Archive for December, 2017

I’ve been looking for a boat to get me back into dinghy racing. OK, so I’ve still got a Musto Skiff, but realistically I don’t have the time or fitness any more to ever hope to be competitive in it. In Scotland, the only really active single-handed traveller fleets are the Laser (just not my thing),  Musto Skiff and the Solo. So, the Solo it is then!! 🙂 .

The key thing that swung this decision was that the Solos have an excellent Scottish traveller circuit, which typically attracts ten to twenty competitors to each event. These are usually one day events, which cuts down the cost and hassle considerably, since there is no need to pay for accommodation.

solos downwind

The Solo Dinghy was originally designed in 1956 by Jack Holt, and since then nearly 6000 have been built, mainly in the UK. This means that there are loads to choose from on the second hand market. However, although the Solo is a ‘one design’ boat (i.e. all hulls and sails must be pretty much identical), design methods have changed over the years, and boats are available from many different manufacturers.

To cover just the real basics, the different construction materials available are:

solo construction methods

The Solo has no weight equalization system. However, by choosing the correct mast and sail combination, Solos are competitively sailed by helms across a wide weight range.

I had originally hoped to buy an FRP Composite boat for around £2,000 but was advised by other sailors to save my pennies to buy a fully FRP boat, and that I should be looking to spend between £4K and £5K for a boat that would be competitive on the traveller circuit. The reasons given were that an FRP boat will be faster, require less maintenance, and will also hopefully hold its value better.

In the end, I did follow most of this advice, and picked up a 2004 Winder Mark 1 Solo for £3,500. She’s definitely been raced hard over her life, and has a few dings here and there. However, I think she’s pretty good for what I paid. I’ll post some photos of her once I get her on the water, but since there is currently 4″ of snow outside, that won’t be today!

Along the way however, I compiled some information on Solo prices, which might be helpful to others in the same situation. The graphs below show the asking prices of boats for sale in the UK between about September and December 2017, and were taken from places like the UK Solo Association website, ApolloDuck, Ebay, and the UK Dinghies & Bits for Sale Facebook group. Obviously these take no account of the condition of each boat, whether it came with a road trailer or covers, etc etc. However, it should hopefully give a good starting point for anybody looking for a second hand Solo dinghy:

Solo Prices all construction methods

FRP Solo Asking Prices

For anybody interested, the full spreadsheet can be downloaded here.

I’m looking forward to getting on the water with my new boat now – as soon as the water isn’t quite so frozen! 🙂

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Why not follow these simple step by step instructions on how to make this lovely Zwartbles sheep themed Christmas decoration?

Zwartble Bauble

  1. Buy one Zwartbles ewe lamb.


2. Feed and water regularly, until fully grown (this will take 1-2 years).


3. Buy a sarcastic looking Zwartbles tup and leave him in the same field as the ewe for a while.



4. Wait approximately 150 days until one or more smaller versions appear.


5. Feed and water the small versions for approximately 14 months (they will become considerably larger), before paying an off-duty fireman a small fortune to remove the fleece for you.


6. Spin the fleece into a rough and rustic yarn (as if I know how to make any other sort of yarn?!?).


7. Cut two doughnut shapes out of cardboard and wind the yarn around them. Be sure to to ignore the increasingly hysterical laughter of your assembled friends and relatives who are sure that you’re doing it all wrong, and that the whole thing is going to fall apart the moment you cut into it.


8. When the doughnuts are full, cut around the perimeter to make a pom-pom. Trim off the rough and mis-shapen bits. Take care to ensure that there is still something left after you have done this.


9. Cut a face and ears out of felt. Add googly eyes for comic effect.


10. Sew and glue everything together.


11. Hang on Christmas Tree.


Zwartble Bauble

And that’s it! – simple eh?

Be sure to check back regularly for more easy craft ideas 😀

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DIY Hay Carrier Sling

At this time of year, I get really fed up with carrying hay bales around. If you pick up a small square bale using the string, it cuts into your hands if you have to carry it any distance, whilst if you carry chunks off a big round bale, you lose half of it whilst you’re opening the gate.

What’s more, my colleagues at work have started laughing at me when I turn up at morning meetings covered in the stuff!

So, I made this (which I feely admit is not exactly rocket surgery):1Basically it’s a square of nylon fabric with two loops of car seatbelt webbing sewn on.

It works very well for carrying square bales comfortably2

It can also be used to carry loose hay


However, loose stuff does tend to fall out of the ends a little, so if I was making one specifically for this, I’d put the straps nearer the corners, or even make one with straps all round, like a parachute.


It’s working well enough for me though, and saves me from getting mugged on my way to the hay feeder…. well, most of the time anyway! 🙂


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