Top 10 DIY Projects of 2015

What a year it’s been here on The $tingy Sailor!

We’ve seen incredible growth in the number of pages viewed every day—up 260% over last year to over 250,000 views to date from 148 countries.

The number of you who subscribed to this blog to receive the Stingy Sailor Spotlight newsletter more than doubled. I sent out 14 editions of the newsletter that let you be the first to know about major upcoming posts. I passed on a lot of gear sales tips to you and your input through the surveys was very valuable to let me know your opinions of some of the major changes to the blog.

I didn’t plan it that way, but the theme of 2015 was the Year of the Swing Keel and the most popular projects of 2015 show it. You really tuned in as we focused on refinishing and maintaining our swing keels, starting with the Spring Swing-Keel-a-Thon back in March all the way through stuck pivot pins in December.

I started a $tingy Sailor Facebook page this year that’s doing very well. If you have a Facebook page, please give it a Like so it will be included in your feed. Besides a preview of every new blog post, I sometimes send updates there that you won’t find here or in the newsletter.

I also started the $tingy Sailor YouTube channel that now has 12 videos, over 24,000 views, and another 200 subscribers. Expect more videos in 2016.

Also new this year are the book reviews and product reviews. Look for more of those this winter to help you get ready for spring.

You’ve also shown that you really like the new Downloads page for subscribers. There are currently seven downloadable files there with more on the way.

One of the most exciting new developments this year was the release of my first ebook, Why Your Swing Keel Lock Bolt Won’t Save You in a Knockdown. It was the most in-depth, researched project to date and was picked up by the Catalina 22 National Sailing Association magazine MainBrace back in November. I’m still excited because I have several other ebook projects in the works for 2016 that I hope you’ll want to add to your library.

If you’ve followed along all year and did some of the more than 40 new projects, we got a lot done in 2015. We worked on all areas of our sailboats and really stepped up their performance, convenience, comfort, safety, and appearance.

So which were your favorites? Here in classic Tonight Show style are the Top 10 DIY Projects of 2015!

#10 Quit Spending Setup Time on Turnbuckles

Ever since I added quick release levers to my standing rigging, stepping and unstepping the mast has been faster and easier.

Forestay Quick Release
Leave your turnbuckles set and flip a lever to loosen and tighten your forestay and shrouds

They’ve also helped to keep the mast in tune. Many of you were interested in the toggle cam pins that I use to attach the levers to the stem fitting and chain plate bolts.

#9 Product Review: MastGates Sail Track Gates owner Tom Luque is a friend of this blog and graciously provided two sets of mast gates for this product review.

Reefing your mainsail is less hassle with mast gates

His mast gates are the standard by which all others are compared. If you don’t have them already, you owe it to yourself to check them out so that you can reef your mainsail without giving it a second thought.

#8 Upgrade to a Gas Spring-Operated Outboard Motor Mount

Everything you need to know to refurbish an OMC Auxiliary Motor Bracket to replace your spring-loaded motor mount.

Upgrade to a gas spring operated outboard motor mount
Lift that heavy outboard motor with a gas spring-operated motor mount

Lifting my heavy four-stroke outboard is now a one-handed operation.

#7 DIY Soft Shackles for Quick and Eeasy Headsail Changes

Soft shackles are fun and easy to make.

Jib sheet attached by an alpine butterfly knot and a soft shackle
Jib sheet attached by an alpine butterfly knot and a soft shackle

They replace bowline knots and make headsail changes faster and safer.

#6 How to Rig a Cruising Spinnaker in 4 Stingy Stages

Spinnakers aren’t just for racers, expert skippers, or rich cruisers.

Yes, you can afford a spinnaker!

I show you how to rig your sailboat with an asymmetrical spinnaker in stages that won’t break the bank.

#5 How to Paint Cove and Boot Stripes Like a Pro

With attention to detail and inexpensive equipment, you too can paint sharp, smooth stripes.

New cove and boot stripes
Switch colors or freshen up the old stripes

Whether you’re painting your entire topsides or just want to add a custom touch, this post shows you how.

#4 How to Add Coachwhipping to Your Tiller Handle

Many of you enjoyed this inexpensive little project.

Tiller coachwhipping
A touch of fanciwork to brighten your cockpit

It’s easier than it looks!

#3 Refinish Your Swing Keel for Best Performance – Part 1: Removing

This series of five posts set the tone for the entire year and generated lots of questions and comments from readers.

Refinish your swing keel
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. You’ll be glad you did.

The series spun off several other topics including The Error in a Popular DIY DVD That Will Slow Down Your C-22 and the ebook Why Your Swing Keel Lock Bolt Won’t Save You in a Knockdown.

#2 How to Step a Mast Single-Handed With or Without Using the Boom as a Gin Pole

Stepping the mast is a fundamental skill of all trailer sailors but the multitude of variations and gear befuddle new sailboat owners.

Mast stepping with the boom as a gin pole
Reuse the gear you already have to raise your mast single-handed

I show you two similar methods that you can try depending on your physical ability. Both reuse the main sheet tackle for power and a DIY mast crutch. Add the boom for a gin pole and you can almost do it sitting down. High quality videos show you each step in detail.

#1 Five Swing Keel Maintenance Blunders and How to Prevent Them

Swing keel hardware failures were the top concern among readers in 2015.

Where did the keel go?
Neglect it and your keel will neglect you

This post counts down the five most common points of failure and how you can maintain them and stop worrying about them.

Those were from among the new projects added last year. The most popular projects in the history of this blog are mainly projects from 2014 and earlier. That makes sense because they’ve been around longer so more people have read them. Watch here for a top 10 list of them in a future post. For a look back into 2014, check out Ten Most Popular DIY Projects of 2014.

Besides the things at the beginning of this post that I said to expect in 2016, I have even more plans to improve and grow The $tingy Sailor. A fresh, new design is on the way and a few surprises you’ll just have to wait to see.

Many of you took the time to email me and introduce yourselves or to ask questions about projects here or that you read about elsewhere. I enjoyed hearing from you and offering suggestions. I look forward to finding out how your own projects turn out.

Lastly, I want to extend my most humble and heartfelt thanks to those of you who used my links to shop on Amazon. Without paying extra, you’re helping to pay the costs of running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. At first, I was skeptical that: 1) very many of you would agree to use them and 2) the earnings would make it worth the extra work. The amounts aren’t impressive yet, but the general results have exceeded my expectations and I’m anxious to see how they grow in 2016. Please use the links when you can.

Sail hard, sail well, sail safe!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing these great DIY tips!

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