Making the Most of a Minimal Budget. Contact me at: or on Twitter: @skintsailor

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Passing of Time.

I had to go up North last weekend. Sadly my Stepfather was very ill and we went up to say our last farewell on the Saturday.

Sadly a few hours after we saw him he passed away. However, as he was 102, not entirely unexpected and he'd had a pretty good innings. We stayed up North for a few days to support my mother.

Whilst up there, the wife wanted to see some more of my old haunts. So on the Monday we went up to the Macclesfield canal at Poynton, where my father kept his Dawncraft cabin cruiser.

Now the last time I was on board that boat was 30 years ago and I know it had gone through a few different owners and most likely wasn't still at Poynton, so the last thing I expected as we had a walk up the towpath was to meet it again.

But meet it I did:

Not bad for a forty year old cruiser (dad had the shell delivered to his back garden for fit-out around 1980), especially as you see so many of the same vintage on scrapheaps. It's nice to see it's still around and being cared for.

I went to see my father later that day for lunch and he was amazed and quite happy to see it still around.

So thankfully a happier ending to a sad weekend.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Costs for 2018 and a Review of the Year.

Here's the yearly roundup of costs, which this time are pretty meagre:

As usual first are the basic expenses.

£137      Mooring Fee

£180      Insurance.

Close to last year. Just small increases.

Apart from that, about £20 in incidentals. For instance the bit of wood to lift the roof. No fuel, no toys and not many visits. No sailing at all. The sails have been safely tucked up inside the cabin most of the year avoiding UV damage.

Total for the Year: £337.

Despite being one of the warmest years in recent times and a long stable warm period, I did no sailing. As I've already said we visited friends and family in Dubai and then Australia just before Christmas and that trip took up a lot of money. But it was a once in a lifetime trip.

The Australia trip was fantastic, so worth the privations it caused during the year. The lack of parking space down at the boat thanks to the traveller encampment really put a downer on trips to the boat. There were several days where all the available parking spaces were full and cars filled the grass verges. All I could do was drive there and check the boat on a drive-by basis. Now they've been moved (the CCTV camera van has stayed there all this time to enforce parking) and as long as they stay away everything should be back as it was in previous years.

But Sprite really needs some TLC spent on her this year. 

Hopefully I can get the money together in 2019 and start getting her back up together.

The window seals and the mast beam are priorities definitely. Tides suggest that the weekend of the 17th & 18th of Feb is the first time that tide and sunlight allow putting Sprite on the beach and work to be done. 

That date may be a bit too soon to get the money for the window seals together, but I can at least drop the mast and clean the hull. 

But if nothing else, 2018 shoes that just keeping the boat ticking over and just using it as a floating man-cave for chilled out coffee sessions only costs a fraction of my salary.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Golden Globe Reservations..

After yet another sailor has been dismasted and had to be rescued, is it about time that the ethos of the Golden Globe Race was reviewed?

I know that in the warm comfort of a lounge on land, the idea of pitting one's wits against the sea using technology only found in the original golden globe might have seemed a good one. Through rose tinted glasses recent history looks quite attractive, but to be realistic you'd have to bring back Polio, Ricketts, Dyptheria and Smallpox. I mean, just how realistic do you want it to be?

In the case of the Golden Globe race, the sea is no less dangerous, so why are we putting people in old boats, with old technology, with old levels of risk and reliability?

There's a reason the modern sailing technology in materials and electronics we have now has been developed: to make sailing the world safer and more reliable. But even given modern technology, the sea is a dangerous place and has claimed victims.

I really think given the numbers of failures, incidents and rescues that this race has generated, that it really needs to be consigned to history where that technology belongs.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Raising the Roof.

Not much to report, other than the fact that I've made a lifting post to go under the roof a couple of weeks ago with the intention of gradually raising the cabin roof to it's original height hopefully in time to fit a new mast beam in the spring.

The roof has spent the last year or more sagging, so it will take a few months to gradually raise it without cracking the GRP.

The post is 2 x 2 with a threaded rod inset in a hole drilled in the end. Pads on the floor and the roof and a washer at the end of the post for a nut to push onto. Turn the nut and the threaded rod extends out of the end of the post like a DIY acro-prop. 3 quid for the wood from B&Q and threaded rod, washers and nuts out of the scrap box.

I've been on board twice. First to install the post and then again this weekend to raise the roof a bit more. Basically extending the rod until I get a fair bit of resistance against the screw. I don't want to go at it like a bull in a china shop and push the deck and cabin top from the hull.

So far I've raised the roof about 1.5 inches. Slow but steady.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Removal of the Space Invaders and Cheap Boats.

The traveller encampment in the car park at Eastney was removed yesterday morning. I got a tip-off via one of my many spies (actually a friend of my step-daughter) by way of this picture:

I went down at lunchtime to check on progress and the last of the encampment were moving off. Plenty of security, Police, breakdown trucks and hi-vis jackets in attendance,

By evening the car park had returned.

Car Park now with blocks in place to deter caravans

So now access to the boat should be back to normal.

On another note there seems to be a glut of 30ft-ish yachts on ebay at the moment. A few in the water and a few on the hard. All of them projects, but all of them an abject warning of how much a big fin-keel yacht costs to keep maintained and working. I just wonder why there is a lot of them suddenly about. I wonder if yard prices have just taken a hike, or if there's a concerted effort to buy up old, cheap yards and gentrify them.

There's a Everitt YCA 29 on eBay just gone this lunchtime  in Southampton. Still on the water with the mast down and strapped to the roof. Some water ingress but loos like rainwater and didn't thanfully look as though it got up to the engine air intakes £355.... bargain.

Another is a 25ft scoop-back quarter-tonner racer currently at £390.

There are a couple of others on eBay, they really is a rash of them.

Hmm, I just wonder how difficult it would be to convert one to twin keel... Must resist....:-)

Always fancied a bilge keel Gin Palace....

Friday, 14 September 2018

Australia beckons.

One of the things I haven't divulged this year is the reason for little or no blogging of any consequence.

ThatsT because all my spare cash that would have gone on the boat has been diverted to a projects called 'stralian holiday.

Hopefully in December, me and the Mrs jet off to Brisbane, stopping off in Dubai on the way there and back. As a sort of 10th wedding anniversary present.

As you can imagine, for someone of a skintish nature, financing such a venture has hoovered up all the spare cash. And that's flights only: we're taking advantage of family and friends for accommodation.

So, I apologise for the lack of blogging. The plans are that next year Sprite 2 will have some actual money spent on her to sort out the windows and mast beam. Here's hoping.

I was on board at the weekend and the old dear needs some money spent on her.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Sick Centaur

The back is finally getting better after quite a long spell of doing naff all.

So guess what, I went down to the boat last weekend! Nothing strenuous, just went down on Saturday and shackled the mooring buoy to the chain. No rope this time: if it comes away from the chain it's been nicked.

I had a couple of hours on board in the sunshine, airing the cabin. After that I had a walk round the pond.

I came across this poorly looking Westerly Centaur on the beach at the end of the spit:

The poor thing had lost a keel. It was covered in seaweed, so I guessed it must have sunk on its mooring and been recovered. The fact it wasn't tied to anything suggested the person that put it on the beach didn't expect it to move.

I went back at high tide on Sunday and sure enough:

It doesn't float. :-( Such a shame.

I hope that somehow it gets restored and doesn't get cut up like so many other recovered wrecks I've seen down at Eastney.  Obviously they'll need the missing keel, hopefully they have recovered or will recover that as well as the boat.

In other news, the travellers that had been occupying the car park have been given notice to leave. Not the strongest of messages, but at least they've been told to skedaddle "as soon as practical".... very British :

Hopefully there is an end to this:

The whole car park being used up by caravans and campers. One's even parked a speedboat up at his caravan like some holiday home and another put a patio outside the door, so they knew they were in for the long haul! I did notice not one of the cars parked with the caravans had a towing hitch, so how they got the caravans there or how they'll tow them away I don't know.

That American RV has been parked up around Eastney and the rest of Portsmouth for about two years or more now. Anywhere he can get free parking.

So I've made a teeny step forward. Not a big one, but at least I got out to the boat.