Saturday, October 22, 2011

A thought or two on buying stuff...

Some thoughts on a possible future commerce, a bad day for global warming skeptics, and Zero to Cruising makes a good but sad point...

Color me a happy camper... I've been wanting another jib for "So It Goes" and had all but given up on finding an affordable used one in decent condition as high cut yankees are not exactly flooding the marketplace  (if I had roller furling it would be a different story). Anyway, I lucked out yesterday and found a yankee with nearly perfect measurements on eBay for just a kiss over $100... See why I'm doing the happy dance!

Saving money is actually a needful skill for cruisers, but one that has a somewhat steep learning curve attached.

eBay is a good example... lots of boat gear on eBay but most of it is just as expensive as your local West Marine and, unlike West/Defender/Jamestown, if you have a problem, the guy you bought it from on eBay simply does not care so you are on your own.

Even scarier, is I see a lot of stuff on eBay that is more expensive than buying stuff new, sellers that simply make up prices because they don't actually know what something is worth or worse, who know exactly what stuff is worth. Obviously the easiest way to not screw yourself on eBay is to do a little research and have a good idea what something should cost.

Since we started out talking about sails, a couple of good places to ascertain what a sail should cost you is Sailrite which has a wonderful resource on sail specs and they list so many boats/sails that finding a price for a new made sail or kit is easy... My rule of thumb is that a used sail is never worth more than half what a new one would cost.

An excellent resource for used sails in its own right and the standard for evaluating/pricing a used sail is Bacons in Annapolis. For what it's worth, every marine consignment store I know uses uses Bacon as their pricing guide but sadly not all consignment shops are as discerning when it comes to evaluating a sail's condition.

So, once armed with what the new sail would cost and what Bacon would charge for the sail in various conditions, you now have an idea of what a given sail is actually worth.

My view on the eBay thing is that you should never pay what something might be worth because the downside is that you're buying sight unseen and the chance of getting screwed is a very real possibility. My personal way of dealing with this is taking another 50% off...

For example: Let's say we need a mainsail for a CAL 34. I check Sailrite to see what a new main would cost ($2127) finished and in kit ($1039) so now I have an idea what a new sail runs. I then check out Bacon and see that they have a few sails, one rated excellent+ for ($1150)  another rated at Very Good ($650) and one rated as Good ($335).

Now that we know what a sail is worth we can go to eBay and see what's available... My personal price point for an eBay mainsail in this case would be less than $335 because I can get a good serviceable sail from Bacon for that price. Now, if there was someone saying they had an excellent like new main for the CAL, at most I'd go would be half of Bacon's price so $575 would be the most I'd consider.

Might not work for everyone but it does work for me...

Listening to Quicksilver Messenger Service

So it goes