Bob, over at Boat Bits has been decrying the cost of self-steering gear (we're all anxiously waiting to see your design, Bob).
And now Mike from Zero to Cruising brings us a couple of real-world examples where ingenuity trumps chandlery prices:
While shopping online and at the usual chain-store chandlery, we found:Mike's example of the dinghy running light brought to mind something I saw in a flyer I received recently from a large, nation-wide marine chandlery...
* Tiller extension: $15.00 to $60.00!
* Portable stern light: $35.00 to $40.00!
* Our tiller extension: $5.00 (piece of schedule 40 PVC, end cap and rubber connector with clamp)
* Our portable stern light: $5.00 (solar patio light, rubber stopper thing, sticky-back velcro)
This "rail lite" was offered for $29.95. Obviously this is nothing more than a typical "solar patio light" with the bottom spike replaced by a cap, and with a cheap plastic clamp.
Harbor Freight sells this set of 10 nearly identical copper-colored stainless lights for $34.99. Buy the set, take off the bottom spikes and find your own cheap plastic clamp, or just use zip ties. And then give 9 of them away to your friends at your anchorage.
The bottom line is, that while some marine-oriented items are justifiably priced higher than their non-marine equivalents, many manufacturers seem to take advantage of this and mark up everything with a marine label. Or even apply a marine label solely so that they can mark up the price. They get to do this, of course. Our response should be caveat emptor - the challenge to all of us is to apply critical thinking and ingenuity to avoid being taken in by the marketing.