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

Monday, 5 March 2018


Went down to the boat yesterday and notced a few changes in the pond at Eastney.

The first is that there's a Seawych that has joined the boats down in the moorings. From the red-ish hull and the white superstructure, it's a leter model than Sprite 2, most likely a Mk2.

The other change is that Mashooka has been cleared from the beach. Sadly, it looks like she's been broken up as she was pretty much disintegrating over time. It's sad, because she's been down at Eastney since the first time I went down there, but successive owners have just neglected her. The last owner tried to do some work on her, but wooden boats end up being worse than they look.

But her mast coming down a few weeks ago and the collapse of her cabin must have been the last straw. She looked pretty much a wreck the last time I took a picture of her.

Nuthatch, a Kingfisher 20 that was on the beach up by the ECA slipway also went a few weeks ago, so it looks like the Harbourmaster is doing the rounds to clear some of the worst offenders when it comes to lying on the beach. But up until last year Nuthatch always had a ticket on her.

Which reminds, me, some effort needs to be made this year to get Jim's boat back on a mooring an off the beach. Her engine is good to go, all it needs is the rudder sorting and she should be ok to float.

Of course she does need a new block, chain and buoy to moor to. But hopefuklly we can get that sorted cheaply.

Another boat that needs some work is Nicky's. The hole that was cut in the hull to make an outboard well needs filling. I did say I'd do it last year, but didn't get round to it. Hopefully this year I can get both Jim and Nicky off the beach and closer to sailing.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Not only Small yachts are free

This ad just appeared on on of the Facebook Yachty Groups...

Shipman 28
Unfinished project boat ashore undercover in Fareham, Hants. 7 year old sails but hardly used. Good mast with new haliards 7 years ago. Yanmar 1GM10 engine. Inside very tatty but she does sail nicely - tiller steering, like a big dinghy. I just don’t have the time to finish and sail her and she deserves better!
Class details here

If only I had the money.... which sounds counter-intuitive when talking about a free boat. But just keeping it on a cheap swinging mooring would cost about £700 for the year, insurance would be more expensive and usually requires a survey on something that size.

The cost of getting it into the water (at least £100 for a lift) and before that making it sea safe (changing the through-hulls and seacocks, plus yard fees for the time it takes to make good).... the list goes on.

So a free yacht can quite easily cost the thick end of £2000 just to get it on a mooring,let alone get it up to a decent standard. 

In the long term of course it's cheaper than buying a similar boat outright, but it's not for the Skint Sailor. Realistic goals are the best way to keep costs down. Letting your heart rule your head (like buying a 28ft project yacht) is a surefire way to loose a lot of money.

Monday, 19 February 2018

New eBay Tactic for the Skint Sailor

I've modified my tactics for ebay purchases now, after a few incidents over the past year or more.

First off let me explain: As with most people wanting an item, I used to click on the "watch" button and from then on the item stays in my list of watched items so I can keep track of it.

However, I have noticed that as soon as I watch an item, a number of bids appear on the item pushing the price up.

I've done some empirical and not very scientific tests on items, but I've refrained from clicking on the watch button for a few items now and just kept a note of the item number or bookmarked the link to the item instead.

In a reasonable proportion of cases the bids never come and I've been able to get parts relatively cheaply, as opposed to the times I've clicked on the watched button..

Now I'm not accusing anyone of any impropriety, but using the watch system on eBay signals to all and sundry that you are interested in the item. And we all know as in any auction, if one person shows an interest in an item, then there's always someone else who picks up and thinks the item is valuable and prepared to pay more for it. Even if it's only of personal interest to yourself. 

Although I'm sure as soon as someone watches an auction,  the temptation of getting your mate to bid on an item to push up the price is too much for some people, which is why sometimes when I've had a (not very expensive or prolonged) bidding war with someone and they win (or put another way "are lumbered with the part"), the part suspiciously gets re-listed. In rare cases I've seen the part re-listed up to three times, at which point I lose interest.

These days it could just be the fault of an algorithm: ebay's system could promote listings that have bids on them to more people. A single bid could spawn a round of promotion to people that ebay have identified an interest in similar items.

Anyhoo, my new tip for eBay bidding is not to use the watch system. Instead save the page in your bookmarks, set an alarm on your phone to tell you when the auction is about to end and avoid flagging your interest on an item at all costs.

Another option is to set up a saved search for an item or bunch of items and just watch the results of the search and refrain from that watch button.

Of course the risk is the person withdraws the item from the auction (no one wants to sell a yacht at 99p for instance), but at least only you know you are interested in the item and have a better chance of a bargain.

Setting the alarm for 5 minutes before the aution end allows you to log in and get ready to snipe a last second bargain-blagging bid.

Just think of yourself as the Submarine captain stealthily avoiding detection at all costs, ready to release a salvo of bid-winning torpedoes at the last second..... :-)

Until eBay gets wise and starts to publish how many times a page has been viewed by a particular user, these should be the tactics of choice for the bargain bagging bidder.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunny Saturday

Finally we had some decent weather yesterday. I spent an hour cleaning guano off the boat. The gaps in the cover are too small for seagulls so it looks like Starlings have been roosting under there.

I ran the outboard while I cleaned. The ducks back outboard cover I bought a few years ago has weathered and has holes in. Time for a replacement.

In any case the outboard came home with me for a long-needed service.

I was surprised that despite being on the back of the boat for about 3 years the padlock wasn't seized. So I can definitely recommend the master all stainless padlock I bought way back then. Not cheap, but its kept working despite the hostile environment and didn't need the attention of the angle grinder like the last so-called weatherproof padlock I used.

On my way off the boat I tried to Starling-proof the cockpit. I'll see if it works.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Jobs Jobbed (not for me though)

On Saturday I finally got around to sorting Jim's outboard. I've had it in the shed for around 9 months. But then again Jim's boat has been on the beach all that time as he's struggling to afford the cost of a mooring.

He originally reported a lack of water pumping, and after soaking the screws holding the bottom of the leg on, I got them free to get access to the water pump. Here's what met me when i got the pump casing off:

Yep, an impeller with hardly any blades on it. Of course to fix it you swap the impellers, but what about missing bits?

Here they are, jammed in the water outlet:

I pulled them out with a pick and being thorough, checked that all the bits matched up to the missing parts on the impeller, so there weren't any bits still floating around.

I also did a general clean up of the water pump inlet, which was choked by salt and sand and also cleaned any deposits off the inner faces of the water pump so the impeller didn't get torn to shreds.

Once everything was re-fitted, I gave it a run and voila! water pumping through the tell-tale!

With a bit of a clean of the carb, it started on the 2nd pull! Nice.

Hopefully this Spring we can get Jim's boat back in the water as I've got a gudgeon and pintle set for the rudder I got for him last year.

I picked the set up for £6.50 + P&P

Barton ones too. Bargain.

One issue is the shape of the rudder and how to fit the gudgeon and pintle to it. The front is quite profiled, so some soort of block or wedge needs to go in to stabilise the front end. There's a lot of space and fresh air at the front:

I fancy rebating and glueing a couple of blocks in there to square up the front of the rudder where the pintles fit.

Anyway, another job for another day. The Outboard took up most of Saturday. Sunday I went to Ikea with the wife and son. Needless to say I won't be going to Gosport boat jumble next week. :-(

Monday, 29 January 2018


Son is now moved into his flat. On the second floor with no lift.... You know how fit or unfit you are moving furniture up two floors, I can tell you!

Son was lagging behind Dad... it just shows how unhealthy playing video games is for you. I suggested him having my fold up bike in the flat so he can do some cycling in the summer. As he's down by the seafront it would be a nice place to do it. Cycle down the seafront for fish and chips or an Ice Cream...

As it is, the week or two he's got to wait before he gets Internet installed is going to hurt him badly... youngsters and their priorities.

In the meantime, he can sort out where the furnituire is going. Dad bought some stacking storage boxes for him, so he can spend a day or two moving stuff from unstackable cardboard boxes to the decent plastic ones. That'll save space.

Sadly these days social housing doesn't include flooring, so I'm working on finding someone to give him a grant towards carpet at least in his lounge. Currently he has bare unsealed concrete floors.

We have some spare laminate that may cover his bedroom floor. Well I hope it's enough.

Laying that will take up another Saturday or Sunday.

It's a good job I have these skills.... :-)

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Busy Busy Busy....

2017 was quite a busy year, my visits to the boat were pretty few compared to previous years. What with holidays, moving house, visiting friends and relatives around the country....

This year looks to have started off the same: Eldest son is moving into a flat so the Swedish tank is being pressed into action as a removal van over the next weekend or two.

However the Swedish Iron is not healthy and it looks like it requires more money spending on it. It needs a new electronic throttle unit. A trip to the scrapyard very soon I think, as the throttle is getting very jerky and fuel consumption has gone up. But at 290,000 miles I suppose it will have it's problems.

Some form of normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. I will get back to sailing and doing boaty stuff soon I hope.