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

Friday, 22 December 2017

Costs for 2017 and a Review of the Year.

Here's the yearly roundup of costs, which this time are pretty meagre:

As usual first are the basic expenses.

£132      Mooring Fee

£160      Insurance.

Same as last year. No change at all.

£11.60   Fuel. Only 2 cans (10 ltrs) worth of fuel, same as last year.
              Enough for the two big sailing days and the rest used pootling up and
              down Langstone harbour. Got to love the fuel costs with sailing!

£2.50     Absolute tides Update.

£13       Navionics Update.

£30       Second Hand hatch from Gosport Boat Jumble.

£30       Nasa Clipper Speed Log

£5         Keel Shoe.

£24      Two sets of High Capacity LiPo batteries for my handheld VHF transceiver.
            (I will do a blog about it next year: they vastly increase battery capacity - over 2000 mAh)

£25      Overnight Marina Stay

£433.10 is the Total Expenditure on the Boat for 2017. (£36.10 per month)

I didn't spend any money on ungents, paints, sandpaper, etc. I used the stuff I had left over from the previous year.

I spent £8 on a rudder from eBay for Jim's boat and £16 on a new impeller for his outboard.
After all he's skinter than me, so when I can help out, I will.

Most money this year went on the car (tyres & exhaust) and moving house (bills, bills and more bills).

So, expenditure for 2017 was the lowest yearly amount so far (except 2013 but that was offset by selling stuff to pay for the boat).

It's interesting to note that instead on fettling, in 2017 I made a concious effort to actually go out and sail, especially out in the Solent, which I did on a number of occasions, but with two stand-out days.

The first was the F4-F5 reefed sail on the 4th of June. That sail tought me that I was being a bit timid previously about what Sprite could handle. With the sails reefed she romped along and didn't heel over on her scuppers almost out of control. It was an educational sail that day.

The second big day was my full day's sail on the 18th of June. A full day (over 12 hours) out on the water of the Solent. A brilliant day which would only have been better if the wind had played ball and not disappeared for a couple of hours in the middle. Staying in Southsea Marina overnight was a stroke of genius. It allowed me to get out of the harbour without waiting to lift off the mud. But however handy a Marina Berth is, I'd never be able to afford one permanently. But it was nice to sample the ease of just walking up to the boat and stepping on board easily.

I learned a lot from those two days. If I could, I would make it a priority to get the maximum amout of sailing time in 2018 so I can try different things and learn more.

That's not to say fettling was abandoned...

Stand-out DIY project of the year was the VHF hutch. It located the VHF Radio in a place where it's not in the way, it's easy to get to from the cockpit and the cabin and the display can be seen easily. One of the best things I've done I think. It works a treat.

Another win on the DIY front was the battery charging arrangement. The original arrangement had night-time drains on the battery from the solar panel and the charge controller. Ditching the Chinese solar controller, re-arranging the blocking diode on the solar panel and getting a big battery all paid off and I now don't have any power worries on board even during these months of short days. Swapping the diode round and ditching the charge controller made a dramatic difference. Removing drains on the battery has increased charge performance massively.

I also finally fitted the second locker top in the cockpit in April, so I had matching locker tops.

As with previous years, 2017 was a year where it was hard to predict decent weather, apart from June. June stood out as being a pretty settled period where you could actually plan to go sailing for once. That's why I booked a spot in a marina. Such was my confidence in the following day's weather and what a day I had! If only I could have managed the Sunday as well. But I ached all over after a full day sailing. This year I will make more of an effort and if two consecutive days show up then I'm sailing aches or no aches!

Posting on here has been sporadic, mainly because I've not visited the boat as much as previous years and also because a blog full of "visited boat, drank coffee, went home" posts would get a bit boring and put people off.

But that about wraps it up for the roundup of 2017.

2018 looks to be a year of major maintenance. As I've already mentioned I'm planning to put Sprite 2 on the hard for a week and get the antifoulding applied and refit the window rubbers. Possibly fit the hatch on the front and if I have time look at the mast support beam.

We've already had the first big storm of 2018 sweep past and cause damage down at Eastney. Luckily we have a community of impoverished sailors down at Eastney and we check on each other's boats. I'll get down an take some pictures of the aftermath in the daylight at the weekend.

For the rest of the year, wish me luck. Lets see how it all pans out. Happy New Year!

Hump Day 2017

Well, it's here again, the day we look forward to longer days and shorter nights.

Look forward to scenes like this:

Sun, cloudless skies and sailing....
Happy Winter Solstice Day to you all in the Northern Hemisphere.

To those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, make the most of the rest of the summer, we're taking it back!

Big plans are afoot for Sprite 2 next year. Everyone has been told I need money for Christmas, even if it's only a fiver. Don't waste money on dodgy smellies, just send me the money.  Sprite is coming out of the water for overhaul next year and I need every penny for Marina fees! If anyone has an idea for saving money on lifting her out and putting her on the hard for a week or two, I'd love to hear it!

As is customary at the beginning of January I'll be wrapping up 2017 with a yearly costing. It will be interesting to see what the costs are for this year. I haven't really done that much work on Sprite 2 this year at all, instead I tried to concentrate on sailing her.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sad, Damp Days

I went onto the boat on Sunday. It was dark, overcast, damp, cold and there weren't many people about.

The interior of Sprite is getting a bit clammy, so I lifted the seat cushions to air the lockers out.

I only stayed on for an hour or so, just checking things over like the battery (still charging, voltage was 13.8 on switch-on and stayed 13v with the radio and other instruments/accessories on). I also tightened the ropes holding the cockpit cover down.

Then legged it back to shore.

I had a walk down the shore after sqaring the dinghy away to have a look at Mashooka. Her mast seemed to have dissappeared.

This, sadly is what I found:

It looks like one of the mast stays has parted and the mast has gone over. Sadly though, as the mast has gone over, it's taken the tabernacle with it which in turn has caused the deck to collapse. Or it's possible the deck collapsed allowing the mast to go over.

Either way it's a very sad sight.

Here's a closer picture:

The cabin roof, ratrher than staying above the deck, sort of collapses down to deck level at the front as well. It looks pretty grim.

Considering only 3 years ago she looked like this:

That was back in late 2014 when people started to strip bits off her after laying on the beach unattended for so long. You can see she was missing some of the brass port lights.

As with most wooden boats, the amount of maintenance just to keep them afloat is huge. I think Mashooka was a bit too far gone to bring her back without a vast amount of money and effort. It looks like she is close to unrecovereable now sadly. Certainly not without great expense.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Wild Ride! Here comes the AC75.

I don't know what Psychotropic drugs they have in New Zealand, but some must have been involved in the design of the new Americas Cup boats, the AC75 foiling Monohulls.

Details released on the Emirates Team New Zealand website show a 75ft open boat sitting on three "t" foils, with the ability to raise the windward foil to increase speed and reduce drag. Looks like the foils are ballasted, so it will be interesting how they get used in light winds. Maybe lift both out in lightest of winds upwind, then drop one as the wind gets up, then two to get on the foil and then raise the windward foil as the winds increase and the boat foils.

If they pull it off, it will look impressive, a huge monohull with it's hull completely out of the water like some giant desert lizard lifting it's leg to avoid heat.

I'm sure balancing the various aspects of the boat and when to use each foil will be a huge workload for the skipper. Technically, physically and mentally it will be extreme.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New Phone

Long-time readers of my blog will know that I use my mobile phone a lot when boating. It's quite handy to take pictures and also for navigation using the Navionics mobile app.

However, my Samsung Galaxy J5 has been suffereing recently. I did an update to Android Marshmallow in the summer which grabbed a larger than usual chunk of the 8GB of storage and left me with naff all storage for applications. That in turn meant that some of the boaty applications had to go due to the lack of storage, a very poor state of affairs.

Ever since then, I've been saving up for a new phone. My contract with Tesco Mobile ended and the only reasonable contender for a replacement was the Samsung Galaxy A5, which has 32GB storage and fingerprint reader and a HD screen, etc. All the usual bells and whistles. However, at nearly £400 quid for the phone over 2 years, I decided that it was a bit too expensive.

Time to look at cheaper alternatives. I looked at the usual Chinese mobile phones to see if I could get a bargain. Xiaomi are a pretty good manufacturer, they make quite good equipment, up there with the Japanese. Doogee (yeah, what a dodgy name) are another that tend to be well-specced for the money. They can be had pretty cheaply, but watch out for import duty if you buy them through the Chinese websites like Banggood, Wish and AliExpress.

But unfortunately most Chinese phones won't work on all networks and in my case won't work on the 4G frequency band that Tesco mobile use. Its always worth checking to see if any of the cheaper phones work on your current network.Chinese sourced phones tend to support only a limited number of mobile bands. I assume due to some restriction in China.

In the end I settled on a British-designed phone. Flying the flag and all that. :-)

It's the Wileyfox Swift 2x from er, these people:

It has 32Gb internal storage, so all my old nautical apps and more have been loaded onto it and I've still only used a third of the storage space. If I need more I can fit a 64Gb SD card and format it to become part of the internal storage.

It comes with a pretty low-headroom version of Android Nougat, so there are very few bundled apps that you can't get rid of. That helps save space and makes me a happy bunny.

It also has a 5.2 inch 1080p HD screen, fingerprint reader, 16Mp camera at the rear, 8Mp at the front for selfies, a 3010mah battery and uses USB-C to charge up so it charges to 75% in less than an hour.

I'm mightily impressed. I can now use apps like Android Pay too because it has NFC communication (it can talk to contactless devices)

And the icing on the cake is Amazon have got it on offer at the moment for £145. Considering the RRP is £219 that's a bargain.

It's also British designed, so you're indirectly helping British jobs.

I was so impressed with mine, I've bought another one for the wife for Christmas.

Of course having finished paying off the Galaxy J5, I've gone back to a sim-only contract. I also updated that because Tesco Mobile are doing a sim-only deal with 4Gb of data and lots of texts and mimutes for £11 a month.


So far after playing with the phone, one thing has needed attention: the original camera app that comes with the phone is pretty naff. I downloaded the free "Open Camera" app from Google play and that seems to work a lot better on focus and colour balance. It's amazing how using a different application can make such a difference using the same device. I will try and post up some comparisons.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dark Days

Yep, after the clocks going back, the days feel even shorter and darkness descends before 5pm.

You definately know it's winter now. Not many trips to the boat recently as tides have been all wrong. I did go on last weekend to tighten the cockpit cover and sponge out the lockers. Everything else seems ok at the moment. The battery is holding charge and the windows are not leaking. Yet.

On my next visit I'll lift the cushions, so damp from the bilges doesn't build up.

And then that's it for the winter apart from possibly the odd day.

The spray hood os getting a bit green, so that'll come off as well next time and get a wash.

At least this year I can say I had a few good days sailing and one amazingly long day out in the Solent, even if the wind did die on me half way through.

Roll on Spring.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Batten Down the Hatches, Brian's a comin'!

The first winter storm to really hit the South Coast is due to arrive this weekend.

The winds are due to peak tomorrow just when high tide is due in Portsmouth. Just about the worst time. On a mud mooring half the time it's okay because the boat is stuck in the mud and doesn't go anywhere. At high tide it's a different story altogether.

I shall be down there checking on the boats tomorrow.

I hope everyone has checked their mooring strops recently for chafe and renewed them if necessary. It's so sad seeing what was a perfect boat beached and holed.

Stay Safe everyone!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Finally Made it on Board!

After what must be at least 4 weeks, I made it on board Sprite yesterday.

The sun shone, which was nice:

The window rubbers seem to have started a rather rapid decay. I doubt they will make the winter, so they are definitely a priority. On every window the plastic locking strip has started to come adrift, so they are on borrowed time.

After the excesses of this month's move and my depleted bank account, hopefully next month I can get window rubbers sorted from ebay.

Yesterday was just a leisurely visit: a brew, some lunch, running the engine and bailing out the cockpit lockers.

Before I left I put the cockpit cover back in place. Yep, the summer's over.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017


I've finally moved house. It took a couple of weekends and a couple of week's worth of evenings, but everything is moved.

I never did get stuff on eBay, just no time to do it.

The wife is talking abbout sorting out the wall of cardboard or as most people call it, the spare room. I think after over a week of humping and bumping, I need a night with feet up, takeaway and TV.

She'll probably agree as Tuesday is Eastenders and Holby night.... no TV for me this evening then. A takeaway, feet up and old man evening/full belly snooze it is then.

I shall dream of those sailing days back in June, and plan my winter.

I have checked on Sprite 2 from the shore, but had no time to get on board for a while.

Hopefully this weekend I can get on board and check on things.

Things that I learned:

You can transport a dinghy trailer without a towbar. Just unbolt the axle from the drawbar. the drawbar goes on roof bars and the axle in the boot.

You can support a jib furler on the car roof with a slightly extended ladder. It stops the furler bending where it's unsupported over the bonnet (last time I used a length of wood tied to the radiator grille, but didn't have anything handy this time.

I'm getting too old to be moving just using my own muscle power. Hopefully any future move will be planned and I'll be able to save up to pay someone else to do the humping and bumping.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Busy, Busy...

Well, no sailing or boaty stuff, but a couple of weekends I've spent sorting rubbish out and doing tip runs. The garage especially has benefitted, it now has about a third of the stuff in it it had before. It's amazing how much rubbish you can accumulate over time.

Added to that, the Mrs surprised me with a holiday for my Birthday. Yep, she'd gone to the trouble of booking it, paying for and AND phoning work to book the time off. Apparently she'd been saving up all year to get one over on me.

I did get to look at boats:

That's the Marina at Salou in Spain. Apart from a day we had in Barcelona where it rained, we had a lovely time. Most days it was like this:

Needless to say we didn't use the beach, instead overlooking the beach while drinking coffee and retiring to the Hotel to stay by the pool most days.

We had a nice meal in a square off Las Ramblas in Barcelona:

Parakeets and Palm trees, very nice. Apart from the guy playing Desposito (my least favourite song of the moment) in front of us. The wife even paid him so he'd stay and sing the bloody song...

Apparently all the family knew and chipped in for my birthday. Bit of a novel present eh?

So, back in blighty last weekend, but the days were spent washing and generally getting ready to go back to work. Then in the middle of the week we get a big blow. It was quite windy, with a bit of damage on a few unprepared boats. There was a small keelboat up on the shore at the top end of Portsmouth harbour (you could see it from the M275) and next to Sprite 2, Charlita had shredded her jib:

The unseasonal gale seemed to catch folk out. Which is a salient reminder to always square things away no matter what, because nature has a way of biting you.

The Mrs had one final surprise last week, with a ticket to the Southampton Boat Show. So that's where I was yesterday:

No wonder I'm smiling!

Quite a few interesting boats. This one caught my eye, it seems to have a split personality, not knowing if it wants to be a speedboat or a yacht:

Looks nice, but the price....... ouch!

This little Bay Cruiser 26 looked to hark back to small cruisers of old. Not sure about the rear entry door cum swimming platform(s), but I suppose it make entry from a tender easier. The dual rudders just seem to add unnecessary complexity:

Grey motorboats seemed to be a theme this year. This monster had 700 horsepower, plenty you would think:

But I found one with even more:

I bet it goes! Not sure you could get the conditions to run it flat out in the UK though. 

Led lighting seems to have well and truly become mainstream this year. There were a number of stalls selling all manner of LED lighting. The Skint Sailor did it years ago. :-)

Finally for those who like the smell of hemp rope, the boat show always have something old along with the new. This year it was the Kaskelot:

Very nice but not really floating my boat. 

This year as last year nothing really grabbed me. All I bought was a coffee and Blueberry muffin like last year. 

It's interesting seeing the new trends. Electric drive seems to be up and coming, but I still remain to be convinced as to it's uses on the sea. Even Hybrid drive has it's limitations. It's not like you can get the advantages of regeneration braking like you can with road cars. Quite how you recharge a battery pack from a propeller I'm not sure. There isn't the same sort of grip you get from road wheels on tarmac. Maybe you put up with a reduced efficiency. Unless you only have the facility on a sail boat so that the prop recharges the battery while sailing. But then you have increased drag and therefore reduced speed while sailing. Hmmm....
Thinking about it there's no benefit to stand-alone hybrid technology, because there is no way to put kinetic energy back into the battery bank. A battery recharged from shore power allows cheaper energy to be used alongside the engine, but then you're putting energy in from somewhere else, albeit cheaper energy. You could use wind and solar to recharge and get free energy, but would it repay the installation and maintenace costs of the more complex installation?
Anyway, that's enough for now. I've caught up with what I've been doing the past few weeks. I'll be in a new house at the end of the month, thanks to the landlady selling the one we're in at the moment. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Small Sail

Had a small sail around Langstone yesterday. Just went out and came back, no real time to take pictures, mainly due to the dinghy sailors racing around the harbour.

Pains in the arse that they were, criss-crossing the deep water channel and generally getting in the way. Me and another yacht had you slow down and speed up as they kept crossing the channel. The chap in the other yacht was nice, he mentioned he'd had a Seawych in the past. I jut shouted across I wish Sprite would sail a bit better.

But then the weed is growing back on the hull again, so Sprite's tacking ability is badly affected. As I found out when I started back down the harbour against the wind. Once up to speed she was ok, but slowed abruptly when tacking across the wind.

The past couple of days I've noticed the window rubbers are in a desperate sate, so they need attention before the worst of the winter weather sets in. the rear windows are pretty crazed and cracked, so the perspex needs replacement at the same time as the rubbers.

It's looking more and more likely that at some point I'm going to have to pull Sprite out of the water for a period of time. Something I'm not looking forward to. It either involves expense in putting her ashore in a yard, or vulnerability putting her ashore on the beach.

The house move during September is going to get in the way, so I'll get that out  of the way and then start to plan the shore time. By then I'll know how much storage space there is at the new house to hold all the parts I take off Sprite for safe keeping if I leave her on the beach for a few days.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Sneaky Half Day.. work today.

Didn't do any sailing, just installed the clipper log properly on the instrument flap:

The hole making was made easy by the DIY 12v drill again, plus thanks to the larger leisure battery, I had a good hour of drilling with no drop in power. Lots of small holes drilled and then linked up to make the big hole to accommodate the back of the log unit.

Once done, I had my lunch and chilled, watching the boats entering and leaving the harbour and the people on the shore.

A nice afternoon and a refreshing change from the rush at work.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


Some fair weather and spare time today so off to the boat to soothe the withdrawl symptoms.

Just a potter round the harbour, although I also tried out my new eBay bargain:

Yes, Sprite 2 has a speedo, or will have once I cut out the hole for it in the instrument mounting flap.

I'm not sure the paddlewheel is the correct one, as the speeds seem to be a little off and it doesn't register any speed at all above 3 knots. So some more work required I guess.

But a bargain at £30.

This week I bagged another eBay bargain: a Seawych keel shoe for a fiver. Fantastic, because Sprite 2 is missing a keel shoe. So an odd one is just what I need.

Also earlier this week I watched HMS Queen Elizabeth come into Portsmouth harbour for the first time. I wasn't one of the flotilla of small boats trailing behind her, but before going to work me and the Mrs watched her come in from the seafront.

So although I may not have been actually sailing, I have been busy. Last weekend I was up North visiting my Parents and my daughter who's studying at Salford Uni.

The next month or so may be sparse for sailing stuff too, we're moving house. The landlady has decided to sell... just after we spent a fortune decorating too. The perils of private renting I guess.

We're downsizing as part of the move, so no garage. That's got to be cleared, including a spare jib furling setup that I got back in 2012 when I was boat-hunting. It was another eBay bargain that was too good to miss and I suspected I might not get a boat with a working furling system or one at all, so I bagged it. I'll stick it on eBay in the next week or so along with my old, dead motorbike.

Lots to do... none of it sailing unfortunately.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Poor Show

That's now two weekends with no boaty content, sorry guys I'm slacking.

Last weekend it was the wind that killed things, a bit too windy for me.

This weekend a combination of grandchild minding and torrential rain did for it.

I was house/baby/cat sitting on Saturday. We took one of the grandkids with us to Stokes bay on Sunday and there were plenty of boats out making the most of the morning's sunshine. But it wasn't to last and by luunchtime the torrential rain had returned.

When I got home the Ryde webcam showed an almost empty Solent, so it looks like everyone had taken shelter.

I'm now looking forward to a sunny mid-week where I stare out of the windows at work and curse the weekend weather. lol.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Burnt Out

Not me. There's been a caravan down at Eastney for a few months, I think the guy in it has been living in it.

I went down at the weekend and found this:

Bit of a shame.

I wonder how long the debris will be down there before it's cleared.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Slow Sail

Yesterday there was hardly any wind and high tide was mid-day, so I settled for a slow sail up Langstone Harbour.

As it was, there was so little wind it took an hour to get from the entrance to the watersports centre.

With no cooling wind, the Sun was scorching hot. There weren't many dinghy sailors in the harbour, but there were quite a few stand up paddle boarders. They were faster than me!

Once at the top, I started the engine and with it on just past ticking over, slowly made my way back down to my mooring.

Not a bad afternoon. The new battery is working well, the solar panel without the controller is keeping it charged, which means the tiller pilot is working properly. Funnily enough I tested the original battery at work and it still has 85% capacity left. I can only assume the solar charge regulator I got off eBay was rubbish.

So avoid one of these things:

The display gives loads of information, but as a solar charger it's a bit rubbish. It looks like the big battery and blocking diode combo update seems to work best of all. The battery stays charged, not dropping below 12.8v, which is fully charged. Even after running the tiller pilot for an hour or two.

Changing the orientation of the diode on the solar panel and removing the controller has made a pretty big difference. I'm sure the original battery would have been fine with this setup too.

So now the power side of things is sorted for long days sailing.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Round The Island Race

No, I'm not announcing my entry. The cost of getting Sprite 2 up to the required spec to compete would run to thousands of pounds (of course which I don't have). Not that a racing snail like a Seawych would be competitive anyhow.

I was mulling over options: get up around 7am and watch the start of the race on the live streaming service (if its available this year, there seems to be very little info on the website), or do I get up at 4am, get down to the boat for 5am and then get out into the Solent on the high tide and watch the start of the race and the return of the fastest boats later? Or do i get up early, get down to Southampton and get the Red Jet over to Cowes and watch the start from there? I think the weather will decide. The wind is mainly from the West which means another slow slog up the Solent, or maybe a trip out to the Nab Tower and hang around watching the boats come around Bembridge.

A couple of years ago, the couch option would have won hands down, but this year is proving a watershed. I haven't enjoyed sailing so much since 2014 when I first really started sailing Sprite 2 in Langstone harbour, with it's threadbare sails, green rope and my lack of sailing experience.

This year I really like the idea of being in the Solent as the fastest mono and multi-hulls go roaring past.

The one thing I have noticed is that as I start to progress out into the Solent more, the less apprehensive I get. I think the Saturday when I had the wind building to F5 served to help me understand the boat's and my limitations. I know both of us can quite happily cope and get home safe, although the journey isn't particularly comfortable. It's taken 4 years to get to this point. Steadily improving, repairing, restoring and generally getting the boat to a state of repair where I can give it some small amount of trust. And also trust that I won't make a bad decision.

All I can do is keep an eye on the forecasts and see if I can drag my weary body out of bed at 4am.

Maybe see you out there.


Live Streaming Starts at 5:15 am according to the latest tweets from the RTIR account:


I did the couch thing. Actually it was bed, then couch thing. A 4am start was a bit too early. Plus I have a raft of things to get done today as tomorrow is taken up with a Birthday BBQ for the Mrs. Today I have to get her a card (obviously), get the racking done on the car and also take my son to the Apple Shop in Southampton to see if they can fix his iPhone (he called me last night in dire need of a lift to Southampton, the iPhone is his life).

I've had a vicarious sailing fix, I will just have to make do. lol.

Thanks to the team at the Round The Island race Live coverage, it gets better every year. Cameras and Drones at Cowes and cameras at Hurst, The Needles and also St Catherines.

I'm not sure the large yacht that hit something hard at the needles wanted it to be live on camera, but there you are! It hit so hard that must have been a retirement. It was under the Spinnaker so wasn't hanging about when it abruptly stopped! If you're quick, watch the replay of the starts on the RTIR website. The yacht prang is at 2:00:31 I actually said Ouch! out loud when I saw it.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

America's Cup: New Zealand Win!

Well, the Kiwis and their amazing flying machine proved to dominant for team USA and have won the final round of the Americas Cup. Well done to the team, they were impressive with they AC50 cyling machine (checks for hidden propellers...)

Cue cheesy 1987/2013 mashup YouTube video courtesy of Seven Sharp:

Ah 1987, when I was still single and facy free.... The decade of big hair and big shoulder pads. And that was the blokes!

And of course the New Zealand Band-Aid tribute act singing about a yacht... :-)

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Biiiiig Battery

I took the new battery down to Sprite yesterday. It was blowing F4 and threatening to rain, so no sailing.

The first problem was getting the new, larger battery in the locker below the bunk where the old one(s) were.

The old batteries were wedged into place with baulks of timber so I took those out to make room, then threaded the new bigger battery into the locker. It's a lot harder getting a huge single battery in place rather than a couple of smaller batteries.

Then the battery stuck. It was too tall to fit. and wedged itself under the locker sides. Oh dear!

So, with a lot of fiddling about I took more baulks of timber out of the locker and lowered the battery.

I think the easiest thing to do is make up a new battery shelf under the locker and hold the battery in place with a strap, so that's what I'm going to do. I've got an ideally sized bit of external/marine ply that can do for the shelf, Just need the straps. Pound shop here we come.....

I've also removed the eBay Chinese solar panel controller. Far from being useful, I think it's been the cause of the demise of the old batteries. I'm pretty sure it's reduced the amount of charge going into the batteries and then taken current out of them at night when the solar panel isn't charging. So the batteries have been running on empty and sulphated.

So, it's back to the old setup of the solar panel being directly connected to the battery, which should be fine. That way there's nothing draining the battery at night. The Solar Panel originally had a diode across the terminal, but a while back I changed it to a blocking diode, which means the solar panel doesn't drain the battery at night:

Here's the original configuration, to prevent the panel being damaged from reverse polarity, but still allowing the panel to drain the battery at night:

Here's the new configuration in blocking mode. It stops reverse poliarity AND stops overnight power drain. The downside is a small voltage drop across the diode which means slightly less charging current, but it's still worth doing I reckon. Time will tell.

There's a rule of thumb when using solar panels that you don't need a controller if the panel's wattage is 10% of the battery's capacity. i.e. 10W and 100Ah. Which the new setup will be.

With the controller ditched, the solar panel connected directly and the blocking diode, the battery should keep fully charged. All I need worry about is overcharging, but that shouldn't be such an issue with such a big battery. I just need to check on the electrolyte levels regularly.

Here's hoping anyway. I'll let you all know.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


This has been an expensive month for me, not the boat, but the car. So far it's needed a new exhaust system and now I need to get two tyres for it after a puncture last night.

eBay provided the exhaust, from Poland of all places. But it was cheap so I took the chance. Luckily it fitted fine.

The insurance needed renewing this month too.

Now I need the tyres. Three things in the same month. Please stop it and behave, car!

Every cloud has a silver lining and all that: I'll fill the dodgy tyres with concrete to make a mooring block for Jim as the two tyres I gave him before have been nicked, I assume to be fenders on a boat somewhere. :-)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Battery Woes and a Result.

While sailing last Saturday, one of the things that did let me down was the battery. Ok, it's an old car battery taken off one of my old cars before it was scrapped and not a proper leisure battery and it was about 6 years old after doing service in our old caravan.... okay, okay, it was due for replacement!

Anyway, as luck would have it, about 2 years ago work bought a 100Ah Leisure battery for use at the shows we attend just in case the generator packs up.  (long term readers will remember I snaffled the generator around that time because it blew up all the laptop chargers at one show we went to!).

I've been regularly charging this battery to keep it ready for show use and secretly coveting the huge capacity. The thing is, for the last few shows, we've rented a really good Honda generator from the local tool hire shop rather than relying on a £100 Chinese one. The leisure battery option is pretty redundant and is just sat under my desk getting in the way.

Well that's what I said to the boss yesterday anyhow..... :-D

And for the princely sum of £20 I've got myself a fully charged, checked at 100% capacity, hardly used Leisure Battery. I mean, it's a written off asset by now, so that's £20 clear profit for the company.... Well, that was another thing I pointed out to the boss.

So now I have a huge leisure battery, fully charged, tested and ready to go onto the boat. I just need to get it on board and threaded into the battery locker.

So on further sails I should be able to use the tiller pilot for a bit longer, rather than it keep beeping when the voltage drops too low and it resets, sending the boat who knows where. Not that manually steering was a hardship on Saturday, but a bit annoying when you want Geroge to take over while you have a pee or get a brew on.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunny Saturday Sailing. Best Sailing Day So Far!

On Friday night I went on the boat straight after work and put the boat in Southsea Marina. High tide on Saturday was 5:20am and I couldn't risk getting up half an hour late and missing the whole day. Southsea have a tidal cill which was open for a few hours after high tide, so it gave me options. The chap who booked me in was very friendly.

In the end the overnight stay turned out to be a good call.

Here's Sprite 2 in the marina:

So, I get up at the allotted 4am, scrape the sleep out of my eyes and hit the road about 4:40.

This is the sight that greeted me as I walked back to the Marina after parking the car:

Calm, still.... and way too early in the morning. Check the sunrise times for last Saturday!

Got to the Marina by 5, set everything up and then..... the engine refuses to start. Brilliant.

After running back to the car to get a spark plug spanner (mental note to self: buy one to keep on the boat!) and finding the spark plug was okay. In the end it was the cut out switch that was playing up, still shorted even when pressed. A faff with the switch to pull the contact button away and the engine started on the first pull as usual. Doh!

A quick tidy-up ensued and then untie and off out of the Marina entrance half an hour later than planned. Which sort of shortened the day, but more of that later.

Motoring down the Deep Water channel like the big boys do felt kind of weird. After all, I usually just scrap off the mud, round a shingle spit and I'm in the harbour entrance.

Not many boats about at that time in the morning, although a couple of fishing boats went out at the same time.

Coming out of the harbour I raised the sails and the wind was around an F2. Not a lot of wind but enough to keep Sprite 2 trickling along nicely. The sea was calm as well. The wind was a Westerly, so ideal for getting past Horse sand Fort and the submarine barrier, but not at all ideal for cutting the corner and heading for the gap in the barrier.

So the plan was to head over to the I.O.W. and then tack, heading towards Portsmouth.

I reached Horse Sand Fort quite easily:

The next point was No Man's Land Fort. I got there quite quickly and put a tack in once I'd got about halfway between the fort and the shore.

On the opposite tack I noticed that the wind was behaving oddly on the Portsmouth side, possibly Gilkicker and Gosport had something to do with it. I put in another tack and headed for Ryde. Mainly because the Normandie Express was coming out and I didn't fancy being in the way of her. lol.

A few big ships went through the Solent, so gauging the passage across the shipping lane was important. Ships like this one:

This is where things started to go a bit awry. Getting out of Langstone later than I planned meant I was always on the last of the Westbound tide. With the wind against me it was always going to be a slog up the Solent, but just off Ryde the tide stopped. I must have put in quite a few tacks, but on the compass although I was supposed to be going in one direction, I only seemed to be going Westwards very slowly. On each tack the same point hove into view, or at best only a little further on. The Car ferries loved me getting in the way. One tried to give me a hint I think:

And getting very close:

Then just after Stokes Bay the Wind stopped too.

I mean completely stopped: the water was glassy calm and everyone had the engine on, heading for Cowes. Now my engine isn't the noisiest two stroke in the world, but I didn't fancy burning money just to get Westwards and burn more money in a Marina for a second night. Also by that time I'd had about 5 hours of sailing. That's not bad going considering the longest I've ever sailed in one continuous go was a couple of hours.

After more or less drifting for the best part of an hour, I stuck the motor on and Headed back East for an hour or so.

Then the wind chipped up again, this time from the South East! Yep, heading almost dead into the wind again!

So, up with the sails and make the best of it. This time the wind was an F3 and Sprite 2 romped along. After 6 hours at sea I was having a blast:

By that time all the posh chaps had had their breakfasts and Lunchtime Martinis and had come out into the Solent to play too. By 1pm there were hundreds of sails visible out on the water. This lot were just in the water outside Portsmouth, looking up to the Western Solent it was a mass of white sails.It seems to be a lot quieter on the Eastern side.

I was heartened to see I wasn't the only small boat out there. But it's a shame there weren't more. It was ideal weather for small boat sailing.

I finally got back to my mooring around 3pm after having my best sailing day to date, without qualification. I loved every minute of it. I know it's been almost 4 years since I took over ownership of Sprite 2, but it's taken this long to get confident enough and to have the stable weather to able to plan in advance like booking the Marina and also having the spare cash to be able to spend on a Marina slot. £25 might not be a lot of money to some people, but it's almost a week's worth of petrol to get to work, or half a weekly shop. I don't have much disposable cash so to be able to do this has been pretty damn brilliant.

Yesterday I was thinking about heading out to the Nab Tower and back maybe, but today my body said no in no uncertain terms. I ache all over! Who knew sailing was such a good workout.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer Storm and the Americas Cup.

Well, the Barometer on my weather station has dropped like a stone, the wind is howling and the rain is bucketing down.

It's been a while since we had a storm this time of year. Two years or so, since that was the summer I'd booked a week off work to go sailing after watching the Americas Cup World Series. The last day was cancelled and I think that was the worst week for summer weather in a long time. Just my luck.

I hope Sprite is okay as I had to get off her a bit hurriedly the other day and there's always the nagging thought I forgot to tighten up a line or something.

Talking of the Americas Cup, I see Sir Ben isn't doing too well. Luckily he won the ACWS and got points to carry on to the main event, or otherwise Team Land Rover BAR would be in serious trouble. To be honest I haven't watched it, not having subscription TV and the BBC not really advertising if or when they are showing it.

In all honesty I think it will end up in a match between the Yanks and the Kiwis again. I just don't think Sir Ben's boat is fast enough, sadly. It seems outclassed by most of the other teams and in terms of strategy, the other teams laid into him early on to get penalties and penalise him in the races, but that tactic seems to have died away as the other teams can see they can beat him on outright pace.

The race the other day where Team New Zealand stayed on the foils for 100% of the race showed what the other teams are up against (I saw it online). They have to be able to do the same to even get close, otherwise they'll be left for dead. Fair Play to the Kiwis, they showed a bit of class with that race and their innovative thinking, like replacing arm-powered grinders with leg powered cycle style units may also be showing the way forward for that class of boats. It seems obvious that leg power can generate more power for longer than arm power.

Ho Hum, another plucky but ultimately doomed Americas Cup for the Brits I guess.....


Yup, I was right. Despite NZ pitch-polling yesterday, they recovered so well that today they sealed the deal: Team Land Rover BAR is out of the Americas Cup.

Something very wrong with their AC50, it seems all the other teams including Softbank Japan have faster boats. There will be some soul searching over the next few weeks as to where they went wrong.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

More Actual Sailing.

Yes, I can't believe it, twice, in one week! I've done sailing.

This time I popped this year's Solent cherry. It's the first time I've been outside the harbour since last year.

Wind was F3 to a quite fresh F4, the sky was cloudless and the tide was 4.2m this morning, so a quick scoot down to the boat, get the engine on and drag Spriteoff the mud while the tide was rising.

Out of the harbour I go, as you can see initially it was pretty flat, Sprite 2 was handling and going well:

So, do the video, continue out of the harbour, towards the forts. Well, As close as I could get because the wind was South Westerly and the forts are East of the harbour entrance. In the end heading towards Bembridge, almost due South was my course, with an eye on heading West once I'd got across the Solent.

In the end it didn't happen. I got to Horse Sand fort and the wind started freshening and along with it bigger waves. The clouds were also getting more dense and darkening up, which means it was only going to get worse. I already had two reefs in the mainsail and was zooming along (for Sprite) at 5 knots. I'm pretty sure that's around her hull speed!

In the end as the wind was getting stronger I made a Captain's decision to head back toward land. The problem was with being bounced around so much I couldn't even have a brew. And that's a problem. :-)

I was going to stay out, but the lack of brew-making made me head for the harbour again, in the hope of finding shelter, a spare buoy and the ability to get the kettle on.

Look who came in the harbour with me:

Yep, it's the Rozzers! Not sure where they were bound for, but on an outgoing tide they wouldn't be there long. lol.

Going up the harbour for a recce of the deep water buoys, I noticed the tide hadn't gone down too much and that it was maybe worth trying to get back on the mooring. By this time SolentMet was reporting a pretty brisk F5 and you could even feel it in the harbour.

So, with even getting stuck on the mud being a better brew-making option I headed towards Sprite's mooring. By now after 2 hours playing in the Solent, quite a lot of the beach at Eastney was showing. I still chugged to the mooring and with a huge bit of luck I made it to my buoy, just as the rudder hit the mud. I just aimed the boat at the buoy and the attached dinghy and kept the power on until I was there, a trick that seemed to work.

Hooking onto the chain proved a mission with the wind pulling Sprite and the keels dragging on the mud. It didn't want to come round into the wind as it usually does to make things easier, but with a bit of effort I wrangled everything right and looped the chain over the samson post.

A hasty packing session followed (I'll tidy the cabin up later) and with about a foot of water left and Sprite's keels now in the mud, I climbed into the dinghy and rowed ashore. Please note the lack of brewing that has happened thus far. Such was my haste to get ashore and have coffee on dry land.

In the end the dinghy touched dry land just as the beach turns to mud. Any longer and I would have needed wellies.Lucky that, because they were in the car!

So quite a way to drag the dinghy this time, but it was worth it.

I packed everything into the car and on the way back drove down Southsea seafront. By now the Solent was full of white capped waves. I'm not sure it would have been much fun in a 19ft boat to be honest. There may be braver souls out there, but I'm quite sure that F5 is about Sprite 2's limit. I'd have been on my third and last reef and close to the limit of the old sails and rigging. In the end I came home without having a failure of any kind, which is always a bonus.

So to recap, I'd had a couple of hours out in the Solent, watched lots of bigger boats out there with none the size of Sprite 2. Sailed with the mainsail reefed for the first time made a good decision on the weather and got home safely, even being lucky enough to get on the hook  I didn't get a brew or any sort of food while afloat, but then that got rectified once I got home. :-)

All in all, a good morning.

A nice exercise in finding out Sprite 2's limitations and to some extent honing my own skippering skills.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


On Bank Holiday Monday I did do some sailing, but with very little wind it was a very slow slog up the harbour, 50/50 tide assisted. The low cloud didn't do much for the scenery either.

My mate Rob popped by for a boaty afternoon on his way back to Oxford from Exmouth.

The boat was just on the verge of losing steerage, slipping sideways almost as much as forwards.

We crabbed up Langstone harbour until we got to the Dredger at the top of the Eastern Road, then motored back, avoiding dinghies on the way.

As we motored back down the harbour, the mist descended, lowering visibility to half a mile.

We'd started up the harbour with the tide flowing in and it took so long to get up the harbour that by the time we got back down, the tide was well on the ebb.

So straight to the mooring, hook on, pack up and then ashore for a bacon roll and a coffee, over which we chatted some more about family and stuff as you do.

Then it was off to pick the Mrs up from work.

Hopefully more boaty stuff at the weekend, but the tides are 4.1m. I'm hoping to finish the scraping, but past experience says 4.1m might not be enough to get on the beach. We'll see.

If no beach/boat action, then I have a number of options. (a) fit a new exhaust on the car or (b) motorcycle restoration/resurrection (but that's another story entirely).

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Finishing Off.

Today was windless with scattered showers, so no sailing unfortunately.

With a 5.1m tide I had plenty of time to get stuff done.

First off was refitting the cup and plate holder rack at the rear of the cabin. I've given it a coat of white gloss to match the VHF hutch and brighten up the back end of the cabin:

As well as that, I fitted the new flap for the depth sounder:

The flap does the usual and flips so the depth sounder shows outside too, without taking up the whole companionway:

The re-soldering I did on any PCB joints that looked dodgy has cured the Depth Sounder of it's intermittent nature. It switches on straight away and gives a steady reading.

Okay, that's 2 jobs down, what next? Well, a coffee and then a play with my latest video camera:

This is a 4K 360 degree camera supposedly. I've used it as a wide angle camera, where the viewing angle is around 220 degrees., so it shows most of the cockpit from the top of the companionway hatch.

Very enbarrassing, I hate the sound of my own voice.

But it does show the limited quality of the camera, it looks pretty grainy and not that sharp. Even 4K with a 360 degree view at 220 degree angle spreads the pixels out a bit much.

I might dig out my old 1080p camera and pop a wide angle lens on it to see if there's any difference.

Not only is the video quality as iffy as the commentary, the sound quality is pretty dire too. Towards the end it was picking up the engine noise of the dredger going out the Langstone harbour channel 500 yards away behind buildings, better than my voice being spoken only 4 feet away.

After a bit of tidying up, I decided to leave and go ashore between showers.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Old Scrubber

Yep, it's that time again and yes, I'm the old scrubber mentioned, since I'm not rich enough to employ someone else to do the scrubbing for me.

I took the day off on Tuesday in order to take advantage of the tides. I was a bit desperate since I wanted to do some sailing this coming weekend.

First off, to run aground. Deliberately. Avoiding obstacles like the ropes, chunks of concrete and anchors the guys permanently moored on the beach like to use to moor their boats.

One the boat is firmly beached, a hop ashore and a walk down to the burger van for a bacon butty and a coffee while I wait for the tide to go out:

Once the water is low enough, time to assess to job.

As you can see, I wouldn't be doing much sailing with this lot stuck to the bottom:

I'm getting the removal of the heavy weed down to an art now: using a garden hoe, I slice the weed off the hull, just leaving green slime. After 30 minutes to an hour, you end up with this:

Then once the water had dropped enough it was out with the scraper to remove the Barnacle farm from between the keels.

Then it was out with the sanding grid and water to clear most of the green slime. Water keeps it moist and easier to remove. Once the slime dries out it is as hard to remove as paint.

I tried a power sander and a scraper on the green residue, but it's tough stuff when it dries. I'm sure a pressure washer would make short work of it, but getting mains power and a decent water supply to the beach is a bit of a tall order.

Maybe a drill and a rotary wire brush might have more luck. I'll try that next time. What I need to do is get the hull spotless so I can lay down a coat of primer ready for slapping anti-foul on top.

In one day there's not enough time between tides to do it all. Maybe I need to organise a day on the beach with a wire brush, then another day soon after to clean the hull and lay down some paint.

By the time I got Sprite on the mooring and back on dry land, it was the very last of the twilight:

As I packed the car up to go home, a Fox walked down the beach and stopped about 3 feet away from me. It looked at me as if to say "What the hell are you doing on my beach?" We exchanged a look for a few seconds and then went our separate ways. An interesting end to the day.

Boy did I ache!

Boy do I ache two days later!

I need that lottery win so I can have a man do it all for me.....

Sunday, 21 May 2017

New Home for the VHF

Finally got it all screwed down and sorted. The VHF is now installed in it's new home.

As you can see it doesn't take up much room:

Here's a wider shot:

The horn push button is the black thing nearest the bulkhead. I need to wire it up later at some point.

The thing on the left pointing in to the cabin is the volt meter:

So, another project down, on to the next one.