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

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Free Caprice 19

There's a free Caprice going in Emsworth on the Chichester Freecycle Group tonight. It got posted at 5:14pm Some storm damage apparently but its FREE!!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

App Time (Number 3 of a Series)

Todays App is the Sailing Almanac, which is quite a useful app although I don't tend to use it that much over winter.

Its pretty good in that it gives you links to local information, be it tides, weather. marinas, etc.

On your mobile you just link to the mobile home page.

You can also configure it to send you navigational updates and weather info to your Facebook.

Useful and informative.

Mooring Buoy Sorted

Yesterday I also cored out the mooring buoy that exploded. I didn't want it to fill with water and put strain on the bow of the boat.

So, a few hours work with a sharp knife left just the core of the buoy on the chain, which I tied in place to become my anti-chafe collar. I used a large fender that Pam (the previous owner of Sprite 2) gave me when I picked Sprite up from her as my new mooring buoy.

All that's left of the old mooring Buoy:

I've tied the fender further from the bow to see if that improves its longevity.

Hopefully the fender isn't big enough to cause problems with the chain jumping off the bow roller too. A bit too late I suppose, but you never know what storms are coming at us in future.

Working on the Charging Circuit

I went on the boat yesterday and checked her over. The battery was at 13 volts even in the overcast, which is good. It means that the battery won't stagnate on the boat. I can now say the solar panel is well worth buying.

I also had a look at the connector for the engine charging on the stern of the boat. With a bit of contortion I got into the locker and could just about unscrew the mounting screws. The connector was a bit of a mess.

Even with a liberal coating of silicone sealant, salt water had managed to turn the wire into a turquoise mess. I brought the connector home yesterday and gave it a liberal coating of WD40 overnight. WD40 is like Duct Tape: you should always have some handy!

Anyway after its overnight bath, the sealant came away relatively easily exposing the corroded wires. Another bath in WD40 for a couple of hours meant I could undo the screws on the terminals to release the wires.

Eventually it all cleaned up with a bit of wire wool.

Here's the newly refurbished connector:

You wouldn't believe that such a small thing could involve such an investment in time, but all in all I think I spent about three hours scraping sealant off it, bathing it in WD40 and trying to free off the corroded cable and releasing the screws.

But have you seen the price of these things at Chandlers? It'd rather invest 3 hours than pay stupid prices for something that is salvageable with a bit of TLC.

Now I just have to pick a time to refit it as the tides are a bit late this week. Saying that sunset now coincides with my leaving time from work, so in the next few weeks I'll start to have time after work to work on the boat, tides permitting.

I'd like to fit the connector with new mounting screws so I'll have to get some stainless jobs from the DIY store I know which sells them cheaper than chandlers.

Its not been a slow day though. As well as on-shore boat stuff, in between WD40 sessions I've been cleaning my tropical fish tank.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I've got the (Solar) Power!

Just an update on the solar panel I fitted at the weekend. Today was a cloudy day and the battery was at 13.5 volts, which means the solar panel is doing a good job of maintaining a charge.

The Panel came off ebay:

The seller's items time out regularly and they relist, rather than extending the running time of the item like other sellers, so the link will eventually run out of time, but look out for the photo if you want the same panel.

I changed it slightly by fitting a long twin-core lead with a cigar lighter on the end so it just plugs into the boat's electrics. You may be able to make do with the 1 Metre cable and crocodile clips.

The thing is so efficient though I may have to fit a charge controller at some point.

Lidl Bargains

I was in Lidl yesterday and they are currently doing some outdoor-oriented items that would be useful for boating.

The first one is the FM/MW/SW Radio here:

The only downside is the lack of LW for shipping forecasts, but the upside is it has a socket on the side so it can be powered by a 5 volt adapter. Most mobile phone adapters supply around 4.7 volts which should be near enough to power the radio. Its pretty compact too, so handy to have on the boat for a bit of background music.

They are also doing cheap binoculars:

At £7.99 don't expect Carl Zeiss quality, but I've always found Lidl and Aldi optical items to perform above what you'd expect at the price. I still have a set of boating binoculars I got from Aldi 5 years ago and they are the same as you see at boat shows going for £100 or more. I love them.

Other useful items are a 32-LED lamp and a pair of walkie-talkies.

It might be worth popping in and having a look...

Sunday, 16 February 2014


I did say earlier in the week that I had upgrades for the boat and the dinghy.In total I spent about 4 hours down at the boat today thanks to the tide being at the right time.

Well, the boat is now sporting a jolly fine solar panel. One of eBay's finest. All I had to do to it was add a cable to run along the cabin roof and then down into the cabin through the companionway.

Its a 10 Watt panel so should keep the battery  charged Here it is on the boat:

Its just lashed on temporarily, but in today's watery sunshine it was generating over 20 volts and when connected to the battery the battery volts went from 12.5 to over 13, so it seems to provide ample charge capacity. Although when it clouded over the voltage dropped to around 12.8, so it shouldn't overcharge unless we have long periods of sunny weather!

The solar panel currently just plugs into the accessory socket near the companionway.

I now have enough power to run my accessories like the radio with its adapter and also charge my mobile phone on board.

Which ticks off one of my to-do list items and I also made progress on one of my long-term to-do items, the engine charging circuit. I refitted the rectifier unit after fixing it last week.

So just the wires to reconnect under the stern connector and that job is done too.

I also got a new bucket to hang off the stern which should calm Sprite 2's tendency to hunt around in strong winds.

There were a few downsides however. Because the chain had jumped off the bow roller it had bent the screw on the turnbuckle at the bottom of the forestay and had also chewed into the fibreglass of the bow. I did a quick sealing job with some epoxy to stop rainwater getting into the glass fibre matting, but it will need a proper repair job at some point.

The bow had taken quite a beating actually, because a few fittings were loose. Not only that but somehow the bow had hit the mooring buoy with such force it had burst! The buoy now has a gaping hole in it:

It must have burst with some force as there were shards of plastic all over the bow!

What I might do with it is cut off the main part of the buoy and then leave the core that goes through the centre of the buoy. I'll then slide it up the chain and use it as an anti-chafing collar. In the meantime I'll hunt for a replacement buoy on freecycle or just use one of my large fenders.

I did mention dinghy upgrades in the week. Last week I got a rudder, daggerboard and a virtually brand new mainsail off ebay. They were for a Blue Peter dinghy, but I'm not fussed about originality, I just fancy being able to sail it in the summer. I got the lot for £6!

I checked the rudder and it needs new fittings on the stern, so I'll get those sorted as cheaply as possible from a boat jumble or something similar. All I need now is a cheap mast and I should be sailing it. Luckily the Blue Peter mast is unstayed so all I need effectively is a pole with a boom and that's it, nice and simple.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Very Stormy Night

Last night's storm caused more damage down at Eastney.

Further afield there appear to be a number of boats loose and washed up on the beaches around Langstone Harbour.

Mine and Jim's boats were OK, as was Meagles owned by Nicky, my blog reader. Others were not so fortunate, but in all honesty you could say it was inevitable as the boats that were damaged are among the least cared for.

Icefiver lost its cabin. Its been coming for weeks as it doesn't float and its basically been left to rot.

Here's Icefiver with its cabin a couple of weeks ago. Not in great shape:

Now it looks like this:

The roof of the cabin had washed up on the beach:

Although it doesn't float properly any more, because its wood it floats enough to move down the beach pushed by the wind and waves. It moved enough last night to bump into a small cabin cruiser further down the beach and cause some damage:

Inside Icefiver was depressing. The large diesel engine rusted and ruined:

Further down the beach there was even more damage. The Westerly that was washed up the beach in the first storm had been dismasted and had also lost its rudder. The tide with the storm surge must have got high enough to bounce it round quite a lot!

The two white yachts further up the beach that normally bump into each other had dragged their anchors and collected around the Westerly. Quite obviously whatever the yachts were using to hold them in position was useless. Looking at them, one was tied to a very small concrete block and the other just had its anchor, which had dragged along and had not been properly set. Its a bit of a crime really because at Eastney you can actually walk out and manually set the anchor at low tide.

Here are the useless anchors:

The Leisure 17 at the back of the Westerly has sustained a lot of damage, the pulpit rail had been ripped off  where it had slammed into the Westerly (ripping the Westerly's boarding ladder off in the process) and the jib roller reefing had been disconnected, which now puts the mast at risk due to the lack of forestay.

At the rear there was a hole in the hull and a large crack further towards the stern:

Finally yet another storm surge has eroded the banking at the top of the beach. Soon the fence will be undermined and then the buildings themselves will be at risk. Its the University's own fault because earlier in the year they cleared the banking of the bushes that might have protected it. Given its the University's department of Marine Biology you'd think they'd know about coastal erosion. lol.

So, the job tomorrow is to get out to Sprite 2 and check her over, fit some bits and also there's some work needed on the dinghy. Busy day tomorrow as I'm doing some wiring on a mate's camper van later in the afternoon. He wants sexy blue LED strips adding to the interior of his mobile shag-pad. Lol.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Calm Between Storms

On Monday morning I got up early and nipped down to the boat before work to tie the chain down to the bow roller.

The wind had dropped right down and it was easy to row out to the boat and back. The water was like a millpond.

Went down there this afternoon and it was like a hurricane, with breaking waves and confused gusty winds.

The bad news is over the previous weekend the drogue bucket I had tied to the stern had snapped its handles and been lost, so today Sprite was wandering all over the place. I'll get another bucket on there this weekend and also I have upgrades for Sprite and the Dinghy, but more of them at the weekend.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Culinary Corner (Number 1 of a Series)

Here I present the Skint Sailor System for liquid refreshment:

Okay I admit I haven't patented it yet. It looks like just an insulated mug, but lets have a peek at the important stuff inside:

What's inside is a couple of sachets of Kenco 3in1 coffee with milk and sugar already added. Enough to keep me going on the boat for a few hours. Just add boiling water!

Of course if you prefer sugar-free coffee, Kenco do 2in1 too. Now I'm the skint sailor, so why would I be recommending something that is more expensive than coffee on its own?

Well, once you weigh up the cost and inconvenience of storing coffee and sugar aboard a damp boat or caravan (most people have had to throw away a jar of coffee with a solid coffee lump at the bottom and the same with sugar) you appreciate an alternative that avoids the cost and mess.

With the skint sailor system the problems of damp are eliminated, as are the problems of carting fresh milk to the boat every time, or the problems of damp again creating a lumpy or mouldy mess in the bottom of the powdered milk container.

Just pop a couple of these sachets in the insulated mug and take to the boat. Once there, boil the kettle, open the sachet and pour into the mug and add the boiling water. The insulated mug extends the time the coffee stays warm on winter days which helps at this time of year. The Kenco sachets contain a healthy amount of coffee so you don't get wishy-washy brews

Of course you could just fill a flask at home and take it to the boat, but unless its a stainless flask there's a risk of breakage and consequent loss of beverage just when you most need it.

Rectifier er, Rectified.

I got a present through the post today: a nice new fuse holder from eBay for the rectifier. I'd tried to find the same fuse holder as originally fitted so I could just fit a replacement for the missing cap, but unfortunately hadn't found a match. Well, the thing must have been made in the Eighties!

While I had a spare moment this afternoon I replaced the fuse holder with the new one.

First open the thing up:

Then unsolder the wires from the old fuse holder:

Remonve old fuse holder and replace with brand new one. Then resolder the wires to the newly fitted fuse holder, making sure that the wires make a good mechanical connection as well as electrical, so that should the solder come undone, the wires stay connected. A must for mobile installations where vibration or corrosion could cause problems.

Reassemble and voila! Working rectifier. Test using power supply and confirm that AC input produces DC output. Job done.

At some point when the weather and tides are favourable refit to boat.

The only missing link in the charging chain is the wire underneath the connector on the stern, which has corroded completely away. So the connector needs removing and connections checking. If everything is good to go, then a short piece of twin-core wire to the existing wiring will bridge the gap.

Then I can finally tick it off my to-do list. Its been on there since September!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Radio Power

No, not a new Radio Station, I've been playing with an old mobile phone charger I was given to see if it would power my transistor radio.

Well, an LED and a resistor later, I can confirm it does work. By adding the LED I can drop the voltage of the unit to the 3 volts the radio needs. Excellent and free!

It means I don't have to keep buying AA batteries all the time, I can run the radio off the boat battery.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

More Storm Damage

I work in Portsmouth so on my trip in from Havant, I pass the top end of Langstone harbour. To my surprise I noticed a mast very close to the main road, so thought I'd take a look.

This is the sight I was greeted with, yet another yacht cast adrift by the stormy weather:

Luckily for the owner there looked to be no damage and it was resting nicely against the concrete sea wall.

Sorry for the intruding finger in the pictures, but I was holding onto the phone for dear life as the wind was trying to rip it out of my hand and bowl me over!

Its quite a nice Jenneau so its obviously been looked after, but again I assume the mooring line has chafed and snapped. How easily thousands of pounds worth of damage can be caused by neglecting a few quids worth of rope... You can see the remains of the mooring bridle (the dark rope) still looped onto the forward cleats.

Anyhow I sent the pictures off the Langstone Harbour board when I got into work and they hopefully contacted the owner today. Not sure how they'd get it off the wall with the winds as bad as they are. I'll see in the morning if its still there. This morning it was secure, but its very accessible and there's no guarantee it'll be secure tomorrow.

I do keep banging on about it, but really there's no substitute for chain in weather like this, especially if you're leaving a boat for any length of time. Either that or go to extreme lengths to eliminate chafe. A bit of time and a few quid spent now can eliminate a disaster happening and reduce all our insurance premiums. Something the Skint Sailor approves of.

Although just to show it isn't us amateur sailors that have problems, on the southern shore of Farlington Marshes, a cardinal Buoy had washed up on the beach!

It was some stormy weather last night!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Sailors talk about it all the the time (the weather that is) and this weekend there has been plenty of it.

Yesterday we had blue sky but some atrocious showers including sleet and hail, but the worst thing was the relentless wind. Sprite 2 the little minx had thrown the mooring chain off the bow roller again, but this time on the side where the roller reefing fixes to the assembly. I spent 10 minutes rowing out to her against the wind (something that normally takes 3 minutes at most). Once I got to her no sooner had I pulled alongside and pulled the oars in, than the wind had pushed the dinghy away from the boat. I tried a couple of times but thought against making a desperate grab for the boat and capsizing.

So I retreated and hoped things would work out and that I wouldn't find a knackered reefing system or worst still be dismasted.

Today was clear, with blue sky, no showers and a manageable wind. I got out to Sprite 2 easily enough and made a start on the thing that was probably first on my to-do list, the charging system. Some of you may remember this thing from one of my earlier blogs last year:

I was curious to see what was inside, and seeing as the fuseholder on the side needs changing, I brought it home and opened it up.

I thought it may have some electronics in it to regulate the charge to the battery from the engine, you know, something a bit sophisticated and technical.

Here's what's inside:

Not a lot really. Just a bridge rectifier a fuse and a meter. The rectifier uses the ally plate as a heat sink.

I don't know how much it cost originally, but if it was boat-related then I bet it wasn't cheap. I'm not sure if I'll keep it in its current for or change it to make it more compact. There's an awful lot of space in there and it could really be combined with a solar charger and volt meter readout in the same size.

The rectifier needs cleaning up as there's rust at the back of it anyway and the fuse holder needs changing, so at a bare minimum that's what I'll do.

I also brought the engine home today for a service, so that's a job I'll do in the next few weeks. At least I have a few jobs I can do while I'm waiting for the weather to improve.

And to prove I do have people looking at my blog, I have a follower! A lady emailed me earlier in the week asking for advice. She's looking to buy a boat and is interested in one down at Eastney, so she might be a waterside neighbour soon! See we're a friendly lot down at Eastney!