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

Monday, 21 April 2014

Bank Holiday Weekend Washout.

Well, I'm glad I got some sailing in on Thursday because on Friday I picked up a cough. Went out to dinner with Jim and other friends, but had to cut it short as the cough was getting worse. I got sent to bed by the other half.

In the end I've been laid up in bed for three days so far and every bit of me aches.

So definitely no sailing for me, I don't think I could safely drive a car as at regular intervals I erupt into really hacking coughing fits. The sort that leave you totally breathless and with an aching chest.

To add to the misery on Friday the boiler packed up and the landlady isn't answering her calls, nor is the normal boiler-fixing firm either. So its freezing in here hence why I'm staying in bed.

Now I've had breakfast and tablets its back to bed for me. Day 4. Lovely.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

First Solo Sail

Today I had my first solo sail.

I took half a day off work and de-stressed. Just up the harbour and back, mainly to check I could do everything on my own.

Everything worked fine and I had a couple of hours sailing while the tide was high. The only downside is the UV strip on the jib is loose, so I need to drop the jib and learn how to use a sewing machine!

Here my first solo sailing selfie:

Note the dinghy towed behind just in case...
The harbour was quiet, with just a handful of other yachts on the move. There were a couple of dinghies from the outdoor centre which looked like they were training, being followed by a safety boat, thankfully just taking a tour round the harbour and not getting in the way.

I doubt the harbour will be so quiet over the weekend.

Hardly a soul in sight. 
Not a bad couple of hours and I know now that I can sail single-handed if I need to. I can pick up the mooring quite easily even when the wind picks up like it did today. Hopefully each time I go out from now on I'll gain in confidence.

I just need to do some fettling on the sails and get the tiller pilot installed to make things safer and easier.

Oh, and I need to dig my life jacket out of the wardrobe and actually wear it when on the boat.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Messing about in boats

Today Jim and myself decided to slip the moorings and both go out in our boats. Jim's mooring was a bit harder to slip as his chain got jammed up in the bow roller, but eventually we freed it.

We'd gone for about 15 minutes when Jim's engine started playing up again. I towed him back to his mooring.

It looks like rubbish in the tank is getting into the carb. His fuel line doesn't have a filter and I really think he needs one. We got his engine running properly again, but by then it was a bit too late to go out again. We basically just messed about today, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine.

Me towing Jim back.

More towing action: me turning Jim's boat around.

Just before Jim's engine conked out.

Also, we found that our boats are really close to each other. So close that if Jim attaches his mooring line to the rear of his boat, he can just about raft up with mine:

Maybe I'll have the time, tide and weather to go out into the harbour later this week. I may just slap the outboard on the dinghy and go exploring up the other side of the harbour..

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A Long Day

 The tide is early again this weekend, so I was out of the door at 08:30 this morning and got down to the boat by 9.

I spent my time watching the E.C.A. launching boats that had been overwintered on the hard, did a few small jobs waiting for Jim to arrive and also chatted to Ben as he drove his boat around the pond.

Looking at fitting the tiller pilot, I checked out the socket for the pivot pin. The socket was quite loose, so I pulled it out. When looking from the outside there are 4 screws, which (I thought) held a strengthening block of wood under the GRP. They possibly did a long time ago, but there was no evidence of any wood there this morning. Bummer. What I thought would be simple "re-epoxy the socket back in place" job just got a bit bigger.

Jim arrived about 10 and I packed up and transferred over to his boat. As I was still to finish working on his main engine, we tried his seagull outboard. It was a bad start as he forgot the starting cord. I got his outboard running, but every now and then it wanted to die, so we decided not to go out and try his rudder, just in case the engine gave up at the wrong moment.

In the end we just watched the boat launchings and chatted.

The weather started turning cold so we packed up, but not before Jim gave me a pulley for my downhaul. Cheers Jim!

Once home I wood -stained the boarding ladder and outboard block that fit on the pushpit. They're one of the few areas of grey wood left, so they got refurbished this afternoon. I also dragged Jim's outboard out of the shed and set to work dismantling its carburettor. The float needle got a blast of cleaner and WD40, then I noticed the main jet was pretty clogged with deposits, so I unscrewed it to have a look at it.

The carb on this outboard was a bit strange to me in that there is a main jet at the bottom of a chamber, and then off that there was a passage and then above that was another jet which I assume is the idle/pilot jet.

The main jet was clogged with deposits, so I blasted it with carb cleaner. and then blasted the passage above it and the pilot jet with carb cleaner as well.

I screwed everything back together and.... success! The engine started straight away on choke, then when the choke was removed, idled sweetly. I adjusted the idle speed, then had a play with the pilot screw until I got the engine to run, stop and restart easily. after 30 mins of chasing round the settings (adjusting one affects the other), the engine runs fine cold or warm and starts easily cold or warm as well.

So its ready to go back on Jim's boat for testing tomorrow.

After that I cut a few pieces of plywood and glued them together to make a block up ready to screw under the deck GRP to support the tiller pilot pin tomorrow.

So tomorrow should be a good day. Jim wants to try his outboard and new rudder in the harbour. I'll probably accompany him in Sprite, so I can be rescue boat if necessary.

Should be an interesting day...

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

First Late Evening Visit.

No we're on BST and the days are getting long enough, there's enough time after work to make it worthwhile to nip onto the boat and do some stuff.

Yesterday I went down after work and put the newly-proofed sail cover over the main sail.

I also took some photos of the sheets and halyards to figure out which would be the best way to route them all.

Chimet was reporting F6-F7 from the West and yes it was blowing quite badly over the pond, creating a bit of a swell, which make the trip out in the dinghy interesting, especially on the waves that broke over the bow!

During the time on the boat the wind died down, but here's a late evening picture of the evening:


No, the title of this post doesn't refer to some new whizzo electronic chamber pot, but an idea I have to create a boat owner's group on Facebook.

Jim and myself are regular visitors to Eastney, turning up there probably two or three times a week, so we quite often get asked to check up on various owner's boats.

I've been asked specifically asked to look after a boat this week while the owner is away, but some of the owners live quite far away. One lives in Wales and another lives in Birmingham, and it would be handy if they had links to a group that allowed them to keep abreast of what's going on around their boat as well as be able to be contacted quickly in case of a problem. For instance some of the boats that lost their moorings or sunk over the winter storms might have had a better outcome if they had been able to be contacted quickly and organise some help.

So, I was thinking of setting up a closed user group on Facebook, the Eastney Boat Owner's Group. (E.B.O.G.), or some other means of creating and managing a group.

Those of us that are regular visitors already tend to look after each other's boats, share ideas and help each other where necessary anyway, so its just really an extension of that. (Meagles was fine Yesterday Nicky BTW).

Any readers got any views on the idea?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

First Sail: Video.

Here's a short video of me and Jim sailing Sprite 2 in Langstone harbour. We had an hour sailing up the harbour and back in mist and light winds. The engine worked, the rig worked and the light wind we had was just right for trying stuff out.

The little wind we had shows she sails quite reasonably. The occasional gust we had made her pick up and scoot along quite well.

I'm actually quite impressed.

Now to sort out somewhere for all the rope to go, because it was getting on my nerves continually being sat on!

Here are some more pictures of the historic event:

The sails work quite well. 3 knots when the wind picked up a little.

Not much wind at this point as evidenced by the lack of wake.

Jim posing at the front of the boat. lol.
All in all its been 9 months since I took ownership if Sprite 2, but really 2 of those were abandoned due to the storms, so in reality its taken 7 months of work to get to the point I can sail her. To keep costs down its been slow but steady progress. Now everything works as it should I can concentrate on the less major jobs.

The main priority is to source a depth sounder, as I'm paranoid about running aground. Especially in Langstone where the bottom is very close to the surface. Its a hard task finding a cheap one on eBay. It looks like the transducers already on Sprite are for a NASA instrument, probably a Clipper Duet, but Duets get quite (very) expensive. I might try and get a different depth sounder that's compatible with the NASA transducers rather than get a Clipper Duet. I can save money by ditching the speed log as my phone's GPS function can tell me that.

As it was I used my phone's chartplotter app to keep to the deep water channel rather than use real under the keel depth data.

Locker tops come a close second as priorities. Then I'm thinking of resealing all the deck fittings as it gets warmer.

All I can say is thank you to Sprite 2's previous owner Pam for letting me have her and I hope she still watches this blog and is happy that Sprite 2 is now back sailing again.

I've already dug out the tiller pilot that Pam gave me just after I got Sprite 2. There's a problem with the wiring to it. The tiller pilot works OK on a power supply at home, but plug it into the socket in Sprite's cockpit and it sits there forlornly with dim lights. I suspect corroded wiring reducing the amount of current to the tiller pilot. It needs a LOT of current to work properly! Hopefully it won't take months to fix like the charging circuit, as I have wire now!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

First Sail

I've sailed Sprite 2 properly today for the first time.. not a lot of wind, but enough of it for an hour in the harbour. What a great day. Pictures and video to follow as I'm not home yet.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sunny Weather

I've been working more or less non-stop for the past week and a bit. The sunny weather not only enthuses us boaters, but also reinvigorates sports car owners. So I've had a tidal surge of technical enquiries to deal with at work. Now its nice to be busy, but after my stroke last year its dangerous to be stressed for too long.

I needed a break.

Well, the misty weather this morning forewarned of warm sunny weather this afternoon, so the half-day was booked and duly at lunchtime I legged it out of the building into blinding sunlight and warm temperatures.

Jim was texted and I think it was the quickest he got down to the boats ever!

I spent the first half hour or so seizing the new rigging. With all of them wired and the locking nuts tightened up the chances of them undoing are slim.

Jim arrived and there wasn't a breath of wind down there. Shame really as I'd love to have hoisted the sails, but great for getting the cockpit cushions out, having a brew and a relaxed natter. Just what I needed after the pressure of work.

Not quite as calm as when I arrived but still lovely weather.
The tide turned and we rowed over to Jim's boat to get his outboard off. After a bit of hassle undoing the seized clamps (its been on the transom all winter) we got it off and I transported it back to mine so I can work on it to get it idling properly again.