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

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. :-(