n. pl. pri·or·i·ties
1. Precedence, especially established by order of importance or urgency.
a. An established right to precedence.
b. An authoritative rating that establishes such precedence.
2. A preceding or coming earlier in time.
3. Something afforded or deserving prior attention.
Priorities. That is an adult word if ever I heard one. Tough to remember sometimes but when it comes down to dollars and cents and keeping a budget on track, it’s a very big word. We back up into this word every day since we’ve landed. As you know if you’re a regular reader, we lost the main on the trip around. We lost the dinghy before we even left. We were graciously given an inflatable to take on this trip by friends in Nashville. They used it in the Bahamas and friends gave it to them who also used it in the Bahamas. We were passed the “dinghy indestructo” as… well… a token. She was to be our inflatable talisman. It was glued, patched and ultimately chewed on by squirrels before it landed with us. She wasn’t pretty but she held air and she was free! Sadly, she never made it to the maiden voyage. Some seams started to give up the ghost and we decided to perform a respectful dumpster toss rather than carry this thing around and not be able to use her or trust her if we patched her yet again. I searched for photos… I have none. Shame on me…
Once we landed in Solomons, we got an unexpected “surprise” that shifted our priorities. We noticed some serious corrosion and small cracks around one of the backstay chain plates. Thankfully, it didn’t let go on the ocean. That would have, could have been catastrophic. So now when you look at this list, you have the mainsail, the dinghy and the chain plates. All need addressing. Then you look at the budget, affectionately known as the “Cruising Kitty.” If the kitty runs dry… we are in trouble.
To those who don’t cruise or sail, the order in which we tackle these repairs or replacements wouldn’t seem to matter much but here’s the rub. We need a main to sail and a dinghy to get to shore from an anchorage or mooring. BUT… we need the chain plates to hold the mast! Safety is the first priority so that moved those babies to the top of the list. We have a split backstay (two backstays) so we need two chain plates. Even though only one failed, you shouldn’t just replace the old, broken one because then you have one old and one new… Ultimately… the other old one will fail, most likely at the most inopportune time and that could be dangerous, even deadly. Just replace them both. Custom, stainless steel fabrication. CHA-CHING. You can order them on the web but the boat is 28 years old. Nothing will match. Then you have fiberglass work and drilling new holes. Nah. I decided to use the old one as a template and make a new one just like it. Big dent in the budget.
Now, we have new chain plates. But… that means we can’t buy the dinghy or the main just yet. Not having a dinghy forces us to stay in marinas which are expensive and therefore prevents us from beefing back up that “kitty.” See the catch? Priorities. Money is the mistress out here. If you have it, you spend it, fix it, buy it, replace it and move on. If you have some of it, you have to be discriminate, very discriminate of how you spend it because you never know which gear failure, engine repair or God forbid, medical mishap awaits you around the corner. It’s incredibly interesting how we massage these priorities every day. Our dinghy search is now in full bore. We search Craigslist and other marinas. We look at the bulletin posts in the markets and we always have our eyes peeled for abandoned little fellas in backyards as we run our errands. You can’t swing a dead cat… maybe not the best choice of words… you can always find boats in yards around here. Anyway… each day brings new challenges and new rewards. A new chance to solve an old problem. Priorities. We all have ’em but no two are the same. Kinda like opinions… or… well, you know the saying.