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

Friday, 30 December 2016

Happy New Year

Well everyone, I can end the suspense and let you know what the wife bought me for the boat.

It was a 20 inch LED TV with integrated DVD and it runs off 12v too! I hope I didn't sound unappreciative when I said I'll need a bigger boat to house it......

But I'll need a bigger boat to house it. :-) Not my fault, I was forced into it, etc. etc.

So, entertainment on the boat is sorted. I just won't take it on board unless I'm going to go cruising. Being a pretty standard TV I doubt it will survive in the damp salty conditions. But it's handy to have when I need it.

And it's brilliant excuse to get a bigger boat! :-)

Although I have a sneaking suspicion that it's actually a ploy by the wife to get me out so she can gain control of the remote on the TV back at home...

While cruising the shops on Wednesday I picked up these nice nautical-themed ceramic mugs in the sale:

If you can find them they are currently on offer in Sainbury's at £4.99 for the set of 4.

I transferred the mugs to the boat yesterday. While I was there I did some measuring and also brought the wood home for the VHF hutch. It's about time I got my act in gear and got it sorted along with the port side locker top and a few other jobs I haven't been arsed to do.

I guess the lack of decent weather when I've been able to take advantage has been a bit of a downer and lowered my enthusiasm level a bit.

Add to the list fitting a 12v socket in the front cabin so I can run the TV in there.

And a bracket.... not sure how or where the mounting bracket is going to go in such a small boat, I don't have enough wall space. ;-)

As per the title, Happy New Year Everyone, I hope 2017 offers a better sailing season. Plus the days get a minute longer every day. Roll on the summer!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Dear Santa, can I have a better sailing season in 2017, with winds suitable for a 19ft sailing boat with dodgy rigging on a weekend that I'm not having to do something else?

Also Can I have a decent weather weekend early in the year when the tides are right so I can scrape the bottom and finally get some antifoul on the hull please?

Best wishes for the festive season to all the readers of this blog, The past year has seen a significant rise in viewer numbers according to Google's stats.

So thank you to reader's old and new.

I don't do this to make money, just to share ideas and the trials and tribulations of boating on a budget, so I'm heartened that there are like-minded souls out there struggling to keep costs down and happy to read the musings of a grey-haired old duffer like me. I've found some new blogs this year and hopefully will add more in 2017, so Skint Sailors around the World will have a wider range of blogs to read.

At some point I will do My usual cost calculation for the year and add it to my annual costs page on the top left. Apparently the wife has bought me something for the boat for Christmas. She's adamant that it's something I don't already have despite never having set foot on board. But she won't tell me what it is. I'll just have to wait to find out what it is then.

All the best everyone!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Longest Day.

No, not a reference to one of my favourite war films, by the fact that today is the winter solstice. The longest night and shortest day.

Summer's on it's way!

Days like this are on their way!

Just thought I'd cheer all you depressed winter sailors up. :-)

Monday, 19 December 2016

Where the voles live.

A while back I posted about a water vole that was swimming at the back of the boat.

I thought it had been paddling in Eastney pond and swum up to the boat. Well, I think it had actually come from inside my dinghy.

I did have my suspicions last time, but on Saturday I found out where the furry thing came from. I went down to the boat and as usual turned the dinghy over. I usually wait half way with the dinghy on its side so any water can drain out.

Instead this time a rather plump water vole dropped out of one of the access hatches to the buoyancy tanks and scarpered off to hide under Jim's dinghy. The hatch covers have never been fitted as long as I've had the dinghy. It looks like I'm going to have to get some and fit them so that voley can't make a nest inside.

It also explains the quite ragged painter that I replaced last month. Looks like voley chewed it up to make a nest.

I'm not sure he's found the ideal vole habitat, I don't think a dinghy is suitable and neither is the salt water environment and the shingle beach. I guess he'll have a hard time trying to make a burrow anywhere there, although there's a soil bank by Southsea Marina or the University buildings he should really be .burrowing into. We do have a vole colony in Havant, but he's over the other side of Langstone Harbour. Literally miles away.

I bet when I turned the dinghy over he was wondering what the hell was going on, just as I did when he dropped out of the side of the dinghy.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Web work Done

Right, I think I've stretched the web page enough to get the bigger pictures in.

The page width is 1280 which seems to be fairly standard and works on most platforms.

The header picture was a bit long last night, so I've slimmed it down to 1189 width (the closest I could get to 1190) which gives a reasonable space at the edge.

The website looks ok on My Phone, my Hudl2 and my 10-year-old 15.2" screen laptop.

So now I can post up bigger and more detailed pictures.

I've also just got a cheap 360 degree camera which I'm mucking around with. I'm not convinced yet as I'm finding it virtually impossible to upload 360 degree VR videos to YouTube at the moment.

Once I've done some research and I've managed to accomplish the task, hopefully I can clamp the camera on the pushpit and set it running. Then as long as you're using a compatible browser, you should be able to watch the video and look around as if you were sat on the pushpit rail yourself.

Fingers crossed.

Although I'm not sure the Chinese camera I've got will do the trick. It might be the more expensive named cameras are the only ones that can upload to YouTube easily.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Website Work in progress

I'm in the process of tweaking the website to make the columns a bit wider, so I can make the pictures a bit bigger.

Bear with me please while I'm mucking about.

If you have any issues seeing the site, please let me know and I'll try and address it. It would be best to let me know what resolution your screen is when you send me a comment so I know the limitations of your browser.

Short Visit on Sunday

The feature of 2016 has been limited time to get on Sprite, either through other activities taking up my time, or through bad weather occurring when I do have the time.

Several times I've been down to Sprite and it's been blowing quite hard. It's been quite regular this year.

Last weekend was no different. I was busy on the Saturday, had Sunday morning free to get on the boat, but was busy in the afternoon.

Anyway, high tide was just after 8am, so about 8:30 I got down to the boat. After a quick tidy up to pick up the bits in the cabin dislodged by previous blows I made a brew and settled down to savour the peace and quiet on the mooring.

Just one picture through the companionway of the calm, misty morning view:

Cuppa drunk, cabin tidied and cockpit cover tightened up, I locked up and rowed ashore.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Alex Thomson; Sailing Hero.

I know Steve over at the "Yacht Sparrow" blog has already posted one of Alex's videos, but to do what Alex is doing in the Vendee Globe is amazing. First running in the lead, then breaking a number of time records to the Equator and then the cap of Good Hope, then continuing the race after losing a foil, then keeping in touch with his nearest competitor despite a damaged boat is just awe inspiring.

I shared the same video of Alex's that Steve has up on his blog on my personal Facebook page and I didn't get round to doing it on my Twitter feed, but nip over to Steve's blog here to watch Alex on Hugo Boss.

Smashing through the Southern Ocean waves, on port tack, on the damaged side of his boat, doing 20+ knots with a a couple of reefs in the main, a staysail and a code zero out,  just to keep up with his competitor Amel Le Cleach. Just listen for the helicopter pilot exclaim "Ooh La La!" when  the boat is almost on it's side.

That's some Cahones right there, and a huge amount of trust in the structure of his boat, to be able to push it that far and go that fast in those conditions. And I had to chuckle when Alex held the Union Flag out while he was on the guard rail.

I have the Vendee Globe home page on my list of "Useful Stuff", but seriously, pop over to Alex's website at go like his page on Facebook and keep up with his bid to win the race, even with a damaged boat.

It's fascinating to see how hard he's pushing a huge boat like Hugo Boss. I've seen the boat in the Solent a few times and it looks a handful with a crew on board, never mind single-handed. It's massive, that huge black sail scything along the Solent, you can see it and recognise it miles away.

And he's a local lad too, give him all your support.

I doubt I'll see cheap foiling 20ft cruisers in my lifetime, but just think what a revolution they would be. Super-exciting and it'd shorten my 4 hour slog to Cowes massively.

Hmm, almost makes you wonder if bonding a couple of foils on the bottom of Sprite's Bilge keels will make her fly and go faster.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Lurgyfied Weekend

This weekend I am mostly under the weather with a serious dose of the lurgy. I haven't had a cold or flu this bad for a few years.

I've just got over the high temperature, I'm still feeling bunged up and have a hacking cough.

So nothing outside for me, just staying under wraps and in the warm.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Another Free Winter Project For Somoene

Spotted today on  Chichester Freecycle:

OFFER: Day sailor project (Silhouette)
2 Berth day sailor with road and launch trailer.

Mast and sails all included.

This is a project I no longer have time for

See.... free boats do crop up!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

First Windy Weekend of the Winter.

The first "Nameable" storm of the winter arrived this weekend. Angus hit the South Coast overnight.

I'd already paid a visit down at Eastney yesterday to check on things, including Meagles. Nicky turned up as I was checking Meagles was ok and we had a bit of a chat. Not for long though as it was a bit too cold to be hanging around.

I arrived this morning to check out if anything had happened. Luckily Sprite was sat happily on the mud. Jim's boat was ok too and Meagles was fine.

There was what I think is a Corribee out past Sprite with a partially unfurled jib. Looks like the wind got hold of it last night. I've posted it up on the Solent Sailors Facebook group so hopefully someone will see it and inform the owner if the owner doesn't see it directly.

I had another tour of the beach and a small yacht that has been on the beach for ages has bent it's rudder post:

I might add fixed rudders without skegs to the list of things not to have on a cheap sailing boat. 

Not much else was awry, except all the boats on the beach that use anchors on their stern lines had all dragged them. Without exception. So if you have a boat down at Eastney secured just by an anchor, get down there and sort it out. Better still, get a proper mud anchor or a block of concrete organised, or your boat won't last the winter.

One boat, "Follow the Dream" had lost all it's stern lines, they look like they've just rotted away:

So far the deep water moored boats seem to be fine. The Harbourmaster's tug that got stuck under the Hayling Island bridge last year has two mooring strops on it this year I noticed, so it should be okay. No boats were up on any of the beaches around Langstone Harbour as far as I could see so that's all good.

So, Bye Bye Angus, thanks for the warning, hopefully the owners of the affected boats will be sufficiently chastened to sort their mooring arrangements out.

Friday, 18 November 2016

New Cheap Boat Market Phenomenon

Even though I've got a boat, I habitually cruise eBay, Gumtree and the other sites keeping an eye out for bargains.

I've been watching for at least 6 years, as I started looking way before I got Sprite 2. Over the years you get a feel for the market and new trends.

The trend for 2016 has been the non-selling boat. I can say there have been at least a dozen boats this year that have been listed 5 times or more on eBay and continue to pop up time after time. Either having been bid on, falling through and relisted, not bid on and relisted or just plain asking too much for the boat.

The other factor regarding yard sale boats is hidden cost. For instance nearly £200 for a lift onto road transport or into the water (reeeeally?).  You'd think they'd offer a free lift just to get rid of the thing, or charge 200 quid for the lift and give the boat away free.

In previous years these boats would have been bought and not seen again, the new owner taking ownership and restoring it, but this year the "never selling boat" has been a striking new phenomenon.

It's interesting to look at the boats to see why they keep coming back. There are the boats that are too big to restore. Big fin keel yachts over 25ft in length where the expense of storing it on land or on water whilst restoring it are not insignificant. You'd need a big wallet to take on such a project. far simpler to buy a yacht already up together and in the water for less money that the project boat would eventually cost you.

In this category I've seen a couple of recurring Tankards on eBay that have been listed at least three times as far as I can remember, along with another big yacht that seems to be covered in green slime and embedded in a bush.

Maybe they should be filed mentally under "biting off more than you can chew" or "can quite easily bankrupt you".

At the other end of the scale there are a few small boats that keep popping up. A few sub-25ft ones in yards where I assume the hidden costs put buyers off.

There are some small boats out there that are way too far gone of course: missing masts, sails, interiors and fittings, or all the above (i.e. bare shells).

Some are single keel boats, making them more expensive to support and therefore less attractive for a small yacht (cradle hire, deep water moorings, etc.)

There are some apparently "doable" projects, it just seem strange that no-one has jumped on them.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Busy Weekend Last Weekend

Last weekend was a bit busy.

Saturday was "spend time with Wifey" day as she was working on Sunday. So, a relaxed morning with breakfast at Port Solent was the first thing we did. Then a walk round the Marina to walk it off a bit.

Even the Mrs likes the boats at Port Solent. However the sort of boats she prefers are way out of my price range. Mooring up at Port Solent is way out of my price range, regardless of boat size.

As we walked round the still and calm Marina, I took a picture of the Sunsail yachts all rafted up and being prepped for the winter. Note the sail bags on top of the cabins, I assume ready to be removed for winter storage.

We watched a few boats go through the lock, as well as quite a few mullet travelling into and out of the Marina.

Saturday afternoon was lazy, just a bit of shopping and relaxing. Then later picking one of the grandkids up for a sleep-over. But not before a stop-over at the Barley Mow for a carvery (his favourite meal apparently) and Asda for sweets and toys.

On Sunday the wife was working, so me and Bailey watched DVDs and prepped his Pumkin for Halloween.

Once that lot was out of the way, we had a trip down to the boat. He was happy to be the first Grandkid to get on the boat actually on the water. We had a brew, watched the other boats go in and out of the harbor and I answered a million "what does this do?" questions. :-)

Bless him, he even washed up for me after the brew. I think he just wanted to see how you washed up without a hot water tap.

His dad picked him up down the boat, so we had a row back to the beach to drop him off.

I spent another couple of hours on the boat putting the spray dodgers I'd re-stitched back on.

Then back home for tea and a rest while watching the Grand Prix.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Latest Purchase: Winter Ready

Latest purchase is a Nevica Skuff.

It's a reversible snood-like thing with a fleece lining that can be used as a neckwarmer, facemask, snood, headband/earwarmer or hat.

Very versatile and initial tests show it's very warm.

Sports Direct have them on their website. Make sure you get the reversible fleece one though. The cheaper ones look to be only single layer, but may still be worth it as a handy neckwarmer. Mine was £7.99 and looks good quality for the price.

Blogroll Back!

As you can see over there on the right, my blogroll is back. Looks like the Gadget is back as the "Blog List Gadget" on the template. The bad news is I've had to recreate from Memory all the blogs on the list, so I might have missed a couple. I think I got them all, plus a couple of extras I've been looking at recently.

I just need to recreate a few more bits and everything will be back.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Thanks a Bunch Google

It looks like Google has made changes to the template I use for this blog. Unannounced I've lost my blogroll of favourite blogs.

I'm at work and have only just noticed it, so bear with me and I'll try and re-create it this evening.

Thanks Google you bunch of tossers. I've already had the email saying you're limiting the search on blogs to just the contents of the blog (i.e. Google), but this change was totally unannounced.

Now a blog that has been up and running fine for three years suddenly has bits of it missing. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cut Price Chandlers

First off, let me explain where my idea is coming from. After you buy a car it needs maintaining. Now to maintain that car you have two options: You can buy parts from a dealer, or you can buy unbranded parts from a motor factor. The unbranded parts are of a decent standard, they do the job and they are safe. The paint finish may not be as good as the original (but that doesn't matter on a suspension arm, for example) and quite often come out of the same factory. Most people buy non-original shock absorbers. Some prefer to by branded aftermarket shocks, like Monroe, Koni or Spax and in some cases they can be of a better specification than standard.

Lets stick with the shock absorber analogy as we transfer to boats. You buy a Ford car, it will have Ford branded shock absorbers fitted. They are the original equipment, but the manufacturer may not make them, they may buy the shock absorbers in from a reputable manufacturer. When they wear out you may buy the Ford branded part from a dealer, but more likely you may buy a branded non-Ford part, or a completely unbranded part from a motor factor. All three types will do the job they are supposed to do safely. The Ford part and the unbranded part may even be made in the same factory, it's just cheaper because it doesn't have the brand stamped on it..

A boat may be supplied with Harken blocks for instance. When the blocks wear out you may fit the same Harken Block, or you may fit a Ronstan or Barton one instead. What you don't get in the boaty world is the budget equivalent part.

So there appears to be a niche in the market for decent, low cost parts supply, like a motor factors, but for a boat. A Primark of the seas, where low cost parts are sourced and sold. It's even easier than a motor factor because you don't have to stock parts for each model of boat. One cleat will fit many boats, for instance.

Somebody somewhere in the world must be making such parts, all it takes is someone to go out and source them.


Monday, 26 September 2016

Boat show Musings and a New Market for the Brave?

The one thing that has come out of the boat show weekend is that the Southampton Boat Show is close to a tipping point.

It's very close to becoming as irrelevant to sailors like me and the thousands of other skint sailors as the London Hooray Henry Champagne Bar-bedecked bash.

Looking at a lot of the feedback from the show there seems to be a criticism that the show is ignoring the majority that pay entry and come through the gates for the spectacle and is starting to pander to the minority that can commit to buying a boat at the show.

Even the smaller traders, that can usually be relied upon to furnish some boaty bargains on the day seem to be hamstrung by big rental costs for their pitches. Bargains... true bargains were thin on the ground. Even the usual cheap rope wasn't so cheap.

You can gloss over it as much as you want by having weird Guinness Book Record attempts (largest number of people making a picture of a boat??), or limited on the water opportunities (great for those that don't have a boat), but there was pretty little for those of us trying to keep a boat going on a limited budget.

One thing I did note was that very few people were taking things away from the show. Lots of empty hands not carrying carrier bags loaded with stuff away from the show. Now I know there are plenty of people with a bigger budget than me, so it's plausible that I should see some of them carrying goodies away with them. But I didn't see many if any doing that. Very unusual and possibly an indication that the items on offer at the show are overpriced maybe, or the internet provides better bargains, or shoppers are becoming more savvy.

The thing is, what do people come to the show for? It's an interesting question and one that the show organisers should really be asking.

What do I go to the show for? My motivation isn't to buy a boat, that's for sure. What I do go to the show for is to see the latest technology and boats and see if I it's relevant to me and if I can use it. Maybe not at the show, but at some point. I may pick up a bargain if I think it is a genuine bargain. I'm not going to buy something with a 10 or 20% show loading (because the vendor has to cover exorbitant stand rental) advertised as a bargain. The on-the-water attractions don't er, attract me because I have my own boat.

The organisers really need to start to re-engage with us ordinary sailors, the ones that have boats already and are out there sailing every weekend. Do us poor saps who pay to get through the door a favour.

Maybe have a boat jumble area, with reduced stand sizes and rental costs, so the vendors can sell at proper bargain prices. Let those premium priced vendors charge the prices they want for premium brands, but let us bargain bucket boaters have our little area where we buy non-branded stuff cheaply.

Which brings me to another idea I have about a new type of chandler, a Primark of the seas, for us bargain boaters. Why are the chandlers full of branded kit? I don't think I've ever seen non-branded items like cleats, or blocks. Someone in the world must manufacture them.

Something to pick up on in my next post I think.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Boat Show

Earlier in the year I took advantage of an early-bird offer for tickets to the Southampton Boat show. Two tickets for a tenner!

Which meant I could have a mosey on down to the seafront and see what's what. So I went down yesterday. The bad news is payday is Monday, so I was a truly skint sailor looking round the show. I'm also suffering medically at the moment, so I could only manage just over a couple of hours down there. Plenty of time to scoot round and have a mooch, especially when 95% of the show is out of your financial reach.

First off, by the entrance was PBO with a pretty worthy effort at getting people to understand that you don't need to spend the kid's inheritance to get on a boat. They had Ciao Bella and Marlin on their stand.

Marlin is being sailed by Dave Selby whi being sponsored in aid of The Guillain-Barre & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies charity. He's on twitter here: @ImpracticalBoat

You can sponsor him at his justgiving funding page

Anyway, the PBO stand had quite a few pictures of boats, each with a very cheap cost ascribed to it. Some even free, like Sprite 2. But it's nice to see the cheaper end of sailing promoted.

Maybe at some point the boat show organisers could have a bargain bucket section, with cheaper rents for exhibitors so they can show of their wares. I doubt anyone servicing the skint sailor has enough margin in their day-to-day dealings to afford a full-price stand at the show.

There is still a dearth of smaller boats at the show, but I imagine that's the reason why.

It's long been a bugbear of mine that small boats at the shows tend to be split into two camps: the trad boats, the crabbers and the gaffers that hark to a bygone age full of wood and varhish and gaffer or gunter rigs.  Or the not very practical semi-racers, almost like upscaled dinghies with open sterns to help the waves that break over the bow to drain away, huge cockpits and claustrophobic cabins, like this one:

So finding something sensible, practical and reasonable on price was a mission.

First off, this red boat stood out in a sea of white now when you see a boat in a different colour, my brain instantly goes "Oh hello!" and gets curious. The builder is obviously making a statement: this boat is different.

From a way off it looks a reasonable size, the cabin also looks pretty decent for the size of boat compared to the soap-dish semi racers. So I went over and had a look.

It's called a Wild Atlantic 33 Ocean One Design:

With a price tag of £170,000... er, not for the likes of me then. It's got the now fashionable open stern, but the disconcerting thing attached to the stern is the electric propulsion. Yep, 170 grand doesn't get you an engine.

Now whilst I understand electric propulsion is very worthy and all that, I can't help but think it's a little misplaced in a sea-going craft. We all know the reality of battery power is it's going to let you down just when you need it. Call me a luddite, but I'm not at all convinced by it as a concept. On Inland waterways, it's fine, because when you lose power you drift into a muddy bank. but not for plugging the tide over a notorious bar or reef.

Anyhoo, there were more "trad" boats:

Lots of wood, lots of varnish, lots of maintenance...

The stand-out star for reasonable-ness was the Sedna 24.

Reasonable size and a reasonable-ish £29,995 price tag. I say -ish, because the price is pretty basic. Look at the options list for what they are calling extra options and what most people would call essentials. Does anyone spec a hanked-on jib any more? Roller furling costs you an extra £446.

£95 for a chemical loo, £295 for anchor, chain and warps, just over a grand for a Tohatsu 6Hp and an extra £127 to have the charging circuit connected up. Mind you Nav lights are an extra £290, so do without them and you won't need to charge the battery so much.

It does look a nice boat, except for that pedestal in the middle of the cockpit. It'd break your back if you fell backwards over it, or even worse smacked your head on the shackle at the top of it. I take it it's the mounting for the Mainsheet, hopefully with jammer and ropes in place it will deflect body parts from serious injury.

So actually once it's kitted out you're looking anywhere between 30 and 40 grand. But hey, that sub-30 grand price point gets you looking.

Anyway, after a coffee and a bun, I was done and made my way back to the entrance.

The PBO stand's effort to push the philosophy of low-cost sailing made me think. Plenty of the stands at the show are asking premuim prices for their products. Very few actually sell at a low price point. I blame the show organisers, they charge what they can for a stand and the trader has to cover that expense, but there must be traders out there that help us offset the cost of boat ownership. The guys that import directly, make smaller margins and try and undercut the guys out there that put superyacht margins on their wares.

I know Marine Superstore over at Port Solent are reasonable (for a chandler) and don't charge exorbitant price for parts. I thought the 17 quid they charged for the brand new Barton cam cleat wasn't bad. Marine Superstore tend to charge about 10 or 20% less than other chandlers and often have special offers, like the Hempel antifoul I got earlier in the year.

When I had a powerboat, I needed an exhaust manifold for my OMC V6 as the original had cracked. I hunted around and found these guys: who sold pattern exhaust manifolds and saved me a packet. I also got my first VHF handheld off them cheaply too. Back then they were working out of the from room of a house, I assume 7 years on they've got better premises. :-)

Does anyone else have any favourite cut-price chandlers out there that they can recommend? I've heard the chandlery barge on the Hamble is quite reasonable. Has anyone had any experience there?

If I get enough recommendations I'll put them on a page.

Talking of chandlery, I'm after a small hatch (not a port light or porthole) max 12 inches (300mm) square. If anyone knows of a cheap one going, please let me know.  I'd prefer the Lewmar size 10 Ocean hatch, but anything that size that I can keep open for ventilation on a horizontal or sloping surface even when it's raining I'd consider.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Oh Look, More Wind!

Today it was a bit windy and being Northely, it was quite lively out in the pond today:

Sensibly, I stayed on the shore.

The boats down by the dinghies were getting a bit too close to each other. The owner of the tarpaulin boat has fitted a battering ram on the side. Needless to say the owner of Emma J has moved away from it.

Lets see what weather we have tomorrow .

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Jib Cleats.

The Paxolin strips that make up then bases for the Jib Sheet cam cleats have been cleaned, glued together, drilled with new fixing holes and painted.

In the end I've painted the Paxolin silver to hide the brown-ness. Silver was paint I had left over from touching up the car. They don't look too bad:

Here they are fitted:

All the prep was a bit last-moment last night as I took a day off today and I wanted to get them fitted back on before sailing.

I used the 12v drill to make the holes larger and drill the two extra holes for the smaller cleat. I thought I might as well go up to a slightly thicker screw size (5mm) as it doesn't hurt to beef things up a bit. The Paxolin is held in place by countersunk screws in the original holes and the two screws for the cleat go through the Paxolin and the deck. Underneath the washers overlap making a greater surface area to prevent the whole lot being pulled out. It was all sealed using the sealing tape I have left over from my caravan many years ago. Good stuff: it comes on a roll of greaseproof paper and you unroll a bit, cut it to size, slap it on and peel the paper off. Then you squidge it all in place and it ooses out and seals round the screws as you tighten them.

Finished fitting them just as the tide turned. I did a short sail up the harbour to make sure they worked ok and then the plan was to sail out into the Solent to have a mooch about until high tide tonight. The Mrs is working late in Southsea today so it would work out just right.

Except the wind over tide effect in the entrance to Langstone had other ideas. I've never seen 5ft swell there before, it reminded me of Chichester Bar when it cuts up rough. A couple of the waves were breaking and others had quite sharp crests, with the bow smashing into the wave and spray coming over the cabin. Pretty exciting in a 19ft boat.  Very strange for a F3 wind, but it was SSE so blowing directly up the harbour entrance against the outgoing tide.

All very exciting and exhilarating..... as long as everything keeps working as it should.

The bad news is in the middle of the swell the outboard gives up. Not sure why, but I suspect the pitching motion dislodged some rubbish in the carb float bowl, blocking a jet.

Now under no control whatsoever, I'm hanging over the pushpit rail trying to restart the engine. In a 5ft swell. From Exciting it's just gone several notches up to borderline Terrifying. It's a good job I'm the one that keeps calm in a crisis! It took what seemed like an age, but maybe only in reality 30 seconds, I got the engine running, but it wouldn't rev, instead dying as I opened the throttle.

So, with only minimal revs to keep steerage (by now I was already side-on to the waves) I turned back into the harbour. I effectively surfed back into the harbour on the back on successive swells. Once a breaking wave came over the stern, luckily not putting much water in the cockpit, just wetting the cockpit cushions.

Of the three boats that went out at the same time (one 22ft, one around 25ft and the other 30ft) I think only the 30 footer made it through, the other two turned round after I did, so I guess it was even rougher further out.

Me and another boat retired to the mooring buoys further inside the harbour entrance. I worked a bit of magic on the outboard and got it revving again with the aid of some carb cleaner. I also stowed away all the gear that had come loose when the boat was side-on to the swell.

Even though it was 1.5 hours after high tide, the tide was high enough that I stilll had water on the mooring, so I retired back to the hook. Enough excitement for one day I think.

So this weekend it looks like the outboard now needs some TLC.

Although I have this:

And I'm meeting this on Sunday:

I'm picking my stepdaughter and her partner up, they're on a weeks cruise from Southampton on the Ventura.

High tide is at 1:30 on Sunday and I'm picking them up around 10, so I should be good to get on the boat on Sunday afternoon and wrangle that pesky outboard back into reliability.

A couple of surreal things happened today. The first is just after I got on the boat and started dropping the outboard into the water, a water vole swims up to the stern of the boat. Definitely a vole with a short tail and not a rat with a long one. Then off it swims towards the shore, diving under water whenever a seagull came close.. I never knew water voles lived in a salt water environment.

Second surreal moment was when sailing up the harbour. There was a collection of gulls on the water. The reason was one of them was trying to swallow an unfeasibly large Fish into it's mouth. So big it couldn't get the whole thing in, so eventually it flew off. I just wonder where it got that from.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Cleaty Day

Cleaty, I just made that word up. My definition is: a day or portion thereof with regard to the business of cleats.

As per my last post, I've stripped the jib sheet cam cleats from the deck and brought them home in preparation for swapping them over to something newer and more importantly, better working.

Way back when, I got a couple of  Barton cam cleats which I dug out of the junk box. It just happens that the fixing centres are 40mm. Bingo! I used one to repair the main sheet jammer.

Old and busted versus new hotness.

The new one fitted a treat

Looks the part too.
I decided to use the same cleats on the jib sheets despite the difference in fitting centres. I'll sort something out about the difference. With my mind made up I wasn't going to pay stupid money for some huge cam cleat off a tug boat with the correct 60mm spacing, I nipped to Marine Superstore and bought just the one cleat to make the set of three. Less than 20 quid is better than 50-60 for a pair of monster cleats.

Where the jib cleats were are strips of duct tape covering the fixing holes. The old cleats are raised up on strips of Paxolin.. The Paxolin is soaking in the kitchen sink to strip the old sealant and brown paint off it.

Ahh, the smell of Paxolin.... it takes me back to the late Seventies and my first ever job. I worked in electronics test and development (at 16!) for a company making emergency power supplies. The smell of Paxolin always reminds me of soldering electronic prototypes on tag boards and the connections on the transformers I used to design and wind up myself.

Once the strips are clean I'll paint them with something maybe a bit brighter than brown. Maybe dove grey to match the hull and tie into the grey on the cleats. I still have the grey paint from the locker tops.

Which reminds me, I really need to fit the starboard locker top to match up with the port one I fitted months ago.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Windy Thursday

With a few days holiday still spare at work and with an MOT due at the doctors, I took yesterday off, as earlier weather reports said it would be a fair weather day.

I watched with dismay on Wednesday as the closer to Thursday it came, the higher the forecast winds would be.

And when it came to the day, it was rally windy. Chimet registering F5-F6 and gusts of F7. Not the sort of weather a 19ft yacht with dodgy rigging relishes. So no sailing then.

I got down to Eastney early, well before the tide was right to launch the dinghy. A 30-40ft yacht was heading out of the harbour with a serious amount of reefing and as they cleared the cover of the land, even they heeled over as the full force of the wind caught them.

Sod that, I'm a fair weather sailor and my boat is a fair weather boat!

That's the thing with running a boat on a shoestring of course, that firstly parts like rigging aren't up to blue water standards and the fact that us skint sailors can't afford to push things up to (or past) breaking point because it's an extra (probably large) cost.

Anyway, I fought the wind and got on the boat. There were a few jobs that I needed to do on board anyway,

The first one was measure the cam cleats for the Jib Sheets and the Main Sheet. The Jib sheet cleats are getting a bit worn and sometimes go past the stop, which means on smaller ropes they undo. The cam cleat on the main sheet jammer has broken. The cams themselves have broken through aged plastic and go past the stop all the time, so every time I pull the rope through, I have to manually reset the cams to lock the main sheet. Way too much of a faff.

The stops are the tabs in the metal. The hollow cams are broken and don't hit the stops.

Anyway, the main sheet jammer cams are 40mm centres, so getting a replacement cam cleat to bolt in should be relatively easy.

40mm centres. Should be easy to get a cam cleat to fit.

The Jib Sheet jammers are 60mm centres, which may be a bit trickier and a lot more expensive to source. They are old resin ones, so I assume they are a bit bigger than modern ones. I have a feeling I'll end up with jammers suitable for tug boats if I buy modern ones.

60MM centres for 12-14mm rope. Chunky!

The other job was to hang up the birthday present I got from my daughter on the boat:

Very homely. It's actually a wonder I have a patch of wall to hang it on in such a small boat!

The other birthday pressies I got will come in handy. the first is a cordless hoover for the car and boat and the second is a 1080p watertight action camera. So expect some videos... eventually!

At least this camera switches on when I ask it to, unlike the cheap Chinese one I got off eBay a couple of years ago. What I might do is take the old one apart and see if I can fit an external mic (so I can fit a wind muffler) and also make it switch on reliably. I can then use it as a back-up.

Fingers crossed the wind dies down on Sunday, which looks to be the only dry day of the coming weekend.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Not much to report

Last weekend I was in Yorkshire, It was my mother's birthday so we went up to Yorkshire and nipped over the Pennines to visit her. The Mrs was most impressed with the river Humber estuary. A trip over the Humber bridge emphasised what a huge body of water it is.

Anyway, thats why I wasn't sailing last weekend, despite the good weather.

Then this weekend arrived......and so did the wind. Force 5-6 yesterday and force 4-5 today.

Unusually there were a couple of bigger yachts hooning around Langstone harbour both days. And both days they were on their scuppers. I'd have loved to be out there hooning Sprite up and down the harbour  But if they were on their side, Sprites baggy mainsail would have just pulled it over or worse, the rigging might have snapped. I wasn't going to risk a snapped mast despite how much fun it might have been dicing with a couple of other yachts like dinghy racing.

So I stayed shoreside and watched them through the binoculars, pretty impressive and not something you usually see in the harbour. Must people just want to transit to the Solent.

Anyway, the weather is due to improve later in the week. Maybe I'll take a day off work. Next weekend it another early/late high tide, Another trip to the beach and scrubbing session is due. Hopefully the last before I start with the antifouling.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Nice Little Newbridge Topaz for Sale

Just seen this on eBay:

A pretty clean looking Newbridge Topaz on a trailer and with sails and full rigging, radio and other bits.

The guy is keen to sell as he has to move it from the car park it's in, so maybe direct contact may get yourself a bargain. Saves him getting stiffed by eBay trolls multiple times.

From the description it's been in mothballs for a couple of decades and the oil lamp in the cabin I guess testifies to an oldie-worldy vibe. :-)

Looks in good nick and the description says the sails are ok too.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Southampton Boat Show Ticket Offer

There's a 2-for £15 ticket offer on at the moment for the Southampton Boat Show.

I've got my tickets already, but it might be usefule to someone else. Just follow the link, if the offer is still on, it should have the code cml9 in the promotional box.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Non-Sailing Weekend

Despite being the ideal weather and tides for a long trip or even a weekend away from home port, I didn't go on the boat.

I had a prior engagement, the wedding of my Step-Daughter to her partner.

As you can imagine, I had a lot of running about to do over the past 4 days. :-)

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Another good day

Motored out of the harbour entrance, sailed back in, then out, then in again. Sprite sails pretty well when the bottom is free of marine growth:

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Filling and Fairing

On Saturday I filled a few more holes in Sprite's bow.

I filled in the largest hole the last time Sprite was on the beach, so on Saturday I sanded it down and filled in a few more bits of it.

It's a bit hard to photograph brilliant white bits, but trust me I filled 1 big and 4 small holes in this area.

A bit closer on the big hole I filled.

Looking round the hull there were a few other small holes. A gouge in the side (probably caused when Sprite was bounced around moored up at Cowes), the results of a clunk on the back corner and more worrying an 8mm hole around the waterline. Perfectly round:

You can't see it that clearly, but in the light blue area there is a dimple where I filled the hole in.

This is just after I filled it in.

So some work being done on the hull as well as scraping.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Another Scraping Saturday

I spent most of yesterday scraping the hull back to grp. It's pretty clear that over the years before I got Sprite the antifouling has worn away which has allowed the green slime and barnacles to stick to the GRP hull.

A few weeks ago I scraped the Barnacles off, then yesterday I set to getting the green slime off in order to get back to a decent surface for primer and then antifoul.

I spent 6 hours scraping the hull, and succeeded in getting the back end and the front of the hull clean, with just the bit under the keels to do.

Probably the first time the gel coat has seen the light of day since it was first antifouled.

The green slime started off being easy to scrape, but as it dried out it set rock hard and was more like paint or varnish to remove, so progress slowed the further I got.

But at least I'm making progress. Hopefully only another day scraping and I'll have a clean enough surface for primer and antifoul for the whole hull and the keels.

Today I'm babysitting one of the Grandkids so In can't finish the job off today.

Hopefully the green slime doesn't grow back before the next early/late high tide.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Finally, a Good Day.

As we've had a run of good weather I was determined today to get out and actually sail the boat, rather than fettle

So, I arrived a good two hours or more before high tide and got everything prepped for sailing, then headed out into the harbour entrance. Boy was it busy, with the jetskis on overdrive in the entrance and about 20 boats leaving the harbour as well. The wakes of the motor boats ticked me off a bit. More than once a boat passed close trailing a huge wake. Something I've not missed since last year. Why do they do it? Why not give us a bit of room so the wake is lessened, rather than plunging Sprite into a 3ft water trough?

Of course it was the America's Cup racing today so plenty of people were on their way out to see it. Not for me though, as I'd be punching an outgoing tide on the way back. I've done that before and didn't enjoy the hour's experience of only just beating the tide. The wind was on the nose so I motored out with the rest.

The plan was to do a trip out of the harbour to have a sniff of the sea proper, then double back under sail, to go up to the top of the harbour and back.

The view at the harbour entrance:

On the way up the harbour Sprite sailed pretty well. The Jib seemed to work better than before despite me molesting it and fitting the UV strip. The main seemed to work better than before, although that could be the effect of the jib on the slot between the two. Certainly the main is as baggy as ever.

But to her credit Sprite kept up with a dinghy sailor who was travelling in the same direction with the wind behind both of us.

On the way back down the harbour with the wind on the nose I tried my hand at tacking. It's something I have to admit to being a bit rubbish at before, but today I did a handful of tacks and seemed to get the process sorted.

The wind picked up half way down the harbour and Sprite actually used the wind and started sailing. The increase in speed was gratifying after lying in the mud the other week. The whole sailing experience was a lot better than last year.

So it's quite clear that a clean hull is important for decent sailing performance (well d'uh!) and with that in mind, applying antifouling gets bumped up the priority list.

Hopefully I can get it done between the early/late high tides next weekend.

All in all though today was a bloody good day.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Living with a Sailing Boat

Out of curiosity I've had a look back through the blog to see when I last had a decent day's sailing.

It was September. It's no wonder I'll have to re-learn how to sail, it's been so long.

If we're really lucky and have a very good year, the weather will be good enough to sail from April to September. More often than not the sailing season gets cut short or interrupted in between.

The assumption is in a good year I'll get at most 5 months sailing in. With four weekends per month, that's 20 sailing sessions. (I can do maths!). At most. Per Year. Chuck in the tides being wrong, or the weather not playing ball, it's a lot less.

With low overheads like I've got, it's quite easy to spread the cost over the year, but even if I calculated it just on a 5-month sailing season, I'm not paying much more than £100 per sailing month to sail the boat. Which in the great scheme of things is still reasonable. Of course spread it over the year then things get better at around £40-£50 per month.

But when you look at the thousands or tens of thousands of pounds that people pay to lay up boats in marinas for most of the year, pay for servicing, maintenance, etc.

They must be really, really keen on sailing to justify the expense. :-)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

An (Anti-) Foul and Dastardly Plan is Forming

I'm just checking the tides for the next couple of weeks and it looks like the weekend of the 30th/31st is another early and late high tide weekend.  I'd rather be sailing, but to be honest this year has been pants weather-wise so I may as well concentrate on stuff that will make Sprite easier to live with and sail better rather than actually sail, so when it does come to the good weather she'll be ready-ish.

Now I've scraped most of the rubbish off the bottom, it might be a good weekend to stick Sprite on the beach and start to anti-foul the bottom. Weather permitting of course.

So, I shall check with the Mrs this evening to see if anything is planned for that weekend and if it's free then I'll crack on planning.

First thing is find a decent board to lie on rather than damp mud.

Second is to get the genny running so I can use the angle grinder.

Third is to get some scotch pads for the angle grinder to do a final clean up of the bottom before applying primer.

Then the Anti-foul.

Oh, and a full NBC suit with mask to avoid contact with the paint...

Not sure I'll get it all done in 4 hours, so it may take the weekend, but I may as well give it a shot and get the bottom sorted while it's relatively weed-free.

Weather permitting of course...

Monday, 18 July 2016

Bottom Scrape

On Saturday it was the annual chore of scraping the bottom free of weed.... and barnacles. So many barnacles. I cleared them all of last year and didn't think the whole bottom would be completely coated again in 12 months, but it was.

But, after a few hours of work in the sweltering heat, Sprite 2 was weed and barnacle free.

I got antifouling paint in the Spring, but yesterday didn't have enough time to clean the hull to a decent enough standard to apply primer and then paint. I'm thinking that Sprite will need to be hauled out for a few days to get that done. Maybe the next early/late high tide cycle I might book some time off work and spend a couple of days doing it. The hard work is done, but I'm  not sure what applying primer and then getting it wet would do to the bond between it and the antifouling.

I'm just wondering the best/quickest solution to get down to a decent substrate for the primer to adhere to. I'm not sure a sander would do it, I'd need something like a sandblaster, an electric scraper, or something like a rotating polisher but fitted with a rough scotch pad instead. I think the ones fitted to angle grinders may be a wee to much on GRP.

I'm almost considering saving up to join a club to get Sprite hauled out for some yard time. It's my birthday next month, maybe if everyone gives me money I can put it towards the cost.....maybe.

One thing I do know is that I'd apply it about an 20-30mm higher than the original application. There was plenty of algae above the original line, so applying it a little higher should stop that.

I also filled in a hole at the bow, where the gel coat had cracked and flaked off, exposing the glass fibre strands underneath.

It was a blistering hot day on Saturday, so I rigged up a tarpaulin as a Sun shade. Even after applying Sun cream I had to keep ducking under it to recover. I also drank about 4 litres of water to keep hydrated.

On Sunday I rested my aching arms. :-)

At least now Sprite will sail, rather than dragging a ton of weed along.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Change of Scenery

Last week I swapped sailing boats for boats of another kind. I took the Mrs to Eurodisney for her 50th Birthday treat (her choice) and we stayed in the Newport Bay nautical thened Disney hotel (partly my choice)

Here I am steering the boat-shaped observation deck overlooking the indoor pool:

Then mid-week we\swapped the pretend boat for a real one on a river cruise through Paris:

The start of the cruise, by the Eiffel tower.

A very landlocked sailing ship. No way to the sea without
unstepping those masts to get under the bridges.
Why have a separate tender ans car when you can combine both into
one with an amphicar!

Some of the bridges were very pretty.
So quite a good week. Lots of walking, plenty to see and do and me and the Mrs acting like big kids. Whats not to like? Well, apart from the aching calves that is...  lol.

But even us oldies had a good time. The hotel was great, so was the park, where we did a few of the rides and shows and we got to go on the Eurostar for the first time. 

Now I need a holiday to recover. And this rubbish weather in the UK needs to pack it's bags and move North. The French are currently holding our summer hostage, over the other side of the channel it was blue skies and fluffy clouds... get to the UK and it was grey overcast. 

After Brexit maybe we can reclaim our summers back from Europe too. :-)