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

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.

Disappointing Weekend

Well, boat-wise anyway. With early and late high tides, I wanted to get the boat on the beach and scrub the bottom.

Well, that was the plan.

Yesterday I was delayed by the Mrs cooking me breakfast before I went out. I got there and the tide was well below the point at which I can beach Sprite 2. I got there about 30 minutes after high tide (4.1m).

Today I got there just before high tide (4.2m) but even at it's highest, the tide didn't get up to the point at which I could beach the boat.

This is high tide apparently:

The tide needs to be at least to the top of the seaweed line before I have a clear run to the beach. In that picture it's at least 0.5m too low.

I assume the high atmospheric pressure (over 1000mb) has depressed the tide so that it didn't reach up far enough.But checking it out, the "standard" tide hieght is calculated witha pressure of 1013Mb, but the current pressure is 1000Mb so in theory the water should be higher, not lower... I'm going for a lie down, my brain hurts. But that could be the paint fumes, who knows.

There we go then, a note for the future is the tide needs to be at least 4.5m in future before I can contemplate beaching. saved to memory. The strange thing is I'm sure I've beached on a 4.0m tide before, but that was when the tide prediction was a lot higher. I just wonder if there is some variation in predictions for neap and spring tides. Certainly these neaps don't seem to be anywhere near as high as the predictions estimate.

So, although yes you can scrub off cheaply on the beach, it's a bit of a lottery as to when you can do it. Almost makes you want to get the boat lifted out for a week, (until you see what Marinas are charging that is).

In the meantime, I'm consoling myself at home by making the new mounting panel for the Depth sounder and doing another coat of white paint on the cup and plate rack. Oh, and updating the blog while I have a coffee. :-)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Wet Evening

I went on board Sprite last night after work. It was raining but what the hell, there was an hour of high water and quite still.

I took the new home for the VHF on board and started attaching it. It needs a bit of fettling to get it in place. I didn't realise how difficult it would be to hold a heavy plywood box containing a VHF radio up to the roof while trying to tidy heaty cables.

I needed some longer screws which I'll take on board tonight, but first impressions are it looks ok, and pretty unobtrusive. Having the VHF horizontal means you can see the display easier. Tucked up under the roof, set back from the companionway means it's out of any weather that may find it's way through the hatch.

I should be back on board again tonight, with longer screws and I've worked out for a whole 5 minutes (don't want to overdo it!) so I should be able lift and hold the whole assembly in place while I tidy all the cables and screw the thing to the roof.

That'll be another job done I've been putting off since last year.

The Mrs called me later on, just as I was packing up to come off the boat, her work PC had stopped talking to the internet (I just happen to be unofficial I.T. support to the whole family, having done it in a previous life). I cut her short as the keels had just touched down and I needed to get the dinghy ashore before I was stuck for the night.

Once ashore I called her back. Luckily there was literally nothing I could do, her company's I.T. are pretty tight on security and if switching it off and then on again doesn't resolve the issue then she has to call support (but she still calls me!). Actually tight I.T. security is a good thing at the moment...

As I was packing up I noticed the Easney Cruising Club Wednesday night racers coming back in. Plugging the tide with no wind is not an easy task.

As you can see they were all within feet of the shore trying to keep out of the flow. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to bring a fin keeled yacht that close into shore or a catamaran as close as that one in the foreground is. There are wire baskets full of rocks there. getting hung up and stuck on them is not something I'd like to contemplate.Those racers are hardcore!

Anyway, afterwards it was back to the wife's work for a cup of coffee before taking her home.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Tidying Up

I went on the boat today and tidied the wiring for the instruments up in preparation for the hutch for the VHF being installed. The wiring has to now run to the roof of the cabin, so I did some work to extend it. I also added more epoxy to the wooden battens the hutch screws into. They should be pretty firmly attached to the roof once the latest epoxy has had a few days to set.

I'll post photos once the VHF is located in it's new home.

Thanks to David (see comments below) I've found I don't need to renew my VHF Shorts range Certificate. It's for life!

Just in case anyone needs a cheap course, Portsmouth Marine Training do a course at the moment for £75, then there's the RYA Exam fee of £60 on top.  But £75 quid is cheap compared to some.

As an aside, the 19th is the date I first met Mrs SkintSailor. We were exchanging emails and I was due to go to Southampton for my SRC course and nipped over to Portsmouth to see her. Our first date... lol. A typical bloke's way of remembering the date, nothing romantic involved at all. :-)

God, that was back in the days I was running this gas-guzzling beast:

How times (and myself) have changed.

I also brought the Depth sounder home as it's been getting a bit intermittent. I had a session re-soldering some of the iffy joints on the circuit board this evening which should hopefully solve the issue.

I also brought the volt meter I use to check the battery voltage home and installed it on the hutch.

After painting it this week, the hutch is now ready to install.

Also today I got a new gas bottle for the boat. That 4.5Kg Butane bottle has lasted almost 4 years!

While Removing the depth sounder and the volt meter, I measured up to make a new plywood flap, so the depth sounder can be flipped out into the companionway, but the flap won't go across the whole companionway. Instead it should be less than half, so it won't block the way.

I also offered the rudder I bought up to the stern of Jim's boat. It is definitely big enough. The profiled part of the rudder will end up sticking down further that the keels. I marked to position of the Gudgeon and Pintle as well as marking the top of the rudder. The top will need cutting down a bit to make sure the tiller fits under the pushpit. I just need to find the fittings and a way of connecting the tiller to the rudder.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Rudder Bargain

Not for me, but for my mate Jim, who is actually a skinter sailor than I am. So I like to help out if I can.

He lost his rudder last year, most likely nicked off the back of the boat.

I just happened to be browsing and saw this rudder on eBay:

It's almost 6ft long and very nicely sculpted where it's supposed to sit in the water. Plenty of opportunity to modify it to suit Jim's boat. At a minimum it needs Gudgeon and Pintles screwing on, shortening and a tiller made for it. It was originally off a catamaran.

With a bit of work I may be able to make a removable tiller, so he can stow it away in the cabin in future to avoid it getting nicked. Hopefully this one isn't staying on the back of the boat.

The best bit is it only cost £8.00! Now that's a bargain. Considering the fact that its painted, varnished, sculpted into a foil shape under the waterline already, I'd say it's a bargain that will save loads of time and help get Jim back on the water.

Just need to keep an eye out for a cheap gudgeon and pintle. And maybe keep an eye out on Freecycle/Freegle for an oak table or something I can get a long enough piece of wood out of to make the tiller assembly.

Here's hoping.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Beaulieu Boat Jumble

I went to Beaulieu today, not with the intention of buying anything specific, just to have a nose around.

Thanks the two weeks of good weather, the attendance was high:

That's just one half. The other half was like this:

One thing you do notice with Beaulieu is an overwhelming interest in supplying you with the means to spend as much as you can. Even supplying a mobile cash dispenser:

Not enough cash for that widget you need? Beaulieu has a solution for that 

In the end I only got a few bits. Some more rope (you can never have enough - £15), an epoxy repair kit (handy to have around for er, repair - £10) and 4 new fenders (because mine are pretty shot and grotty). The fenders were £10 each for brand new Marjoni ones with spliced line. Which isn't bad when you consider that's what some of the stalls sell used ones for. Should save me the shame when mooring up at Marinas. ;-)

My boot-sale booty

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Some Work Done at Last.

Finally, I've been able to get on board and get something done.

Last year was a bit of a washout, with weddings, holidays and the rest getting in the way of spending time on the boat.

About a year ago I put a new locker top on one of the lockers, then the other top has been waiting in the boat ever since.

This year I'm determined to get stuff done. To that end, this weekend I've fitted the other locker top. Plus I've given both tops a couple of coats of paint.

The cockpit finally looks good and the locker tops are waterproof. I can finally leave the cockpit cover off over the Summer.

Also, since the unwelcome visitor the other week, I've been thinking about strengthening the washboards even more. So the lower board got some strengthening:

I've fitted a hardwood batten to the back of the board. It provides strength in the middle of the boards, probably the most vulnerable part.

Two jobs done in one weekend. Not bad.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Unwelcome Visitor

Got on board the boat this weekend to be greeted by the sight of a pile of mud on the transom. It looks like someone has been mad enough to walk out to Sprite and get on board. Luckily no damage apart from the mud everywhere.

No attempt was made to enter. Maybe the steel reinforcing of the washboards put them off. I fitted that the last time a bunch of boats were walked out to and broken into. It looks like they are back with the same m.o.

The thing that gets me is what this person did is hugely dangerous. The mud is a couple of feet deep a Sprite's keels go into the mud and she settles on the hull. This person could quite easily have become stuck.

Unbelievable someone would take the risk. I take all the electronics off the boat in the winter so theres nothing easily removed and sold on  board. So a huge risk for nothing.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lidl Oil Pump

For those of you out there with sludge-filled iron lumps in the bilges that have never had an oil change because it's been too difficult, Lidl are stocking a 12v electric oil extraction pump.

It's part of the automotive special offer on Thursday the 23rd:

The price is £12.99, lots cheaper than marine equivalents and it should do the job.

Don't sue me if it doesn't though.

Friday, 17 March 2017

eBay Update

Well, the ad blocker has made a real difference.  So much so, the difference between browsing on my computer and someone else's is now very obvious.

I'd recommend if you're using Google Chrome as a browser to look at the add-on's and down load an adblocker. There are a few available on the Chrome add-on list. They all work in the same way so I can't say which is best.

It doesn't only speed up eBay either. the local newspaper website is 40% news, 60% adverts. It's made a HUGE difference on that website too.

I would say try it and see if there is any difference. I recommend it.

I will get back to sailing related stuff soon, I promise! But making the browsing experience better for those of you searching for the ideal low-cost yacht has to be a good thing.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

eBay Woes (Slow Response)

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting ever slower response times from eBay?

When trying to bag a bargain, you have to cast the net wide on your searches to make sure you trawl up the mis-spelled, the mis-placed or the generally badly advertised listings. The classic way to find the items no-one else can.

That means to drag up a lot of dross and you get into a rythm of quickly scrolling down the listings and filtering the gold from the poo.

But I'm finding it ever more difficult to do this, as the time it takes eBay to redraw a page is taking absolutely ages.

It's not my "up to 8Gb" connection either, the same massive slow-down occurs at work (during lunch break and for scientific purposes only, you understand).

I'm at a loss to explain it. Unless the adverts that eBay attach to every page have recently become massive and pre-load a huge video every time you click on to a new page. Maybe they're collecting mega amounts of meta-data, every page logging my activity in minute detail.

The fan on my laptop goes bonkers every time it displays a new page too, then quietens down after a couple of minutes (the time it takes to be able to scroll a page smoothly).

All very strange and totally frustrating. So much so I'm looking at alternative sites now in order to bag bargains.

Bye Bye eBay, you're no longer the useful site you used to be.


Deleting all my browsing history didn't do much good.

However, adding a advert blocker to Chrome seems to have had an effect. I'll report back after I've had a few days running in the new configuration.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Long Row, Short Visit

Today it's been blowing around F6, so it made rowing out to the boat a bit of a slog. Eventually got there and then the heavens opened. So just a quick visit to check the hatch would fit the front panel.

It does, although it takes up most of the front panel. An Ocean 20 is just about the max size for that panel I think. I didn't check on what the fit was like inside, as I was fearful of losing the dinghy it was that windy. I was only there for a minute but already one of the fixing had come undone, such was the wind and wave action tugging at the ropes.

So back in the dinghy and to row against the wind again back to shore.

The wind was blowing parallel to the beach so I was fighting it there and back again.

I must admit I'm not a fearful rowing out to the boat in this weather, I'm just not happy about losing the dinghy and getting stranded on board. :-)

Anyway, it's good news the hatch fits. Now I know it does, I've been cleaning off the old sealant with my new power tool: my multitool with scraper attachment. It made short work of the sealant, I'm hoping it will make scraping the bottom of the boat an easier and quicker job too.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Gosport Boat Jumble

Last Sunday I went to the Gosport boat jumble. As my boat jumble page suggests, this very early in the year jumble can be a source of bargains. The cold weather tends to put people off. This year it was warmer, so there were more people, but they quickly went, I assume because they were looking for specific things for winter projects.

I started off my journey here:

Lovely Havant train station. Love the early 20th century aesthetics. The train down to Portsmouth Harbour was £4.80 return. To drive round the harbour to Gosport and back would cost more than that in petrol.

At  10:30 on a Sunday morning the harbour was pretty still:

Then a short ferry trip:

Over the water to Turktown.

£3-odd return. Yeah, now it's adding up to the same as petrol round the harbour, but I'm doing something different for a change, plus it's pay-and -display parking at the boat jumble so that means public transport just pips the car in this instance.

Last year I got bungie sail ties and rope very cheap, this year I went prepared with a big rucksack.

Had I wanted to carry it home I could have had a Mercury 3.3Hp outboard for £30. A guy was haggling for just the petrol cap off it and the vendor was saying he could have the cap for £30... with the rest of the outboard. :-)

Odd bits like anchors for a tenner, large fenders for a tenner or 4 for £30, and like last year there were a few rope bargains.

Last year a stall had a few real bargains like cheap hatches. This year he was in the same place again (2nd bay on the right) :

I didn't have enough money last year, but this year I was prepared. Sure enough, he had a couple of Lewmar Ocean 20 hatches, £30 each. I only need one to go on the front of Sprite to replace the non-opening port-light at the front. So I bagged one:

It needs a clean and the acrylic needs polishing, but I can get plastic polish from work. On this one the friction mechanism was jammed, but literally 5 seconds with an allen key to back off the tension released it. Now it opens fine and still holds the hatch open.

Ideally I would have liked a 10 inch square Ocean 10 hatch, but this one should still fit the front panel of the cabin. It's 13 inches wide and the front panel I measured at over 20 inches. It's even the flanged version, so the flange will cover the sides of the cut hole. All I need is to use some of my spare marine ply to make a trim round the hatch on the inside of the cabin to receive the mounting screws. The downside is it'll take all of my woodworking skills to make something that looks horrendous. I may trawl the DIY stores for a decent-looking solution. :-)

The rest of the Boat Jumble looked like this:

As you can see, not particularly busy, which is why I like it. With most summer boat jumbles the bargains have all been bought up within 5 minutes of opening time.

After walking round twice to be sure I didn't miss anything, I walked back to the ferry. The last picture is a view of Portsmouth from the other side. A view I very rarely see and I don't visit Gosport often:

On the way back I noticed the dredging barge was working off railway jetty making it deeper for the new carrier due later this year. There was a Belgian minesweeper and a South African Navy ship docked there. Hopefully it doesn't dredge up another unexploded WW2 bomb while they're there and cause an international incident. It seems they come across a new unexploded bomb every few weeks.

The South African ship was in dock to commemmorate the SS Mendi disaster, a ship that went down off the Isle of Wight.

And that was it, Back to the train station and home.

Sunny Saturday.

Saturday was clear, dry and pretty warm. Very un-February-like.

I got on the boat and had a tinker with my 3.3Hp outboard that steadfastly refused to start. The petrol tap was refusing to let more than a small dribble of fuel to the carb, so it started and then stopped. So that's another job to sort. I need to get it going, because Jim's travails the previous week focused my mind onto having backup options like an alternative motor if the main one conks out.

After opening the lockers to get two stroke oil, I noticed a bit of water in there, so I got to work with the pump and sponge. Got the water out and then started airing the wet bits. The rope in the lockers came home for a wash in the washing machine.

Yep, the lockers are odd. I need to get the new locker top on the port side this year. The locker top isn't delaminating, it just offends my slight OCD-ness. I like things to match and be nice, I'm just hopelessly sluggish at making it happen.

With the sprayhood up, and breeze was blocked so the cockpit was a pretty nice place to be.

So with the lockers dried, some bits dried and some in the dinghy to come home, after a brew and a few biscuits I rowed back ashore.

One thing I noticed on the dinghy are scratch marks. It looks like Mr water Vole, Rat, or whatever got stuck at the bow of the dinghy and wanted out:

I will have to think of a solution to this, because if ratty makes my dinghy his home and then graws through the hull at all, I will be very upset. Plugging the open inspection holes up seems like a plan so he can't use the buoyancy tanks as a home, then maybe lifting the dinghy up on bricks  so it's not as safe and cosy as it used to be would seem to be the plan.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Helping Hand.

Last week Jims boat broke its mooring. It let loose and all that stopped it drifting away was the chain dragging on the mud.

I went down last Monday after work and Jim was struggling. I didn't have my oars with me so couldn't get out to Sprite and help drag Jims boat back. I wish I had because in the end later that evening his boat had drifted so much it had to be rescued by the RNLI.

So this weekend just gone I started helping him make a new mooring block. I've scrounged a couple of tyres and a plywood sheet. Enough to fill with concrete. All I need to scrounge is some steel bar to make the mooring ring to set in the concrete. Not bad for nothing.

He also needs new chain as his seems to be pretty much shot. Most likely why it parted in the first place. That might be a bit more expensive.

I've also got his engine at home because it wouldn't work , hence why he couldn't recover his boat on its own.

I'll be busy then. :-)

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Volvo Ocean Race Legends Race

This looks an interesting Prospect.

The Volvo Ocean Race is to have a race of prior entrants, what they are calling the race of legends.

Check it out here.

Now then, is it being televised and if so, where....

Friday, 3 February 2017

Antifoul on Sale Again.

Marine Superstore are having another antifouling sale here.

Amongst other products, 2.5L of Hempel Classic Antifoul for £34.95 is a bit of a bargain.

I've still got mine from last year, I really need to get it put on the hull, it's doing nothing sat in the tin...

Looks like limited colour availability, but plenty of True Blue in stock.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Short Visit this weekend

Just a quick visit last weekend to check on the fit of the VHF hutch.  Offering it up to it's home, it looks like the way of mounting it to the cabin roof needs to change slightly.

There are a couple of bolts for the rope clutches that come through the roof in the same place the mountings were going to go, so there needs to be a change. Not much: a few blocks mounted on the back wall of the cabin should be enough to hold the hutch in place.

Just a small change and worth nipping on board to check.

I was impressed the cabin was relatively dry and not dripping with damp like this time last year. Not sure what the difference is as it's been quite damp outside the cabin over the past few weeks, with fog and mist lasting several days. The harbour fog horns have been working overtime. :-)

I think last year loading a wet rudder into the cabin close to the end of the year introduced enough moisture into it to cause problems. This year I let the rudder dry in the cockpit before putting it away, so maybe that's the answer.

Checking the battery, it was down to 13.5v, I assume the result of a few weeks of misty, overcast days preventing the solar panel doing it's thing.

I also started to attack the Christmas choccy biscuits I took on board a few weeks ago. Yum.

Guy paddled over for a chat, it was nice to see him. He's been a bit scarce down the pond as he's been working away a lot.

I didn't even stay on board long enough to make a brew. I was off at high tide, which made recovering the dinghy easy. It's great when you only have to drag it 4 feet rather that three and four times that up the beach.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Chilled Weekend

Not much to report this weekend. Tides were wrong for getting out to Sprite. Nicky needed to borrow my winch as an old hull had broken loose and was bumping into Meagles at high tide. She needed the winch to drag the hull up above high tide. So I dropped the winch off yesterday.

Today I did a bit of food shopping, serviced the car and did a bit of housework, then went off to the boat just as the Sun was getting towards the horizon. Always a quiet, still time of day down at Eastney, as the sightseer traffic tends to die down.

I spent over an hour just chilling down there, watching the birds working their way down the beach and the geese fattening themselves for the flight back up North. I don't think it'll be long now because they're starting to fly around in bigger flocks. Always a precursor to them legging it off Northwards. I'm sure the weather at the moment is confusing them, being freezing at night and mild during the day.

But it's relaxing listening to the calls of the birds when there's no other noise. The Geese and their quiet honks of contentment, the more distant calls of the Curlew working the centre of the pond, the chatter of the Starlings as they work the beach around the high tide mark. Only broken every so often by the loud shrill call of a Gull echoing off the surroundings.

A couple of guys with cameras were walking down the beach taking arty snaps of the birds in the low Sun. One mentioned someone had seen an otter swimming. Not sure it was an otter, Langstone harbour is a bit too busy with human traffic for them. I really hope it's not a Mink, the bird nesting sanctuaries on the islands in the harbour will be under threat if it is.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Vendee Globe: Armel Gets First, Alex a close second

Well, the first two boats home in the Vendee Globe have arrived back.

Armel Le Cléac'h arrived back just after 3:30pm yesterday, winning the race. Armel has been second twice in this race, so it's heartening to see him win after getting so close before.

But for us Brits, the big Story is Alex Thomson arriving back just before 8am this morning. After his boat was damaged and lost a foil on the way down to the Southern Ocean, it was a  supreme effort to stay in touch with the leader and at one point in the final days to get within 40nm.

In the end it wasn't to be. But hey, he's a hero for getting to second.

Considering his boat, Hugo Boss almost didn't make it to the start line and the damage during the race. We all know he'd have won if he wasn't crippled on port tack.

I hope he goes again in 4 years time, although I suspect the advantage he had this year will be a lot less by then. I'm pretty sure after the outstanding performance shown by foiling monohulls in this Vendee, that all the boats in 4 years time will have foils. 3-4 years worth of development will make any performance advantage pretty small. I mean, just look at the amount of foil development in the past 5 years, first in multihulls and now in monohulls. God knows where they'll be in 4 years. I mean, a few foiling monohulls entered the Transat Jaques Vabre in 2015 and a number of them had failures of the foil and or the foil to hull joint. A year later there was none of the drama, apart from Hugo Boss being dismasted and damaged (Herculean effort getting HB back up together for the Vendee guys by the way.)

Just over 12 months after the issues and failures in 2015, a number of foiling boats have just sailed round the world.

The amount of effort to get a boat built, get the sponsors and actually sail the thing around the world is staggering. It's huge and fair play to The Hugo Boss team for doing so well.

<imagines stirring background music..>

Just like us Skint Sailors: finding a boat at the right price and getting in a seaworty state is an effort still worthy of some acknowledgement. It's not racing round the world single handed, but it's a worthy challenge that hundreds of us step up to.  All you Skint Sailors out there, give yourselves a pat on the back for doing what you are doing, having the stamina to keep moving forward, at whatever pace you can afford,  with little money and little reward. Those of you that don't yet have a seaworthy boat, keep on in there, you will get to your goal. Be positive!

Skint Sailors the world over celebrate! You are champions in your own right.

<okay, stop the music now, that's just silly :-) >

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Vendee Globe: The finish is close

It's now probably less than 48 Hours to the end of the Vendee Globe. Not an unremarkable statement on it's own, but after over 24,000 nautical miles and over 72 days of sailing, the two boats out in the lead are only 72 nautical miles apart.

Alex Thomson in second place is closing in on Armel Le Cléac'h the leader. On the run up the Atlantic, Alex has closed a 500 nm deficit and still closes in on the leader with less than 48 hours to go to the finish.

In Vendee Globe terms, this is the equivalent of a photo finish. It may well be very close by the end, given that there is a tricky patch of weather between the sailors and the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne which looks like forcing them up close to Ireland before they catch favourable winds down to the finish in Southern France.

So the last 48 hours will be all about routing: catching the best wind and conditions and keeping the pace of the boat up. The ridge of high pressure they are trying to negotiate has low winds in the centre, so they are trying to catch the higher clockwise winds on the outer edge of the anticyclone.

The thing is, do you cut East early, reduce the miles but suffer low winds, or do you head further North before heading South East to the finish, benefitting from higher winds but taking a longer route.

The fly in the ointment is Alex's boat is not so fast on starboard tack because he lost a foil (yes, these 60ft boats are foiling yachts!) in the South Atlantic on the way down South.

It's all to play for in the last 48 hours and Alex has a chance of being the first Brit to win The Vendee.

To get within 72nm after all those thousands of miles of sailing and in a compromised boat is an unbeleivable acheivement.

To me single handing the massive Hugo Boss yacht is a mighty achievement, I've seen it in the Solent and it's huuge.

Alex Thomson for BBC Sportsperson of the year 2017? I'll be voting at the end of the year! Even though the BBC has had little coverage of the event apart from a few small snippets on the local News.


Alex closed the gap over yesterday to be within 40nm of Armel. Currently Armel is taking a more Northerly route almost to the Scillies to keep in the higher winds. Alex is taking a more Southerly route, cutting the corner but taking the gamble that what should be lighter winds are not as light as the predictions indicate.

This really is amazing sailing. After over 24,000 miles and 70-odd days, the leaders could be minutes apart. It could even be closer! Do the Vendee Globe organisers have a commitee boat with a camera on it at the finish line? This could be a photo finish!


Looks like Alex had a nightmare of a night, having to fix a number of failures that slowed him right down compared to Armel. The sensors for his autopilot system being the most crutial. But he has no AIS as well, which tends to suggest electrical gremlins. Alex is now 90-odd nm behind the Frenchman and Armel is only 98nm from the finish. So unless he has some form of catastrophic failure, Armel Le Cléac'h is destined to become the winner of the 2016/2017 Vendee Globe Race some time later today.

Alex has now regained some speed, but he's too far away from the leader to challenge for the win if things continue as they are at the moment.

Monday, 16 January 2017

No Progress

This weekend I didn't get anything done on the boat.

Despite the attraction of high tides and a long stay on the boat, on Saturday my daughter was down from Uni and came over for dinner.

Yesterday the weather was miserable. Really miserable, with wind, cold and drizzle. Not a fun sailing day and not a fun day rowing out to the boat either. Given that one of the jobs I wanted to do was the cockpit locker top, the weather was not ideal.

So yesterday was occupied by food shopping. Oh the excitement!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Home for a VHF Radio

And a horn button.

I've been busy actually doing some work on the VHF hutch that will be fitted to the roof of Sprite to the right of the companionway, above the little moulded in table.

Looks a bit rough and ready, mainly because I don't have the tools to accurately cut holes out in plywood. But once it's had a bit more work to round the sharp edges and stained to match the rest of the interior woodwork, it should soften the rough look.

I don't know if you've noticed, but the thing cracked on me where the plywood is thin, so I had to epoxy it back together.

I've added the horn button for the horn I bought back in 2015 (??). Obviously I'll have to wire it in  but first the hutch mounts have to be fibreglassed and epoxied to the roof of Sprite.

The advantage is that the display and the speaker for the VHF will be horizontal, rather than pointing up to the ceiling. It should be easier to access and control in an emergency.

Also there's a bit of space ready for future projects. Not sure what they'll be yet.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Costs for 2016 and a Review of the Year.

So, here's the annual round up of costs for the previous year.

As usual first are the basic expenses.

£132      Mooring Fee

£160      Insurance (reflecting a higher valuation).

Up £10 on last year at £292.

Fuel this year was £11. I only bought 10 litres as I spent most of the year using up 2015's stockpile.

£2.50 Absolute tides Update.

£13 Navionics Update. I think it was around that much.

£5.00 Sail Bungie Ties.

£6.00 20m of 8mm Rope.

£5.95 Barometer set from Sue Ryder shop

£0.00 2.5 litres Hempel Classic Antifouling (was £35, but it was a late Xmas present so zero cost)

£19.95 Hempel Waterproof Undercoat.

£25.00 Various bits of sandpaper and cheap paint brushes.

£8.00 A few sets of needles for sail stitching from the Craft Shop.

£12.99 Speedy Stitcher.

£6.95 Mooring Buoy (subsequently lost)

£15.98 2 x 1oz Reels of Polyester sail Thread.

£28.88 Marine Ply for locker tops.

£19.00 Stainless Hinges for Locker Tops.

£19.95 Grey Paint for Locker tops (Hempel Gloss)

£17.95 Undercoat for locker tops.(Hempel Primer)

£20.88 Head Gasket for 2.2 outboard. (still needs an impeller)

£6.00 Assorted Stainless screws. (for cam cleats, etc.)

£17.75 Barton Cam Cleat.

£7.70 Second (and hopefully current) Mooring Buoy.

£2.99 Polyprop rope to secure Mooring Buoy.

£4.99 Set of 4 Nautical themed mugs.

And they were my last purchase for the boat.

£570.41 is the Total Expenditure on the Boat for this Year. (£47.54 per month)

Which isn't bad as it corresponds quite well with last year's £556. Considering the amount of  Paint and related painting kit I've bought this year, it surprised me that the yearly costs were so close.

One of the stand-out features of this year has been the lack of time spent on the boat. This time partly to do with the weather (which still didn't deliver a long enough spell of settled sunny weather to do any planning ), the other part to do with other commitments: Birthdays, weddings, holidays and the like.

The plan to grab odd days or half days on the boat worked reasonably well. So that will probably stay as a theme for 2017. I neglected Sprite a bit last year, not really following through with jobs like the antifoul and the port side locker top. Hopefully I can muster the gumption to get these done this year. From the amount of time it took last year, I'd say I need a long weekend when the tides are right to clean the hull and get it painted.

I learned in 2016 that a sailing boat needs a clean hull to perform well. I also came to the conclusion that I really do need to do longer sails than just up and down the harbour. But to do that I need to be able to plan a couple of consecutive days of mild weather. The only decent periods of weather we had in 2016 I was either in France or at my stepdaughter's wedding.

I also learned that Sprite's rigging can take a bit more stress than I thought, having sailed down Langstone Harbour with Sprite on it's scuppers, although at the start the weather helm was horrendous. Trimming the sails for less weather helm is another lesson learnt. :-) In my case, ease the main as the wind picks up.

In 2017 I'm visiting family in April so if things continue that may be the best weather period of the year for everyone else out there. Mark your diaries.:-)