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

Monday, 15 July 2019

Nav lights fitted

I spent Sunday down the boat fitting the new (4 year old!) LED nav lights to sprite.

The ex-cordless 12v drill came in handy once again. I can't believe how many times I've used that drill now. Converting it to run off the boat battery was a stroke of genius. Especially as the lead length allows me to use the drill in most places on the boat.

The first step was to come up with a solution to the fact I was fitting the lights myself. Now I don't have long arms, but I bet the tallest person in the world hasn't got the reach to hold a nut inside the cabin whilst simultaneously turning the screw from the outside.

The solution was to glue the screws into the light fittings: just a light sliver of glue because there wasn't such a big gap between the screw and the hole. Here's one waiting for the glue to set:

The next step while the glue was setting was to offer up the rubber gasket for each new light and drill pilot holes:

Then the correct hole sizes for each hole. 4mm for the screw hole and 5mm for the wiring hole.

Once the correct hole sizes were drilled, the area around the wire and the screw was given a dollop of polyurethane sealant. The wires were fed through and the screw was pushed into the screw hole. The advantage of drilling a hole just big enough is the light stays in place while I crawled in the cabin.

I fitted the nut (and a big penny washer to spread the load) on the end of the screw and tightened it up just enough to compress the gasket and spread the sealant.

Here's the light in place on the starboard side:

The white gelcoat filler shows, but another round of sanding with some wet sandpaper will get rid of the over fill and I'll just be left with a small white dot.

The same was repeated for the port side.

I've yet to figure out the wiring. As the switch box is on the starboard side, the wiring for the port light will have to run through the bilges. I seem to remember many years ago, when I did the wiring from the engine, I left a loop of string in the bilge so I could pass wire to and fro.

Lets hope it's still there and not rotted away, otherwise it's going to be pretty difficult routing the wiring across the boat.

Next weekend one of the grandkids wants to come on the boat as a birthday treat, so I shall be distracted somewhat. No work being done next weekend.

As it is I spent a good couple of hours on Sunday clearing up all the tools and rubbish from wiring up the fusebox so there will be space in the boat.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Nav Light Upgrade

High tide is just after I finish work this week, so last Night I stripped the old Nav lights off Sprite and filled the old screw and wire holes.

Wierdly the wires for the nav lights were routed into the gap between the glassfibre fillets holding the cabin bulkhead in place. There's no way I can route new cables the same way, so some rewiring will be in order when I fit the new (actually 4 year old) LED light units.

I'm also looking at changing the stern light to LED as well. eBay have them available at £14-ish, which is cheaper than the people sell the LED replacement bulbs.

Once that's done I'll have a look at the roof plug and socket for the mast lights and see what's up there.

So another trip to the boat tonight to hopefully mount the port & starboard nav lights. Then more time at the weekend on hands and knees routing new wiring.

Monday, 1 July 2019

New Fuse Box For Sprite

It's nice to be able to do some work on Sprite for once. A small job, not one of the big jobs that will have to be done at some point in the future.

This weekend I fitted a new electrical fuse/distribution box on Sprite.

I put her on the beach yesterday (ease of access to tools etc) and spent Sunday between tides doing the work.

What spurred this on was recently I started wiring a horn in (the button was fitted to the house for the radio when that was fitted, just never wired in). But during wiring the horn in, when I got to the distribution box there was no more space to fit the wiring in.  To give you some idea, here's the state of the old distribution box:

It was good enough with the old wiring. The wiring was pretty thin gauge and in poor shape and over the years I've upgraded to thicker gauge wiring. The bad news is the thicker wire takes up more space.

Another issue was that some of the tails from the fuse panel were corroding and getting weak.

So in the end I decided to revamp the installation with a new box and just a little upgrade to the fuse panel.

A £10 waterproof plastic box from eBay provided the housing. All I needed to do was solder new tails to the fuse panel and fit the panel to the box. At the same time allowing each connection to have at least one spare terminal for future expansion (except instruments, which has all the connections in place now-famous last words!).

So, I spent all day yesterday doing the deed and came up with this:

Chunky tails soldered to the fuse box, doubled up on the connections to each section and a chunky negative post for all the negative returns to common to. In fact I thing all those negatives are the worst bit. I might look to changing that for something else, or spread the load across two posts instead of just the one.

Here's a close up:

Don't worry about the funky angle of the box, it wasn't screwed to the bulkhead properly.

There is a sticker between the two terminal blocks saying which set of terminals is for which function, but it got covered by all the wires. I'll sort some more labels out another time.

And nearly everything worked afterwards! I've not switched the nav lights on in probably two years and it looks like the wiring for those has corroded away. Certainly the port/starboard lights didn't illuminate, but the rear one (that I wired up after I got Sprite) did work. So more wiring on the cards.

Plus the running and anchor lights on the mast don't work. I checked and there is voltage to the socket on the cabin roof, but I suspect that water has rotted the wiring in the plug to the socket or there's an issue in the mast itself.

Anyway, next on the list then is installing the LED port/starboard nav lights I bought several years ago and possibly converting the rest to LED at some point too.

I'm also toying with the idea of moving the battery isolator switch to the right hand side of the box, so it's all in one and the switch is nicely visible.

It's just nice to be able to spend a decent amount of time on the boat again.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Bye Bye Buoy

Yes, I've "lost" yet another mooring buoy. Less than a month after I fitted the last one with 8mm chain and a padlock, it has been nicked.

Bloody expensive things they are. So I've replaced it with my trusty old fender-as-mooring-buoy.

Fitted with chain and shackles and seizing wire.

Just as a stopgap.

In the meantime, if anyone sees a large orange mooring buoy with Sprite II or E032 on it at any of the boat jumbles, please let me know.

It's times like these the bikini-clad Caribbean sailor on Patreon turn to their patrons with puppy-dog eyes and suddenly replacement parts turn up in the post...

I'd try it, but I look hideous in a bikini....

Friday, 7 June 2019

Lidl Bargains

Just a quickie. Lidl have got some handy little electrical kits:

£3.49 each.

A box of scotchlocks or a box of crimp terminals with heatshrink, or even a box of Velcro cable straps.


Got a couple of them:

Quite handy little kits.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Sailing at Last!

On Thursday the weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend was good and with 3 clear days, I had time to do some work on the boat and satisfy family requirements. :-)

So, holiday form for Friday handed in, and plans made:

Friday: scrub the hull and re-fit the sails.

Saturday: Sail the boat.

Well, Friday started well.. up at 2:30 am to get down the boat for a 3:30 high tide. Yeah, that's how desperate i was to get some sailing in. Hard-core dedication!

In the end, it worked out that the pre-dawn twilight was bright enough to see the bottom and avoid concrete mooring blocks an hour after high tide, which was fine. I was on the beach at 4:30.

An hour later the tide had ebbed from the boat and I started scraping two years worth of growth from the boat. The last time I'd scrubbed the hull was the same time in 2017.

No pictures as I've done scrubbing the hull pictures to death on here. This years it was just a quick scrub to remove growth. The plan this year is to at some point get the boat out of the water for a few days in a boatyard and cleaned so that I can get some primer and anti-foul on it. Fingers crossed that I can save the money to do that. I reckon around £400 is needed to get the boat hauled out, pay for a week on the hard and then lifted back in again. I've got the paint to do the anti-foul, but I'd like to replace the windows and the mast beam at the same time and possibly replace the wiring in the mast, so I need probably the same again for parts.

I've already holidayed in Devon, so no holiday on the horizon. The wife is sating her desire for a foreign holiday by going away with her darts team buddies next month, so I have a chance of saving the money up. :-)

Anyway, back on topic:

Boat scrubbed and back on the mooring by 5pm. Off to pick up the wife from work, then dinner and bed to rest my aching muscles. This body of mine is really letting me down in the stamina stakes... must be my age. :-)

The original plan was another early high tide start and a trip into the Solent, but considering I'd just re-fitted the sails and not tested the outboard since I serviced it, a shake down cruise up Langstone harbour and back seemed a more prudent option.

So that's what I did, taking Jim along for the ride. Just a few hours making sure the sails worked correctly (the jib needed adjustment) and the engine was reliable. Ready for the summer season.

So, that's what I've been up to this weekend. today (Sunday) I'm resting. Tomorrow the wife wants a trip out somewhere.

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Third Man (or Buoy)...

So, one of the things I haven't really blogged about on my local moorings is the amount of Piracy.

Not Olde Worlde Piracy, with Beards and Swords, but the odd bit of pilferage. I did report some years back that a few boats had been broken into and at that time I put a strengthening bar in the bar of my washboards, to avoid them being kicked in easily. I bet the knee joint of anyone that tried would come to grief on the teak beam bolted into the middle of them.

Anyway, over the past couple of years when I've been able to afford one, I've fitted a decent mooring buoy. The last (second) buoy was a rather large one. Half of a pair I got on eBay for the ridiculous price of £15. I thought a pair would come in handy if the Pirates struck again.

And they did about a month ago. Buoy number 2 disappeared.  Given the buoy was shackled in place an the shackles were seized to avoid them coming undone. To see the stainless shackle and the buoy missing was a bit depressing.

So, the second twin, the third buoy was fitted to the mooring chain this weekend.

Here's the installation...

Yes, that's a bloody padlock. I don't care if it turns into a ball of rust inside. That's actually better, because no-one will be able to force the lock. They'll have to cut the chain. But this time, no easily-undoo-able shackles, no cuttable rope. Nope, 8mm chain and a padlock. Lets see if that's secure now.

Take that, Mr Pirate....