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.