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Old 22-05-2020, 20:52   #1
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What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spots)

I found this thread: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...er-234158.html But it seemed to be more focused on food.

My criteria?
  • Something easy to get at a "major port" that would have a higher value in a remote location.
  • Needs to have a good shelf-life.
  • Needs to not be illegal in most places.

IE. Things which might have more value to "most" remote traders than money.

These are the things I noticed mentioned so far:
  • Honey (Has the benefit of never going bad)
  • Fuel (I can see how this would always have value)
  • Coloring books and crayons (Less of a thing for trade, but universally valuable to kids.)

Anyone else know of anything? Thanks!
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Old 22-05-2020, 22:33   #2
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

Booze or clothes.
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Old 23-05-2020, 04:14   #3
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

Ive bartered/gifted the following in various venues:

- fishing supplies like monofilament (most want the heaviest youve got for hand lines, like 100lb test), hooks of assorted sizes (a friend gave away a bunch of tiny hooks once and realized it was a mistake...now they can better catch the small immature fish...the locals were thrilled though), weights...

- cigarettes

- beer/booze

- electrical wiring

- fiberglass supplies (resin, catalyst, cloth...)

- clothing

- School supplies (notebooks, pens/pencils, etc...)

- Reading glasses (we usually bring a pile of them to give away in the San Blas each year...the older Kuna need them for the detailed "mola" work)

- bicycle parts/tools

- small engine parts (fuel hose, hose clamps, primer bulbs, spark plugs...)

- fuel/oil

- skills: fiberglass, mechanical, electronics/electrical...Ive had some great experiences helping locals get stuff working again.

- water (in remote locations w no freshwater a water maker makes you very popular)

- cell phone charging...in areas with no/limited electricity we have charged phones etc for locals many times.

- magazines...many locals in remote areas love old magazines for a glimpse into the outside world and to help learn English.

** Please do NOT bring candy for the kids...it enforces bad dietary habits early...diabeties is now on the rise in many indigenous communities.

We mostly gift these things. Sometimes we trade for fish/lobster. Gifting does not mean you get nothing in return. We have built some great friendships by helping a local out with a needed item that is difficult/expensive for them to acquire. They have often responded in kind by inviting us to dinner in their homes, inviting us to ceremonies which outsiders rarely get to attend, helping out on the boat, etc. I have a few pieces of clothing which were decorated with indigenous art work as a thank you. Its been a great way for us to build relationships in the local community. We dont gift cash, but will pay directly for needed goods/services.
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Old 23-05-2020, 13:37   #4
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

I've also heard that if you replace any lines to keep the old ones as they are valued.


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Old 23-05-2020, 13:48   #5
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

One that surprised us in the South Pacific, a couple of teens on the boat noticed a soccer ball (American term - football to much of the rest of the world) that we had on board for who knows what reason. They asked for it, and we happily gave it away. 10 years later when we left Mexico we had 10 of them on board, and gave away all of them long before we reached Tonga. They're not expensive, or heavy, although they do take some space. We don't generally "trade" but the parents of the various kids to whom we have gifted balls have filled us up on fruits and vegetables on many occasions.

I'll also second the boat repair skills/tools/supplies. I've helped patch holes in boats any number of places and it has always been appreciated. When they're fiberglass we have all the supplies aboard for small repairs. Aluminum not so much, but we have been able to patch with rivets and caulk.
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Old 23-05-2020, 13:54   #6
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

Baby clothes are popular, although we have given them away rather than trading. Although of course we give them to people that are in a position to return favours that we might need
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Old 23-05-2020, 17:30   #7
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

I think very much depends where you are. Last year in a remote Baja anchorage a panga with lobsters said no to money, wanted warm clothes and when we threw in a couple beers returned a couple minutes later saying they didn't drink and wanted to trade for cokes. The year before, batteries were the big item. A few years ago one offered a bunch of lobsters for my daughter. The lobsters weren't big enough.
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Old 23-05-2020, 18:02   #8
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

In Bocas Del Toro, on the outer islands, The Gnobe Bugle folks will love you if you can share:

Hawaiian sling type simple fishing spears
Soccer balls
Clothing
Canned meats / food in general
Boat rides to town
Fishing trips / fishing gear
Cellular Phone minutes
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Old 23-05-2020, 18:57   #9
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

We were given a case of toothbrushes by a dentist friend before we crossed the pacific- they were a hit in less traveled areas, plus fishing gear/line, gasoline, wood chisels, grinding wheels and help fixing things. I wish I'd had extra diamond stone knife sharpeners to give/trade! Barrettes (hair clips) and we took/printed a couple photos of people for them. We also donated quite a bit of spare chain, shackles and line and put in a couple new moorings in Palmerston... we pretty much unloaded the boat of any food and fuel we could spare there as the quarterly supply ship had missed it's last 2 trips.
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Old 23-05-2020, 20:09   #10
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

Are you looking for items specifically to barter and trade, or for donating and building good will?

As other's have expressed, donating/giving away items usually brings greater reward. I have received gifts of veggies, fruits, fish and pork, invitations to family dinners and parties, parts needed for the boat, help fixing something, and heart-warming unforgettable hugs and big sincere smiles which I valued more than any material thing I could have traded for.

But, perhaps it depends on where you sail.

If headed to the Pacific and SE Asia, as has been mentioned, children's clothes, soccer balls, children's books, simple games (Jenga...is a big hit), school supplies, dental products (tooth brush and paste), reading glasses, printed t-shirts (I had some printed with boat logo on back and "CREW" on front...folks love 'em), any ocean fishing gear, SPAM, canned peaches and pears.

Other things you can do is volunteer to deliver packages/mail/fuel to outer less visited islands may help get you that necessary cruising permit and be greeted with open arms upon arrival.

Personally, in the Pacific, I wouldn't dream of trying to barter for trade. IMHO, it would just send a bad signal, and may have unintended and undesirable consequences.

I have found life in the islands and areas of SE Asia to be relatively simple. Be friendly, kind, and generous and the rewards are great. (Also, remember, the coconut telegraph spreads news about you more quickly than any social media site.)
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Old 23-05-2020, 21:24   #11
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

When I was a kid we stopped at Kapingamarangi. In conversations it turned out that the neck of the only guitar on the island (a gift from some previous, long ago visitor) had cracked and completely broken. Some WEST epoxy, clamps, coconut weights and time to cure and it was good as new. That one small repair got us a week of welcome, dinner invitations, coconuts, and fish. It also provided a lifetime of fond memories.
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Old 24-05-2020, 03:13   #12
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

In both the San Blas and remote Fijian and Vanuatuan islands, it was... onions.

We would stock up at the local markets and provide them when requested or just offer them. As mentioned in previous posts, it meant that we were invited to feasts and traditional celebrations and experienced lovely unexpected exchanges and chances for unusual relationships.

All I can say is, when travelling remotely, go prepared to barter! It's a cool part of other cultures which has been forgotten in our "modern" world.

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Old 24-05-2020, 03:58   #13
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

If you're looking for gifts, t-shirts and baseball hats with name brand logos. US sports teams seem especially popular.

For traditional barter, tools. Especially specialty tools such as a T-handle hex head wrench set, vice grips, micrometer, circuit tester, etc. I would think large sharpening stones suitable for machetes would also fare well. Blue tarps are also of universal value.

35 years ago I was beach camping in a VW bus near north of Guaymus MX. I'd been in Mexico for about 6 weeks and was ready to go home and mostly broke. I'd met up with a couple a few days prior who had just arrived into Mexico. We were on a remote beach when an old pickup lumbers down the road and sets up a display of trinkets just for the three of us - not a soul in sight for as far as the eye can see, which is a long way in that part of Mexico. My two new friends were excited and busy working deals on blankets and oversized Sombreros while I'm packing up to head north.

One of the vendors shuffles over to offer me something and sees my heavy down parka complete with hood. Now, I'm 6-foot tall and 185 lbs at that point. He's 185 too, except barely 5'2". Turns out he really wants the coat even though he looks like the Michelin Man - the tips of his fingers are totally hidden in the long sleeves. I explain that I'm headed to Colorado and VWs only have heat in the summer so I need the parka. It was a 45 minute negotiation, but he finally got the parka plus $20, and I got 6 blankets and a 3-foot tall hand carved and polished ironwood statue of a seal on a rock. We were both happy. I can still see his Pancho Villa mustachio framing an enormous smile as he trundled into their bear up Dodge pickup.
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Old 24-05-2020, 05:45   #14
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

In the tropics umbrellas are scarce

They make good birthday presents

Metric , imperial , witworth ....fasteners ,o rings , clip rings , copper rings , roll pins , helicoils, cutting bits , fuses .... are alway a problem

Small plumbing fittings

Ac electric plugs

Assembly pastes
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Old 24-05-2020, 08:39   #15
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Re: What are good barter/trade goods while cruising? (From major ports to remote spot

We used to swap tinned corn beef for lobster.
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