November 23, 2008

Money before morals

ONE OF MY faithful readers, Oded Kishony, wants to know how he can cut down on marina expenses. The parlous economic situation into which the country has drifted has given him (and many other boat owners) pause to think.

Well, one way to save money is to pay your mooring fees in advance. For instance, at my marina they’re offering 10 percent off if you pay for a year in advance.

Now, compared with the 4 percent you’d earn from a bank certificate of deposit, that’s a good deal. But it does mean you have to have the cash already saved up. For example, if your monthly slip fee is $300, you’d need $3,600 in hard cash right now. Most of us won’t find that much by searching under the bunk cushions.

Don’t be tempted to put it on a credit card. They’ll charge you 18 or 20 percent, so you’re actually losing 8 or 10 percent. And if losing money is your object, why not invest in the stock market? Now seems an excellent time for it and you can lose money much quicker there.

For those of us who only pretend to be rich yacht owners, finding that much ready cash is not easy. Luckily, however, there are ways to make money if you have even a modestly sized boat.
Some time ago I read in one of the West Coast magazines an article about a liveaboard yachtsman who was using his boat to farm chickens. They even went sailing with him. They roosted on the main boom, and he trained them to jump into the air and fly around for a bit when he jibed. Then they settled down on the boom again on the opposite tack.

He never lacked a bird for the pot, but he did have to react quickly when he spotted a fowl about to lay an egg. He got very good at snatching them up before they hit the deck. Some marina owners, the hoity-toity kind, will undoubtedly object to nautical chicken farming and find ways to prevent it. But don’t be dismayed. There are other things you can do that they won’t even know about.

You could farm mussels, for a start. The way the professionals do it around here is simply to moor barges and drop lots of nylon lines overboard. Baby mussels, all unsuspecting, very obligingly attach themselves to these string lines and grow big, fat, and delicious. All you have to do is pull in the line, sell your fresh mussels to the restaurant chefs lined up outside, and count your loot.

And another thing: you could rent out your boat as locker space. Boaters never have enough room on their own boats for all their boating stuff. So let them keep their spare stuff on your boat, for a small remuneration. I can see a great demand for this community service.

There’s probably also a need for a smokers’ den. Smokers probably suffer more discrimination than any other group of Americans these days. I feel sorry when I see them standing in soggy heaps in the pouring rain and cold outside office blocks and retail stores, maintaining the statutory 20 feet from the comfort and shelter of any building. Think how happy you would make them by providing a warm and cosy place in which to meet other smokers and share their tales of blight and misery.

And while we’re on the subject of renting out space, my instinct tells me that there are couples everywhere seeking a discreet place in which to rendezvous for lunchtime assignations. You could provide a secret parlor d’amour for which they would be willing to pay handsomely. And for heaven’s sake don’t worry about the morality of it. Morals take second place when a depression is staring us in the face. Survival is what counts.

More mundanely, you could cut off your bowsprit and boomkin to reduce the overall length of your boat, which is how dock charges are usually assessed. Or you could use your boat as your business office, and deduct the expenses from your income for tax purposes. You could set up a floating hospice for the terminally seasick and if you have a really tall mast you could rent it out to digital telephone companies.

But for the best returns on your boating investment you should investigate the possibility of distilling hooch. Any passing hillbilly will tell you how.

I once had a friend who did it on a 25-footer. He used the coils from an old fridge. He marketed his “white lightning” to fellow boaters with great success. A few went blind, admittedly, but this was forgiven (and his reputation assured) when others discovered that it would remove old varnish and Cetol with one stroke of the brush. He sold the recipe to a chemical company in Illinois and retired with his fortune to an island in the South Pacific.

So don’t sit around and mope about how marina charges are going up all the time. Do something about it. You, too, might hit the jackpot.

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Today’s Thought
Make money, money by fair means if you can; if not, by any means money. --Horace.

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“I hear your wife is exercising regularly.”
“Yes, three months ago she started walking five miles a day.”
“That’s great. Is it helping?”
“It’s wonderful. She must be in North Dakota by now.”

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1 comment:

Aaron Headly said...

In re: Chickens.

No roosters, please, — at least in the marina — some of us like to sleep occasionally.