they sell at Neiman Marcus
and Nordstorm. Bristol Fashion is the rule of
good living that says your boat must be ship shape
and ready to go at any time. The corollary to
that law is spending for one's boat comes before
spending for the home. Your home may be your castle,
but your boat is your dream. No contest.
That's just the way it
is and the way it should be. When your boat is
in good order, your life's in good order.
Your boat asks a lot, but
it gives a lot in return.