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

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.