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

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.