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

Friday, 7 December 2018

Golden Globe Reservations..

After yet another sailor has been dismasted and had to be rescued, is it about time that the ethos of the Golden Globe Race was reviewed?

I know that in the warm comfort of a lounge on land, the idea of pitting one's wits against the sea using technology only found in the original golden globe might have seemed a good one. Through rose tinted glasses recent history looks quite attractive, but to be realistic you'd have to bring back Polio, Ricketts, Dyptheria and Smallpox. I mean, just how realistic do you want it to be?

In the case of the Golden Globe race, the sea is no less dangerous, so why are we putting people in old boats, with old technology, with old levels of risk and reliability?

There's a reason the modern sailing technology in materials and electronics we have now has been developed: to make sailing the world safer and more reliable. But even given modern technology, the sea is a dangerous place and has claimed victims.

I really think given the numbers of failures, incidents and rescues that this race has generated, that it really needs to be consigned to history where that technology belongs.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Raising the Roof.

Not much to report, other than the fact that I've made a lifting post to go under the roof a couple of weeks ago with the intention of gradually raising the cabin roof to it's original height hopefully in time to fit a new mast beam in the spring.

The roof has spent the last year or more sagging, so it will take a few months to gradually raise it without cracking the GRP.

The post is 2 x 2 with a threaded rod inset in a hole drilled in the end. Pads on the floor and the roof and a washer at the end of the post for a nut to push onto. Turn the nut and the threaded rod extends out of the end of the post like a DIY acro-prop. 3 quid for the wood from B&Q and threaded rod, washers and nuts out of the scrap box.

I've been on board twice. First to install the post and then again this weekend to raise the roof a bit more. Basically extending the rod until I get a fair bit of resistance against the screw. I don't want to go at it like a bull in a china shop and push the deck and cabin top from the hull.

So far I've raised the roof about 1.5 inches. Slow but steady.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Removal of the Space Invaders and Cheap Boats.

The traveller encampment in the car park at Eastney was removed yesterday morning. I got a tip-off via one of my many spies (actually a friend of my step-daughter) by way of this picture:

I went down at lunchtime to check on progress and the last of the encampment were moving off. Plenty of security, Police, breakdown trucks and hi-vis jackets in attendance,

By evening the car park had returned.

Car Park now with blocks in place to deter caravans

So now access to the boat should be back to normal.

On another note there seems to be a glut of 30ft-ish yachts on ebay at the moment. A few in the water and a few on the hard. All of them projects, but all of them an abject warning of how much a big fin-keel yacht costs to keep maintained and working. I just wonder why there is a lot of them suddenly about. I wonder if yard prices have just taken a hike, or if there's a concerted effort to buy up old, cheap yards and gentrify them.

There's a Everitt YCA 29 on eBay just gone this lunchtime  in Southampton. Still on the water with the mast down and strapped to the roof. Some water ingress but loos like rainwater and didn't thanfully look as though it got up to the engine air intakes £355.... bargain.

Another is a 25ft scoop-back quarter-tonner racer currently at £390.

There are a couple of others on eBay, they really is a rash of them.

Hmm, I just wonder how difficult it would be to convert one to twin keel... Must resist....:-)

Always fancied a bilge keel Gin Palace....

Friday, 14 September 2018

Australia beckons.

One of the things I haven't divulged this year is the reason for little or no blogging of any consequence.

ThatsT because all my spare cash that would have gone on the boat has been diverted to a projects called 'stralian holiday.

Hopefully in December, me and the Mrs jet off to Brisbane, stopping off in Dubai on the way there and back. As a sort of 10th wedding anniversary present.

As you can imagine, for someone of a skintish nature, financing such a venture has hoovered up all the spare cash. And that's flights only: we're taking advantage of family and friends for accommodation.

So, I apologise for the lack of blogging. The plans are that next year Sprite 2 will have some actual money spent on her to sort out the windows and mast beam. Here's hoping.

I was on board at the weekend and the old dear needs some money spent on her.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Sick Centaur

The back is finally getting better after quite a long spell of doing naff all.

So guess what, I went down to the boat last weekend! Nothing strenuous, just went down on Saturday and shackled the mooring buoy to the chain. No rope this time: if it comes away from the chain it's been nicked.

I had a couple of hours on board in the sunshine, airing the cabin. After that I had a walk round the pond.

I came across this poorly looking Westerly Centaur on the beach at the end of the spit:

The poor thing had lost a keel. It was covered in seaweed, so I guessed it must have sunk on its mooring and been recovered. The fact it wasn't tied to anything suggested the person that put it on the beach didn't expect it to move.

I went back at high tide on Sunday and sure enough:

It doesn't float. :-( Such a shame.

I hope that somehow it gets restored and doesn't get cut up like so many other recovered wrecks I've seen down at Eastney.  Obviously they'll need the missing keel, hopefully they have recovered or will recover that as well as the boat.

In other news, the travellers that had been occupying the car park have been given notice to leave. Not the strongest of messages, but at least they've been told to skedaddle "as soon as practical".... very British :

Hopefully there is an end to this:

The whole car park being used up by caravans and campers. One's even parked a speedboat up at his caravan like some holiday home and another put a patio outside the door, so they knew they were in for the long haul! I did notice not one of the cars parked with the caravans had a towing hitch, so how they got the caravans there or how they'll tow them away I don't know.

That American RV has been parked up around Eastney and the rest of Portsmouth for about two years or more now. Anywhere he can get free parking.

So I've made a teeny step forward. Not a big one, but at least I got out to the boat.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Don't Crook Back in Anger.

Getting a bit frustrated now. The long days and the good weather say I should be working on the boat.

My crook back says otherwise. Has done for the past couple of weeks.

Tried to get down early last Saturday but upon picking the generator up my back said game over, no chance, I'm not ready yet... It's funny how a pain in your back can make your knees weak. :-)

So I spent the weekend resting in the garden and box set binging instead.

I've just got to wait until the tide and my back are ready I suppose.

In the meantime thoughts about the mast beam are still running through my head. My latest thought is possibly a laminated wood/grp affair, so if the wood deteriorates, it leaves a grp box or honeycomb section that still retains strength. Effectively the wood is a former for the grp.

I may have to get some glass cloth and some resin and do a few tests.

I have a new car. Luckily still the one I wanted but just a year older, instead being a 2004 model. By doing that my vehicle excise duty drops from £500 to £300. Still the same make and model of vehicle, but just some arbtrarily decided cutoff means the newer model attracts a higher tax.

The Swedish tank went away to another skint guy with a family. I got more than scrap value so I'm happy and he gets a cheap runaround with 7 seats so he's happy too.

Anyway, more resting on the cards in future until this stroppy back actually lets me go do some work.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Small Visits

Just a series of small visits over the past few weeks. Travellers have taken over all the parking spaces down at Eastney, so it's difficult to visit. Last weekend I couldn't find anywhere to park at all so had to abort and go home.

On Friday evening I took the jib down ready for mast dropping.

This morning I put the engine back on. I noticed that my mooring buoy has disappeared. That's the second one.

Something to look for on eBay or boat jumbles. Again. Next time it's going to be attached to the chain by shackles!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Visit to the Boat and Car hunting

Just a visit to the boat on Saturday. Managed to take the boom off the mast ready for taking the mast down. Just the jib to remove and then I need to make up a crutch for the mast.

However it got a bit distracting as the coastguard helicopter got called out to look for a man overboard in the entrance to the harbour,

The guy had no lifejacket on and with the ferocity of the tide in the harbour mouth there was really no chance for the guy. The Coastie helicopter showed impressive endurance by almost hovering for over an hour looking for the guy. Plus two ILBs and assorted small craft looked for him. I'd have been out there as well if I had the engine on Sprite.

Sad to say after over an hour of searching they didn't find anything.

Sunday was another day looking at a car. I've started to look a bit more closely and I'm not impressed by the amount of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax for oldies) that I'd have to pay on anything decent sized.

Why the bloody hell would I spend over £500 quid on road tax for a car that's 15 years old for God's sake? That's over a quarter of the price of the car!

My current car (Volvo V70) cost £500 to buy and it's £180 a year to tax it. It just seems a very cynical way of collecting extra tax just to jealously slap extra money on bigger cars just for the sake of it. I can understand £560 is a fraction of the cost of a new car, but really, why charge the same for a 15 year old banger?

Surely the VED should taper off over time to a more reasonable figure when the car gets to an old age?

Just makes me think that the government wants to stop me driving reasonably sized cars. I mean, can't have the poor driving decent cars can we? Bastards!

Monday, 23 April 2018

Full Weekends

Not with boat business unfortunately. It seems family business is getting in the way quite a bit recently.

I did stick to my guns and made the annual pilgrimage to the Beaulieu boat jumble yesterday, but wished I hadn't.

I just feel that every year for the past 2 or 3 years it's been getting worse: very samey across a lot of the stalls (how many fenders or how much rope can you possibly want?).

Maybe it's because I'm looking for very specific things like the correct size gudgeon and pintle for Jim's boat, or a chunk of hardwood to replace the mast beam, but there was nothing there yesterday that I could class as "must have" purchases.

When I first went to Beaulieu back in 2007 there were quite a few of the big traders with stalls doing pretty good deals (that year I got 5 new lifejackets at a bulk discount) but over time the bigger traders seem to have pulled out leaving the normal traders you can see at "normal" boat jumbles. But normal boat jumbles charge half the price or less to get in. And you don't pay the "Beaulieu premium" for bits either as traders recoup the costs of actually attending Beaulieu.

I think I'll be giving it a miss from now on. I can't afford to pay nearly £10 to get in and come away with nothing.

Anyway, I've paid up my mooring fee for another year, Sprite 2 gets to stay at Eastney for another year.

The last time I was on board the mast beam was looking rather odd, with a distinct sag on the port side. I think it has finally lost it's structural strength. I was toying with replacing it with something impervious to water ingress, like carbon fibre poles but I think I'll go old school and chuck in a cheap lump of hardwood (if such a thing can be found).

I'm told the job is a bit of a pig, so may take a while. Certainly the mast has to come down and it might be prudent while it's down to swap the lighting for LEDS and renew the wiring in the mast.

I think 2018 will be a maintenace year, rather than a sailing year. A bit like 2013 and 2014 were when I was getting Sprite 2 to a state I could sail her.

2018 will be a mast step and window fixing year I think.

As long as I can get the time to do it all I will as ever blog about it.

The next 2 weeks I'm on babysitting duty. Grandchild number 10 has been announced and due in the Autumn, so there seems no end to the list of little mites requiring a bit of Grandaddery. Gawd help me.

Updated to add: Thank heavens for the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and especially Action Stations! the activity centre. We got year long family tickets at Christmas for us and each of the individual family units and so far I've been there at least half a dozen times with various combinations of kids and grandkids. It's great for allowing the grandkids to let off steam and climb and jump to their hearts content while parents and grandparents nod and smile and wipe the sweat off the poor mites as they exhaust themselves....
Grandad gets to look at very old boats and not so old submarines, so everyone's happy! :-)

Monday, 5 March 2018


Went down to the boat yesterday and notced a few changes in the pond at Eastney.

The first is that there's a Seawych that has joined the boats down in the moorings. From the red-ish hull and the white superstructure, it's a leter model than Sprite 2, most likely a Mk2.

The other change is that Mashooka has been cleared from the beach. Sadly, it looks like she's been broken up as she was pretty much disintegrating over time. It's sad, because she's been down at Eastney since the first time I went down there, but successive owners have just neglected her. The last owner tried to do some work on her, but wooden boats end up being worse than they look.

But her mast coming down a few weeks ago and the collapse of her cabin must have been the last straw. She looked pretty much a wreck the last time I took a picture of her.

Nuthatch, a Kingfisher 20 that was on the beach up by the ECA slipway also went a few weeks ago, so it looks like the Harbourmaster is doing the rounds to clear some of the worst offenders when it comes to lying on the beach. But up until last year Nuthatch always had a ticket on her.

Which reminds, me, some effort needs to be made this year to get Jim's boat back on a mooring an off the beach. Her engine is good to go, all it needs is the rudder sorting and she should be ok to float.

Of course she does need a new block, chain and buoy to moor to. But hopefuklly we can get that sorted cheaply.

Another boat that needs some work is Nicky's. The hole that was cut in the hull to make an outboard well needs filling. I did say I'd do it last year, but didn't get round to it. Hopefully this year I can get both Jim and Nicky off the beach and closer to sailing.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Not only Small yachts are free

This ad just appeared on on of the Facebook Yachty Groups...

Shipman 28
Unfinished project boat ashore undercover in Fareham, Hants. 7 year old sails but hardly used. Good mast with new haliards 7 years ago. Yanmar 1GM10 engine. Inside very tatty but she does sail nicely - tiller steering, like a big dinghy. I just don’t have the time to finish and sail her and she deserves better!
Class details here

If only I had the money.... which sounds counter-intuitive when talking about a free boat. But just keeping it on a cheap swinging mooring would cost about £700 for the year, insurance would be more expensive and usually requires a survey on something that size.

The cost of getting it into the water (at least £100 for a lift) and before that making it sea safe (changing the through-hulls and seacocks, plus yard fees for the time it takes to make good).... the list goes on.

So a free yacht can quite easily cost the thick end of £2000 just to get it on a mooring,let alone get it up to a decent standard. 

In the long term of course it's cheaper than buying a similar boat outright, but it's not for the Skint Sailor. Realistic goals are the best way to keep costs down. Letting your heart rule your head (like buying a 28ft project yacht) is a surefire way to loose a lot of money.

Monday, 19 February 2018

New eBay Tactic for the Skint Sailor

I've modified my tactics for ebay purchases now, after a few incidents over the past year or more.

First off let me explain: As with most people wanting an item, I used to click on the "watch" button and from then on the item stays in my list of watched items so I can keep track of it.

However, I have noticed that as soon as I watch an item, a number of bids appear on the item pushing the price up.

I've done some empirical and not very scientific tests on items, but I've refrained from clicking on the watch button for a few items now and just kept a note of the item number or bookmarked the link to the item instead.

In a reasonable proportion of cases the bids never come and I've been able to get parts relatively cheaply, as opposed to the times I've clicked on the watched button..

Now I'm not accusing anyone of any impropriety, but using the watch system on eBay signals to all and sundry that you are interested in the item. And we all know as in any auction, if one person shows an interest in an item, then there's always someone else who picks up and thinks the item is valuable and prepared to pay more for it. Even if it's only of personal interest to yourself. 

Although I'm sure as soon as someone watches an auction,  the temptation of getting your mate to bid on an item to push up the price is too much for some people, which is why sometimes when I've had a (not very expensive or prolonged) bidding war with someone and they win (or put another way "are lumbered with the part"), the part suspiciously gets re-listed. In rare cases I've seen the part re-listed up to three times, at which point I lose interest.

These days it could just be the fault of an algorithm: ebay's system could promote listings that have bids on them to more people. A single bid could spawn a round of promotion to people that ebay have identified an interest in similar items.

Anyhoo, my new tip for eBay bidding is not to use the watch system. Instead save the page in your bookmarks, set an alarm on your phone to tell you when the auction is about to end and avoid flagging your interest on an item at all costs.

Another option is to set up a saved search for an item or bunch of items and just watch the results of the search and refrain from that watch button.

Of course the risk is the person withdraws the item from the auction (no one wants to sell a yacht at 99p for instance), but at least only you know you are interested in the item and have a better chance of a bargain.

Setting the alarm for 5 minutes before the aution end allows you to log in and get ready to snipe a last second bargain-blagging bid.

Just think of yourself as the Submarine captain stealthily avoiding detection at all costs, ready to release a salvo of bid-winning torpedoes at the last second..... :-)

Until eBay gets wise and starts to publish how many times a page has been viewed by a particular user, these should be the tactics of choice for the bargain bagging bidder.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sunny Saturday

Finally we had some decent weather yesterday. I spent an hour cleaning guano off the boat. The gaps in the cover are too small for seagulls so it looks like Starlings have been roosting under there.

I ran the outboard while I cleaned. The ducks back outboard cover I bought a few years ago has weathered and has holes in. Time for a replacement.

In any case the outboard came home with me for a long-needed service.

I was surprised that despite being on the back of the boat for about 3 years the padlock wasn't seized. So I can definitely recommend the master all stainless padlock I bought way back then. Not cheap, but its kept working despite the hostile environment and didn't need the attention of the angle grinder like the last so-called weatherproof padlock I used.

On my way off the boat I tried to Starling-proof the cockpit. I'll see if it works.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Jobs Jobbed (not for me though)

On Saturday I finally got around to sorting Jim's outboard. I've had it in the shed for around 9 months. But then again Jim's boat has been on the beach all that time as he's struggling to afford the cost of a mooring.

He originally reported a lack of water pumping, and after soaking the screws holding the bottom of the leg on, I got them free to get access to the water pump. Here's what met me when i got the pump casing off:

Yep, an impeller with hardly any blades on it. Of course to fix it you swap the impellers, but what about missing bits?

Here they are, jammed in the water outlet:

I pulled them out with a pick and being thorough, checked that all the bits matched up to the missing parts on the impeller, so there weren't any bits still floating around.

I also did a general clean up of the water pump inlet, which was choked by salt and sand and also cleaned any deposits off the inner faces of the water pump so the impeller didn't get torn to shreds.

Once everything was re-fitted, I gave it a run and voila! water pumping through the tell-tale!

With a bit of a clean of the carb, it started on the 2nd pull! Nice.

Hopefully this Spring we can get Jim's boat back in the water as I've got a gudgeon and pintle set for the rudder I got for him last year.

I picked the set up for £6.50 + P&P

Barton ones too. Bargain.

One issue is the shape of the rudder and how to fit the gudgeon and pintle to it. The front is quite profiled, so some soort of block or wedge needs to go in to stabilise the front end. There's a lot of space and fresh air at the front:

I fancy rebating and glueing a couple of blocks in there to square up the front of the rudder where the pintles fit.

Anyway, another job for another day. The Outboard took up most of Saturday. Sunday I went to Ikea with the wife and son. Needless to say I won't be going to Gosport boat jumble next week. :-(

Monday, 29 January 2018


Son is now moved into his flat. On the second floor with no lift.... You know how fit or unfit you are moving furniture up two floors, I can tell you!

Son was lagging behind Dad... it just shows how unhealthy playing video games is for you. I suggested him having my fold up bike in the flat so he can do some cycling in the summer. As he's down by the seafront it would be a nice place to do it. Cycle down the seafront for fish and chips or an Ice Cream...

As it is, the week or two he's got to wait before he gets Internet installed is going to hurt him badly... youngsters and their priorities.

In the meantime, he can sort out where the furnituire is going. Dad bought some stacking storage boxes for him, so he can spend a day or two moving stuff from unstackable cardboard boxes to the decent plastic ones. That'll save space.

Sadly these days social housing doesn't include flooring, so I'm working on finding someone to give him a grant towards carpet at least in his lounge. Currently he has bare unsealed concrete floors.

We have some spare laminate that may cover his bedroom floor. Well I hope it's enough.

Laying that will take up another Saturday or Sunday.

It's a good job I have these skills.... :-)

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Busy Busy Busy....

2017 was quite a busy year, my visits to the boat were pretty few compared to previous years. What with holidays, moving house, visiting friends and relatives around the country....

This year looks to have started off the same: Eldest son is moving into a flat so the Swedish tank is being pressed into action as a removal van over the next weekend or two.

However the Swedish Iron is not healthy and it looks like it requires more money spending on it. It needs a new electronic throttle unit. A trip to the scrapyard very soon I think, as the throttle is getting very jerky and fuel consumption has gone up. But at 290,000 miles I suppose it will have it's problems.

Some form of normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. I will get back to sailing and doing boaty stuff soon I hope.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Every Lidl Helps....

This Thursday the 11th, Lidl are having an automotive special offer.

One of the items is a 1Kg powder fire extinguisher for £8.99. The one I bought a few years back has stood the test of time in a damp environment, so I do recommend getting one if you need an extinguisher.

On the 14th, they have an Infra-Red remote thermometer for £12.99. Handy for checking inboard exhaust systems for overheating...