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

Friday, 14 July 2017

Burnt Out

Not me. There's been a caravan down at Eastney for a few months, I think the guy in it has been living in it.

I went down at the weekend and found this:


Bit of a shame.

I wonder how long the debris will be down there before it's cleared.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Slow Sail

Yesterday there was hardly any wind and high tide was mid-day, so I settled for a slow sail up Langstone Harbour.



As it was, there was so little wind it took an hour to get from the entrance to the watersports centre.


With no cooling wind, the Sun was scorching hot. There weren't many dinghy sailors in the harbour, but there were quite a few stand up paddle boarders. They were faster than me!

Once at the top, I started the engine and with it on just past ticking over, slowly made my way back down to my mooring.



Not a bad afternoon. The new battery is working well, the solar panel without the controller is keeping it charged, which means the tiller pilot is working properly. Funnily enough I tested the original battery at work and it still has 85% capacity left. I can only assume the solar charge regulator I got off eBay was rubbish.

So avoid one of these things:


The display gives loads of information, but as a solar charger it's a bit rubbish. It looks like the big battery and blocking diode combo update seems to work best of all. The battery stays charged, not dropping below 12.8v, which is fully charged. Even after running the tiller pilot for an hour or two.

Changing the orientation of the diode on the solar panel and removing the controller has made a pretty big difference. I'm sure the original battery would have been fine with this setup too.

So now the power side of things is sorted for long days sailing.



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Round The Island Race

No, I'm not announcing my entry. The cost of getting Sprite 2 up to the required spec to compete would run to thousands of pounds (of course which I don't have). Not that a racing snail like a Seawych would be competitive anyhow.

I was mulling over options: get up around 7am and watch the start of the race on the live streaming service (if its available this year, there seems to be very little info on the website), or do I get up at 4am, get down to the boat for 5am and then get out into the Solent on the high tide and watch the start of the race and the return of the fastest boats later? Or do i get up early, get down to Southampton and get the Red Jet over to Cowes and watch the start from there? I think the weather will decide. The wind is mainly from the West which means another slow slog up the Solent, or maybe a trip out to the Nab Tower and hang around watching the boats come around Bembridge.

A couple of years ago, the couch option would have won hands down, but this year is proving a watershed. I haven't enjoyed sailing so much since 2014 when I first really started sailing Sprite 2 in Langstone harbour, with it's threadbare sails, green rope and my lack of sailing experience.

This year I really like the idea of being in the Solent as the fastest mono and multi-hulls go roaring past.

The one thing I have noticed is that as I start to progress out into the Solent more, the less apprehensive I get. I think the Saturday when I had the wind building to F5 served to help me understand the boat's and my limitations. I know both of us can quite happily cope and get home safe, although the journey isn't particularly comfortable. It's taken 4 years to get to this point. Steadily improving, repairing, restoring and generally getting the boat to a state of repair where I can give it some small amount of trust. And also trust that I won't make a bad decision.

All I can do is keep an eye on the forecasts and see if I can drag my weary body out of bed at 4am.

Maybe see you out there.

UPDATE:

Live Streaming Starts at 5:15 am according to the latest tweets from the RTIR account:

https://twitter.com/RoundtheIsland/status/880113979779153921

UPDATE:

I did the couch thing. Actually it was bed, then couch thing. A 4am start was a bit too early. Plus I have a raft of things to get done today as tomorrow is taken up with a Birthday BBQ for the Mrs. Today I have to get her a card (obviously), get the racking done on the car and also take my son to the Apple Shop in Southampton to see if they can fix his iPhone (he called me last night in dire need of a lift to Southampton, the iPhone is his life).

I've had a vicarious sailing fix, I will just have to make do. lol.

Thanks to the team at the Round The Island race Live coverage, it gets better every year. Cameras and Drones at Cowes and cameras at Hurst, The Needles and also St Catherines.

I'm not sure the large yacht that hit something hard at the needles wanted it to be live on camera, but there you are! It hit so hard that must have been a retirement. It was under the Spinnaker so wasn't hanging about when it abruptly stopped! If you're quick, watch the replay of the starts on the RTIR website. The yacht prang is at 2:00:31 I actually said Ouch! out loud when I saw it.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

America's Cup: New Zealand Win!

Well, the Kiwis and their amazing flying machine proved to dominant for team USA and have won the final round of the Americas Cup. Well done to the team, they were impressive with they AC50 cyling machine (checks for hidden propellers...)

Cue cheesy 1987/2013 mashup YouTube video courtesy of Seven Sharp:


Ah 1987, when I was still single and facy free.... The decade of big hair and big shoulder pads. And that was the blokes!

And of course the New Zealand Band-Aid tribute act singing about a yacht... :-)

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Biiiiig Battery

I took the new battery down to Sprite yesterday. It was blowing F4 and threatening to rain, so no sailing.

The first problem was getting the new, larger battery in the locker below the bunk where the old one(s) were.

The old batteries were wedged into place with baulks of timber so I took those out to make room, then threaded the new bigger battery into the locker. It's a lot harder getting a huge single battery in place rather than a couple of smaller batteries.

Then the battery stuck. It was too tall to fit. and wedged itself under the locker sides. Oh dear!

So, with a lot of fiddling about I took more baulks of timber out of the locker and lowered the battery.

I think the easiest thing to do is make up a new battery shelf under the locker and hold the battery in place with a strap, so that's what I'm going to do. I've got an ideally sized bit of external/marine ply that can do for the shelf, Just need the straps. Pound shop here we come.....

I've also removed the eBay Chinese solar panel controller. Far from being useful, I think it's been the cause of the demise of the old batteries. I'm pretty sure it's reduced the amount of charge going into the batteries and then taken current out of them at night when the solar panel isn't charging. So the batteries have been running on empty and sulphated.

So, it's back to the old setup of the solar panel being directly connected to the battery, which should be fine. That way there's nothing draining the battery at night. The Solar Panel originally had a diode across the terminal, but a while back I changed it to a blocking diode, which means the solar panel doesn't drain the battery at night:

Here's the original configuration, to prevent the panel being damaged from reverse polarity, but still allowing the panel to drain the battery at night:



Here's the new configuration in blocking mode. It stops reverse poliarity AND stops overnight power drain. The downside is a small voltage drop across the diode which means slightly less charging current, but it's still worth doing I reckon. Time will tell.



There's a rule of thumb when using solar panels that you don't need a controller if the panel's wattage is 10% of the battery's capacity. i.e. 10W and 100Ah. Which the new setup will be.

With the controller ditched, the solar panel connected directly and the blocking diode, the battery should keep fully charged. All I need worry about is overcharging, but that shouldn't be such an issue with such a big battery. I just need to check on the electrolyte levels regularly.

Here's hoping anyway. I'll let you all know.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Distractions...

This has been an expensive month for me, not the boat, but the car. So far it's needed a new exhaust system and now I need to get two tyres for it after a puncture last night.

eBay provided the exhaust, from Poland of all places. But it was cheap so I took the chance. Luckily it fitted fine.

The insurance needed renewing this month too.

Now I need the tyres. Three things in the same month. Please stop it and behave, car!

Every cloud has a silver lining and all that: I'll fill the dodgy tyres with concrete to make a mooring block for Jim as the two tyres I gave him before have been nicked, I assume to be fenders on a boat somewhere. :-)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Battery Woes and a Result.

While sailing last Saturday, one of the things that did let me down was the battery. Ok, it's an old car battery taken off one of my old cars before it was scrapped and not a proper leisure battery and it was about 6 years old after doing service in our old caravan.... okay, okay, it was due for replacement!

Anyway, as luck would have it, about 2 years ago work bought a 100Ah Leisure battery for use at the shows we attend just in case the generator packs up.  (long term readers will remember I snaffled the generator around that time because it blew up all the laptop chargers at one show we went to!).

I've been regularly charging this battery to keep it ready for show use and secretly coveting the huge capacity. The thing is, for the last few shows, we've rented a really good Honda generator from the local tool hire shop rather than relying on a £100 Chinese one. The leisure battery option is pretty redundant and is just sat under my desk getting in the way.

Well that's what I said to the boss yesterday anyhow..... :-D

And for the princely sum of £20 I've got myself a fully charged, checked at 100% capacity, hardly used Leisure Battery. I mean, it's a written off asset by now, so that's £20 clear profit for the company.... Well, that was another thing I pointed out to the boss.

So now I have a huge leisure battery, fully charged, tested and ready to go onto the boat. I just need to get it on board and threaded into the battery locker.

So on further sails I should be able to use the tiller pilot for a bit longer, rather than it keep beeping when the voltage drops too low and it resets, sending the boat who knows where. Not that manually steering was a hardship on Saturday, but a bit annoying when you want Geroge to take over while you have a pee or get a brew on.