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Old 27-09-2015, 14:51   #1
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Trading with the locals

I've been reading cruising blogs and stories about distant places, mostly more remote destinations. Just for fun, what are some items you would bring aboard to trade for local goods in small rural islands?

The last start I read the sailor stocked up on fish hooks, loose tobacco and coffee.

If you think about it, on an island where they rely on a quarterly supply boat and all goods are imported, fish hooks would be worth a lot, where I can go to the store and buy a pack of 100 for $5.

Oh and matches, he brought matches. And in return got coconuts, free anchoring, fish and produce.

I assume there really are places like this left in the world. Does anyone have any real life experiences?

I think in addition to what I read about, it would be good to bring them sacks of sugar, flour, canned meat(not fish). But those are heave cheap items, where fish hooks take up very little room.

I would say hard alcohol would be a good trade item, but I don't think that's appropriate, or even allowed a lot of places.
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Old 27-09-2015, 15:36   #2
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Re: Trading with the locals

We've stayed away from alcohol and cigarettes.

We've got kids aboard, so always have clothes and shoes that the kids have outgrown for trades. Old extra snorkel masks and fins have also been very popular for larger trades such as carvings or art. We traded an extra frying pan we had onboard for a bunch of fruit in the Marquesas. You're right about fish hooks, but they're often flush with large fish hooks as that's what the supply boats typically have. So often smaller hooks for bait fish are well received. Folks are always looking for line so I had quite a bit of 1/4" and 5/16" line for that purpose. I've also given away a few old dock lines and sheets that were just weighing the boat down. Our favorite trade was in Fatu Hiva where we traded a pair of rechargeable walkie-talkies that worked, but we no longer used, for a gorgeous Marquesan tiki carving. We also gave the artist a print out of a photo of himself with it since it was one of his favorites. Some of the rest of the list above weren't always trades, but simply 'thank-you's' for the warm hospitality we'd received.

We haven't traded it, but we know other cruisers that have been asked for diesel and gasoline.

Most of these have been in areas such as the San Blas, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Cooks, and Tonga. However in Grenada I traded a spare Yamaha outboard prop (too steep a pitch for our dinghy) that I had to a local who scrubbed bottoms that I'd gotten to know in exchange for....a bottom cleaning. A friend of ours just traded a 1 gallon jug of polishing compound (hard to find and expensive locally here), that he's been carrying around in the bilge for 1/2 a circumnavigation, to a local in Fiji in exchange for a hull wax and polishing all of his stainless.

It's really often just a matter of talking to people and figuring out what they need and are interested in. That's often the fun part.
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Old 28-09-2015, 11:07   #3
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Re: Trading with the locals

Toothbrushes/toothpaste. Picture/coloring books for kids. Flipflops in Vanuatu. Gasoline everywhere (but you are unlikely to take extra for trade). Matches were VIP some places too. T-shirts. Any kind of desserts.

But these are for places where there are no stores and low incomes.

Rope was very desirable - for cows "pastured" in the jungle in Vanuatu. They called them cow ropes. Tied the cows to trees and let them eat everything in a circle. But inevitably they got wrapped around the tree so the line got shorter and shorter. We untied a couple of them that were so wrapped they couldn't move their heads. The ropes wear out quick so they always need more. We gave them old halyards.

We also did not trade alcohol or cigarettes. Although to get out of Tonga I did buy a few packs to give to the customs guys to clear out. Made things go quicker and I really didn't care if these corrupted officials died a few months early. They were particularly greedy and nasty.

.22 bullets are very prized in French Polynesia but woe to anyone caught bringing them in. A French prison is not a great place to spend your vacation, nor the huge fines to pay.

CDs/DVDs in some places where they speak the same language.
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Old 28-09-2015, 20:16   #4
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Re: Trading with the locals

Basic fishing supplies (heavy mono, hooks, weights...) are very popular in many places.

School supplies for the kids (no candy please).

Magazines, more pictures the better, language doesnt seem to matter, are popular too in places like the San Blas.
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Old 28-09-2015, 20:25   #5
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Re: Trading with the locals

Before you go into a place, ask your local consulate what to take. They'll know what to tell you.
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Old 28-09-2015, 20:51   #6
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Re: Trading with the locals

I travel around the islands of Micronesia quite a bit and while I do not trade any items I do always s bring gifts to express my gratitude to them for their hospitality. Fishing gear is always a big hit. Fresh fruit is a great gift too. From my experience many of these islands cannot get any except what is grown locally and oranges are their favorites. Sports balls are very popular with the kids especially basketballs in the Marshall Islands. I am not on a boat full time and my trips are usually only a week or so long at most so we have a little more room and easier access to these types of items. If storage space were a big concern I would second the idea of light weight fishing gear. It amazes me what these guys can catch from the shore using a number 8 hook and 6 pound test line. Flip flops are another item I just though about. My wife had friends state side go to old navy during a sale and pick up a few hundred pairs of $1 flip flops in various sizes and those bring the neighborhood out. Everyone loves a new set of flip flops and they cost me almost nothing.
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Old 28-09-2015, 20:59   #7
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Re: Trading with the locals

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
.....Although to get out of Tonga I did buy a few packs to give to the customs guys to clear out. Made things go quicker and I really didn't care if these corrupted officials died a few months early. They were particularly greedy and nasty.
That's interesting. We'd heard horror stories about Tonga Customs before getting there. The official who cleared us into Tonga in August was great....all smiles and very efficient. Clearing out there was one Customs official who was clearly grumpy and very 'by the book', and went about his job with a frown. Still got us cleared out without delay though....just not particularly friendly.

It was better than we'd expected so maybe they've cleaned up some of the staff. Maybe we just got lucky.

All I know is they were far better than our experiences with Immigration in Panama!
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Old 29-09-2015, 00:34   #8
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Re: Trading with the locals

Anything Solar Powered, cheap solar flashlights were a huge hit in the South Pacific. Cheap knifes also worked well. Fishing line also helped the trading.
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Old 29-09-2015, 03:38   #9
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Re: Trading with the locals

We really enjoy trading. Surprised a bit by how few places in the South Pacific that were interested in trading, but Papua New Guinea made up for it. We brought nearly 1000 pounds of stuff - some covered above by others and different stuff like needles and sewing thread, soccer balls (huge hit), mask/snorkle/fins, etc. It was gone in 3 months there - there is no supply ship for most of the islands there - just a few visiting yachties. Often around 0600 hrs a canoe and crew would be tied to us, waiting very quietly until we were ready to open for business. We met and got to know more people in those 3 months than all other locals we've met in 7+ years cruising. Exhausting, but spectacular.

Now in Madagascar and much trading here.
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Old 29-09-2015, 08:30   #10
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Re: Trading with the locals

Madagascar it was t-shirts, in any condition, plus any batteries. They will trade for anything they can get but clothes were in big demand once away from the major hubs. Three old t-shirts got you a decent chicken while two reasonable t-shirts got the same. AA batteries are also in demand, but any batteries are required. Any half decent working torch is also desirable.
In East Africa fuel is especially in demand but we can rarely trade that.





Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
I've been reading cruising blogs and stories about distant places, mostly more remote destinations. Just for fun, what are some items you would bring aboard to trade for local goods in small rural islands?

The last start I read the sailor stocked up on fish hooks, loose tobacco and coffee.

If you think about it, on an island where they rely on a quarterly supply boat and all goods are imported, fish hooks would be worth a lot, where I can go to the store and buy a pack of 100 for $5.

Oh and matches, he brought matches. And in return got coconuts, free anchoring, fish and produce.

I assume there really are places like this left in the world. Does anyone have any real life experiences?

I think in addition to what I read about, it would be good to bring them sacks of sugar, flour, canned meat(not fish). But those are heave cheap items, where fish hooks take up very little room.

I would say hard alcohol would be a good trade item, but I don't think that's appropriate, or even allowed a lot of places.
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Old 29-09-2015, 10:23   #11
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Re: Trading with the locals

No expert, and haven't sailed anywhere exotic. However, after a couple tours in somewhat rough locations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti), I have found that paper and pencils are always in demand. You can get cheap school notebooks easily during sales (think your old spiral type) and 'golf' pencils are sold by the hundreds in boxes.

Add in some cheap pens and the ability to print some pics and you are on your way. I do wish Polaroid still made instant photos...

Tankersteve
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Old 29-09-2015, 10:33   #12
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Re: Trading with the locals

... reading glasses are also very welcome in a lot of places.

Carsten
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Old 29-09-2015, 11:47   #13
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Re: Trading with the locals

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... reading glasses are also very welcome in a lot of places.

Carsten
Oh yeah, we took some to the San Blas last year and they were a big hit. They do lots of detailed textile work so the older Kunas were really happy to get them.
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Old 29-09-2015, 12:04   #14
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Re: Trading with the locals

I'm a scrounger personally. So when I had to spend a lot of time in Florida, I shopped garage sales. I found that any good looking stainless butcher knife, that I sharpened razor sharp, I could always trade for fresh fish or veggies. I bought boxes of old fishing tackle in Ft. Myers. Any of it that I had left over I just gave it away, In Guatemala. Mac
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Old 29-09-2015, 13:13   #15
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Re: Trading with the locals

In the '70's, I used to buy gas generators in Miami and sell them in the Bahamas
It was called, I believe , smuggling. I thought of it as free enterprise.
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