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

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.

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.