Defender.com - this site is the bomb-diggity. They have some of the best prices for all things boat on the web. They ship quickly and have great customer service. If we need something, we'll usually look here first. This is probably my favorite website for boat supplies.
Craigslist - if there was ever such a thing as an "expert" Craigslister, it would be Scott. The man loves a deal and when we lived in Chicago he bought and sold items on it all the time. This site a little less reliable than the more marine-specific shops and websites because it sells just about everything, but if you make it a habit to check Craigslist for what you are looking for, you might find some gems. Beware, however, because lots of stolen items end up on Craigslist. If you buy a motor or a boat, check the serial number and do a search on it to see if you'll end up with a "hot" item.
ebay - we actually know people who have bought their boats on ebay! When we're looking for things, we usually search ebay as well.
West Marine Port Supply - I'm not sure the best way to get one of these but if you can get a Port Supply account, it might be worth it. Usually reserved for people who work in the "industry", this is a wholesale site that caters to folks who will purchase a lot thus saving you a ton on certain items (some items don't get any discount for whatever reason). These accounts, however, are tricky to get but I thought it'd be worth mentioning if you can swing it. If you cannot get your hands on one - fear not! You'll probably do as good or better with West Marine's price matching outlined below.
West Marine Price Matching - A lot of people know this little secret, but it's worth mentioning because it can save you a ton in the long run. Say you're looking for a Jabsco fresh water pump. You see it on the shelf at your local West Marine for $129, but then you find that same water pump on Defender for $100. If you print out that listing from Defender and follow the protocol of West Marine's price match policy you'll get that pump for 100 bucks! Pretty awesome.
Coupons - As someone who shops online a lot, I've always found this little trick to be helpful. Simply Google coupons and/or coupon codes for the company/product you're looking for. You can either find coupons that you can print and bring into a store, or you can find a coupon code that can be applied to an online purchase. Definitely worth a Google search anyway. The one that I linked to above was a quick search for a "West Marine Coupon" and lo and behold, there is one for $15 off a $100 (or more) purchase.
Boat swaps/Used Good Chandlery's - Most marinas will have "boat swaps" from time to time where people will bring things they don't want/need anymore to buy/sell/trade with other boaters. Scott and I went to a great boat swap in Buffalo, New York many moons ago and acquired our Edson drink holder there. It might not sound like much, but that puppy new is $164!! We bought it for under $25! Similarly, used boating supply shops like Sailor's Exchange in St. Augustine and Sailorman here in Lauderdale can be havens for finding boat treasures. You'll have to dig a little, but it's fun to do because there is usually SO much cool stuff in these places. It's like digging around in Popeye's attic!
Shop Hardware Stores - many of us are bamboozled into thinking that if it doesn't say "marine", it won't work on a boat. While this might be true for some items, it's not true for all. On Rasmus, we installed a cheap, in-line water filter intended for home-use and purchased from Home Depot in order to remove the inevitable "tank taste" from our water. I can't remember exactly, but I think the whole thing cost us $30. If we went with a system that was intended for boats, I'm sure we could have doubled or tripled that number. You can save a lot of money if you take your shopping list to a local hardware store and not a boat chandlery. Use good judgement though because certain things, like household wires, aren't safe on a boat.
Other sites we like are Jamestown Distributers and Landfall Navigation.
What did we miss? Are there any other great ways to save money on any and all things nautical? Let us know in the comments so that our readers can learn from you too!
Brittany, Scott & Isla