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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gadgets VS Frugality

My love of gadgets bumps against my sense of frugality.

The store my wife loves for clothes shopping has a pretty decent collection of hiking supplies. That’s why I don’t mind tagging along.

There were all kinds of nifty gadgets, many of which could work out just fine on a small cruising sailboat. Space is at a premium on the boat and hiking gear is pretty compact.

There was this really nifty little folding kitchen sink. My boat lacks a galley and the backpacker’s sink would work fine for washing dishes, but I did not buy it. You see, my boat already has a cheap plastic bucket on it. It’d work well enough for washing dishes, clothes, and even bailing. It’s not a nifty gadget, but I already own it and it can do several jobs.

There was this nice all in one weather gadget: altimeter, barometer, compass, chronometer, thermometer. and maybe one or two other things. It was all nicely packaged in a compact waterproof case. It was also about $70. Now I don’t really need an altimeter on the boat. I’ve got a good mounted marine compass plus a couple regular hand held models. I’ve a thermometer that I got for about a buck once used for cross country skiing. A chronometer is a fancy name for a clock. I’ve a waterproof pocket watch and the gps has the time too. Now a barometer would be nice, but I keep a pretty close eye on the sky and listen to my weather radio. None of my stuff comes in a compact all in one package, but it’s all on the boat.

They sold a compact little orange box with a first aid kit, knife, flashlight and whistle. It was a marvel of engineering. Everything nested together. However, the cheapo med kit I keep on the boat, while bulkier, has a lot more stuff in it. I’ve also added things like larger bandages, insect repellent, sunscreen, and Dramamine. There’s two knives on board in addition to my pocket knife. I keep at minimum of 3 flashlights on the boat at all times. I was given some whistles from a kayaker friend of mine and attached them to the life jackets.

Forget about the freeze dried hiking foods. While some of them actually have a passable taste, the price is crazy. I can do better in your average grocery store. Sure, my food might weigh an ounce or two more, but I think the boat can take the extra weight.

My sense of frugality completely trumped my love of gadgets. As an added bonus, since the store didn’t have exactly what my wife wanted, she didn’t buy anything either.


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