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

Monday, 24 August 2015

Depressed Market

I have a regular search on eBay for cheap boats. From what I've seen over the past few weeks this seems to be the year to buy a boat. 

I guess due to the poor weather this year prices seem to be quite a way down on last year.

Just in the past few days a Westerly Pageant went for less than £800. Okay it had leaky keels, but its not a problem beyond the DIY'er and a week or so on the beach a neaps.

There have been a few Westerly Centaurs that have gone for under £4000. That's a pretty low benchmark for Centaurs, probably about a grand under what a similar Centaur would have commanded last year. 

Other smaller boats are going for a few hundred quid and I've seen small project boats going for under £200. 

So if you're going to buy, buy this year but bargain hard. 

Battening Down

It was an ideal day for sailing on Saturday, but I had to ferry my youngest from UNI in London back to his mother's in Oxford.

He'd amassed a bit more stuff than he started with a year ago and so needed the Swedish tank to transport the stuff back home. Not a problem the car is comfy and it almost drives itself so I didn't mind the road trip. 278 miles round trip, so you ca imagine it was almost an all-day job. Sure I could have done the trip and been back to sail on the evening high tide, but after a whole day driving I needed to veg out on the sofa. :-)

Sunday dawned pretty rubbish, so me and the Mrs had a pajama morning. We stirred at lunchtime so I could take her off to her daughters and thence to bingo and I could take myself back to the sofa and live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Later in the day the rain petered out  and after the Grand Prix and bringing the Mrs home, I made a visit to the boat to put the winter cover on. 

Its been such a bad and wet summer that one of the locker tops is starting to delaminate. So the cover should protect it while I get some marine ply ordered, cut to size and prepared. I think this time I'll do a better job, spend a bit more money and make sure the things last. I'm also contemplating fitting better hinges too, so I'll be on the hunt for them over the next month or so. Looks like I've got myself a winter project already!

I got back to the car and watched a couple of motorboats come into the harbour. While I was watching them two Starlings came and perched on the car:

The first came and perched on the mirror, bold as brass and then the second one must have wanted in on whatever he thought Starling number one was getting. As it was I had nothing for them unfortunately. But we eyed each other up uneasily for a few minutes while I took a few photos. They didn't leave until I started the car and they got the message that maybe I wasn't going to feed them and they must have got the wrong wheeled tin box. Maybe the right tin box with the trained monkey inside will be along with the food later. :-)

Maybe they knew I was ordering a takeaway. But tough luck guys, it was being delivered back home. I got back just as the delivery guy pulled away from the house and the Mrs was dishing up. What good timing!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away....

The synoptic weather charts for the next week look pretty grim reading.

A weather front is going to be sat over the UK for the next few days and there are a succession of low pressure systems queued up in the Atlantic on their way to us. It looks like summer has gone on holiday for the week.

Have a look over at but try not to get too depressed.

I'm already contemplating fitting the winter weather cover over the cockpit when I can get on board.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Chilled Weekend

Saturday wasn't much to write about. I spent a few hours on board and made myself busy by measuring the main sail, making lunch (beans & sausage on toast), listening to the radio, reading a book and generally chilling.

I invited Jim to tag along on Sunday and have a spot of lunch on board. The plan was to motor out of the harbour and see if there was any significant wind and do a spot of sailing.

Well, the wind wasn't there when we got out of the harbour. Bigger and better boats than us were struggling to make progress, so basically as soon as we got close to the Langstone fairway pile I cut the engine, hoisted the jib and announced we'd arrived at our lunch spot. :-)

What little wind there was eventually spun us round and there was just enough in it to allow the tiller pilot to keep us on course after a bit of a fettle with the gain settings.

So we happily abandoned any planning and just went with the flow and had lunch.

Jim had seafood:

I had a pie:

We spent most of the afternoon watching the bigger boats all come back in under motor one by one and a bunch of motorboaters looking like complete novices. One in particular refusing to trim his outboard and kept launching the boat skyward with a burst of throttle and then slap-slap-slapping the boat out into the Solent, only to return at crawling speed 5 minutes later when the occupants must have felt sick.

It took two hours to drift back into Langstone harbour, during which we finished lunch, people watched, had a chat with a chap in a small catamaran and generally had a really relaxing time.

The plan to abandon any and all plans was actually a good plan in the end. If you get what I mean.

No pressure, no tipping the boat on its side wanting more speed, just a leisurely drift into the harbour more or less under the control of the tiller pilot.

Eventually the tide turned against us and the knot or so we had at slack water ground to a halt and we ended up stationary against the flow of water.

So it was time to start the engine and motor round to the mooring, where we had another hour or or more having a natter and watching the world go by.

The stand at high water on Sunday was impressively long. So long that when we got bored and came ashore we didn't have to pull the dinghy up much of the beach at all.

I'd say this Sunday was the best day of the year so far. Okay I sailed the other weekend but for sheer pleasure, Sunday was just about as good as it gets.

This coming weekend involves moving my youngest from Uni back to his mum's in Oxford so that day is pretty full. It's also the Portsmouth Boat jumble on Sunday so it may not be a weekend on the boat.

I bet the weather will be excellent sailing weather, just you watch.....

Thursday, 13 August 2015

No Sailing

Sunday I went out and bimbled around the harbour entrance but there wasn't a whiff of wind. The sea was flat calm. So calm in fact I a large fish about 60 feet away at the surface. Not sure if it was a basking shark or not, but by the time I got near it, it had gone.

As I came out of the entrance Solent Coastguard forecast a force 5 for later in the day. As Sprite tips over in all but the slightest wind, I didn't fancy staying out all day and experiencing that. So I came back in, just about scraping in on the tide (4.3m at high tide so pretty low). I quickly stowed everything away and rowed ashore.

Not before taking a picture of my hull and keel. The neap tides usually mean clear water thanks to the slow tide not stirring the mud up.

Yes the greenery has returned. I can understand the value of anti fouling, but its too expensive and besides its easier just to run Sprite up on the beach and scrape it off if it gets excessive.

Maybe someone will by me some primer and anti-foul as a Christmas present. :-)

The tipping over in the wind thing needs addressing. Despite pulling all the slack I can out of the main sail its stayed a bit too baggy (its better than it was but its just annoying now) and the drag seems to just tip Sprite over, so the hunt is on for something to replace it. I need a sail that will drive her along properly.

I also need a sail short enough so I can have the spray hood up without the boom interfering. Lets see what ebay has...

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Sorting a Leak

Not on my boat, but on Nicky's boat, Meagles.

Her speedo log fitting was leaking, so I volunteered to sort it for her. A couple of hours at low tide was all it took.

Cut away the slather of sealant that had been applied to stop the leak, remove old sealant from fittings, clean everything up, degrease, apply fresh sealant, retighten and job's done. :-)

It looks like the previous owner had refitted the fitting after the hull had been painted. The sealant did a wonderful job, but the paint lifted from the gel coat and the water got through the joint that way. It was so easy to push out of the hull you could tell there was no bond to the hull at all. I scraped any paint from round the hole for the fitting so when it was refitted the sealant bonded to the gel coat and not the paint.

Anyway it was all done by 10 am this morning and high tide wasn't until 7pm so it had plenty of time to set. Checked on it this evening and its dry as a bone. Success!

One less thing for Nicky to worry about. :-)

There's a boat jumble on Worthing seafront tomorrow. I've never been so I'd like to visit..... But then the tides are right for a full day out in the Solent tomorrow and the weather looks good....

Argh, I can't decide.... Sailing takes precedence I think, I've done precious little of it this year.
Its Cowes week so maybe its not a good idea to go there. Maybe anchor up in Osborne bay and watch the boats while having lunch? That sounds like a plan.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Very Good Weekend.

I had a good day's sailing on Thursday, just across the harbour from West to East and back again. Just an hour's easy sailing using the jib only.

Friday was babysitting day and a trip over to the Isle of Wight with someone more professional at the helm of the Wight Rider.

Saturday was lots better, with 5 hour's sailing.

First thing was a trip out of Langstone into the Solent with a lot of other boats. Not quite the Hamble Scramble, but very busy for Langstone! I assume everyone was taking advantage of the weather. Engine on and main sail up to beat the incoming tide.

But there wasn't any wind sand I didn't fancy a long slog with the engine on, so I turned back and had a play in Langstone harbour for a while.

After an hour the wind picked up and I went out again. This time sailing:

Today the wind was force 3 but due to pick up to a force 5 so it was a quick scoot for Me, Jim and my son Josh up the harbour using the jib to have a nosey at the dredger unloading at Kendall's Wharf.

By the time we got back up the harbour the wind had increased and the swell made things uncomfortable with three of us in the cockpit, so it was time to hook back up and have a brew.

After the disappointment of the week, the weekend went some way to compensate especially having 5 hours of sailing on Saturday.

But the unsettled nature of this year's weather struck again today with the wind picking up. Had I gone up the Solent for an overnighter somewhere, it would have been a rough old trip back today.