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2013-05-21

Cry me a river...of krugerrands

I think our vessel would qualify as the bum boat to this.
Privilege is relative. I am well aware, coming from a familial background of distinct financial humility, that to own a boat in which one may swan about locally, never mind one in which the crew proposes to bugger off around the planet for a few years, is a relative privilege, when compared to the lot of the "what garbage shall we scavenge for unrotted protein" lot of untold millions of humans.

The author's ancestors prior to the decision to emigrate.

Nonetheless, over this past weekend, I installed a wine fridge in the kitchen (a gift from my appliance-potty sister) and disposed of a (broken) elderly dishwasher (also a gift, but alas, an unneeded and now long-deceased one used basically as a countertop). The wine fridge looks nice: it eats a mere 1.5 amps, and yes, we drink two or three bottles of reasonably priced red per week. It's part of the more-or-less Mediterranean diet I wish to cultivate on land and sea, after all. And Neptune knows I've been cultivating a diet of late...I may need to downsize the foulies.

Very nice in the kitchen, but not wanted on the voyage.


But the undeniably bourgeois activity of not only unpacking a wine cooler cabinet, but selecting which wines shall be cooled from the wine cellar (an elderly IKEA rack in the laundry room I've had since I started collecting cheap wine in my 20s) made me consider how the relative privileges of drinking nice wines and sailing nice if non-mega sailboats are relative indeed to the problems of, say, mega-yacht owners who have run out of 100 metre docks to which they can tie their floating heli-pads/fun sub ejectors.
Mega-yacht Octopus: I'm surprised it's not called "The Blue Screen of Death", really. Nice waterline, however.

We don't own a car and so, unlike mega-yacht owners, our "parking problems" usually start and finish with finding a post to which to lock our bicycles. The problem of parking is apparent even to us, however: should I wish to take advantage of it, we could earn $100-$200/month by renting out half our garage, but I prefer to keep it as my bike barn, sail loft and man cave, thanks. Clearly, however, owning stuff comes with it the need to put it somewhere, no less for a Russian plutocrat as for the owner of a J/24. One of the keys to "privilege", therefore, is to simply refuse to purchase classes of items that require knock-on expenses: no car, cable TV, use libraries, don't carry a credit card balance, barter goods and services, walk/bike a lot, etc. It is not hard to do these things, but it does require a sort of determination to avoid falling into the "trap of stuff" and to try to maximize value in most of life's little transactions. Because the whole basis of our economic system is that others are trying to maximize value from you:  to buy access to channels you don't watch because you have memberships to gyms you don't attend because you are working harder and longer than ever because you have a mortgage (French for "death contract or gamble") and car payments and grass treatments and bikini waxing and...well, I found it all too much personally even before I had the money to spend on it. Note: I have never spent money on bikini waxing.

We don't take vacations, or at least haven't in the last dozen years, except for camping weekends on a friend's land, yacht deliveries (not really super-relaxing...), and, of course, selected weekends on the (smaller) boat a couple of times a summer in a 100-NM radius. It's a modest outlay, our leisure, geared not only to saving money, but in the rather Protestant anticipation that the "reward" of the actual pushing-off from the dock will constitute the start of a lifetime's worth of vacations, only run continuously.

Realistically, we do not have the income to pull this off. That's what the "cruiser budget" information says. We do, however, have the habit of modest living, and the anticipation that rental income (from the house we are not required to sell up in order to sail) and our own rather portable skills will create enough cash flow to pay for food, sundries, boat consumables and repairs.

Of course, a certain level of wealth allows you to ship your ship and avoid the nasty bits altogether.



That's the hope, anyway. Ours is not a retirement dream so much as a working sabbatical, if that makes sense. I fully anticipate that both myself and Mrs. Alchemy will have to work until the Topsiders are skyward...after we do our trip.

But we will have done the trip...that I can live with. And a privilege I hope to earn, Krugerrands optional, as is insurance.

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