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

Friday, 6 September 2019

Yacht Design.

I know I'm late to the world of yachting, but like all things mechanical, yacht design does interest me.

I've commented before on the plague of insufficiently supported keels snapping off offshore yachts (possibly the worst type of yacht for this to happen to).

This is a more positive post.

Looking at the latest racing yachts, starting with the one most local to me, Alex Thompson's new Hugo Boss IMOCA boat.

Some interesting design features on that boat already. It looks like the philosophy around the bow on racing boats has changed in the past couple of years. The Mini-Transat boats, with their bulbous bows for increased buoyancy up front are no translating to the bigger boats.

Some good picture of the boat here:

If you look at the picture of the box, it's quite bluff and has a whaleback to disperse any water that gets on top of it, so the bow is designed to travel over waves rather than the wave-piercing design previously used.

Makes sense in a boat that is designed to fly or foil, rather than sit on the water. I assume the idea is to get the bow on top of the waves as soon as possible, so the boat can foil. The same bow profile seems to have migrated to a few other racing yachts that have been announced in the paste few weeks.

The bulbous bow design can be seen on the latest Jeanneau IMOCA boats, although they don't foil, I assume the increased buoyancy at the bow helps to stop the bow digging in and slowing the boat. It will also help stop pitchpoling at high speeds.

In fact the new Jeanneau SunFast 3300 has the same bow profile. A very tasty looking boat that... Just need the lottery win...

Finally in the bluff bow category, we have the newly-launched Team Emirates New Zealand AC75 Americas Cup boat named Te Aihe. Maybe not quite as bluff as the European boats, but still has the essence of the design philosophy.

Moving back from the bow, the hull profile has started to flatten out. I assume because the boats (except the AC75) will be mainly travelling at an angle (the bluff bow also makes the buoyancy even along the hull when heeled) or if not heeled, then foiling. Here, drag is the issue, so drag reduction is the key in order to get the boat up to speed quickly. For the foilers, getting up to foiling speed is the primary function of the hull profile.

The AC75 seems to have a flat section apart from the centre, where there is a bulge in the hull. The AC75 has two massive foils that are down all the time and are ballasted. The boat is designed to sail flat and then foil  so reducing wetted area in the centre reduces drag and gets up to foiling speed quicker.

The new Boss Boat seems to be entirely flat, although the long pictures of the hull seem to indicate a long concave to the hull. But that could be due to camera optics. This is definitely designed to sail heeled.

In this regard the Jeanneau IMOCA boats take the design a step further and add concave sections to the hull. Getting the hull away from the water reduces drag.

Finally we come to the foils. The Jeanneau boats are not designed to foil, being a cheaper entry to the IMOCA class.

First it's interesting to look at Charal, Jeremie Bayou's new boat. It can be classed as a transitional design. It has the element of the latest IMOCA design rules, like big adjustable foils able to change angle of attack, but the hull profile (especially the wave-piercing bow and hull bottom) is rooted in the previous designs.

The New Hugo Boss boat takes the New IMOCA rules to a totally new level of design. The boat is currently running large adjustable foils, but I assume they are not the final design.  Interestingly, there appears to be no pictures released of the boat foiling yet. I do know it's been out in the Solent, but I assume the pictures give a bit too much away about the hull's interaction with the surface of the water. Scrub that: seconds after I wrote this footage appeared on Social Media of the new HB boat in full flight.

Of course the AC75 has just been launched, so not pictures of it actually sailing yet. But the test mules run by the different teams across the globe show that the boats will be big, fast, foiling and not too easy to control. It should be an interesting Americas Cup when the final designs run off against one another. I do hope that it will be available on free TV somewhere and not behind a paywall or subscription.

Another interesting feature of the New Hugo Boss boat is the amount of solar panels installed. Virtually the whole boat's top surface is covered by a bespoke solar installation. This allows more electrical kit to be used without having to use diesel to generate it or having to have a draggy water-powered generator. Looking at it, the boat is designed to be run from inside. The aft end of the boat doesn't look to have any equipment for human interaction at all. How that works out when having to trim sails mid-ocean I don't know, but by 'eck it will be fun to watch.

So, there you go. Yacht design at the top end has evolved yet again. The SunFast 3300 looks to take the latest design philosophy and cram it into a 33ft boat. Very, very tasty. Out of my league, but then again so is an old Westerly Centaur!

Still, it doesn't stop me appreciating these new designs and any traits they have filtering down to boats even mortals can afford, even if it's for millionaire mortals. Those flat-bottomed designs would translate well to sitting on mud moorings like mine, all they need is a retractable keel. Now then, I need plywood for a mould and a ton of carbon fibre and resin... anyone got any going spare?


Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Not-an-Upgrade

Well, since I got my cheapo new sail it's been blowing a gale. Go me, commander of the weather!

Anyway, the wind finally abated at the end of last week and on Saturday I could go and do a test fit.

The results were not good. Even though the sail is laminate one from a Fireball dinghy and the measurements were close, the sail is actually too big to fit on the mast. The leech is way to full and interferes with the backstays. Not just in a small way: the top batten jams in the backstays as the sail tries to tack.

I've taken a few pictures. The first pic shows the sail a bit short of the top of the mast and still overlapping the backstays:

At the bottom end the news isn't much better. The boom is at the bottom of the mast and still loads of bag in it.

Not much scope to tighten the outhaul either, the sail foot was as long as the boom:
So, being a £20 sail, do I mess about with it and have a go at trimming bits off, or forget about it?  Can you even mess about with a laminate sail like that?
Not sure yet. I'd have to take a significant chunk out of the foot of the sail to lose some height and even then the sail may catch the backstays.
Back to the drawing board for now. I do need a flatter sail though.
In the meantime, the original went back on:
Looks better at the bottom as well:
 At the end of the boom the original sail has more scope to tighten the outhaul. Still some space left at the end of the boom:
One thing I did notice is that the last 12 inches of lift started to get very stiff and I had to sweat the halyard in order to pull it up that last 12 inches.. Looks like the pulleys in the mast are getting a bit stiff. Possibly some lubrication needed or a duff bearing.  So now add that job to the mast beam replacement when the mast has to come down.
Ho Hum... The hunt for a decent sail continues....
Did I mention that the boat is completely rewired now? Got to feel positive about something... right?
In the meantime, more watching on eBay for a sail about 5m luff and 2-ish metres on the foot.

Sunday, 4 August 2019


I got a bit of an eBay bargain this week, which I picked up today.

I got a new main sail. Well, not new, I am the skint sailor after all! But it was cheap!

But If it fits (and I hope it does) it should provide a welcome performance upgrade compared to the baggy main that is fitted at the moment.

I'll see what transpires next weekend when I've fitted it.

No photos as the garden isn't big enough to unfurl it. They'll have to wait until I raise it up the mast.

But I have had just enough time today to unstick the sail numbers and the insignia from the sail. 

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Six Years.

As of today I've owned Sprite 2 for six years. Saturday the 3rd of August 2013 I picked her up from the previous owner, Pam.

Funds haven't allowed a quick restoration, but things like today's new fuse box fill me with a sense of progress and accomplishment. I can see things are progressing.

Let's hope I'll be done before the next 6 years are up.

Fusebox Finished.

Finally the fuse box is finished. The battery cut off switch has been fitted to the side of the box and easily identifiable and accessible. Not like the previous switch which was a white household switch with a fuse fitted round the back of the bulkhead.

This one looks the  part:

It makes a nice compact unit now.

The on/off positions are easy to see:

The switch's party trick us it has a third position where the switch knob can be removed. It allows you to isolate the battery and keep it isolated as log as you have the switch knob in your pocket.

I've tried to tidy the negative posts too by having two posts and splitting the negative connections between them. The negative wiring looks a lot less chaotic.

Overall I'm pleased with the result.

Not that expensive either. The box was a tenner on eBay and the switch 14 quid on Amazon. The fuse panel was the original with thicker wire tails soldered to it. The only other cost were the terminal blocks. They were less than a fiver for the pair.
The thick red wire I've had for at least 14 years, from when I did some caravan wiring.

Now I can carry on and finish wiring in the horn that started the whole fuse box saga.... And the LED stern light.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Floating Picnic

Last Saturday of the grandchildren came aboard for the day.  She wanted to come aboard for a birthday treat.  It was too windy for sailing, being F5-ish. Tipping the boat on it's side and scaring Granddaughter half to death probably isn't the best introduction to boats. Instead we stayed on the mooring and had a floating picnic.

It was sunny but windy. The combination that burns even with sun cream.

But we had a good few hours eating the picnic and watching the world go by.

Thursday and Friday of this week I was on the boat after work. I finished off wiring the port and starboard nav lights.

I found out why the old ones weren't working: the feed to the nav lights went to a chocolate block in the forward bilges from there it split to the port starboard and aft nav lights. Unfortunately the block has been underwater for some time and the port and starboard wires had corroded away. The aft wire was a thicker gauge and hadn't corroded.

So the next job is to replace the wire to the aft nav light, running a new wire from the new fuse box and get rid of the chocolate block connector. I also got an LED stern light and I'll fit that to complement the LED Port and Starboard lights.

I also looked at the wiring to the mast lights. The wires in the cabin roof connector looked a bit black, but other than that intact. The running light works fine and there is power to the anchor light. Unfortunately I can't see if the anchor light is working during the day, the angle from the boat is too acute.

Once the wire to the stern light has been replaced, I'll have replaced all the wiring in the boat apart from the short wires from the fusebox to the mast light socket.

Everything has been replaced with thicker gauge wiring, the fuse/junction box has been replaced for more space and better connections and eventually all the lights, including those on the mast I hope to replace for LED versions.

Eventually I'll have to look at those big jobs I've been putting off for years: the window rubbers and the mast beam. Gulp!


I was on the boat until 9:30 last night waiting for some semi-darkess to see if the masthead light comes on. Indeed it does, so that's another tick in the box.

While I was waiting I epoxied some plywood pads in the Starboard cockpit locker, ready to screw some p-clips onto for the stern light wire. The autopilot wire follows a similar route so I may route that through the p-clips too. I may even get some thin trunking and run that along the locker if I can get trunking small enough to be held by p-clips.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Nav lights fitted

I spent Sunday down the boat fitting the new (4 year old!) LED nav lights to sprite.

The ex-cordless 12v drill came in handy once again. I can't believe how many times I've used that drill now. Converting it to run off the boat battery was a stroke of genius. Especially as the lead length allows me to use the drill in most places on the boat.

The first step was to come up with a solution to the fact I was fitting the lights myself. Now I don't have long arms, but I bet the tallest person in the world hasn't got the reach to hold a nut inside the cabin whilst simultaneously turning the screw from the outside.

The solution was to glue the screws into the light fittings: just a light sliver of glue because there wasn't such a big gap between the screw and the hole. Here's one waiting for the glue to set:

The next step while the glue was setting was to offer up the rubber gasket for each new light and drill pilot holes:

Then the correct hole sizes for each hole. 4mm for the screw hole and 5mm for the wiring hole.

Once the correct hole sizes were drilled, the area around the wire and the screw was given a dollop of polyurethane sealant. The wires were fed through and the screw was pushed into the screw hole. The advantage of drilling a hole just big enough is the light stays in place while I crawled in the cabin.

I fitted the nut (and a big penny washer to spread the load) on the end of the screw and tightened it up just enough to compress the gasket and spread the sealant.

Here's the light in place on the starboard side:

The white gelcoat filler shows, but another round of sanding with some wet sandpaper will get rid of the over fill and I'll just be left with a small white dot.

The same was repeated for the port side.

I've yet to figure out the wiring. As the switch box is on the starboard side, the wiring for the port light will have to run through the bilges. I seem to remember many years ago, when I did the wiring from the engine, I left a loop of string in the bilge so I could pass wire to and fro.

Lets hope it's still there and not rotted away, otherwise it's going to be pretty difficult routing the wiring across the boat.

Next weekend one of the grandkids wants to come on the boat as a birthday treat, so I shall be distracted somewhat. No work being done next weekend.

As it is I spent a good couple of hours on Sunday clearing up all the tools and rubbish from wiring up the fusebox so there will be space in the boat.