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

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Small Visits

Just a series of small visits over the past few weeks. Travellers have taken over all the parking spaces down at Eastney, so it's difficult to visit. Last weekend I couldn't find anywhere to park at all so had to abort and go home.

On Friday evening I took the jib down ready for mast dropping.

This morning I put the engine back on. I noticed that my mooring buoy has disappeared. That's the second one.

Something to look for on eBay or boat jumbles. Again. Next time it's going to be attached to the chain by shackles!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Visit to the Boat and Car hunting

Just a visit to the boat on Saturday. Managed to take the boom off the mast ready for taking the mast down. Just the jib to remove and then I need to make up a crutch for the mast.

However it got a bit distracting as the coastguard helicopter got called out to look for a man overboard in the entrance to the harbour,

The guy had no lifejacket on and with the ferocity of the tide in the harbour mouth there was really no chance for the guy. The Coastie helicopter showed impressive endurance by almost hovering for over an hour looking for the guy. Plus two ILBs and assorted small craft looked for him. I'd have been out there as well if I had the engine on Sprite.

Sad to say after over an hour of searching they didn't find anything.

Sunday was another day looking at a car. I've started to look a bit more closely and I'm not impressed by the amount of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax for oldies) that I'd have to pay on anything decent sized.

Why the bloody hell would I spend over £500 quid on road tax for a car that's 15 years old for God's sake? That's over a quarter of the price of the car!

My current car (Volvo V70) cost £500 to buy and it's £180 a year to tax it. It just seems a very cynical way of collecting extra tax just to jealously slap extra money on bigger cars just for the sake of it. I can understand £560 is a fraction of the cost of a new car, but really, why charge the same for a 15 year old banger?

Surely the VED should taper off over time to a more reasonable figure when the car gets to an old age?

Just makes me think that the government wants to stop me driving reasonably sized cars. I mean, can't have the poor driving decent cars can we? Bastards!

Monday, 23 April 2018

Full Weekends

Not with boat business unfortunately. It seems family business is getting in the way quite a bit recently.

I did stick to my guns and made the annual pilgrimage to the Beaulieu boat jumble yesterday, but wished I hadn't.

I just feel that every year for the past 2 or 3 years it's been getting worse: very samey across a lot of the stalls (how many fenders or how much rope can you possibly want?).

Maybe it's because I'm looking for very specific things like the correct size gudgeon and pintle for Jim's boat, or a chunk of hardwood to replace the mast beam, but there was nothing there yesterday that I could class as "must have" purchases.

When I first went to Beaulieu back in 2007 there were quite a few of the big traders with stalls doing pretty good deals (that year I got 5 new lifejackets at a bulk discount) but over time the bigger traders seem to have pulled out leaving the normal traders you can see at "normal" boat jumbles. But normal boat jumbles charge half the price or less to get in. And you don't pay the "Beaulieu premium" for bits either as traders recoup the costs of actually attending Beaulieu.

I think I'll be giving it a miss from now on. I can't afford to pay nearly £10 to get in and come away with nothing.

Anyway, I've paid up my mooring fee for another year, Sprite 2 gets to stay at Eastney for another year.

The last time I was on board the mast beam was looking rather odd, with a distinct sag on the port side. I think it has finally lost it's structural strength. I was toying with replacing it with something impervious to water ingress, like carbon fibre poles but I think I'll go old school and chuck in a cheap lump of hardwood (if such a thing can be found).

I'm told the job is a bit of a pig, so may take a while. Certainly the mast has to come down and it might be prudent while it's down to swap the lighting for LEDS and renew the wiring in the mast.

I think 2018 will be a maintenace year, rather than a sailing year. A bit like 2013 and 2014 were when I was getting Sprite 2 to a state I could sail her.

2018 will be a mast step and window fixing year I think.

As long as I can get the time to do it all I will as ever blog about it.

The next 2 weeks I'm on babysitting duty. Grandchild number 10 has been announced and due in the Autumn, so there seems no end to the list of little mites requiring a bit of Grandaddery. Gawd help me.

Updated to add: Thank heavens for the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and especially Action Stations! the activity centre. We got year long family tickets at Christmas for us and each of the individual family units and so far I've been there at least half a dozen times with various combinations of kids and grandkids. It's great for allowing the grandkids to let off steam and climb and jump to their hearts content while parents and grandparents nod and smile and wipe the sweat off the poor mites as they exhaust themselves....
Grandad gets to look at very old boats and not so old submarines, so everyone's happy! :-)

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.