Rhumb Lines September 2018 Issue

What You Have Now is Probably Enough

This old poster, circulated by the U.S. Government in 1943 to inspire thrift during World War II, stood out among the boat photos sent to me by Technical Editor Drew Frye to accompany his report on penny-pincher sailing.

Robert Gwathmey wartime poster
U.S. Government Printing Office

A U.S. government wartime poster extolling the virtues of frugal living applies well to the sailing life. The creater was Robert Gwathmey, an American artist who died 1988.

While product testing is a central part of the Practical Sailor†aim, it is hardly the whole mission. Those who have been with us long enough understand that many of the topics that we have covered over the past 44 years arenít directly related to a specific product or category of products. Our online archives, now reaching back almost 20 years, are packed with a variety of do-it-yourself articles, tips on maintenance, and advice on how sailors can become more self-sufficient.

It isnít easy being a frugal, self-sufficent sailor. Except for government publications, books, and historical documents, advertising creeps into almost every print or online resource, stoking the urge to buy. For 44 years, we have been something different, a publication that accepts no advertising and answers only to subscribers.

For those unfamiliar with our rating levels: we have three levels of recommendation. Best Choice products perform best in our testing and evaluation. Budget Buy products perform acceptably in our test and are the least expensive. Recommended products perform acceptably in our test, and, also serve a valuable function or meet a specific need better than any other product in the test.

Reading Fryeís report made me think more about my grand-parentsí ordeal through the Great Depression as well as the bumpy years this generation has endured through the Great Recession.

The report also reminded me that I was lucky to spend so many years living aboard and exploring the world as young man, an experience which inevitably leads to the revelation that there isnít much the human spirit needs to enjoy a happy, purposeful life.

While Iím quite proud of what we do at Practical Sailor, I sometimes worry that we donít emphasize enough the attainability of a life at sea. It is a life within reach of almost anyone with a modest income. For the prudent captain of a well-found boat, many of the products that we test in this magazine are unnecessary expensesóvery unnecessary, in some cases.

If youíre the type of sailor who enjoys every convenience, a sailor who insists on keeping it simple, or a sailor whose desires lie somewhere in between, I hope you can continue to find some value in the work we do.

It is my hope that if you ever find yourself in that one particular harbor and discover you need nothing more, youíll still keep reading Practical Sailoróif only to satisfy the simple desire to make the most of all that you have.

Comments (1)

The web is a powerful source for lightly used recent equipment that has all the function but fewer bells and whistles. Do you really need a touch screen? Do you really need a color display of boat speed? For those of us that don't have unlimited funds, the cast offs of those chasing the brand new give us a cornucopia of excellent equipment for pennies on the dollar. Use the web, it is extraordinary.

Posted by: Frers 81 | August 28, 2018 11:24 AM    Report this comment

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