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

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you got something nice fom under the tree.

Typically today was clear and blue with no wind. A good day to get on the boat, but of course there were other things to do.

Hopefully I'll be able to get on it between storms at some point.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Hardware Review: HUDL2 Tablet.

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs bought me a Hudl2 tablet from Tesco. It's Tesco's own brand tablet running Android. It's their second offering after the original 7 inch Hudl (now mostly known as the Hudl1).

The Hudl 2 boasts a bigger screen at 8.3 inches with better resolution, more RAM and a better processor. It retails at £129 but you can get it a lot cheaper if you trade in Tesco vouchers during the purchase.

I can say I'm very impressed by the tablet and especially for the price. The screen is amazingly crisp and clear, resolution is high enough so that the detail even on video is really outstanding

As I have apps already loaded on my Android phone, once I fired up the Hudl2 and logged in with my Google account all the apps started downloading to the tablet automatically. Some needed manually updating and/or downloading, but the whole process was pain-free.

I've played with the Navionics software package on the Hudl2 and It's far better than using the phone: obviously the screen is bigger so you can see more, but the Hudl's processor copes well with the demands of getting location information from GPS and putting it on a high-res screen. There is a HD version of the Navionics software, but to be honest I don't need it and it'll probably slow the tablet down with the extra processing workload of displaying a HD chart on the screen.

The standard definition display is just fine as you can see:

I've bought the inexpensive add on to provide sonar maps and other bits, hence why the map doesn't have contour lines as you would expect. The neat thing is the tide function, with the arrows. It instantly shows the direction of the tide and a visual indication of speed.

At the top of the picture the numbers indicate waypoints on a route I entered into the device.

All I can say is I'm mightily impressed with the Hudl2 as an Android device and also with it's ability to run marine apps. Of course this should only be used in conjunction with up-to-date paper charts, yadda-yadda.

So the processor is quick and the screen is bright and clear, but also the sound on the thing is amazing. Online videos look amazingly bright and detailed with no smearing, blocking or blurring of the image, The screen responds quickly to the lightest touch, with no lag

I'm one very impressed skint sailor. As a compact device that does everything, the Hudl2 is hard to beat.

The only downside on some reviews is lack of battery life. To be honest if I use it as a chart plotter I'd need it plugged in anyway. To that end, I'll be knocking up a waterproof case with power lead for the Hudl2 some time over the winter ready for the sailing season.

UPDATE 07/11/15

Tesco has recently released an upgrade for the HUDL2 to Android version 5.1 (Lollipop).

I must say if you have a HUDL2 then try and stick with KitKat for as long as you can. The upgrade to lollipop has used up a lot of storage space it's now marginal on storage where it was fine before. It's almost like you're using a cheap Chinese tablet.

I've already had to delete my largest app which was MX Mariner in order to save enough storage to be able to do app upgrades without "insufficient space" messages. I'm also now continually running cache cleaners in order to save memory.

Lollipop also replaces the gallery app with Google Pictures, which automatically stores your pictures in the cloud.

It also doesn't quite look as nice as KitKat visually.

The only advantage of Lollipop I can see is the battery life seems to be slightly better. Probably not enough of a benefit to do the upgrade.

There's an update due in the next month or so, I just hope the storage issues are improved by it.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Rowing Into a Gale isn't Fun.

Another short visit today at the top of the tide.

The wind today is force 5-6 so it took a bit of effort to row into it. Not helped by the inconsiderate idiot that thought it would be good fun to motor past dragging a big wake within feet of me in my dinghy. I shouted some obscenities but he couldn't hear above the engine. Its times like that you wish for a bucket of rotten fish guts to lob at them!

Anyeay I eventually got on board Sprite and checkex everything over. The epoxy work I'd done last week had mostly worked, but there was a leak through one of the old hinge screw holes. Some more epoxy has hopefully sorted that out. But happily there was only a fraction of the water in the locker that there was last week.

Apart from that nothing else to report. I'd crack on and refurbish my winches but I haven't had the time to remove the bases from the boat yet.

One thing I did do yesterday is give Jim his birthday present. I gave him a solar panel, wire and a charging regulator for his boat. So in the spring we can get him a charging circuit hooked up to his battery.

Next week me, Jim and our respective partners are spending the weekend away so it'll be a boat-free weekend.

However I do have some holiday days owing to me that I have to take off before Christmas so I might have a few days sorting things out on Sprite. One push before the end of the year and the really bad weather returns.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Flying Visit

I could only manage a couple of hours on the boat yesterday. High tide coincided with sunset, so I got on the boat an hour or so before both.

The weather was cold but clear, a respite from the week or more of rain we've had.

I spent the hour pumping out the cockpit lockers again and having a coffee.

During the coffee break I decided to see why the lockers keep filling up. It looks like in the past there were a few hinge holes drilled in the rain gutter round the locker and they had been filled with silicone sealant. It seems the sealant has started to break down and allow water into the lockers.

So I dug out the epoxy and filled the holes. We'll see if it improves matters.

With the Sun dropping, I left Sprite.

I notice there are a couple of new boats arrived in the pond since my last visit.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Americas Cup World Series Comes to Portsmouth Next Year!

As per this article:

The ACWS will run at Portsmouth between 23rd and 26th of July.

And as luck would have it, its during the week I've already got booked off next year. I was going to do some cruising down the South Coast, maybe to Poole, so hopefully I can catch some of the action that week on my travels.

It should be an awesome spectacle watching the catamarans flying down the Solent.

Monday, 17 November 2014

New Tool Shops in Havant

It maybe of interest to boat owners in the Hayling Island/ Emsworth area that two new tool stores have opened up in Havant.

Screwfix opened up a few weeks ago and now my personal favourite Toolstation has opened up right next door.

They're both just past the big (24Hr) Tescos in Havant on Solent Road in the new retail area, so handy to get to.

Havant Motor Factors is next door to them, so you can get stainless fittings, tools, oils, spark plugs, etc. all in one place.

There's even a Jewson yard just a bit further on...

Very, very handy...

Oh and for those people visiting the Langstone/Hayling/Emsworth area in need of medicines there's a 24Hr Boots chemist across the road from that lot.

The number 31 bus takes you from Hayling Seafront and the 700 bus will get you from Bosham/Emsworth into Havant.

Click here to find the nearest bus stop on Google Maps.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Duck Punt on Steroids

Over at Keep Turning Left Dylan often waxes lyrical on the joys of sailing a duck punt. Its something that can be sailed in inches for water due to the fact it relies on the shape of the hull and hard chines to stop sideways slippage.

Well, I've come across a duck punt on steroids: The Bolger Birdwatcher.

Its an amazing 25ft duck punt with an all-Perspex cabin. There's currently one for sale on eBay, it'll be interesting to see how well it sells. They must be pretty rare in the UK.

The design is interesting in that it has a full length slot in the roof and an offset mast to allow you to walk the length of the boat. Most people use a tonneau or make up wooden hatches that eventually cover the whole cabin roof.

Because the windows are all along the cabin sides, there is excellent visibility and you can sail the Birdwatcher under cover when it's raining. The rudder and centre board both fold up so you can sail it in very shallow water. It would be an interesting video to see a 25ft boat meadow sailing like Dylan's duck punt video.

An interesting concept, but whether anyone wants a cruising duck punt is an interesting question. Certainly on the Solent there aren't enough opportunities for shoal-draught sailing, but on the East Coast it could be a popular  and handy boat.


The birdwatcher has been relisted on eBay due to it not attaining the reserve on the first attempt. It only got up to £31! I guess that's indicative of it being a relatively unknown boat, but mainly because it's home made out of plywood and doesn't look it's best on the eBay listing. Maybe if they'd wiped the dust off it to make it look a bit more looked after it might be a bit more appealing. It might get almost £60!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fleeting Visit

I spent a couple of hours on Sprite 2 today. The weather was great and I spent the time getting the water out of the cockpit lockers and having a brew and watching the dinghies. No work on the winch bases as the spare parts haven't turned up yet and I haven't been able to dig my dremel out of the garage either.

When I got there it was almost hight tide. It was 5 metres today so the water was up to the transom of my dinghy. I had to hold it on it's side for a few minutes while the water drained from the compartments. Although the tide was high today it had been higher earlier this week, as revealed by the tide mark in the dinghy's interior.

While it was sunny the temperature was around 18 degrees, not bad for November.

I spent a couple of hours on the boat, bailing water from the cockpit lockers and having a coffee.

While I was there a nasty-looking rain squall was moving in from the South West, so I packed up and headed for shore.

The tide was still high so I didn't have far to drag the dinghy up the beach.

It had only receded about 3 feet, so I pulled it up the beach, tied it off and got in the car.

Funnily enough Eastney missed out on the rain, but across Eastney pond, Salterns had copped major rainfall, as I found out when I drove up the Eastern Road on the way back home.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Lack of Boatyness

I've not been on the boat for the past week, the tide times have been all wrong and the weather has been rubbish. Plus my car has decided it's been unappreciated over the past year and has started playing up, so I've been giving it some attention.

I still haven't got my winch spares yet but I did have an email update to say the supplier only had one set in stock (I need two obviously) and they were awaiting delivery of another kit from Barton.

So brownie points to for keeping me up to date. Hopefully it won't take too long to get the spares, but I'm in no hurry as I'm not looking forward to the task of cutting the bolts holding the winch base in place.

Hopefully I can take advantage of this weekend's spring tides and spend some quality time on Sprite sorting things out. I'll know more once the weather forecasts firm up. Currently the forecast looks horrible: rain and 21 knot winds on Saturday, Overcast and lighter winds on Sunday.

I may be waiting a while longer to get on board.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Winch Woes

I was on the boat the other day fitting the cam cleats back in place.

After fitting them, I started removing the winches. If you remember I mentioned a while ago that the mounting bolts are rusty and in dire need of replacement.

Here's a picture:

Both sides are as bad as each other. You can see that a few of the nuts have corroded to almost nothing. Certainly its going to be a mission to remove them.

To remove the winch from the base you need to remove a spring circlip. To add insult to injury one of the circlips was so weakened by corrosion that it broke apart when I tried to remove it.

So a quick scan for Girdlestone Winches shows they went out of business a while ago, but luckily were bought by Barton and spares are still available. The downside is the spring clip only comes as part of a spares kit that includes the bearings, pawls and springs. A tad expensive just for a spring clip.

But I've swallowed the cost and after a bit of Googleing found somewhere that sells the kits a fiver less than anywhere else; that's a tenner saved, but the kits are still £20 each plus postage! So the order has just gone in for a couple of kits. Its still I think the biggest single expense I've laid out on the boat so far!

In the great scheme of things I might as well change the internals as some of the pawls are corroded and sticking. The bearings are nice and tight, but I can keep the old ones for spares.

So while I'm waiting for the parts to arrive I'll have to pay a visit to Sprite with the generator and my Dremel and set to cutting the nuts and bolts off. I'll fit stainless replacements and bed the winches down on sealant to stop water getting in.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


The cam cleats for the jib have been playing up lately, refusing to grip ropes properly and generally getting old.

I took one off a few weeks ago and finally got round to taking the other off yesterday. It makes the job easier if I can just re-fit the old ones rather then replace them.

Last Night I puilled them apart to see if they could be serviced and refitted rather than have to fit the new ones I bought.

As you can see they are old paxolin cleats. Nothing wrong with that as long as they work! As you can see I've already squirted WD40 on the base plate. The original grease had gone hard and that's what was making them stick. So it was a case of clean, remove all the old residue, regrease and refit. I did all of that but they still looked a bit tired. So I whipped out the trusty stained varnish and gave them a coat. The cleats are lifted off the boat by what I thought were wooden blocks, but which also turned out to be paxolin. The edges looked a little green so they too got cleaned and coated with varnish.

Now they look a lot better:

The cleats now work freely, so I can now refit them.

The next thing to do in that area are the winches, which are held on by slivers of rusty bolts. Not good. Another visit to toolstation for some stainless replacements I think.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

More Clearance

Jim and myself spent a few hours on the boats today and got a few jobs done. I took the generator and angle grinder with me and cut the seized padlock off the outboard, so I could put the engine in the cabin out of the winter weather.

I also took the curtains off as the Mrs has promised to make me some new ones.

I took the second cam cleat off the boat. I'll have a go at refurbishing them first before I admit defeat and fit the brand new ones I got off eBay.

While Jim and I were having lunch (Lidl Meatballs and Pasta) the harbourmaster rib came round again. Unfortunately no entertainment this time, although they did have a sniff at Roscoe's boat:

 That'll be a big job to lift, as it leaks like a sieve. Its not floated for over a year now.

Every high tide, this is what it looks like:

Strangely the vultures haven't descended on it like other boats on the beach. But it looks like it's days at Eastney are numbered.

Talking of vultures, It looks like Mashooka is slowly being stripped of it's period fittings. A real shame that it appears to have been abandoned, because up to a month ago it would have been a viable project. But now bits have started disappearing, the cost of getting it back up to standard may be too much. For instance just re-fitting the brass portholes will cost humdreds.

She still floats, but doesn't have a harbour ticket on her. In the three years I've been sailing with Jim, I've never seen anyone actually sail her, she's just stayed moored in the same spot on the beach. Such a shame, but old wooden boats are just money pits. I expect she'll be next on the harbourmaster hit list.

No boaty stuff tomorrow: I'm babysitting one of the Grandkids.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


I finally had a letter from the Harbour Board this week outlining the clearance that is going on.

Apparently nothing is safe, they're even clearing the tenders from the beach.

Its a shame to see what were once good boats reduced to scrap, but there are too many boats that have been left to rot.

There's one wooden boat that the last owner spent hundreds on and then found it sunk one day. He found the previous owner had kept it afloat with wads of silicone sealant. The more he looked, the more rotten wood, holes and sealant he found. To be honest it was a blessing it happened while it was on a mooring: if it had happened at sea the story could be worse.

Fixing it cost more than he could afford so he walked away from the boat, leaving it intact on the beach with inboard and outboard attached. Everything is ruined after months of daily submersion, because the boat doesn't float any more.

There are a few wooden boats on the beach that have surpassed their owner's enthusiasm, skill and bank account and have been left to die an ignominious death.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Here's a space where a Leisure 17 used to be:

Looks like the harbour master has been busy again...

Monday, 6 October 2014


Today's stormy weather saw me down at Eastney checking on the boat before work this morning, during my lunch break and after work too. I guess I've become accustomed to good weather this year and need to get acclimatised to storms again!

Sprite was fine, as was Jim's boat. Ready for the next storm later this week.

This evening I went for a walk up the beach to check on the boats there. The Snapdragon that keeps losing its beaching legs, has lost a beaching leg again and is at an angle.

One mover is the Leisure 17 that was washed to the top of the beach in last winter's storms. It looks like someone is moving it as the holes where the deck fittings were hacked out have been covered by duct tape and it's been dragged away from where its laid up all year. I don't know whether the harbour master has moved ready for towing off or whether some brave soul has taken it on. I suppose I'll see in the next few weeks.

I did a tour of various bits of Langstone harbour this weekend. It looks as if the first Geese have arrived, so it won't be long before the green weed on the mud banks is stripped and the grey winter mud returns.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Boat Jumble

I went down to the Autumn boat jumble at Royal Victoria Park in Netley Abbey today.

I wasn't going to go, but I woke up early, watched the Japanese Grand Prix and as it was sunny and I had time, I nipped down there.

There were a lot of stalls, but as I'm now looking for specific items, I didn't find much to spend my money on. I got 70ft of 8mm braided rope for less than a tenner and that was it.

Even though it was the end of the season, a lot of stalls were selling stuff dearer than you can get it on eBay, so I wasn't tempted. I got the rope from a stall I got my previous rope from. They tend to be cheaper than anyone else there but its still decent quality rope.

I was on the lookout for a small hatch to fit in the front of Sprite, but they are way to expensive. Even old, old portholes are past my budget. I'll keep looking for a cheap one.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

App Time (an occasional series)

The last tide application I talked about, "UK Tides" has for the past couple of months not been functioning properly, due to the UKHO changing the address for its data source.

So, I've been forced to trawl the pool of applications on Google Play.

I've settled on "Absolute Tides", which appears to be a really good app. Not as well laid out and clear as UK Tides, but with the extra features very useful.

The first downside with Absolute Tides is it isn't really a free app. The app is free to download, but there is a data bundle you have to download yearly which currently costs £2.

Its a pain the free app doesn't do anything without the data bundle and its not easy to find either because its not made explicit in the blurb for the main app that you really need the data bundle and there is no link pointing to it.

However its understandable that they charge, because the UKHO themselves charge for the data. To be fair though, the tide data is pretty accurate.

Anyway, lets have a look at the initial app screen:

 As you can see it gives you a week's worth of tide data. This is great, although a downside of the app is it only gives you the tides for this month. At the end of the month there doesn't appear to be a way of showing what's happening next month even though that may be a few days away.

Another criticism of the app is this screen is not that clear. It could look better with some thought.

Tap on a day and you can get a graphical display of the day's tides:

All very useful and pretty run-of-the-mill. However Absolute tides goes a bit further if you tap the "Tidal Streams" button on the bottom right.

You get this screen:

Yes you get a representation of the current tidal stream, like you get on the back of charts.

You can scroll forward so you can see what the tide will be doing in a couple of hours, etc.

It has its downsides or rough edges, but essentially its a very useful application that is worth £2 a year to get accurate tidal data.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Wreck Removal

Well the wreck that the Harbourmaster team tried to remove on Saturday has gone:

They've taken another old boat along the beach too.

There are a few other old boats above the tide line that will probably get moved too.

One is called Merganser, a 24ft mastless GRP bilge keel yacht that hasn't had a harbour ticket on it since 2011:

The last year anyone cared for Merganser.

Its a shame as the hull is in good nick, but over the years its lost fittings and been damaged:

This is a hole in the roof that used to be covered by a ventilator by the looks of it.

A few of the fittings have been cut with bolt croppers.

This is a hole in the fore deck.

It did have a tarpaulin over it, but that's in tatters now due to age.
The nav lights are long gone.
With all the holes in the roof etc. water ingress is a problem:

Such a shame: all the water collects in the cockpit where there's another hole.
For all the holes in her, the interior looks quite good though. Such a shame that it'll eventually end up crushed or cut up.

Interior viewed through the hole in the fore deck looking aft.

Quite good condition sea toilet under the forward bunks.
If anyone wants a free boat they could always slap a harbour ticket on it, repaint it and call it their own. Since no-one cared for it since 2011 I doubt there's much chance of the original owner coming back to claim it.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Battery Monitor

I went aboard Sprite today and fitted the £7 battery monitor, clock and temperature gauge:

When I took the picture the sky was very overcast, so the battery was down to 12.7 volts. I gave the glass on the solar panel a clean and it jumped up to 13.1 volts!

As you can see the cheapo ebay depth sounder is working fine as well. 1.3m under the keel as it was a 5m tide today.

I've started taking the cam cleats off the boat so I can fit the new ones.

Its a good job I have, because as while I was under the cockpit trying to free the bolts off, I noticed the nuts holding the winches onto the boat are almost rusted right through. On the port side there are only two semi-complete nuts holding the winch on!

So Another job is added to the to-do list.

I went over to Jim's boat for lunch, where we watched the harbour master team try to refloat one of the sunken wrecks on the beach. It gave us plenty of amusement watching them.

The first mistake they made was turning up initially half an hour past high tide without a pump. They already knew the thing leaked, it stays on the bottom every tide.

So they looked at it, poked and prodded it and left.

Then they returned half an hour later with a pump. By this time the tide had dropped about a foot and was still dropping. I went the hose and on went the pump. Three people were on the wreck, weighing it down even more, including one chap on the roof who seemed to be doing some sort of dance routine... He'd jump up and down, side to side... he was quite active, but superfluous to the effort of raising the wreck.

As we watched, the stern of the boat started raising out of the water. We couldn't telll if it was actually floating for the first time in years, or if it was still on the bottom and the tide was going out.

Half an hour and several gallons of water later, we decided it was the latter of these two options, which is when the HM team also gave up.

But its nice to finally see them putting some effort into removing the wrecks that blight the beach.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


A few weeks ago I started looking up old boat names involved with the family.

I Googled Nuestra Barca, the name of my dad's old Dawncraft 25 and lo and behold, it popped up in the Dawncraft owners Forum!

Here it is in 2009 still looking well loved and looked after:

Not sure which canal it's on, I don't recognise the surroundings. Possibly it's still on the Macclesfield Canal, or maybe the Peak Forest Canal.

Here's a closer shot:

Finally a shot of the rear:

I spent many great Teenage holidays on this boat. I learned how to service outboards and sort any boaty mis-haps on her. I shouldn't really say this, but I lost my virginity on it as well! Ah, the attraction of being a teen in charge of a shiny boat...

Nostalgia indeed.


I dug this photo out of us on the same boat and scanned it into the computer:

This picture was taken around 1982 at the Tameside Canal Festival. I'm the one sporting the semi-afro on the right, then next left is my late brother, then my mother and my brothers wife. The girl is my mum's boyfriend's daughter and the young chap with the dummy is my nephew.

At the time my brother and I were heavily into Citizen's Band CB, hence the sweatshirts which sported our "handles"  (the names we used over the air).


I've had a bit of spare cash recently thanks do doing a bit of overtime at work and true to form I've spent a bit on Sprite II.

I've spent £33 on a couple of new cam cleats for the jib sheets. The old Tufnell ones are getting a bit past it and keep sticking, letting the rope slip through.

So they need to go on in the next few weeks.

I've also bought a gizmo that's normally for cars, but should be handy on the boat. Its a clock, inside/outside thermometer and battery monitor. All for £8!

I was also window shopping at a local Chandlers and they had two large cleats on clearance at £1.99 each. I snapped them up mainly for Jim's boat, as a winter project on his is to get the sheet and halyard for the main Sail to run back to the cockpit so it can be single-handed. We can rund the lines back to the cleats which will be in the cockpit or on the cabin roof. Not quite as elegant a solution as a jammer or clutch, but for £4 they're a bargain.

It's about time I spent some time sorting Jim's boat so his boating pleasure is increased. He hasn't really sailed it this summer, mainly because I'm sailing mine and he hops aboard.

Maybe next year we can accompany each other in our respective boats and cruise as a fleet. :-)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Boat Show!

Yesterday I dragged Jim kicking and screaming to the Boat Show in Southampton.

Well, ok, I lie. Actually my wife got me two tickets to the boat show for my birthday so I could take Jim with me.

I picked Jim up from his house at a totally reasonable 10:30 and got down to Southampton around 11. Knowing what the traffic is like between Portmouth and Southampton, that time in the morning was probably the earliest we could get there without being stuck in traffic. As it was, there was a bit of traffic leading up to the show. We were cheeky and parked in the IKEA car park, not far from the show entrance. Thoroughly reasonable prices there as long as you don't stay over 7 hours.

The boat show was great. It's nice to see some small yachts exhibited. You don't tend to see boats under 20ft in the magazines, so its interesting to see what's available. The downside is my phone battery has decided over the past week to lose all its capacity, so I couldn't take many pictures. I did want to take a picture of the interior of one. It was a bit Laurence Lewellyn-Bowen: looked nice but totally impractical.

We had a look at a few big boats, but there were a few design issues that struck me. The first is that there's a trend to put a double berth under the cockpit, but no-one could sleep in that bed while the boat is being sailed because you'd have the constant noise of footsteps above your head. The second is that to save space, the ladders into the cabin are unbelievably steep, with very little in the way of hand holds. Of course a spartan interior looks very nice and works ok on a hard standing at a show, but a bet it's bloody tricky when the boat is moving out at sea.

As a nod to this I noticed small windows into the cockpit from the rear berth. Just big enough to pass a cup of coffee through. Because you'd have a job carrying it up those damn steep stairs!

Here's Jim trying out one of the big boats:

Jim, those trees are a bit close, I think you've run aground mate!

There were other design disasters to be seen on other boats. One boat featured a steering wheel so big it was the width of the cockpit, which meant you had to walk on the gunwhales to get round it. Not only that, but it's huge circumference meant the designers had to put a channel in the floor to accommodate it! Not a masterpiece of design that one! Another was a cockpit plith/table that was so wide even with the table folded, that you could hardly get past it. It was a bit better that the stupid big steering wheel though in that you could (just, by shuffling sideways) get past it without having to get out of the cockpit.

Another design trend I didn't see much of the last time I went to the boat show are the "super dinghy" day boats. The yachts in the 20ft range that have massive, open-stern cockpits and a teeny-tiny cabin somewhere up front. I take it these sailing rocket-ships are the sailing equivalent of the track-day cars like the KTM Crossbow and the Aerial Atom. Totally impractical for anything other than going fast.

Around lunchtime the Sun came out, proving the forecasts of showers incorrect and left me carrying a coat and a brolly around all day. But it helped improve the boat show experience. I doubt it would have felt so good with constant drizzle.

On the Marina pontoons we met Ben and his Practical Boat Owner Magazine project boat Hantu Biru, which has been restored to and impressive standard. Its a Snapdragon, so Nicky, you may like to know PBO are putting the project articles together into a book, especially  if your son Daniel does get that cheap one in Southampton. Ben let us actually get on board Hantu Biru to have a look at her close up. All I can say is the standard of finish is very impressive. The topsides are painted in two-pack paint and it looks just like a new gel coat.

Ben chatting to the er, crowds.
Ben actually recognised me from this blog, which was a shock. Its the first time anyone has actually recognised me from here. So, Hi Ben, welcome to the very exclusive Skint Sailor readership!

On the other side of the pontoon from Hantu Biru was a big square-rigged ship called the Phoenix.
Jim, having spent time helping to restore HMS Gannet, like old boats, so we went aboard and had a nosey.

I do like old sailing boats. They have a specific smell to them. Here I am at the wheel:

Mark, I think we've run aground, those buildings are extremely clo...
Sorry, I've done that one already.
Phoenix is a lovely boat, but all that wood needs constant maintenance. Not for me.

You'll notice that in the picture above I'm sporting my new "Sprite 2" baseball cap. Me and Jim pushed the boat out (figuratively) and bought personalised caps with our boat's names on. Ours for a tenner at the show and you can watch them use the clever computer controlled machines to do the embroidery and put the names on the caps.

I finally realised what the time was around 5pm, so we started to head back to the car. We spent 6 hours there and still didn't see everything. It was great day out.

Friday, 19 September 2014


It may turn out to be the nautical equivalent of coloured neon lights under the car, but I thought I'd use up the last of my red LED strip lights in the cockpit.

It might prove to be a disaster especially if the supposedly waterproof lights don't turn out to be so waterproof after all. But I've sealed the ends with silicone sealant so that should stop any moisture getting in and attacking the copper strip. The strip goes off into the port locker and there are about 4 LEDS in there before the end of the strip and the power wires so it lights up the locker as well!

But I thought it may come in handy to light up the cockpit at night. The red LEDS shouldn't affect night vision and if they do I can just switch the things off.

I expect to be buzzed by curious helicopters when the things are lit though, they are quite bright!

I've still got to fit lights in the forward part of the cabin, but it looks like I can use the wiring to the original fluorescent lamp that was in pieces when I got Sprite.

I've still got some white LEDS left over, so I think I'll be donating them to Jim for Gannet II

Sunday, 14 September 2014


The entrance to Langstone harbour wss pretty busy today. I guess everyone is making use of the last big tide with the good weather.

I went aboard Sprite and did some tidying. I took my car hoover aboard and hoovered the carpet.
I also made up a lead so I can run my transistor radio from a USB port. I've a couple spare on my 12v extension socket.

A bit of fun

My father sent me a couple of "Old Guys Rule" t-shirts for my birthday.
Thanks Dad.
I think he likes the fact I'm still messing with boats.

Small Sail.

Just had a small sail around Langstone harbour yesterday. The tide was 5 metres, so not only could I sail round the harbour, but also I had time for lunch on the boat and time to square everything away.

While I was in the harbour I saw a mass of dinghies getting ready to race. Very colourful.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Light Work

Yesterday I put Sprite II on the beach so I could do some work on her. I tend to get more work done that way as I can just walk to the car if I forget anything.

First job on the agenda was fitting protectors on the shrouds:
And yes they are PVC water pipe at £2.49 each. One of the cheapest mods I've done.

The next thing was fitting cabin lights which is something that took all day.

First I got a strip of wooden moulding and stained it to match the other wood in the interior. Then I fitted it to the cabin roof.

I then stuck the self-adhesive waterproof LED strips I bought off eBay for a tenner. White on one side and Red on the other, so I now have Red lights for night time cruising as well as White lights.

During the day they look just like they been there for ages. The wooden strip blends in well.

I put White on the port side over the cooker and Red on the Starboard side over the instruments and also where the multi-purpose table sits when its being a chart table. Those seemed the most logical options.

And they work rather well. Here's the white lights:

The strip is really bright and shines like a fluorescent strip with a fraction of the power drain and space.

The Red lights work equally well:
I think the camera had a hard time focusing with the lack of contrast, hence the slightly blurry picture.

.Of course I didn't just fit the lights to make them work, I also had to fit the wiring, then mini truncking to tidy it away into and then a switch to switch the light on and off and also to switch from white to red. I chose to use a domestic household light switch to do that job as it was the cheapest option. Its fitted just under the step into the cabin, so its easily reached from the cockpit.

 I'm debating whether to put strips in the forward cabin as well. I do have plenty spare and I've also got a second switch. I wanted them independent of each other because it would be handy when cruising that someone could sleep in the forward cabin with the lights off and the curtain divider drawn, but still have the aft part of the cabin lit.

Whilst wiring the lights into the fuse panel, I noticed a wire had come adrift. It was the wire for the masthead light, which means the bulb wasn't blown and I don't have to go up the mast. Bonus! I rewired it and checked it out once it had started to go dark. It worked!

I didn't float off the beach until nine, by which time it was pitch black. Luckily there was a decent moon and no cloud, which helped getting back on the mooring.

The evening was only spoiled when I was rowing back from the boat and some idiot from Eastney Cruising Association in a dinghy with an outboard came rushing through the moorings right for me. Luckily I had my head torch on to light up the dinghy so at least he could see me. I couldn't see him and with the noise of the outboard there was no way he'd hear any shouting. As soon as he saw me he slowed down, but really someone from a club should know better than to come through moorings at full pelt anyway, let alone at night and without some form of light on their boat.