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

Friday, 30 May 2014


The previous owner of Sprite, Pam, emailed me the day before yesterday saying she'd found some other boating items and would I like them. I picked them up last night.

Here are some of the items:

Bless you Pam, you're a star. The whisker pole and the anchor are both items I'd been looking at on eBay already to see if I could get cheaply, so I will make good use of those. The sort of wistful "If I can get one for under a tenner..." eBay searches I do quite a bit of.

It did work out with my dinghy bits, the ones I got for £6, but winning auctions so cheaply on eBay is a pretty rare thing these days.

Plus currently its the silly season price-wise on eBay; everyone is stocking up because the new season has started, so eBay prices have firmed up quite dramatically for boaty bits.

All of the other items I will find uses for. The lamp I can wire up with a length of cable and make into an anchor light. The cleats will be going on the dinghy, the chain will secure the engine and... well lets say I'll find a place and a use for everything.

All I can say is thank you very much Pam. I'm glad you're enjoying watching Sprite being renewed and used.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bottom Cleaning

Yesterday I scraped the weed and barnacles off the bottom of the boat. It was pretty badly encrusted after a few years without maintenance. I attacked it first with a stiff brush, but then found the only thing that would shift it was a garden hoe.

I took a picture of the keel when I'd scraped half the encrustation off. The whole hull under the waterline was just as bad.

After the under waterline hull was sorted, I cleaned the hull above water. So now it looks a bit better. I put it on the beach at 9am and then refloated at 7:30 at night. By the time I came off the boat it was 8:30. A long day.

Then I did it all over again today on Jim's boat...

I ache!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Skint Sailor Sail Loft

I stitched up my jib sail today.

I practised first on my spare dinghy sail which went well, then went for it on the jib. And the sewing machine didn't want to work. It seems it was man enough to push a needle through two layers of Dacron, but not through three. The machine kept stalling. So I went old-school and manually turned the sewing machine pulley for the whole length of the jib sail. I think my arm might ache in the morning! Needless to say I didn't stitch the UV strip on, as the sewing machine had a tough enough time stitching just the sail.

The edge of the sail was in a sorry state. It had come away from the sail for almost all the length of the sail, plus the thin rope had pulled out.

So with the use of a pen, I threaded the rope back through the portion of the edge tape still attached.

Then it was two and a half hours of graft turning that pulley running a zig-zag stitch up the length of the sail. There was one small tear that got double stitched to make sure it didn't grow.

So that's the jib sorted ready for the weekend. Hopefully after sorting Jim's furling system and scrubbing the growth off the bottom of Sprite, I may get a proper sail in. I'm hoping to get a day's worth of sailing done on Sunday. The tide is high around 9 in the morning and 10 at night. Hopefully I can slip out on the ebb in the morning and be back on the incoming tide around 8, while there's still light.

All weather dependent of course. Currently the forecast is for the rubbish weather to clear up by the weekend, with wind in the region of f2-f3. Ideal.

I may even sleep over on the boat on Saturday night. I've not slept on it for a while.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Small and Big Stuff Done Today

Yesterday was the last day of babysitting, so today I was able to nip down to the boat.

First job was to put the pulley I'd bought on the downhaul, which replaces the basic shackle the line was running through and will save the rope from chafing.

Yep, its a Lewmar. Not bad quality for a few quid.

I re-oiled the handrails. To be honest they are going grey again and rather than sand and use the teak oil I might just stain them next time.

I took a picture of the Fire Extinguisher I fitted last time:

Not a car accessory Extinguisher this one: its a proper 1Kg job. Robbed from our caravan which I'm trying to sell if only the non-paying bidders on eBay would let me. Maybe eBay needs to start suspending NPBs for serious amounts of time on there as the problem is a lot worse than it used to be. The last two major items I've sold on eBay I've been messed about by winning bidders.

I also brought aboard a couple of items that I'd recently bought. The first was an extension for the 12 volt socket that Aldi sold again this week. I got one last year for the car and with 2 USB sockets and three 12v sockets its pretty invaluable. One of the guys at work asked me to get one for his campervan when I got mine this week.

They are on the Aldi website here:

If you have an Aldi nearby I'd pay them a visit and get one, they are really handy.

The big job of the day was fitting new locker tops. This involved major planning as I had to be on the boat early in order to have time to remove the old top and side, then row ashore and use the jigsaw powered by the generator to cut new tops.

The tops were cut and taken back to the boat, but I only had time to fit one side. By the time I'd drilled the holes for the hinges, laid the first coat of woodstain, fitted the front panel back on and fitted the locker top it was time to come off the boat. But having one new and one old side by side shows the difference:

The old ones really have had it. The top looks OK I guess they were varnished or stained on the top but underneath the edges are rotten. One of the constant bugbears on Sprite are the little bits of wood in the cockpit that have flaked off the locker tops. Hopefully once replaced that won't be a problem.

If you look behind the orange rope on the picture, you'll notice a lump of wood. That's going to get a sanding and a coat of woodstain as well.

The locker tops in the end worked out pretty reasonable. Ten quid for exterior grade ply from Wickes and a five pound tin of woodstain from Wilkos. The brushes were Wilco's cheapie range (I think 3 quid for a set) but good enough to splodge on some woodstain.

Next week is a Bank Holiday, so possibly three days of boatiness. The tides look set to be good for running the boat up on the beach to give the hull a scrub down. No chance of anti-fouling yet as the stuff is so expensive, but the boat will  get a few weeks of clean bum before we get clingons again.

Jim needs his boat up on the beach so he can drop his mast and have a look at his jib furling mechanism. The top section has come out of place and is dangling. Its been like that since we went to Cowes last year. That'll be the second day of the weekend taken up. So if I can get the Jib Sail restitched then I might have at least one day of sailing. With a high tide in the morning and one in the evening it might be a good time to have a good long trip out into the Solent.

I've got details for joining the SeaWych Owners Association as well. Seems reasonable at £15 for a year's membership. That'll be something for next month when funds allow.

At some point mid-week I might nip down after work and re-fit the spray dodgers now I have some thin rope (purchased at Netley boat jumble last week).

I'll also get round to fitting and staining the other locker top and the

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Almost Non-Boat Weekend Again.

This weekend I'm babysitting one of the Grandkids and with the weather being so bad I won't be rowing out to the boat in the dinghy.

Instead I went to the boat jumble at Netley. I got to buy a couple of small bits for the and Grandson got a ride on a train and an hour on the swings and slides in the park. Win-Win really.

I got some 3mm rope for tying the spray dodgers back where they belong, A couple of rope pockets to help tidy up the cockpit when sailing and a pulley for the downhaul.

Hopefully I'll get them fitted in the next week or so.

I did manage a late after work hour or so on the boat this week to check on the tiller pilot installation. The epoxy seems to have set ok and the 6 screws seem to hold the wooden block in place.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


There's a flock of Oystercatchers that have sort of taken of residence in Eastney pool. As I was packing up to leave yesterday some landed on the boat behind mine and the others flew around my boat calling to them.

Weird looking things they are, stunning Black and white plumage and a massive long red beak.

One thing I can spot on the video is I'm still quite breathless after my chest infection. Dragging the dinghy up the beach is a real chore at the moment.

Monday, 5 May 2014

No Sailing Today but Jobs Done.

Today was about crossing jobs off the list.

The first thing I did was woodstain the wooden block on the outboard bracket. Its now a bit more weatherproof than it was before.

Second job of the day was to sort out the socket for the tiller pilot pin. I'd taken the generator to the boat but couldn't get it to start, so I manually drilled out the hole for the socket into the wooden block under the deck, which took a while longer than I originally planned. I then epoxied the socket into the hole. I'll leave it a while so the epoxy can set. I'll probably give it a test next week.

Next job was to drop the jib sail. I'd brought some cheap rope with me so I tied it onto the end of the jib Halyard and dropped the sail. I brought the jib home this evening and laid it out on the grass outside the house. Basically the stitching on the edge strip has rotted and the leech edging strip has come loose. Its also pulled the small rope that reinforces the leech out from the bottom, so I need to get that back in place somehow. With the stitching coming undone I might as well unpick what's on there now and re-stitch the complete leech edging strip back on complete with rope.

I have two options: The cheap option is to just redo the stitching with rot-proof thread and put it back on the boat. The less cheap option is to remove and refit the UV strip as well as redoing the stitching. Which happens depends on bills and if I sell my caravan on eBay this week!

I also fitted a LIDL fire extinguisher into the cabin, which complements the LIDL Fire Blanket. So Fire Safety is now covered.

I didn't take any photos as I tried to pack everything into a couple of hours. High tide was late today so I got on the boat around three and was off again by half five.

Hopefully the sail will be a quick turnaround so I can get back sailing.

Back to The Boat at Last

After a fortnight away, I finally got back onto the boat today. After a long break I tried to cram a few jobs in.

Yesterday I got a tiller pin for the tiller pilot from Marine Superstore. I fitted it to the point I'd already marked on the tiller and epoxied it into place.

Today was about sorting the other end of the tiller pilot, the swivel pin socket. A few posts ago I reported that whatever strengthening block fitted under the deck had gone, so today I fitted a new block. 6 Stainless Screws hold it in place, which should deal with the torque of the device. I need to take the generator and my mains drill to the boat tomorrow so that I can drill out the 13mm hole for the pivot socket. Once that's done I can glue it in place.

That will be that job done then.

I also looked at the jib. Its looking a bit poorly and the strip along the leech of the sail has come adrift. It looks like the fabric of the edge of the sail has failed, so I don't know yet whether its fixable. Anyway to get the sail down it looks like I need some thin rope, as the halyard that holds the jib up is only long enough to go through the block at the top of the roller reefing and then down to the bottom. If I'm to drop the sail I need to add some rope to the halyard so that I can pull it back when I re-install the jib. So that's a visit to B&Q or Wilkos for some cheap thin rope tomorrow if they're open.

The final job was to put Sprite II's name and home port on her stern. I'd had the stickers for a couple of months but it hasn't been a priority. Today I had time to spare.

Here's how it looked once fitted:

I thought I'd add the mooring number just for the harbourmaster in case the painted on number wears off my mooring buoy.

As you can see the stern ladder is now nicely stained. Here's a closer look:

I forgot to take the woodstain to stain the wooden block on the outboard bracket, but if I remember tomorrow I'll do that.

You'll notice in the picture I've bought a couple of pound-shop solar lanterns to fit on the traveller. They're there to provide a small light to light the cockpit at night.

So hopefully tomorrow the tiller pilot will be installed, the jib will be down for repair and I might have had a small trip up the harbour. A bit more progress.

I'd rather be sailing but not with the jib in the state it is.