Wind to a sailor is what money is to life on shore. – Sterling Hayden
Merriam-Webster defines “frugal” as “characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources”.
For us, although Merriam-Webster’s definition is a good starting point, being frugal also encompasses something more:
♦ Identifying what is important in one’s life – for happiness, enjoyment, peace.
♦ Making a conscious decision to maximize enjoyment where it counts for us, as a couple and as individuals.
♦ Making a conscious decision not to waste our time or resources with things that are not important to us or are wasteful.
♦ Maximizing the value and use of the things that we have, as much as being conscientious about acquiring new things.
Our definition of frugality, then, does not necessarily mean:
♦ Being “cheap” – although in many instances, we do choose the cheap option…to be able to put our resources towards other things that are more important to us.
♦ Living with scarcity – we are not hardcore minimalists, by any stretch of the imagination, but we have learned that “stuff” does not lead to happiness and often weighs you down. We prefer to take an additive approach where we try to start with as close to a blank slate as possible and then add what is important for us, rather than starting with everything and paring that down.
For example, some of the decisions we are making with Shearwater include:
♦ A big investment in the instruments and autopilot to ensure that we can sail well double-handed. We plan to do some long races short-handed, and we are confident that our choice will be robust and relatively reliable (the same that is used on many of the around the world Open-60 boats), given other conditions that they have been tested in.
♦ Careful evaluation of each and every item that comes on board. Have we used this in the past on our other sailboats? Is it multi-functional? Where would it live on the boat? Can we do without it? If so, do we want to do without it?
♦ No plans to upgrade or replace the current coldplate refrigeration on Shearwater. If it works, we plan to use it occasionally, but our interests right now are in higher-latitude cruising, and we want to test ourselves to make sure that we want to invest in refrigeration – both in money and in the limited energy supply our battery bank provides.
There are no hard and fast rules for us, but we want to frame our decisions as well as we can – for us, frugality is an excellent starting point.