December 2012 – Salty John : The Blog

This is just the sort of cruising boat I dreamed of as I planned my escape to the wide blue yonder. Heavy displacement, cutter rigged, full keel. Perfect. 

It would certainly comply with Chuck Paine’s 20:20 rule – a good cruising boat should heel no more than 20º when beating into 20 knots of wind under full working sail. 

I bet she heaves-to effortlessly and would see the owner safely through the most adverse of conditions.

I suppose nowadays I might be looking for a bit more in the way of interior space and better light air performance but if I were to contemplate another long term blue water adventure she would still fit the bill.

Christmas reminds me of the Bahamas, more specifically uninhabited Allan’s Cay where we spent two Christmases at anchor – 1991 and 1999. And the Bahamas reminds me of sand dollars. To complete the circle, sand dollars make lovely Christmas decorations. We still have sand dollars from the Bahamas hanging on the tree.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

The picture is of a marina on Galveston Bay, Texas, where the tidal range is around 1’. The floating docks slide up and down those tall pylons. Seems a bit over the top doesn’t it? Actually it’s not – during a hurricane the storm surge can be 10’ and the last thing you want is the docks, and the boats moored to them, floating off into the sunset.

And now for something completely different…attractive pricing:

It’s become almost universal in retail pricing to use what is called 9-ending prices. This is part of a technique called odd-number pricing and it’s designed to suggest better value to a potential buyer. 

I noticed on a recent trip to the USA that it is now so accepted that even in conversation people refer to the price they paid as, for instance, ‘forty-nine ninety-nine’ rather than fifty dollars. This becomes even more absurd when you realise that state sales tax is added at check-out so the item would have been $52.98 anyway!

Research suggests that the technique works. Tests have shown that sales can increase by as much as 8% when the price tag ends in .99. Weird but true. 

Actually, it’s a bit more complex than that. For instance, it’s most advantageous when the nine-ending is used to drop a price from, say, £50 to £49.99. This is because your brain sees the initial pound figure first. The difference in value perception between, say, £31.99 and £32.00 is less significant although it still works to some extent.

There’s a new quirk in the USA – items on clearance are often priced with an eight-ending and this is, apparently, being picked up on by consumers. Items priced with 0.88 cent endings are becoming perceived as stock being sold off cheaply. No doubt in the future people will talk about having bought ‘88’goods.

Where I was brought up, Hong Kong, you needed to be very careful about pricing – ending a price with the number 4 would make the item un-buyable for some Chinese people because 4 has the same sound as death. If you were to be so foolish as to have the number 1 before the 4 it would be even worse – number 1 sounds like a guarantee to Chinese, so a short life would be guaranteed for any purchaser.

I used to sell big plant worth many millions of pounds and I’m sure that using odd-number pricing in that case would merely invite rye comment from a customer. When we started Salty John eight years ago I wished to avoid what I saw as a silly convention and wanted to price in round numbers, but I was eventually convinced by the research reports and decided to adopt something similar – our prices usually end in 0.95. 

It offers a certain symmetry to the price lists – attractive pricing, if you like!

I’m seeing more permanent cockpit enclosures these days. The soft fabric and clear plastic ‘tents’ have always been around, particularly in sunnier climes, but there seems to be a trend towards rigid structures.

I remember many an amicable discussion on the subject of these hard dodgers, whenever cruisers congregated, but few actually went ahead and constructed something. Lately, it seems, more boat owners are realising their ideas. 

Rigid cockpit enclosures are usually based around a fixed windscreen, seen for years on Hallberg Rasseys, and a hard top of the type seen on Amels. The sides are most often canvas with plastic windows. 

Some are elegant solutions, some less so.