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

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.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Nav Light Upgrade

High tide is just after I finish work this week, so last Night I stripped the old Nav lights off Sprite and filled the old screw and wire holes.

Wierdly the wires for the nav lights were routed into the gap between the glassfibre fillets holding the cabin bulkhead in place. There's no way I can route new cables the same way, so some rewiring will be in order when I fit the new (actually 4 year old) LED light units.

I'm also looking at changing the stern light to LED as well. eBay have them available at £14-ish, which is cheaper than the people sell the LED replacement bulbs.

Once that's done I'll have a look at the roof plug and socket for the mast lights and see what's up there.

So another trip to the boat tonight to hopefully mount the port & starboard nav lights. Then more time at the weekend on hands and knees routing new wiring.

Monday, 1 July 2019

New Fuse Box For Sprite

It's nice to be able to do some work on Sprite for once. A small job, not one of the big jobs that will have to be done at some point in the future.

This weekend I fitted a new electrical fuse/distribution box on Sprite.

I put her on the beach yesterday (ease of access to tools etc) and spent Sunday between tides doing the work.

What spurred this on was recently I started wiring a horn in (the button was fitted to the house for the radio when that was fitted, just never wired in). But during wiring the horn in, when I got to the distribution box there was no more space to fit the wiring in.  To give you some idea, here's the state of the old distribution box:

It was good enough with the old wiring. The wiring was pretty thin gauge and in poor shape and over the years I've upgraded to thicker gauge wiring. The bad news is the thicker wire takes up more space.

Another issue was that some of the tails from the fuse panel were corroding and getting weak.

So in the end I decided to revamp the installation with a new box and just a little upgrade to the fuse panel.

A £10 waterproof plastic box from eBay provided the housing. All I needed to do was solder new tails to the fuse panel and fit the panel to the box. At the same time allowing each connection to have at least one spare terminal for future expansion (except instruments, which has all the connections in place now-famous last words!).

So, I spent all day yesterday doing the deed and came up with this:

Chunky tails soldered to the fuse box, doubled up on the connections to each section and a chunky negative post for all the negative returns to common to. In fact I thing all those negatives are the worst bit. I might look to changing that for something else, or spread the load across two posts instead of just the one.

Here's a close up:

Don't worry about the funky angle of the box, it wasn't screwed to the bulkhead properly.

There is a sticker between the two terminal blocks saying which set of terminals is for which function, but it got covered by all the wires. I'll sort some more labels out another time.

And nearly everything worked afterwards! I've not switched the nav lights on in probably two years and it looks like the wiring for those has corroded away. Certainly the port/starboard lights didn't illuminate, but the rear one (that I wired up after I got Sprite) did work. So more wiring on the cards.

Plus the running and anchor lights on the mast don't work. I checked and there is voltage to the socket on the cabin roof, but I suspect that water has rotted the wiring in the plug to the socket or there's an issue in the mast itself.

Anyway, next on the list then is installing the LED port/starboard nav lights I bought several years ago and possibly converting the rest to LED at some point too.

I'm also toying with the idea of moving the battery isolator switch to the right hand side of the box, so it's all in one and the switch is nicely visible.

It's just nice to be able to spend a decent amount of time on the boat again.