Tip 5. Be a Pack Rat
Never throw boat stuff away - nothing! Save every stainless steel screw, bolt, nut, and washer you remove from old gear. Save the wire cords from old electronics. Save every fitting, fixture, and scrap of teak or plastic from things you’re dissembling or replacing. Organize everything in cheap storage boxes or shoeboxes. Over time, this stuff will save you lots of bucks and trips to the marine store when you need just the right size bolt or piece of wire or a fitting you can improvise in some new way.
Tip 6. Do It Yourself
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably the kind of sailor who likes to do it yourself. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive how-to books and magazines – you can find almost any information online, often written by sailors who have creatively devised ways to avoid buying expensive gear. For example, here’s a really cheap way to make a water-tight, long-lasting mast boot from everyday materials for a sailboat with a keel-stepped mast. Just one example of hundreds of things you don’t have to buy in order to have a well-equipped boat.
Tip 7. Scavenge
Dumpster-diving may not be your thing, but lots of sailors have discovered that some boaters simply throw stuff away when they’re upgrading or replacing equipment. Keep an eye out in your boatyard whenever passing the dumpster or trash cans. A few examples of functioning gear people have stumbled upon: a working VHF radio someone replaced with the latest model, deck cleats, dock lines and fenders with minimal wear or merely discolored, scrap wood, and endless odd fittings that come in handy for future projects.
Finally, many boatyards have old abandoned boats weathering away in the back of the yard - boats the yard owner knows will never be sold and that someday will be cut up and scrapped. Check them out for stainless steel fittings, blocks, and other equipment and fittings you may need, and ask the yard owner if you can have or buy them.