The $tingy Sailor is a blog about restoring and improving small sailboats — trailer sailors, pocket cruisers, hobbit yachts, whatever you want to call them. It’s not only about fixing up sailboats, it’s about doing it economically. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing it the cheapest way. In some cases, quality pays. The $tingy Sailor is about knowing when to pay more and when not to.

The $tingy Sailor is also my story about restoring a 1981 Catalina 22 swing keel sailboat named Summer Dance. All of the projects on this blog were done to Summer Dance. There might be other sailboats added to this blog in the future but for now, there’s just one project boat. The $tingy Sailor is part journal, part soap box, part self expression. Writing is my profession and it’s also a hobby.

But mostly, the $tingy Sailor is about empowering others to do these improvements. It’s about giving you, the reader, the information you need to do these projects yourself. It’s about becoming a smart kind of stingy, not a miser or a cheapskate. Anybody can throw money at a boat like it’s only a hole in the water. The $tingy Sailor is about helping you to become a stingy sailor too. This blog is a testament to and a celebration of the industrious, clever, hard working, honest, get it done people that make sailing a great sport and recreation.

Most of the projects that you’ll find on this blog are applicable to any sailboat, not just a C-22. You should be able to use or adapt these ideas if you own a small Compac, Hunter, J-Boat, MacGregor, O’Day, Precision, Ranger, Rhodes, San Juan, or similar sailboat.

At the bottom of many posts is a summary of the cost of the project compared to the equivalent suggested price and the resulting savings. Suggested prices are taken from popular retailers like Catalina Direct and West Marine. Many of the projects use materials, supplies, and tools that I already had on hand from unrelated home maintenance or woodworking projects and those costs are not included in the cost summary. Neither do the savings reflect the added value of many of the improvement and solution projects that are here. By applying the stingy sailor principles you can read about here, I’ve documented average savings of 72% or around $11,000 doing these projects myself. That’s over $15,000 worth of upgrades and restoration for a little over $4,000 out of my pocket. Depending on your resources and skills, your mileage may vary, as they say.

I hope you will find this blog to be both useful and entertaining. If you do, please leave comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

If you don’t want to miss a single new post, enter your email address below to follow along. You’ll receive notifications of new posts by email and also occasional newsletters with exclusive content, special offers, money-saving deals, and announcements only for followers. And you’ll also get the password to my Downloads page where you can get drawings and other digital files exclusively for followers. It’s free and you can unsubscribe anytime. It’s just another benefit of being a true stingy sailor.

Sail hard, sail well, sail safe!

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Eric says:


    Seriously thank you for taking the time to write this blog and share your experience with us.
    I just have few suggestions:

    1) Could you add more step-wise photos in full-post view for those who want to see learn more
    2) Have you done any cosmetic restoration inside cabin (looks very nice). Please also share cosmetic restoration. I am thinking many old boats could be changed dramatically; ie your LED project.
    3) Any interest in having videos, maybe a youtube channel! (It takes work though)

    4)Your WP template’s header takes too much space. May I suggest to shorten your menu items. Ie Project Gallery to Gallery, About this blog to “about”. I have a very wide screen but still the menu is two lines and hence the black header area takes more space than it should!

    All the best

    1. kbilling says:

      Hi, Eric

      Thanks for your suggestions.

      1) I assume by step-wise photos, you mean more like the BBQ grill custom rail mounts post. I’ll try to make the posts more instructional. Not all of the projects need them but some do. In fact, I’m working on a post right now with step-by-step instructions. Generally, I try to pass on ideas to DIYers who are familiar with what it would take to do the project. This has the benefit of keeping the posts shorter. Blog readers typically abhor long posts. Actually, most of my posts are already over the 500 word recommendation but I don’t always follow convention, as you may have noticed already.

      2) Some of the most intensive projects have been in the cabin interior: Interior teak restoration and Cabin cushion covers. The rest of the cabin is pretty much fiberglass. But the first mate is planning to redo the curtains (again) so that might show up as a future post and it seems to be a popular topic. This winter, I plan to make a new table top with hardwoods, veneer, inlays, and a fine finish. That will be a major aesthetic upgrade. I have a few simpler projects in mind too, so stay tuned.

      3) Videos are definitely on the to-do list but like you stated, they are a lot of work. I’ve made some in the past and the good ones look easy but take lots of time to do right. I almost made one for the autohelm project but I just didn’t have the time. Also, I don’t have a very good video camera right now. However, my son, who is a media producer will be visiting some time this year and will be bringing some high-end gear with him to shoot a project I plan to do while he’s here.

      4) Others have commented on the header too. It’s constrained by the WordPress theme that I’m using, so I don’t have much control over it. I’ll test it, but I think that even if I shorten the menu labels, the header will stay the same height due to the length of the subtitle. I’m reluctant to shorten that because it’s a major contributor to Google ranking. Maybe this blog will get more popular and it can attract a few advertisers. With a little cash, I could afford to customize the theme, register the domain name, and make some other usability improvements.

      Hope to see you around some more!

  2. captnmike says:

    Using the More Tag would make your front page load better and much easier to navigate


    1. kbilling says:

      Good point, Mike. Most of my posts aren’t as long as the recent ones and having several uninterrupted long posts in a row makes for a very long page. I broke them up and I’ll keep that in mind in the future.

      A quick look at your site shows some very useful stuff. I plan to spend some time there learning new things.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      1. captnmike says:

        You be welcome for the tip – just trying to help make your site easier to read

        Thanks for stopping by my site – hope you find some good ideas & good luck with your project

  3. Stephanie says:

    This is amazing!! All of it! We bought our 1983 Catalina in April 2013 and are revamping her as well. We’re not as far as you, just new bottom paint, mast, stern and pulpit lights. Thank you for the details and sharing your adventure!
    Sailor Stephanie

  4. Borys Hawrysz says:

    I just purchased a Venus 22 and find your site very helpful for ideas and improvements for my sailboat. At times I do have problems finding projects that I had previously seen as they are listed under older posts. Is it possible just to list all the projects under the title?
    On occasion I wish there were more details for us newbies like the lines to the cockpit project. Something I want to do to mine but feel I need more info.
    Anyway I enjoy your blog and look forward to every post. Regards Borys

    1. Hi, Borys

      If you mean list the related projects under the title of a project instead of at the bottom of the project, I don’t have control over that part of the site layout at this time. But I do try hard to make the older posts easier to find. If you know what type of project you are looking for, you can choose a category from the Projects menu. It will list the titles of all the projects in that category from which you can choose one. You can also browse through the Gallery and click on a picture, which will then show you a link to the project where that picture came from. And you can always search for a project with the search box at the bottom of every page.

      Regarding project details, I started adding step-by-step instructions to most of the projects about a year ago. But I also try to describe the projects in a way that is relevant to other brands of sailboats, not just C-22s. If you want more information about a particular project, you can always leave a comment there in the form of a question and I will answer it. I’ve often revised articles to include more detail as a result of reader comments. And if you’d rather ask your questions privately, you can send them to me with the Contact page and I will respond to you directly.

      Thank you for your comments and best of luck improving your Venus 22!

  5. Captain Bob says:

    Awesome blog. Many great ideas. I’ve been on the water over 45 years, am a Licensed Captain and sailing instructor and found many new ideas on your blog. We’ve sold our cruising/ liveaboard boat after 10 years and many miles. Downsized to a trailer sailor to stay closed to home and family. Though it’s not a Catalina, our school boats are, I look forward to applying a couple tips. I follow your thoughts of minimalization and using what you have. Most interesting currently is the boom gin pole. I’ve been scratching my head recently towards something similar. My gooseneck arrangement is different but I like it.

    1. Glad you found some new ideas, Bob. You could probably teach us all a few yourself.

      Welcome to the fleet,

  6. RogerGebhart says:

    Where was this site twenty years ago. I joined yesterday I am excited. I have wind rose 24 that bought in 1974. Shaw sat idle and neglected for the past 10. I sold her to my uncle with understanding that I would get her back someday. Now we are caught up. He pu a lot of extras on her (roller furling Genoa, genaker and most every thing run back to cockpit). My goals are to clean her up and sail again. First will be single handed mast step and a snuffer for genaker. Your site will be a go to as I work through the process to get her going again. Thank you for a wonderful source of info. Rog

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