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

Thursday, 26 December 2013

More Post-Storm Pictures.

I took my daughter into Portsmouth today and then scooted over to have another look at the Post-Storm fallout.

Here's Mishooka with here severed bow line. Although its pretty substantial, it must be rotten its been on there for so long, like all the other green and rotting lines on her.

Shame really because for such an old boat she's in not that bad condition. Sure she needs some TLC but like many others down at Eastney she doesn't get attended to nearly as much as she needs.

Of course there's Joanna and the Snapdragon that collided:

As Joanna hit it, the snapdragon dragged its anchor yet again. I don't think its been set correctly as it did it in the last storm. It should hold a bit better than that even with Joanna bumping into the bow.

We couldn't move Joanna the other day because there's a fairly substantial step where the skeg for the prop  bolts onto the keel. Its probably 1-2 inches deep. Its also buried deep in the sand so it'll take quite a high tide to float her off. Possibly on Sunday when there's a 4.4m tide. But it'd be prudent to do some digging in front of the skeg first to make things a bit easier.

I did notice one thing now the tide is low: the wind must have changed close to low tide as there were scar marks in the mud around mine and Jim's boats where the keels had dragged in the mud as the wind changed and pushed the boats around.

The news are saying we're due for another round of wind and rain by the weekend. I'll check the charts later today and see how bad its going to be.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

An Even Worse Storm Weathered

The storm this week seems top have been worse then the over-hyped one earlier in the year. Certainly in terms of the effects at home (the house was shaking and the windows had what appeared to be a jet-wash pointed at them for hours) it was worse and the effects down at Eastney were far worse too. Some bad news for a few people especially at Christmas.

Luckily mine and Jim's boats had survived, but the storm was so bad four boats had broken their moorings, On had been blown across the harbour and bumped into another boat and snapped the lines of the second boat which had then gone down the beach and collided with the Snapdragon with the dodgy beaching legs. Finally another boat called Mishooka had broken its rather substantial bow rope and had swung on its stern ropes. The downside for the beached boats is that the tides are dropping every day so it'll be a while before they can be refloated and put back where they belong.

Finally a rather neglected boat had been dismasted which I'm not sure shows the force of the wind or the decrepitness of the boat:

We only ever see the guy pop down to the boat about once a year. I think he lives somewhere up in the Midlands. He still pays harbour dues and the boat still floats but you have to ask why he hangs on to it. Most likely its sentimental, but sad to say its just dying a slow death.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Ready for Anything...

When I first started out looking for a cheap boat, I was prepared to take on almost anything as I knew I'd be up to tackling most tasks. I'm a fairly laid back type of guy and not much phases me, I just crack on and get the job done.

Even when it comes to helping out doing things like this:

Yes, I got to help out delivering grandchild number 9 last night as she arrived a bit earlier than the midwives did. The Mrs did the catching and holding, I did the technical stuff like sort the cord out.

Ready for anything? Oh yeah!

Both baby and mum are doing well.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Mud Weekend

Its present shopping weekend this weekend so probably not much time for the boat.

Mind you high tide is early in the morning, so for most of the day the boat will be like this:

That was taken a few weeks ago. Its interesting to note all the Geese have already eaten all the green stuff that grew on the mud over the summer. There are thousands of them roaming the mud at low tide, churning it up so much that the water has turned from being clear in the summer, to being a grey cloudy mess. They're an amazing sight to watch as they fly over and funny to hear as they go about their business, but in such huge numbers they don't half change the character of the harbour. Winter is definately here when they're around!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Cowes at Christmas?

At the weekend I mentioned to Jim that I might actually take Sprite 2 for a sail over the Christmas holiday. He mentioned Cowes but there just isn't daylight for long enough during the day, which means a portion of the journey will be at night. Now I've not sailed a boat at night for a very very long time, so if you add that little task onto what should be a relaxed festive nip out and back it turns into a major operation.

I think a relaxed couple hours pootling around Langstone at high tide in daylight will suit me just fine for working off Christmas lunch.

I don't fancy a forced march in freezing conditions to Cowes and back with the added complexity of a night transit across the Solent back into Langstone would be in any way shape or form a joyous occasion.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Productive Weekend (for once)

Yes, I got the long handrails sanded and oiled today. I got down to the boat very early in order to get on board as early as I could to maximise the day. I even took food and made a flask of coffee so I didn't have to stop to make a brew. I was a man on a mission today!
I got there before there was enough water to get to Sprite 2, so I had a mess about with my nautical binoculars to see if I could take photos through it:

Its not a bad effort I suppose. It shows how close mine and Jim's boats are, plus the fact that the Geese are back in huge numbers. Nearly every white dot you see in the background is a goose!

 Anyway, I got on board, pulled the cockpit cover back and made a start. Jim was due to pop down some time during the day. He got down about two hours after me, just as I'd finished the first long handrail. I nipped over and said hi for a short while, then got back to sorting the second handrail.

As you can see they're both looking good. As with the front ones there are a couple of missing teak plugs over the screw holes, so I need to get a handful and replace them.

I also managed to remember to take a picture of the bottom washboard. A few weeks ago I coated the bottom of the washboard with epoxy as it had deteriorated a bit because of water pooling in the slot it sits in. The Epoxy waterproofs it and holds it together so it shouldn't deteriorate any more. It might not be pretty, but its functional.

All told I spent 4 hours aboard working on the handrails. This time of year thats about as much as you can snatch really. By the time I'd got the cover back over the cockpit the Sun was going down. I left the boat under a Salmon-Pink sky. Should be fine tomorrow then.

By the time I'd got ashore and got the dinghy sorted it was so pink it was reflecting off the water.

I got into the car and instantly got that flushed-face feeling you get when you've been working out in the cold all day. All in all its been a good weekend, I feel as though I've achieved something for once. I'll have to get a few more coats of varnish on the rudder and get the mainsail Halyard and battens sorted because the next time the tide and weather is the same as today and I'm on the boat I might actually take it for a sail.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

High Tides

Another busy day today. In between jobs I dropped Jim's peg-leg generator off at his house along with a bottle of wine and a 60th Birthday card. Happy Birthday Jim!

I took advantage of todays Spring tide which allowed me a few hours of work on the boat. On the way I stopped off at Jim's boat and tidied up hid mooring buoy which was hanging off the bow by quite a way. As you can see he's not that far away from me now:

When I got there I noticed that the other night's storm surge wasn't just limited to the East Coast. We did have coastal flood warnings locally and no wonder. When I got to the dinghies the high tide mark was past their bows and almost on the road! I checked the Chimet web site the other night and was a bit surprised to see a reading over 5.8 meters, an hour before the top of the tide, but looking at the tide mark and the dinghies covered in seaweed and grass, I can believe it.

So this is what the dinghy looked like today:
You can see the seats and the transom board I added last week. I also added a couple of small drain holes which did their job and drained the dinghy so it was easier to flip over not being full of water. But you can see the rubbish the tide swept into it.

The combination of decent weather, spring tide, the dinghy being sorted and the generator working all meant I had time on the boat to do something worthwhile rather than check the bilges and make a brew. I loaded the dinghy up with the genny and a few bits and went and did some sanding on the handrails. I did the two small ones at the front of the boat today and hopefully with most of the odd-jobs done today I'll do the big handrails tomorrow.

The first thing was to load up the freebie genny and the sander:

First wrap up warm as it there was a fairly cold breeze blowing. Then start work on the handrails.
This is how they started off, the usual weathered grey:
It took about an hour per rail with a sander to remove the grey oxidation. It starts off really quickly, with lots of red dust but the oxidation runs deep and takes a while to get an even finish after the initial dust is sanded away. Two teak plugs at the far end are missing so I'll have to get some at some point.

Once sanded I got to this stage:
Then on with the teak oil to bring out the grain and weatherproof the rail:
I prefer teak oil as you can just keep applying it without doing a lot of sanding. It soaks into the wood and really nourishes it as well as the resins in the oil proofing it against the weather.

You can see from the last photo that by the time I came off the boat the shadows were getting a bit long. Handily the tide was still high enough that I didn't have to drag the boat up the beach as my back is still a bit dodgy from the other week.

So hopefully the weather will stay fair tomorrow long enough the get the big handrails done and maybe something else. It'll feel like I've had a productive weekend then.

Friday, 6 December 2013

App Time (Number 1 of a Series)

A great bonus to sailors these days is the amount of processing power installed in humble devices. One is the smart phone, where essentially you have a computer with a high resolution screen that fits in your pocket.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 Android smart phone and there is a vast array of free applications that are useful to the sailor. Being free they're of immense interest to the Skint Sailor.

The first one I'm highlighting as I use it so much is "UK Tides", an application that is simple in that it "just" predicts UK tides. Find it at

Here's a screen shot:
I say simple, but the app is immensely useful as a tool to predict tides days in advance, or see the current tide state, or see if the tides allow you to do whatever you need to in daylight.

At the top of the screen is the name of the place where its predicting the tide. You can set it manually, or it can also work off GPS so it shows the tide prediction nearest to your physical location.

Just under that is the date line, which highlights the current date in white. If you swipe sideways you get the prediction for the next day.

Below that is a table showing the time of the low and high tides for your chosen location.

Below that is the sunrise and sunset times: handy if you're spending the day out at sea and you need to know if the tides are right and you have enough daylight hours to enjoy them.

Below that is moonrise and moonset and of course the phase of the moon lets you know if you have a moonless or moonlit night.

Below that is a graphical chart of the tide for the day, and a white line on the graph shows where the current time is on the graph.

Finally at the bottom is the current tide depth.

Very, very handy and I refer to it constantly.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Weekend of Two Halves

Yesterday was boaty stuff: I got my newly varnished seats and transom board fitted to my dinghy. There wasn't much to do on the boat as daylight hours were low tide. But the dinghy is looking good.

Today was time for me and the missus. Up after a lie-in and off to the pub for breakfast, followed by a walk round Chichester.

Then in the afternoon she went off with her girls to bingo for a couple of hours and I settled down to fixing Jim's generator. Playing with the pilot screw and fressh petrol in the tank got it running. But I need to check its cold starting temperament before I can say its fixed. I also gave it a wooden leg (very nautical) as one of its metal legs sheared off a long time ago.

Apart from doing some work on my car thats it. Lack of time, daylight and the wrong tide conspired against me.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Handy Gadget Torch only £4.99

I saw this torch in our local branch of The Range and had to have it:
It uses a Light Emitting Diode to produce light rather than a bulb, so its more efficient. LED technology has progressed amazingly rapidly in the past 10 years and now you can get LED torches like this one that output watts of light rather than the milliwatts you got from old LEDs or standard torch bulbs. It produces a beam of light you can focus to shine brightly for 200 metres or more and uses just 3 small AAA batteries.
Not only is it a torch with a CREE LED capable of shining for over 200 metres, but if you unscrew the focus ring and pull it, it does this neat trick:
It turns into a lantern! And a pretty powerful one at that. I tried to photograph it but my phone camera could hardly cope due to the brightness:
Its only at Range stores, but at just £4.99 I'd recommend it as a handy little tool. Its going to consign all my other torches to the bin! Just remember to buy a few AAA batteries to run it.I suspect battery life might be an issue but as I've had it less than a day I can't really comment on that.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Weekend of Washing Machines

This weekend theres not been much happening on the boat. I had to pick up a new washing machine. I also helped Jim move his boat to a new mooring. I had to be careful as I pulled my back messing with the washing machine.

Anyhow I managed to get a coat of varnish on the dinghy seats.

But progress is painfully slow as always, but thats par for the course for the skint sailor. I could do things quicker but that would need money!

The next couple of days are a washout as I'm off to hospital for investigation into my heart.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Slow Weekend

There may not be much to report this weekend as we have family over from the middle east. My sister-in-law is over to celebrate her 50th Birthday. Apparently most of the female members of the family (including cousins I've only just heard of today) are off on a pub crawl tonight. What better way to celebrate your birthday when you live in a "dry" Islamic country. Watch out Portsmouth, someone is going to get very drunk!

I'm helping my step-son move house this morning and also getting the cake and collecting various family members for tonight's shenanigans.

I may get some woodworking in this afternoon or tomorrow but it seems unlikely.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A day off work today.

I had a day off work today, primarily to be here:
Obviously not in the parade, just watching and providing support. My step-daughter's husband-to-be has just come back from Afghanistan and was awarded his campaign medal today. Luckily back on Thorney Island in one piece which is a relief.

The wife had nipped out of work for a couple of hours to be there as well, but I had to take her back after lunch.

Which of course meant I had a couple of hours to do boaty stuff in the afternoon!

In the end I took the generator down along with my jigsaw and made up a couple of extra seats for the dinghy as well as cutting out a panel to strengthen it's transom. It only took an hour or so to nip down there and butcher the wood into shape. The generator is a godsend now I've got it working correctly. I can use power tools in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway I have a few panels of plywood to hone into shape and varnish now. Should keep me busy and it'll be useful to have an extra couple of seats when my youngest comes down from Oxford and wants to come out to the boat with me.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Sunday Boat Stuff

Only just got round to blogging about yesterday.

I got down to Eastney very early, before the tide covered the mud under Sprite 2. I wanted to see what had happened to the mooring block. Since the storm the other week the block had disappeared. Through binoculars all you could see was a mound of mud but no tyres. I floated over the block when there was about 6 inches to a foot of water. What I saw was interesting. The block had been pulled about 2 feet and in the process had dug itself into the mud. Behind the block was the large hole it had scoured in the mud as it dug itself in. However, it saves me the job of digging it in!

Myself and Jim spent most of the day on the boats. I got my locker lids roughly cut out - they need the edges rounding and the underside routed, but at least I have the rough shape sorted to work on.

Most of the day was spent sorting Jim's boat. We got the chain he bought last week shackled to his ground chain so he has chain all the way from ground to his samson post. A lot more secure.

I also got his outboard freed from his bracket. The bolts had seized, but with a bit of effort and some WD40 I freed the bolts off enough for him to get the engine in the cabin.

Here's me nipping "next door" to go and get the WD40:
A lot easier now I have my new oars: I can get further away faster.
So, Jim's boat is safe and secure, and I've made a small step forwards on my to-do list.

I gave Jim some of my left-over plywood to strengthen his dinghy seat, the rest is going to make seats in my dinghy and possibly a transom block for an outboard on the dinghy if there's enough left.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Wet, Wet Wet... and a Rainbow

I donned the waterproofs today and rowed over to Sprite 2. The new oars worked a treat and made getting out to the boat so easy. Today I took the battery back on board which had been charged up.

I didn't do much other than fit the battery and tidy up the interior which had been trashed by the movement of the boat in the big storm. I noticed with all the bad weather that the windows had leaked, probably the first time they have this year. Luckily not much, but one leak had made the sleeping bag damp, so thats now hanging up in the cabin.

I also reset the bucket tied to the stern. It had helped slow down the weaving the boat does in high winds, but I noticed that sometimes it gets dragged so severely it get pulled out of the water which reduces the damping effect. So I tied it a bit lower in the water and weighed it down with a rock. So now when the boat veers left or right in the wind, it has to pull the bucket and the rock out of the water, which provides immediate and effective damping.

I also retied the chain to the bow roller so hopefully it won't jump off like last time. Of course it all depends on how long the rope lasts, but I don't envisage another big storm. Well, not until January or February anyway.

The rain stopped not long after I got on the boat and gave me 3 hours or so of good weather. I came off when I noticed another rain cloud on the way in. The retreating sunlight produced a rather nice rainbow under the cloud:

I'm back at Eastney tomorrow helping Jim hook up his new chain to his mooring buoy, so he'll have an all-chain mooring.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Weather Woes

It looks like the wet and windy weather is going to be fairly constant over the next few days. A number of Atlantic lows are at the moment throwing high winds and wet weather fronts at the UK.

So it looks like boat stuff will be slow going until it all settles down. Hopefully the normally cold dry December weather will not be far away.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

I have Oars at Last

Today I went to the Boat Jumble at Havant Leisure Centre. Its usually not a big affair as the season is coming to a close.

On the wish-list today was a solar panel or a set of oars.

No solar panels were in evidence, and there were plenty of oars of the totally wrong shape (OK for sculls at Henley Jim said), or at silly prices. Then just at the last gasp, just as I was on my way out, the crowd thinned round a stall I had passed before and there propped up against a wall were a set of oars of the right size and shape. One price tag said £30 and another said £25: I haggled the stallholder down to £20, which still means the oars cost more then the dinghy! But after using Jim's oars last week I realised how badly I needed a set of decent ones for safety if nothing else.

So, I've got a single coat of varnish on the bottom half of the oars at the moment, but rain intervened.

Here they are, first coat of varnish drying in the hallway:

The plywood on the left of the picture is supposed to be made into locker tops, but as I look outside the rain seems to be set for the rest of the day, with no breaks in the clouds visible.

Mind you I also got a coat of varnish on my flagstaff for my Red Ensign, just to tidy it up a bit, so I've done a little bit more, but its just so frustrating to have so little time available now that the evenings are dark when I finish work and the weather doesn't play ball at the weekend.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sprite Survived!

Yes, Sprite 2 weathered the storm like a champ and was still afloat at 7am this morning when I went down to Eastney to check on her. Obviously I couldn't go out in a dinghy to have a close look at her due to the storm force winds that were still blowing, but the only issue I could see using binoculars was the mooring chain had jumped out of the bow roller.

After work this evening I rowed out to her and reset the chain. Because it was dark an still blowing quite hard making moving the dinghy difficult, I just felt the bow area and there doesn't appear to be any damage.

Jim had lent me his oars which made rowing the dinghy a lot easier even with the wind, but bravely decided to stay on shore. I checked out his mooring and found one of his 2 ropes severed and the second rope had chafed through the outer braid and was down to the core. So I lassoed a second rope round his mooring buoy as a stopgap measure. It wasn't the easiest of tasks holding the dinghy in position and trying to lift a very heavy mooring buoy and chain whilst its blowing a hooley. Hopefully that'll stop his boat ending up on the beach again. But it will need sorting out properly in the next few days.

A few boats didn't fare so well, ending up on the beach after breaking their moorings or bumping into one another. Luckily the beach has a shallow slope with a muddy base, so its very boat-friendly as long as you don't clout another boat on the way to being beached.

This Snapdragon ended up spun around on one of its beaching legs:
I do hope his rudder and prop shaft are ok after being beached so hard:

These boats ended up bumped up together on the beach with a bit of chafing. The orange-hulled boat also has a shredded mainsail blowing in the wind:

One wooden boat originally near mine had broken its moorings but luckily ended up on the mud at the bottom of the beach away from any other boats.

All in all most people got off lightly. Once again I proved that its better to have a chain mooring than a rope one. At the weekend I'll have a closer look at Sprite 2 in the daylight to make sure there isn't anything amiss before the next storm blows in.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Weather Warning

This evening the news is full of the impending storm that will hit the UK on Sunday or Monday.

Predicted wind strength is up to 90 mph so yours truly will be on the boat on Saturday making sure that Sprite 2 has the best chance of riding out the storm. I'll be working on securing the mooring a bit better and probably lashing the chain down to the bow roller so there's no chance it can jump off and saw its way through the fibreglass.

I may also tie a bucket to the stern to try and slow down the snatching the boat does in high winds.

Then its just a case of leaving it to ride things out knowing I've done my best to help it survive unscathed.

I'll still be nervous though.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Went out to the boat today and got templates of the locker tops. I didn't stay on there long. It wasn't the wind that made the paddle out to the boat an epic one that was the problem, nor was it the constant downpour of rain.

Nope, I decided when it started to thunder and lightning that sitting on something with a big aluminium pole stuck in the air wasn't really the best idea.

Anyway, once the weather bucks up I'll get in the garden with the jigsaw and start changing the marine ply into locker tops.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Week so Far: More Progress.

Not done much on the boat, but a fair bit of boat-related stuff off it.

The rudder has had another coat of varnish and the metalwork has been refitted with new stainless screws.

I also epoxied the bottom of the lower washboard, which had started to weather thanks to being stood in water when it rains. The epoxy waterproofs the bottom of the plywood and mechanically stabilises it so it stops delaminating and falling apart. I'll take the yacht varnish on board at some point and add a couple of coats to the washboards.

I've aquired a couple of sheets of 18mm marine ply which may do for cockpit locker tops. Its a bit heavier than I'd like, but beggars can't be chosers. Unusually for marine ply it was very very cheap being offcuts. Cheaper than my dinghy!

If necessary I'll use a woodworking router to rebate the area just behind the edge of the locker top to form a lip on the edge which will make water drip off the edge and not run under the lip. It will also allow the top to sit lower And hopefully flush with the top of the cockpit benches. I've decided a cheap and cheerful coat of yacht varnish will do for now rather than epoxy.

The downside is I don't own a woodworking router having never had reason to use one before. I feel another Freecycle/Freegle plea forming for the weekend.

I also played with the generator in my lunch hour at work. A bit of carb cleaner in the intake got it going and then I adjusted the mixture screw fully in and then half to one turn out, which seems to be a universal setting on a lot of two-stroke stuff. It appears to work as it now starts easily on choke when cold and also starts and runs fine when warm. A lot better than last night when it steadfastly refused to start after two hours of sweating and swearing. Now I know how to set it up, I might have a look at Jim's generator which is the same Chinese-made on as mine, just with a different badge on it. His was poor to start as well, so I should be able to fettle it into shape now I understand the things a bit better.

I also measured the voltages coming out of the thing. No wonder it fried the work laptop chargers at Sandringham: I measured 260v instead of 240v and with a battery connected for charging the 12v output was more like 17v.

I think some adjustment of the governor is necessary to slow it down and lower the voltages a bit. For now simple power tools should be ok running on it so I should be able to use it on the boat for sanding and sawing. I'm just not going to connect it to anything electronic.

Anyway now I have plywood I can crack on with the locker tops which when they're finished will mean I can take the cover off the cockpit as it will all be weatherproof.

All in I think expenditure on the boat this month has been less than £40. A tenner for the yacht varnish, £15 for the ply, a fiver's worth of sandpaper and a fiver for stainless screws.

A job for the next week is to have a dig in the garage for some rope, as the cheap pound-shop stuff I used on the dinghy isn't really up to scratch.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Last weekend and this weekend I've mostly been doing stuff that I can do off the boat, as I've not been able to get on board much for one reason or another. I still nip down to Eastney a couple of times a week to check on Sprite 2.

Anyway, last week I varnished the cabin step which was looking a little worn and the plywood cover over the sink.

This week I'm working on the rudder as the varnish has worn off or cracked in places, especially under the pintle brackets. I'm not doing a major job like stripping back to wood, just epoxying some holes, sanding the old varnish to key it ready for the new coat. Even that took a few hours of glueing stripping sanding and varnishing. Its easy to underestimate how big a thing a rudder is!

Here it is after the first coat of yacht varnish:

I'll give it another coat of varnish tomorrow if the weather is fine and then I'll refit the pintles when I've got new stainless wood screws.

But that should be it ready for season's sailing.

My freebie generator needs a bit of work as it takes a bit to get it to start. With a bit of fettling it should be ready to help sand the handrails on the boat down. It'll be luxury to be able to use a sander on the boat!

One job for next month is the cockpit locker tops. The plywood is well past its prime so they'll need replacing. I'm not sure yet if I go with the cheaper option of plywood and varnish, or if I go the whole hog and encapsulate the plywood in make it last longer.

Friday, 4 October 2013

More Free Stuff

At the moment it seems that the more that people know about my love of the freebie, the more free things I get offered.

This week I got a generator from Work. No I didn't nick it, but at the show we had at the weekend, one of the cheap generators we were using fried the laptop chargers we had hooked up to them. No idea why, as we'd used that generator loads of times before with no problem.

So work no longer trust the generators and were going to throw them away and hire a "proper" one next time. Step forward Mr handyman, who will have a punt at getting anything working so long as it doesn't cost money. ;-)

Anyway I asked the boss what his plans were for the gennies and the word "Skip" was mentioned. Not wanting to add pollution to the local landfill I valiantly offered to take one off their hands and save them the bother of all that recycling eco nonsense.

Hence why I now own a generator. Which just happens to have a 12 Volt output which happily sidesteps the mains output issues. I can use the 12v socket to charge the boat battery and at some point have a go at fixing the mains output. The bad news is that may entail using an oscilloscope to check the voltage waveform and frequency are spot on, something I don't currently own.  But you never know it may be something simple.

It looks as though I may only get 1 day messing about on the boat as on Saturday my step-daughter wants me to look over the car she wants to buy.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Presents and Progress.

First, a big, big thank you to Pam, the former owner of Sprite 2. She contacted me last week saying she had some more parts for me which was ever so generous of her, so I picked them up at the weekend.

I've also made a bit of progress this week as I've epoxied the dinghy and its now dry. Well, it will be when all the water finally gets out of all the nooks and crannies. I took it for a little paddle out to the boat after work and at the moment there are no leaks. So now I have a properly working dinghy that doesn't get my feet wet.

Toolstation (handily across the road from work) have small syringes of epoxy glue for less than 2 quid, which was just enough to sort the crack in the hull out. I also got the sandpaper for the woodwork from Toolstation as well.

If you wonder why I use Epoxy for hull repairs rather than fibreglass resin, polyester resin, the stuff you get with fibreglass repair kits doesn't tend to stick too well to Polyester Resin that is already cured. Many people have tried car repair kits from Halfords or the like and find that over time the Polyester Resin loses its grip on the old fibreglass. Epoxy Resin on the other hand tends to be a bit more tenacious. Although at some point I might cover the area over the crack with fibreglass tape for strength with some more epoxy.

Its a shame I'm away with work at the weekend as I'm itching to get started on the handrails. They'll have to wait until the weekend after.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Jobs Jobbed

A full and busy day today. I got the woodwork done and Jim tried out his newly sealed dinghy. Its bone dry now thanks to the epoxy.

I tried my £16 dinghy and its fine apart from a small leak.

Here's the woodwork before I sorted it:

Here it is afterwards:
All nice and weatherproof, but my arms ache really badly after all that sanding!.

I also checked out the charging circuit. The wiring from the engine to the regulator is a bit thin, so there will be a voltage drop down the wire. I'd prefer to change it for something more substantial, so charging is more efficient. Thats something I can do in the fullness of time as I don't think I'll be doing much cruising on the immediate future. The weather has changed now so the priority has moved from getting it ready to sail to getting it ready for winter.

When I got my dinghy on the shore I also removed a rotten piece of wood from the transom and fitted a new piece in its place. I'll attend to the leak when I find out where it is!

Here's the dinghy in all its cheap as chips glory:
At 12ft long its not far off the length of the yacht! Its an old Puffin Pacer (made by Puffin Paints and Glues, or Polycell Prout). As stable as anything and it seems huge: I can walk around the thing while its on the water. Although I need longer oars - £5 beach inflatable paddles really won't cut the mustard! But they'll do for now until I can find a proper set. I just won't be rowing round langstone harbour.

The wooden beam at the top of the transom was rotten and the dagger board is still there and going the same way, complete with slugs and woodlice. I'll remove it and see what can be done.

In the meantime I've brought the cabins step home from Sprite 2 and a few other wooden bits that need varnishing so possibly the dagger board will join them in getting refurbished.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Jobs for Today

Okay, here's my list of jobs:

1. Pick up my dinghy.

2. Drive to Eastney and check the seaworthiness of Jims dinghy.

3. Use Jim's dinghy to locate his mooring block and chain and attach a rope and buoy.

4. Fashion some sort of rowlocks for my oars on my dinghy and check if it floats!

5. Row out to Sprite 2 with oiled wood, sealant, tools, battens, sweep and other assorted gubbins for the boat I've been working on/with and/or will be needing over the next few weeks.

6. Fit battens to mainsail

7. Finally get to grips with sorting that charging wire and not get distracted.

8. Possibly have a crack at sanding the companionway woodwork ready for the teak oil if there's time.


I was beaten by the bad weather today. I got the dinghy but it needed some holes plugging so I got the epoxy out and did that and then I also fitted some rowlocks.

However the weather was dreadful, blowing a gale and rain, which didn't make hanging around for the tide to do the on-water stuff much fun. Even if we'd got out on the water the wind would have made things difficult so Jim and myself beat a retreat.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Dinghy Day

I spent a few hours today epoxying Jim's dinghy along the bottom. I found the source of the leak, it was where all the epoxy kept disappearing! Once it had hardened, I turned the dinghy over and sure enough, epoxy had leaked through the hull. It looks as though the hull had a weak spot during manufacture, because there was plenty of glassfibre mat there, just no resin.

Anyway it should be good to go tomorrow after the epoxy has had 24 hours to set.

I also get to pick up my own dinghy tomorrow. Its just an old sailing boat hull, but as long as its got somewhere for the oars and it stays afloat, I don't care, especially as it only cost £16. Yes, that does mean technically the dinghy cost more than the yacht.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Where's September Going?

Looks like chances to work on the boat are going to be slim in September.

Last weekend was a family affair, with me spending both days over in Selsey. This weekend will most likely be sorting Jim's dinghy out in order to make it seaworthy and watertight and possibly sort his mooring at last.

The weekend after I may be doing more family stuff and then the last weekend of the month I'm away at a show in Sandringham with work. Unfortunately the distance means its a two-day job, rather than a quick squirt up there and back in a day. So the whole month boils down to one, possibly two weekends. Thats pretty frustrating!

Plans need to be hatched and a more concerted boat-sorting effort needs to be made!

However, I've amassed a couple more cheap bits: I got a hand drill at a car boot last week for a couple of quid, which means I can drill holes when I need to without relying on charged batteries. That means I can sort out and swap the old nav light for the new one thats been left in the boat. I can also drill the holes to fit Jims lights too.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


New Battens arrived today for the mainsail. A steal on ebay for a tenner!

The two on the right are the new ones from ebay, the one on the left is the only original batten left in the mainsail. The interesting thing about the original batten is that it changes in thickness along its length, so its stiffer at one end than the other. Very trick and cool. I've not seen that style of batten before, I've only ever seen the flat strips. However I'm sure the flat strips will do fine to get the mainsail running. I'll see if I can find out more about getting original battens at some point in the future.

So all I need to do now is get out to the boat and cut the battens to the right size.

The bad news is this is a busy family weekend so no boat stuff. Sprite 2 will have to wait until the following weekend.

Jim needs a bit of help still. His dinghy has sprung a leak so we'll be working with the epoxy and fibreglass tape a couple of evenings this week. Then we can get out and retrieve his mooring.

Apparently the chap that cut his mooring came up to him and confessed the other day. He cut the mooring rope with his prop and steered Jim's boat to the shore safely.  He's offered to give Jim some chain to restore his mooring as an apology so Jim might end up with a full chain mooring after all. But its another lesson in keeping the mooring chain rather than rope: props can't cut chain that easily!

So the jobs are stacking up a little bit. In order of priority they are:

Epoxy leak on Jim's dinghy
Retrieve Jim's mooring.

Cut & fit battens (and get some sailing done!)
Sand and oil companionway woodwork
Fit wiring for charging circuit (eventually)
Splice new eye into new Main Halyard and fit new rope
Take eye out of old Main Halyard, splice into new topping lift and fit new rope.

That'll be September taken care of then!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Boat Rescue: A Lesson

Its now midnight and I've just got home from rescuing Jim's boat. No pictures as it was pitch black.

Whether his mooring line was cut or it just parted is a moot point. The fact is his mooring was rope and therefore could quite easily fray or rot. The very reason I chose to have chain all the way from sinker to samson post.

As it was after his buoy parted company from the riser chain luckily his boat ended up on the beach just 100 yards from where it was moored with no damage to it or other boats. The bad news is we had to wait until 10:30 this evening before we had any chance of getting the boat off the beach.

As it was it was quite a bit bit after 10:30 before we got afloat and untangled from the mooring ropes of the other boats on the beach.

We motored out to a white buoy and Jim has temporarily hitched up to that until we can find his ground tackle and attempt to hitch up to it again. Looks like I'll be down there tomorrow straight after work using Jim's dinghy to try and find his chain in the mud.

So, just remember, chain is better than rope.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Wood, Rope & Not a lot of Water

Not much happening boat-wise this weekend. I was going to stay on her this afternoon while she laid on the mud, but the wife and daughter are spending the week in Selsey and need a lift. The bad news is they needed a lift before enough water comes back to allow me to row ashore. So it was a quick visit and see what I can take away and do on shore.

So the wiring that I was going to do is put back until next time. However I did get some teak oil  ready for cleaning up the handrails and the wood round the companionway.

This is what the companionway woodwork looks like at the moment:

Pretty weathered and grey. That needs to change, as its lost its weatherproofing and is starting to split.

So, I removed the screws and pulled the 3 pieces of wood from the front and took them home for sanding and oiling. The other bits have to stay in situ as they include the slots for the washboards. They'll have to be sanded manually. Hmm, after the time it took to sand these bits with a sander, I think I'm going to have to pay a visit to the gym and buff up a bit. lol.

Here are the three stages, from grey to sanded to oiled:

All three pieces are done now and just need further applications of oil.

I've also got a lot of rope I purchased last week at the boat jumble for half the normal price. 10mm Braid on Braid for the mainsail Halyard and the Topping lift. The rope on there is a bit green and stiff at the moment so I'd prefer to replace it with fresh rope just to be on the safe side. I can re-use the old rope for non-essential lines, so it'll still save some money. I  just don't want the sails; the "engine" of the boat giving out just when you need it.

I've got to learn how to splice braided rope. I've done 3-strand before as I've put eyes in anchor chains, but I've never done braided before. This evening will consist of me watching youtube videos then.

Finally, the one thing I really like about my boat is the fact it sails in not a lot of water. I'd say today I was on it and there was less than 2 feet of water and it was still floating.
Here's the boat and you can clearly see the bottom. You can also see how I've got chain all the way from my weight to the samson post. I did get a swivel yesterday but didn't have time to fit it today. Note the chain is way heavier than my anchor chain, but then again I'll be moored to it for a lot longer,

Sailing in 2ft of water isn't bad. Its comforting to know because I don't have a depth sounder (yet). The transducer is there, I just need a display head. I did look out for one at the boat jumble, but none had the right type of connection.

I would guess from the transducers and the connections that it was a NASA Clipper Duet that used to be connected. How do I know? Jim has exactly the same one on his boat and the connections are the same.

Anyway, I feel today wasn't a total loss and I got something done at least.

Friday, 30 August 2013


I went to see the boat today when the tide is on its way out.
My boat is marked with the red arrow. As you can see it takes the typical stern down position when aground. I think this is a peculiarity to Mk1 Seawyches because looking at later boats the keels seem to be modified so the boat sits more level.

Anyway you can see that I placed my mooring just on the edge of a mud flat. Bad news for getting off as early as Jim (the boat just above the red hulled cruiser) but good in that I won't be stuck at some wierd angle on the slope.

You can see that the weight has already sunk down one tyres worth, so I just need to bury it another 9 inches or so to completely bury it.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


I'm fascinated by the different coincidences and crossovers in life.

There is one thrown up by owning a Seawych. I never knew the makers, Sadler & Son were in the town I moved from to live here in Portsmouth.

Sadler & Son were based in Bicester, my old home town. Out of all the places I ended up in after moving down from Lancashire, the one town I pick just happens to be the place where my boat was built! Its strange because its about as far from the sea as you can get. I know because I used to trail an American sportsboat all the way to the sea from the place.

I've tried to check on the history of Sadler & Sons to see whether they were still around in 1994 when I moved to Bicester but sadly the internet has let me down on that score so far. Obviously my boat wasn't made when I was there, but I just wonder whether I would have driven past the place and not noticed. Unusual for me as a boat instantly catches my eye.

It looks like the Seawych was produced up until 1981, way before I moved to Bicester. I need to dig more to see if that was the end of boatbuilding at Sadler & Son or if they produced a different boat or range of boats later.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Mooring (2)

Well the boat is now moored!

It took a bit of work to get it all together. Went to the Portsmouth Boat Jumble on Sunday and got 10 metres of chunky 12mm chain for £40 and then stopped off at B&Q for a couple of bags of cement. Luckily the ballast I got for free. So Sunday afternoon was spent mixing concrete and pouring it into the truck wheel. I remembered there was an old tyre left outside work, so I nabbed that on my way to the boat (its only 5 mins from work) and used that as a former for an extra layer of cement.

I spent Sunday night on the boat on the beach making sure no-one nabbed my block and chain. I remembered that the keels make the bow higher than the stern, so faced down the beach and the boat stayed level.

Bit of a disaster Monday morning as I rolled the completed block down the beach to the bow of the boat: the top tyre separated from the bottom wheel. Must be a bad concrete mix. I hastily drove to the local B&Q and got another bag of cement. I placed the block under the bow and refilled the tyre on top, so it was back to 2 layers.

High tide was due about 4pm so Jim came down about 1 after a nightmare in traffic and we had a couple of brews while we waited for the tide. I though we'd never get off the ground and the ropes I was securing the block to the bow with were stretching under the weight. I pulled the chain taught and used my junior hacksaw as a pin to lock the chain in the bow roller. Within 5 minutes we were floating and pootled out to where we were  dropping the mooring.

Then another disaster as the hacksaw got jammed on the bow roller, stopping the weight from dropping. I started whacking it with a hammer, then the head flew off and hit Jim! I dropped the anchor to hold us in position while Jim rowed the dingy over to his boat for a crowbar. Just as Jim got to his boat, the weight of the block got the better of the hacksaw and pulled it out of the bow roller. Typical! The hacksaw disappearing into the briny is a small price to pay

I dumped the mooring buoy complete with pick up buoy over the side and hooked the loop of chain at the end of the rode onto my samson post. Then pulled the anchor up and stowed it away. Finally I was moored.

We stayed on the boat for an hour or so having celebratory brews and due to the weight of the chain the boat doesn't move much at all. We went for a quick pootle out of Eastney pond and then back in again, to get my bearings on coming into the pond and picking up the mooring. Its quite easy to pick up the small buoy, pull up the loop of chain and whack it over the samson post, then bind the pick up rope over the post as well. But the good thing is its all chain. At some point in the next month or so I need to fit a swivel just under the mooring buoy. I didn't fit one as there weren't any at the boat jumble. Ebay will have to supply that one.

But now I ache. But at least I've used the last Bank Holiday of the year productively and if the traffic reports on the radio were anything to go by, we were better off where we were.

Today at lunchtime I nipped down to the boat and it was sat at its usual angle (stern down) on the mud. Interestingly it wasn't that far away from the weight, so it looks like the chunky chain is doing its job and stopping it moving about too much.

But now I'm happy, I can move on to other jobs, once I've fitted the swivel of course.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Mooring

I've spent the past few days getting together the bits for the mooring. Yesterday I got a Van wheel for a tenner, which will give me the basis for attaching my chain inside my concrete block.

The chain, shackles and swivels I hope to get at today's Boat Jumble at Fort Purbrook. We'll see how that goes.

The mooring bits so far: £10 truck tyre and free buoy.

Jim tried his engine yesterday and is amazed at how quiet it sounds and how smooth it runs. Plus the gears work. Nice to know I can still work my magic on things mechanical. Its amazing the difference just a good service and tightening all the bolts can make.

I might put the boat on the beach this afternoon so I can crack on with the mud weight ready for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


This is where I've chosen to moor my boat. As you can see its cheap for a reason: you don't have water in the pool all the time. However the pros outweight the cons; its very, very cheap. I couldn't possibly divulge how cheap it is, but I reckon I can insure the boat and pay for the mooring for around £300 a year, which when it comes to marine running costs is rediculously cheap. Yes, at neaps you're not going to have water around the boat for long, but if the tide times are right, you bugger off out into the Solent on the outgoing tide, have a play for a day and then wash in with the incoming. Or you just play in the harbour for a few hours and then come back. Sail up to Langstone, drop the hook, wait an hour or so, the water retreats and you walk ashore to the pub. Walk back to the boat, have a coffee, do some odd jobs and then the water comes back and you sail back to your mooring.

Tides play a big part of your life on a mooring like this, but I love the character of the place. Yes, there's a Marina not far away and the local cruising club is encroaching with their tidy and organised pontoons, but I love the lack of structure here, the higgledy-piggledy way the boats are laid out and the harbourmasters attitude to laying a mooring. I also like the attitude of the people here: no-one is serious and there are plenty of boat owners in the same position of running their boats on a shoestring budget.

We even have a few old houseboats dragged up onto the shore decades ago and still in use, remnants of an age where you could do such things without incurring the wrath of those that wish to control us. There's one small houseboat set aside on its own: its used by an old lady that uses it maybe one or twice a year (or maybe our visits to Eastney coincide only once or twice a year) and she uses it to get changed before she goes off and has a swim in the pool amongst the boats. Actually on the Hayling side one of the houseboats was once quite obviously an old WW2 era landing craft, possibly an old Higgins Boat, complete with drop down door.

The shingle beach is shallow and gives way to mud, so is ideal for swimming: no sudden drop-offs. Its also ideal for running a boat up onto to do any repairs. You just pick your spot and wait for the tide to go out. Then you have a good few hours to reseal that skin fitting or do a bit of scrubbing.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

I Love Free Stuff Sites

Not only did I get a free boat (well, nearly free: I bought the engine and the boat came with it), but now I've got a free mooring buoy.

It s pretty big one designed to have a swivel with a shaft through the centre, but the swivel is missing as it rusted away. No matter, I'll run the chain through it or something similar.

I love free stuff sites. The main ones are  Freecycle and Freegle but there are others. What you do is register and then other members post ads for stuff they want to get rid of but are still usable. You can also post wanted ads, but its a bit ambitious posting a "Free Yacht Wanted" ad and the administrators will tell you so at the same time as canning your ad.

The thing to do is be realistic and honest in your expectations. A mooring buoy isn't that big a deal and some ex-yachtie might have one in the garage that they've not used in years: be prepared to spend some time scrubbing the old mooring number off it and any weed and/or barnacles.. Chain is a bit more rare, as its rusts to bits or gets weighed in for scrap.

You also will have to accept that whatever you get isn't going to be the latest and greatest, it might need some work, or you're going to have to be patient and wait for someone to place an "offered" ad.

But if you're prepared to put in the work, you can save a ton of money. Its the essence of skint sailing.

Thinking about it I forgot I got my VHF Handheld Radio off Freecycle a couple of years ago, which let me give my old low power one to Jim. So it saved a considerable amount of money and benefitted a friend.

Short Day

I had to come off the boat last night as it was blowing quite severely and I wouldn't have got much sleep.

I went back first thing today and moved the boat.

I couldn't stay on long as I've got a mooring buoy off freecycle. A nice big one that used to hold a 25 footer!

I got it home and I've already painted my mooring number on it. I just need some chain and a concrete block now to complete the mooring. No sign of chain on freecycle though.

I did try and wire in the charging circuit this morning, but I noticed that there wasn't battery voltage at the socket on the transom. Looking underneath the wires underneath the socket leading to the battery have been cut or corroded away, so that's something I'll have to replace.

Tracing the wires back through the boat ended up at this device:
The bad news is the top of the fuseholder on the side is missing, so it needs replacing before the thing will work correctly. . I'm not convinced the Ammeter is necessary as I don't think the charging coil on a 4hp outboard will produce as much as 6 Amps.

Its marked P.R. Boat Specialities, Brooke, Rutland, LE15 8DE.

The output is 12V DC, but the input is AC, so I assume its some form of rectifier/regulator that smoothes the output of the engine charging coil to DC for the battery.

Anyway its another link in the charging chain that needs sorting before the engine can charge the battery. Not a biggie.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Working on Board

I just got here on the last bit of water and am now doing various jobs while the boat is sat on the mud on this very grey day.
The cooker has cleaned up spectacularly well.
I'm now glueing a split in the wood of the companionway before doing some lunch.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Something for the Weekend?

Well, I do have a few plans.

I'm going to be on the boat most of the weekend giving the interior a good clean and other odd jobs like sorting the charging wiring on the engine.

I'm also going to spend some time scoping out where to set my mud mooring. It appears the mooring I hitched up to was sold on, so I need to move. I'll raft up to Jim's boat and spend Saturday night aboard which gives me plenty of time to do some of the odd jobs.

I sorted Jim's outboard this week and handed it back to him yesterday with a working gear shift after replacing the gear lever. He was a happy bunny; its hard to explain the sadness of an engineless boat. I nipped round to the mooring after work (its only 5 minutes away) and we dinghy'd it over to his boat.

I've not worked on an outboard since I was a kid and used to sort out the outboards on my Dad's Dawncraft canal cruiser. The little single cylinder 4hp Yamaha was a lot simpler than the 9 and 25hp twin cylinder Mercurys I worked on decades ago. In fact I was pleasantly surprised as to how simple it was to work on. Disconnect two wires for the stop switch and 8 bolts later the powerhead came off with the coil. 4 more bolts later and the bottom cowling came off to allow me to change the gear shift lever. A couple of hours including greasing and adjusting and it was sorted. Mind you the gear shift was brand new which made me a deal skinter than I was. I'm used to buying motorbike spares and I work for a company selling spares for Mazda sports cars, so I was prepared for a jolt. But its nice to know that my Skint Sailing money-saving skills have been honed, given that my mariner is very similar to the Yamaha.

I did have to smile because one of the spanners I worked on the outboard with was from my first moped: a Yamaha from the late seventies. It just seemed appropriate using a 34 year old Yamaha stamped tool on a modern Yamaha engine somehow.

The bad news is the weather: its predicted to rain the whole weekend which could end up being miserable. However, the boat came with a boom tent, so that'll be going up to keep the cockpit dry. If I get the chance I'll reproof the spray hood too.

Hopefully I'll get a dry spell so I can hoist the main sail, I'm keen to see how easy it hauls and I want to see the sail number if its got one.

I'll hopefully have time to take a lot of pictures and maybe a video or two for posting up here.

UPDATE: I came off the boat this evening: predicted winds of 30mph and constant rain would have made it a nasty night aboard. I'll get up early and move it off the mooring. I can't stay on long though: Someone on Freecycle is giving me a mooring buoy and a short length of chain and I have to pick it up in the morning.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Then and Now

This was me back in 2007 on my powerboat. Pre-crash, pre-petrol-price-hike, pre-belt-tightening.

My how I've matured: instead of rushing around, not caring about things like tides, I now have to use them and time my passages. A lot more cerebral, a lot more grown up, a lot less rushed, a lot less stressful. Which is a good thing, as stress is something I don't need in my life: its possibly the risk factor that caused my stroke.

Mind you the new boat will withstand a lot wider range of conditions too, so I should be able to enjoy it more, plus its actually in the water whereas my Sportsboat was on a trailer and had to be hauled to the water.

Here I am last weekend de-stressing:

First things first, before I can actually enjoy sailing it and not worry about the rig breaking, or the rain getting inside, there will be a few jobs to do. On my limited budget they will have to be prioritised and done over the winter. But hey, pottering about with your boat is one of the joys of boating! Especially on the days when you can't sail for whatever reason.