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

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.


  1. With you on the small boat dilemma, for most of us with limited time a fast, fun low maintenance modern boat makes a lot of sense,

  2. These days they advertise 30 footers as introductory/beginner boats!

  3. I'm with you both. It seems anything under 30ft is deemed as a racing dinghy with a cabin, lots of them styled like Transat racers: day boat tea trays with few comforts. Or a trad gaffer with loads of wood. Nothing comforable, stable with reasonably brisk performance. Where's the 21st century Centaur?