2017 Stingy Sailor DIY Project Contest Winners

The entries for the 2nd annual Stingy Sailor DIY Project Contest have all been received and scored. I’m very pleased that there were 50% more project entries this year than last. And I’m humbled that some of the entries were projects that debuted here on this blog. A big thanks to everyone who entered whether you won a prize or not.


This contest was not possible without the generous contributions of the following sponsors. Please consider supporting them because they support you!

Good Old Boat magazine
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Just like last year, the scores were very close among the top entries. Each entry was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 in each of the following qualities and then their average score computed:

  • Innovation – How clever and creative is the project?
  • Economy – How does it get the most bang for the buck?
  • Utility – How much does it enhance sailing enjoyment, comfort, convenience, or safety?
  • Craftsmanship – How much skill does it demonstrate?
  • Presentation – Quality of the contest entry text, photos, or video.

Here are the entries with the top four average scores:

First Place

Fuel Locker

Mike Hillard – Princeton, Texas, USA
1982 Macgregor 25d

Mike’s design for a DIY fuel locker shows that he put a lot of thought into it. It is both multi-purpose and removable. It’s primary purpose is to hold an outboard motor fuel tank in the aft end of the cockpit. Older Catalina 22s and 25s were designed to hold the fuel tank inside a lazarette that isn’t sealed off from the cabin. Without an airtight tank or a lot of ventilation, the fumes can get unpleasant and unhealthy, especially in summer.

The front panel of Mike’s fuel locker features a convenient shelf for holding drinks or gear. The elastic cords can accommodate many shapes and sizes. When not needed, the front panel can be reversed so that the shelf stows inside the locker and provides more foot room in the cockpit.

Reversible front panel holds items close at hand.

The front third of the lid is hinged to open for access to propane canisters or other items stored inside the locker beside the outboard fuel tank.

Strips on the underside of the lid interlock with the horizontal cleats and the front panel to prevent the unattached lid from sliding off.

The rear two-thirds of the lid is also hinged for easy access to the fuel tank and other items inside like Mike’s autopilot and its power connector.

Three-piece lid folds together for partial or full access inside the locker

Both the front and the lid are held in place by cleats screwed into the cockpit foot well and can be removed when not needed or for easy cleaning.

Mike built the locker from inexpensive birch plywood and cedar. He finished it with stain and varnish that he purchased from his local Habitat For Humanity ReStore. The proceeds from the sales of donated surplus and used furniture, appliances, and building materials helps to fund volunteer-built housing for the homeless.

Mike’s entry is a very functional use of a small amount of space and it makes an attractive addition to his sailboat for a low investment. If you’re interested in building this fuel locker on your own sailboat, I’ll be posting detailed instructions in the near future.

Mike wins a  West System 105-B resin (1 qt.) & 207-SB special clear hardener (.33 gal.) epoxy kit ($187.94 value) plus a one-year digital or online subscription to Good Old Boat magazine ($39.95 value).

Second Place

Forward Hatch Portlight

Del Clark – North Bend, WAshington, USA
1974 Tanzer 22

Del won Third Place in last year’s contest with his low-budget cockpit cushions. He’s back again this year with a more ambitious project.

Del wanted a larger portlight for the forward hatch of his Tanzer 22 but he didn’t want to buy an expensive, factory-made part so he built his own with Plexiglas cut by an online fabrication shop.

BEFORE – The original portlight let in minimal light

Del’s project required above average skills to enlarge the portlight opening and to route a recess for the new lens to fit into.

The rough opening cut out

The finished product looks like it was built that way at the Tanzer factory.

AFTER – The recessed lens is screwed and sealed in place

Del’s entry is a good example of modifying a sailboat’s original design to be more functional and enjoyable without breaking the budget.

Del wins a $100  Sailrite gift certificate and a one-year digital or online subscription to Good Old Boat magazine ($39.95 value).

Third Place

Splicing Fid

Gary Malmgren – Sendai, Japan

Gary’s entry proves that you don’t have to spend much at all to win a prize in this contest, as little as $1, in fact. Gary turned a $1 stainless steel kitchen ladle that he purchased at a “dollar” discount store into a splicing fid that works like tools that cost tens of times as much.

After cutting the scoop off the end of the ladle, he shaped the end into a point with a hammer and filed it smooth.

What gave Gary’s entry a competitive edge was the video that he submitted showing each step of his process and accompanied by a jazz trio soundtrack.

Gary’s entry demonstrates opportunistic thinking. There are countless ordinary household items and materials that can be repurposed or remade for use on a sailboat. You just have to think of them in terms of their raw materials or what can be subtracted from or added to them to solve a sailing problem.

Gary wins a Catalina 22 pop-in sleeve mastgate ($59.95 value) from mastgates.com and a one year digital or online subscription to Good Old Boat magazine ($39.95 value).

Fourth Place

Headsail Furler

Louis Webster – SEattle, Washington, USA
1973 Catalina 22

Louis was a contender in last year’s contest but his entry narrowly missed the submission deadline and couldn’t be considered. He resubmitted his entry this year to earn a place on the podium.

Louis built one of the most popular DIY projects, a homemade roller furler.

The furler “drum” is made of two four-way connectors

Louis used plans by Greg Cowen that he found online, PVC plumbing parts, and a little hardware to make a working furler for under $30! His furler works with his hank-on genoa headsail and required only a threaded terminal modification to his forestay.

Furler bottom showing thrust washers, forestay terminal, and tack turnbuckle

Del’s entry shows that you don’t need deep pockets to enjoy the convenience of a furler.

Louis wins his  choice of any $tingy Sailor eBook (up to $20 value) and a one year digital or online subscription to Good Old Boat magazine ($39.95 value).

Honorable Mention

Multiple Upgrades

James Hogle – Topeka, Kansas, USA
1990 Catalina 22

James’ overall score wasn’t competitive with this year’s prize winners but for a first-time sailboat owner and novice DIYer, he’s really taken the Stingy Sailor creed to heart. He has completed an impressive list of projects in less than one year, most of them by following the instructions on this website:

James took the fast track to earn his stingy sailor status so he deserves special recognition for all his hard work.

Congratulations to all of the contestants! You are all certified stingy sailors in my book.


Now that you know what it takes to win, it’s not too early to start thinking about your entry for next year’s contest. The competition is sure to be tougher so roll up your sleeves, take lots of notes and photos, and be ready around this time in 2018.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ron Leo says:

    Stingy….good on the fuel locker! Gonna copy that one or similar version…best solution I’ve seen….

    Any progress on your pop top hydraulics?

    1. Hello, Ron

      The pop top kit is still coming so stay tuned!

      $tingy

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