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.