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

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.