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

Monday, 8 January 2018

Every Lidl Helps....

This Thursday the 11th, Lidl are having an automotive special offer.

One of the items is a 1Kg powder fire extinguisher for £8.99. The one I bought a few years back has stood the test of time in a damp environment, so I do recommend getting one if you need an extinguisher.

On the 14th, they have an Infra-Red remote thermometer for £12.99. Handy for checking inboard exhaust systems for overheating...

Friday, 22 December 2017

Costs for 2017 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.

£132      Mooring Fee

£160      Insurance.

Same as last year. No change at all.

£11.60   Fuel. Only 2 cans (10 ltrs) worth of fuel, same as last year.
              Enough for the two big sailing days and the rest used pootling up and
              down Langstone harbour. Got to love the fuel costs with sailing!

£2.50     Absolute tides Update.

£13       Navionics Update.

£30       Second Hand hatch from Gosport Boat Jumble.

£30       Nasa Clipper Speed Log

£5         Keel Shoe.

£24      Two sets of High Capacity LiPo batteries for my handheld VHF transceiver.
            (I will do a blog about it next year: they vastly increase battery capacity - over 2000 mAh)

£25      Overnight Marina Stay

£433.10 is the Total Expenditure on the Boat for 2017. (£36.10 per month)

I didn't spend any money on ungents, paints, sandpaper, etc. I used the stuff I had left over from the previous year.

I spent £8 on a rudder from eBay for Jim's boat and £16 on a new impeller for his outboard.
After all he's skinter than me, so when I can help out, I will.

Most money this year went on the car (tyres & exhaust) and moving house (bills, bills and more bills).

So, expenditure for 2017 was the lowest yearly amount so far (except 2013 but that was offset by selling stuff to pay for the boat).

It's interesting to note that instead on fettling, in 2017 I made a concious effort to actually go out and sail, especially out in the Solent, which I did on a number of occasions, but with two stand-out days.

The first was the F4-F5 reefed sail on the 4th of June. That sail tought me that I was being a bit timid previously about what Sprite could handle. With the sails reefed she romped along and didn't heel over on her scuppers almost out of control. It was an educational sail that day.

The second big day was my full day's sail on the 18th of June. A full day (over 12 hours) out on the water of the Solent. A brilliant day which would only have been better if the wind had played ball and not disappeared for a couple of hours in the middle. Staying in Southsea Marina overnight was a stroke of genius. It allowed me to get out of the harbour without waiting to lift off the mud. But however handy a Marina Berth is, I'd never be able to afford one permanently. But it was nice to sample the ease of just walking up to the boat and stepping on board easily.

I learned a lot from those two days. If I could, I would make it a priority to get the maximum amout of sailing time in 2018 so I can try different things and learn more.

That's not to say fettling was abandoned...

Stand-out DIY project of the year was the VHF hutch. It located the VHF Radio in a place where it's not in the way, it's easy to get to from the cockpit and the cabin and the display can be seen easily. One of the best things I've done I think. It works a treat.

Another win on the DIY front was the battery charging arrangement. The original arrangement had night-time drains on the battery from the solar panel and the charge controller. Ditching the Chinese solar controller, re-arranging the blocking diode on the solar panel and getting a big battery all paid off and I now don't have any power worries on board even during these months of short days. Swapping the diode round and ditching the charge controller made a dramatic difference. Removing drains on the battery has increased charge performance massively.

I also finally fitted the second locker top in the cockpit in April, so I had matching locker tops.

As with previous years, 2017 was a year where it was hard to predict decent weather, apart from June. June stood out as being a pretty settled period where you could actually plan to go sailing for once. That's why I booked a spot in a marina. Such was my confidence in the following day's weather and what a day I had! If only I could have managed the Sunday as well. But I ached all over after a full day sailing. This year I will make more of an effort and if two consecutive days show up then I'm sailing aches or no aches!

Posting on here has been sporadic, mainly because I've not visited the boat as much as previous years and also because a blog full of "visited boat, drank coffee, went home" posts would get a bit boring and put people off.

But that about wraps it up for the roundup of 2017.

2018 looks to be a year of major maintenance. As I've already mentioned I'm planning to put Sprite 2 on the hard for a week and get the antifoulding applied and refit the window rubbers. Possibly fit the hatch on the front and if I have time look at the mast support beam.

We've already had the first big storm of 2018 sweep past and cause damage down at Eastney. Luckily we have a community of impoverished sailors down at Eastney and we check on each other's boats. I'll get down an take some pictures of the aftermath in the daylight at the weekend.

For the rest of the year, wish me luck. Lets see how it all pans out. Happy New Year!

Hump Day 2017

Well, it's here again, the day we look forward to longer days and shorter nights.

Look forward to scenes like this:

Sun, cloudless skies and sailing....
Happy Winter Solstice Day to you all in the Northern Hemisphere.

To those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, make the most of the rest of the summer, we're taking it back!

Big plans are afoot for Sprite 2 next year. Everyone has been told I need money for Christmas, even if it's only a fiver. Don't waste money on dodgy smellies, just send me the money.  Sprite is coming out of the water for overhaul next year and I need every penny for Marina fees! If anyone has an idea for saving money on lifting her out and putting her on the hard for a week or two, I'd love to hear it!

As is customary at the beginning of January I'll be wrapping up 2017 with a yearly costing. It will be interesting to see what the costs are for this year. I haven't really done that much work on Sprite 2 this year at all, instead I tried to concentrate on sailing her.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sad, Damp Days

I went onto the boat on Sunday. It was dark, overcast, damp, cold and there weren't many people about.

The interior of Sprite is getting a bit clammy, so I lifted the seat cushions to air the lockers out.

I only stayed on for an hour or so, just checking things over like the battery (still charging, voltage was 13.8 on switch-on and stayed 13v with the radio and other instruments/accessories on). I also tightened the ropes holding the cockpit cover down.

Then legged it back to shore.

I had a walk down the shore after sqaring the dinghy away to have a look at Mashooka. Her mast seemed to have dissappeared.

This, sadly is what I found:

It looks like one of the mast stays has parted and the mast has gone over. Sadly though, as the mast has gone over, it's taken the tabernacle with it which in turn has caused the deck to collapse. Or it's possible the deck collapsed allowing the mast to go over.

Either way it's a very sad sight.

Here's a closer picture:

The cabin roof, ratrher than staying above the deck, sort of collapses down to deck level at the front as well. It looks pretty grim.

Considering only 3 years ago she looked like this:

That was back in late 2014 when people started to strip bits off her after laying on the beach unattended for so long. You can see she was missing some of the brass port lights.

As with most wooden boats, the amount of maintenance just to keep them afloat is huge. I think Mashooka was a bit too far gone to bring her back without a vast amount of money and effort. It looks like she is close to unrecovereable now sadly. Certainly not without great expense.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Wild Ride! Here comes the AC75.

I don't know what Psychotropic drugs they have in New Zealand, but some must have been involved in the design of the new Americas Cup boats, the AC75 foiling Monohulls.

Details released on the Emirates Team New Zealand website show a 75ft open boat sitting on three "t" foils, with the ability to raise the windward foil to increase speed and reduce drag. Looks like the foils are ballasted, so it will be interesting how they get used in light winds. Maybe lift both out in lightest of winds upwind, then drop one as the wind gets up, then two to get on the foil and then raise the windward foil as the winds increase and the boat foils.

If they pull it off, it will look impressive, a huge monohull with it's hull completely out of the water like some giant desert lizard lifting it's leg to avoid heat.

I'm sure balancing the various aspects of the boat and when to use each foil will be a huge workload for the skipper. Technically, physically and mentally it will be extreme.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New Phone

Long-time readers of my blog will know that I use my mobile phone a lot when boating. It's quite handy to take pictures and also for navigation using the Navionics mobile app.

However, my Samsung Galaxy J5 has been suffereing recently. I did an update to Android Marshmallow in the summer which grabbed a larger than usual chunk of the 8GB of storage and left me with naff all storage for applications. That in turn meant that some of the boaty applications had to go due to the lack of storage, a very poor state of affairs.

Ever since then, I've been saving up for a new phone. My contract with Tesco Mobile ended and the only reasonable contender for a replacement was the Samsung Galaxy A5, which has 32GB storage and fingerprint reader and a HD screen, etc. All the usual bells and whistles. However, at nearly £400 quid for the phone over 2 years, I decided that it was a bit too expensive.

Time to look at cheaper alternatives. I looked at the usual Chinese mobile phones to see if I could get a bargain. Xiaomi are a pretty good manufacturer, they make quite good equipment, up there with the Japanese. Doogee (yeah, what a dodgy name) are another that tend to be well-specced for the money. They can be had pretty cheaply, but watch out for import duty if you buy them through the Chinese websites like Banggood, Wish and AliExpress.

But unfortunately most Chinese phones won't work on all networks and in my case won't work on the 4G frequency band that Tesco mobile use. Its always worth checking to see if any of the cheaper phones work on your current network.Chinese sourced phones tend to support only a limited number of mobile bands. I assume due to some restriction in China.

In the end I settled on a British-designed phone. Flying the flag and all that. :-)

It's the Wileyfox Swift 2x from er, these people:

It has 32Gb internal storage, so all my old nautical apps and more have been loaded onto it and I've still only used a third of the storage space. If I need more I can fit a 64Gb SD card and format it to become part of the internal storage.

It comes with a pretty low-headroom version of Android Nougat, so there are very few bundled apps that you can't get rid of. That helps save space and makes me a happy bunny.

It also has a 5.2 inch 1080p HD screen, fingerprint reader, 16Mp camera at the rear, 8Mp at the front for selfies, a 3010mah battery and uses USB-C to charge up so it charges to 75% in less than an hour.

I'm mightily impressed. I can now use apps like Android Pay too because it has NFC communication (it can talk to contactless devices)

And the icing on the cake is Amazon have got it on offer at the moment for £145. Considering the RRP is £219 that's a bargain.

It's also British designed, so you're indirectly helping British jobs.

I was so impressed with mine, I've bought another one for the wife for Christmas.

Of course having finished paying off the Galaxy J5, I've gone back to a sim-only contract. I also updated that because Tesco Mobile are doing a sim-only deal with 4Gb of data and lots of texts and mimutes for £11 a month.


So far after playing with the phone, one thing has needed attention: the original camera app that comes with the phone is pretty naff. I downloaded the free "Open Camera" app from Google play and that seems to work a lot better on focus and colour balance. It's amazing how using a different application can make such a difference using the same device. I will try and post up some comparisons.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dark Days

Yep, after the clocks going back, the days feel even shorter and darkness descends before 5pm.

You definately know it's winter now. Not many trips to the boat recently as tides have been all wrong. I did go on last weekend to tighten the cockpit cover and sponge out the lockers. Everything else seems ok at the moment. The battery is holding charge and the windows are not leaking. Yet.

On my next visit I'll lift the cushions, so damp from the bilges doesn't build up.

And then that's it for the winter apart from possibly the odd day.

The spray hood os getting a bit green, so that'll come off as well next time and get a wash.

At least this year I can say I had a few good days sailing and one amazingly long day out in the Solent, even if the wind did die on me half way through.

Roll on Spring.