Sunday, November 22, 2015

Duty Free

Cruisers are cheap.  Okay, not cheap but frugal.  They have to be,  99% are on limited budgets.  There are a few Trustafarians (trust fund babies) out here but very few.  I know, I people are frugal too but cruisers really  As one marina worker in Charleston once said to us "Sailing is not cheap but sailors are."  Okay, but in our defense, it's $2100 for a new freezer compressor to fix our broken freezer!  That is for a freezer of approximately 2 cubic feet AND we still have to install it or pay someone to install it!   On land you could buy a pretty nice, bigass fridge and freezer for $2100 or two!  The (sick) joke is anything with the word marine in the name means added $$.  For example -take a plain old paint brush you might buy at any hardware store, add the word marine and then you pay triple for it.   And yes, we try to buy those items from everyday hardware stores but those aren't always near the water.  Now I am not whining.  We picked this life and we knew the costs going in....well for the most part......still choking on the $2100.  Anyway, I am only sharing as many land people don't know the cost and assume all "yachties/cruisers" are wealthy.  We are not!

 So, cruisers develop the ability to sniff out deals and bargains, often cobbling together pieces and parts to make things run.  Announce on the VHF to cruisers about a special happy hour deal or " free wine tasting" and there is likely to be a mad stampede of cruisers showing up.

Duty free is one way cruisers watch their budgets.  The Dutch side of St Maarten is duty free, meaning there is no VAT (value added tax).  I forget what the tax is there but in Trinidad its 15%.  For this reason, often cruisers will sail for St Maarten when they have big boat projects and purchases to make.  It is a favorite place to purchase a new dinghy.  The catch with St Maarten is that it is smack dab in the middle of the hurricane zone and thus no place to be during hurricane season.  However, hurricane season is usually when big projects and repairs get completed. 

Other islands allow you to ship in boat parts as a Yacht In Transit thus avoid paying VAT because you are merely passing through.  The fun part comes in trying to figure out the various details that of course vary by island and in some cases, by occurrence.  Often times this is all accomplished with the use of a local shipping agent.   

For both of the above situations, your ships papers are required.  Sometimes other vendors give discounts to cruisers with ships papers, like a few grocery stores in St Maarten and also in Grenada.  Having extra copies of your ships papers is handy.  In some cases you must also have your clearance documents from immigration and customs.  Therefore, you need a way to carry those documents securely and keep them dry.

Again, I am not complaining, simply sharing the facts (as we have experienced them) of cruising.  We have decided to go without a freezer this season.  Hopefully we can add it to the budget for next season.  

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