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

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Yet Another Short Visit

Very neap tides today, not even 4.0m on the tide gauge so literally only 1.5 hours on the boat to do stuff. So little time in fact I didn't have time to take pictures of what I've been up to. Plus it was an 8am start today thanks to the tide times.

However the next time I'm on board I should have time for some snaps.

The first thing I did today (after making a coffee) was fit chunkier wiring onto the solar panel. Even though the original wiring was ok for 11 amps, there was still a bit of a volt drop between the terminals on the panel and the connector on the boat. So I fitted 20amp wiring. No volt drop whatsoever now! The solar panel regulator still doesn't see any amps coming from the panel but at least it does see charge coming from it now.

The off-load reading of the panel at the connector was 20.1v and the on-load voltage is now 13.02, so its a bit higher than the 12-ish volts I saw before. I'm not sure if I'll beef up the wiring from the solar panel to the battery. That may be the next step to reduce the voltage loss to the battery terminals even further. 13 volts still seems a bit low. I'm not sure whether to invest in another 10W solar panel to increase the voltage so I can run equipment without draining the battery and also charge a flat battery up quickly.

The other thing I did was to lift the jib halyards from deck level of the boat, up about 6 inches. This reflects the lift I made of the jib last year. If anyone remembers, the jib was fouling the pulpit rail, so I lifted it about 6 inches with an extended shackle or two. Of course that affected the shape of the jib and it was nigh on impossible to slacken the leech to put some twist into the sail. All you could do was tighten the leech but the sail would still have a flapping foot. Lifting the halyard from the jib track to a pulley 6 inches above the jib track seems to have put some shape back into the jib, with a tighter foot and some slack in the leech.

Now adjusting the car on the track should give me the ability to make some adjustments in the sail shape.

So at 10:30 I was off the boat, with a quick visit to the chuck wagon next to the lifeboat station for a bacon roll before heading home. :-)

It was interesting that the water was clear today, I assume thanks to the slow tide not stirring the mud up. Not once did I lose sight of the bottom which is unusual. Mind you at the tides highest point, I only saw 0.6m under the keel, so it wasn't that deep at all.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


I've been watching the round the island race this morning. This year there has been live HD streaming of the event which has been great for this armchair sailor.

It looks as though the conditions have been almost ideal today with a decent amount of wind and sunny weather.

Viewing the streamed service on my Smart TV
Considering its up there with the likes of marathons and the great runs paticipation-wise, its surprising that its not covered by one of the major TV channels.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Less than a Month

There's less than a month until I have my Week's holiday on board Sprite 2.

I finish work on Friday the 17th and hopefully start cruising on Saturday the 18th. Sod's law says that something may crop up on the Saturday or I may not have got everything done I needed to so Saturday may even just be a shakedown day, but I'm in no rush, I have the week to myself.

So things I'd like to accomplish are, in no particular order:

1. a sail up Portsmouth harbour and possibly up Fareham creek.

2. a Sail up Southampton Water.

3. a stop over at New Town or Yarmouth.

4. a trip to and a night in Poole harbour.

5. attendance at the Small Sailboat Yahoo group getogether.

6. watch the Americas Cup World Series races from the water whilst avoiding colliding with anything and becoming a statistic or a TV celebrity for the wrong reasons.

7. get back to Eastney safely.

I'm not sure how many I can tick off the list but hopefully I can get most ticked off.

Of course the weather could have other ideas...

Monday, 22 June 2015

Boat Clearance 2

Went down to the boat today and the Harbourmaster definitely has been busy sticking notices on the boats.

Here's a selection, although there are more than I could snap in a lunchtime flyby:

First was Doug's boat::

Then Merganser, that hasn't had a ticket on it for a couple of years:

Also the Westerly that got blown up the beach at the start of 2014:

Even this tidy Snapdragon has a notice on it:

This Leisure 17...

Mashooka normally leads a charmed life, but she's now got a removal notice:

This motor boat too...

And a few more boats besides... I said the harbour board have been busy didn't I?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Boat Clearance

I had a couple of hours on the boat yesterday, doing some tidying of the wiring an swabbing the decks from mucky footprints and the muddy anchor after last week.

While I was there the Harbourmaster come round and took a boat off the beach. I guess there's another round of boat clearance in progress. I assume it hadn't had harbour dues paid on it. Surprising given it's in pretty good nick. I know the owner sold the engine off it last year, but since then the boat has been rattling round on the beach.

I just wonder if the video from last week was something to do with this and if any other boats will disappear from the beach.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Hidden Gem

With a month to go now to the Americas Cup World Series event here in Portsmouth I thought I'd start trawling t'internet to find related sites so I can collate them into my sidebar.

I've had a link the Ben Ainslie Racing since last year and the Portsmouth News (not the richest newspaper) has just launched an Americas Cup specific website as well.

I thought I'd have a look at what the BBC are getting up to now the days are really counting down to the Americas Cup.

Well if you go to the BBC News website and then select the Sport option from the bar at the top of the page, you get plenty of sports news. You can then click on "All Sports" on the left hand side of the sport selection bar and you supposedly get a list of all the sports covered by the BBC. You'd be forgiven for thinking that they don't cover sailing at all because it simply isn't listed in their list of sports. Bad form from the BBC considering they're covering the ACWS next month with coverage of the race highlights.

Yet a Google search will allow you to jump into BBC sailing related articles, all with a \sport\sailing domain.

So, if you really dig and search for it, eventually you get the BBC Sport Sailing page:

From that you can jump off to the page for BBC radio Solent's H2O Show, which contains a number of podcasts from the H2O show. All pretty relevant for me as it's a local station, but it's a gem of a page, with articles on local events like the old gaffer's festival. You can download them to MP3 for listening in the car or on the boat. Very handy for those with an interest in sailing.

The sad thing is that the BBC haven't yet got anything specific going on with their web pages regarding the ACWS race. Time's tight and it would be nice if the UK's national broadcaster had something on its pages dedicated to this major sailing event.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Mast Rigging

Yesterday (Tuesday) was my second day off work and I spend a couple of hours on Sprite sorting out my bent mast.

I noticed a couple of days ago that the top of the mast had a distinct curve to port after I changed the rigging turnbuckles, so I set to straightening it. I removed the boom so I could lie on the cabin roof and look up the mast. Not the easiest or comfiest thing to do, scampering off the cabin, into the dinghy and then adjusting the turnbuckles.

I got it straight and then had a coffee.

While i had my coffee I watched a couple of what looked like lecturers were on top of the Portsmouth Uni buildings with a video camera taking video of the harbour and the beach (including wrecks) below the Uni buildings:

Anyway after refitting the boom I thought I'd take a picture of the straight mast to show off my prowess at rigging. This is the picture:

As you can see there's a bend at the top to starboard. Looks like I'd over-done the adjustment. Mind you it is the first time I've adjusted a mast, so I had no idea how far the mast would move due to adjustment of the turnbuckles.

Anyway, the lightbulb came on, because if I could see the bend by just taking a picture on my mobile, it saves me lying down on the deck, removing the mast etc.

So that's what I did: do half turns on the turnbuckles and take a picture to see the results. It seems only small adjustments were needed, a lot smaller than I anticipated. After a couple of pics the mast was as straight as I could get it:

It might need a slight tweak in future: those spreaders look a bit odd and its not quite perfectly straight, but not bad for a first try!

And that was my Tuesday on the boat done apart from wiring the rigging to stop it coming undone again.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Quick Check

I've finally managed to have a couple of days off work. I have to cover a couple of different departments at work and people I cover have been on holiday for the past few weeks. Couple that with shows and bank holidays, it's been several weeks since I got a day off authorised.

So today I nipped down to the boat to make sure it wasn't sinking thanks to me scraping chunks off the bottom and getting the speedo wheel working.

While I was there I took a photo of the newly tidied 12v sockets:

All tucked up under the plate rack out of the way. I have 3 12v sockets fed from the original single socket.

To the right you can see my light switch. One switch switches the cabin lights on, the second switches from white to red in the cabin and the third switches on the red lights in the cockpit.

To the right of the switch is the 12v socket for my solar panel.

Luckily the bilges were dry so no worries in the leak department.

So just after high tide I came off and went home. I have a lawn to mow...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Very Productive Day

Yesterday I spent all day on Sprite. Well not so much on board, I'd put her on the beach, but I did quite a few jobs while she was there. I unhooked from the mooring at 11:30, which was just over 2 hours past high tide. That way I could just beach her and I knew then that I'd be floating well before high tide in the evening.

First off, while I was waiting for the water to recede I got to work in the cabin brewing a cuppa. :-)

Next job in the cabin was to sort out the fixings for the table. It fits in several places on the boat, but the chart table position fixings had broken. It just needed a couple of pieces of thin plywood to sort out the brackets, but its something I'd not gotten round to. So out came the hacksaw and the hand drill to make some. Job done in an hour or so:

Table in place. That cup looks empty.... time for another brew!

By then the water had receded far enough to have a look at the state of the greenery attached to the hull of Sprite.

This picture was taken on my Hudl2, the rest on my Galaxy S2.

So I set to with my favourite tool, the garden hoe. It's got a handle long enough to keep you away from the nastiness but it certainly works scraping the hull clean. Last year I didn't have anything to lay on, so I left the hull between the keels untouched. This time I was prepared, so set to work with a small scraper.

I found that between the keels there were barnacles upon barnacles, creating a layer about 1cm thick in places! Don't get me started on how fouled the speed sensor for the log was... but I cleared it and got it spinning again. Just need a head unit now...

Eventually after much scraping the hull looked like this:

Its not pretty but its free from weed and barnacles.
Free from weed maybe, but that staining looks unsightly.
Something the Mrs keeps having a go at me about. She like a pristine boat she does.

Yeah, one day  I'll be able to afford to antifoul under the waterline.

Not sure if you can see the amount of barnacles on the ground. There were lots!

So... Bottom declagged, what next. Well, I've seen the videos on youtube about cleaning hulls with oxalic acid. As you can see, I had a major staining thing going on with the hull. So for just over a tenner I got a kilo of oxalic acid crystals delivered off eBay.

I used about 200 grammes in 2 litres of water. That de-stained the whole hull!

As if by magic the staining has gone.

I need to research removing waterline algae next if the acid hasn't killed it.

Within minutes of application with a sponge, the hull had returned to white.

I don't have any pictures, but it even reduced the rust stains on the transom.

All I can say is, its great stuff for cleaning staining off the hull. I bought a kilo and only used 200 grammes, so I have four more hull cleaning sessions before I need to buy any more!

One word of warning is don't use it on painted surfaces, because it will bleach the paint.

So, once done it was back inside to brew another coffee and wait for the water to return. I did a couple of jobs that I'd been ignoring like screwing the 12v sockets in the cabin in place properly. Then a well earned rest for an hour or so, resting my back.

Finally the water stopped slopping under the hull and started floating the boat, so I could pull Sprite off the beach using the anchor. The force 5 that had been blowing all day and prevented me having a look at the sails died down after dinner time which was a bonus as I got off the beach and hooked up without a fight. I was back on the mooring at 20:30.

What a lovely evening.

And today I'm full of bruises and I ache. Rest day today I think.

Updated to add the usual disclaimer: ALWAYS use Gloves and Eye protection when using Oxalic acid as its pretty nasty stuff.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Windy Wednesday

I had planned to do a shakedown sail this evening after work, as the tide was timed right and the weather had been fine for the past couple of days.

Then this morning the shipping forecast mentioned gales. Great. I don't really want to push the newly-tensioned rigging through anything extreme on a shakedown run so sailing was off the schedule.

I still persevered and even though it was blowing force 6 I rowed out to Sprite for a brew and a quick check over of a few things. Force 6 in the dinghy doesn't really faze me now after rowing out in a similar gale when Sprite was on the deep water mooring.

I checked my re-glued locker top and the rigging from the weekend. I can now adjust the mast because above the baby stays it has a slight kink in it. I also ran the outboard with some Redex in the petrol as it was not sounding right last weekend. Probably a bit gummed up from not being run.

I brewed a cuppa and came off the boat as the Wednesday night club from ECC were running up and down the harbour entrance which gave me some entertainment. Even the big boats were finding the wind a bit strong:Through the entrance to the harbour where it was more sheltered from the wind the y were upright, but once they had got clear and entered the harbour proper, they went over as the wind caught them.

A couple of boats went out of the harbour with heavily reefed sails. Brave souls!

There were a couple of strays at Eastney too, probably blown off course:

Then Jim and his other half turned up, they'd just been to the chippy and had come down to check on the boats and have dinner.

This weekend I want to put Sprite on the beach at low tide and scrub off the bottom, ready for next month's week-long cruise. The weather looks wet but I have a tarpaulin I can put over the cockpit to keep things dry. I also have a decent waterproof coat. I've ordered some oxalic acid crystals off ebay so I can have a bash at removing the water staining on the hull. There's some rust stains on the transom that could do with being removed too.

Morning high tide on Saturday is 09:16 (4.4m), the low is at 14:47 and the late high is at 21:53 (4.7m). Hopefully I can stick her on the beach two hours after the high and float off two hours before the next high.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Good Weekend

I finally got more than a fleeting visit aboard the boat.

Saturday I was babysitting all day, but Sunday I got out to the boat as early as possible, about 3 hours before high tide.

I had to repair one of my locker tops that had started splitting: my fault for using exterior grade plywood I suppose. Some Marine ply will be on the shopping list this autumn then.

I also sorted the other turnbuckle on the main stay. Jim snapped me at work from his boat:

The dinghy looks almost as big as Sprite, which at 14ft I guess it is!

Here's a zoomed in look:

With that complete, it was a case of have a brew and wait for high tide and another job: using Sprite 2 to move Nicky's yacht Meagles to a new mooring down the beach.

Not an easy task given the number of mooring ropes fouling the shoreline from all the boats on or very nearly on the beach. But with a bit of effort we got Meagles away from the ropes and into clear enough water to move her down the beach.

No pictures of this yet. I was too busy at the time! But Jim took some from a distance so I may be able to post them later.

So a swim from Nicky pulling ropes out to us and me using Sprite, we got Meagles down the beach to her new home.

Then back to my mooring for another brew and then pack up and row ashore.

All in all I think I had 4 hours aboard Sprite and the Sun shone all the time, so not a bad day at all